August V. Coomans

Rev. 01/01/2020



Dr. Coomans graduated with greatest distinction from Ghent University in Belgium with a Licentiate in Zoology in 1958.  He obtained a Doctorate in Zoology in 1963 under the direction of Dr. L. De Coninck.  Throughout his four decade career he was a professor in the Nematology section of Ghent University where he is currently Professor Emeritus in the Biology Department.  He has produced more than 300 publications, dealing with a broad spectrum of subjects ranging from general zoology to nematode phylogeny, ultrastructure, taxonomy, embryology, and ecology.

Ignacio Cid del Prado, August Coomans and Howard Ferris

Society of Nematologists Meeting

Fort Lauderdale, 7/12/2005


Dr. Coomans has conducted nematode surveys in over 30 countries, in locations that include the Sahara Desert, Mount Kenya, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Galápagos Islands. These surveys provided him with material for the description of over 90 new species and 10 new genera.  They also provided the basis for a geographic interpretation of nematode phylogeny.


Dr. Coomans has produced detailed analyses of the organization of sensory, glandular and muscular structures in a wide range of species.  Many of his light microscopy studies provided the foundation for interpreting subsequent electron microscopy analyses and he became an active pioneer in the use of scanning and transmission electron microscopy in nematology. 


One of the earliest and most influential advocates of phylogenetic approaches to nematode taxonomy, Dr. Coomans introduced the principles of cladistics to the nematology community.  He has applied these principles in his analyses of relationships within the families Longidoridae  and Actinolaimidae, and most recently in his monograph on the phylogeny of the genus Xiphinema.  In the course of his analyses, he pioneered the importance of distinguishing between synapomorphic and homoplastic characters as an essential step in disentangling convergent groups within Dorylaimida such as the Actinolaimidae, Carcharolaimidae, and Aetholaimidae.


            He mentored and motivated generations of aspiring biologists and nematologists, through his talents as an inspiring teacher and advisor.  He  taught 13 undergraduate or graduate-level courses on Zoological and Nematological subjects at Ghent University, reaching around seven thousand students.  He has also taught graduate students as a Guest Professor at the Agricultural University of Wageningen from 1966 to 1971, as well as supervising or advising research of 26 graduate students.  Dr. Coomans furthermore provided the impetus for organizing the Postgraduate International Nematology Course at Ghent University, a program that has been taught for the last 12 years to over 100 students from developing countries.


Dr. Coomans was President of the European Society of Nematologists from 1992 to 1996.  He was admitted to the Royal Belgian Academy for Sciences, Arts, and Literature, first as a member (1978) and then as President of the Natural Sciences Section (1991).  He is a Fellow of both the Society of Nematologists and the European Society of Nematologists, and his is also an Honorary Editor of the journal Nematology


For his innovations and leadership in the areas of nematode morphology, taxonomy and systematics, the Society of Nematologists conferred its highest honor, Honorary Member, on Dr. August V. Coomans on July 12, 2005.


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