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Obituary: Dr. Alex Stacoff

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  • Obituary: Dr. Alex Stacoff

    I received the obituary below from Drs. Jachen Denoth, Walter Herzog and Benno Nigg.

    I can add to their thoughts by saying that for much of the time I have served on the ISB Council, I have had the privilege of working with Alex. He co-organized the ISB meeting in Zurich, handled the ISB student grant program wonderfully, selected tutorial speakers for ISB congresses, and was always a positive and steadying influence on Council. Many biomechanists around the world were influenced by his decisions---even though they may not know it!

    His funeral will be tomorrow (Oct 3rd) at 11am.

    In sadness,

    Brian L. Davis

    ISB Past-President


    Obituary: Alex Stacoff, PhD

    We are still in shock that our friend and colleague, Alex Stacoff, is not with us anymore. Due to a cardiac problem, he died while running, his favorite leisure-time activity,

    Alex was born in Zürich, Switzerland in 1950. He had a teacher's degree when he started his academic career at the Biomechanics Laboratory in 1975, initially as a research assistant. He was excited about the possibility to do research related to running and physical activity. After a few years as a research assistant in the Biomechanics Laboratory at the ETH, he decided to do graduate work with Jim Hay at the University of Iowa from which he graduated with a master's degree (1982). A few years later, his contributions to the biomechanics community were recognized as , he received an invitation to do a PhD degree at the University of Calgary under the supervision of Benno Nigg. He accepted this new challenge and finished with an excellent and well recognized thesis on "Skeletal Lower Extremity Motions", a bone pin study (1998).

    Alex's initial research was focused on running with and without shoes. He was at the heart of the development of the torsion concept and was highly respected in the academic and industrial footwear community. This recognition is documented by a series of keynote and invited lectures that he gave all over the world. Running and shoe research was his world and expertise and he was always happy and excited while debating these topics with colleagues and students. His later research contributions focused on walking with knee and ankle prostheses and foot mechanics including foot function, foot morphology and intrinsic foot motion, concentrating especially on children's feet. In this context he was involved in the formation of the i-FAB and their first congress in Bologna.

    Since 1990, Alex was a Senior Lecturer and Research Associate at the Biomechanics Laboratory of the ETH Zürich. He was an outstanding teacher who could explain basic and applied knowledge well and he excited many young students for the field of Biomechanics. Many of his former students are now respected young scientists all over the world. The major characteristic of Alex in his teaching activities was that students liked him as a friendly, supportive and challenging teacher who had always the students' well being in mind. His advice to graduate students was always constructive and it is no surprise that comments about his generous personality were the dominant descriptions we received after he passed away.

    For the past years, Alex served on the ISB executive board in various positions, the latest as the secretary general. Like everything in life, he performed his duties conscientiously and meticulously and never complained about the little details that always needed attention. It was with concern that we received the information from Alex that he wanted to retire from this position for health reasons in June of this year. Although he was not sure why he felt such tiredness, he was concerned and wanted some rest and peace from the demands of a busy professional career. In hindsight it almost appears as he might have known that time was limited and that focus was required.

    Alex's life was not without challenges. He had a fight with cancer and lately had some problems with his lungs. However, in all situations, Alex was optimistic, accepted the challenges and used them to become a better person. And in all the challenging situations, Alex remained helpful, supporting students, colleagues and his family.

    It is hard to say goodbye. It is hard to say goodbye to an outstanding colleague, a special friend and a fine man. Alex, thanks that we could be your friends,

    Jachen Denoth Walter Herzog Benno M. Nigg

    ETH Zürich Univ. of Calgary Univ. of Calgary


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