Petr Vaníček, Ph.D., Dr.Sc, P.Eng. (NB.), is Professor Emeritus of geodesy in the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering at University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, NB., Canada. He retired in 1999, after 28 years of teaching and is now involved only in post-graduate student supervision and in research. His research interests cover the whole spectrum of geodesy, some geophysics and applied mathematics. He is a fellow of American Geophysical Union (AGU), of International Association of Geodesy (IAG) and of the Czechoslovak Society for Arts and Sciences (SVU); he is also Senior Distinguished Scientist Humboldt awardee (1989), and recipient of Canadian Geophysical Union’s 1996 Tuzo J. Wilson medal, the highest Canadian geophysical honour. He is author and co-author of over 400 publications including a comprehensive textbook “Geodesy: the concepts”. This textbook has been translated into several languages and is being used for teaching geodesy all over the world.
Petr Vaníček, was born in 1935 in Sušice, a town of 8,000 inhabitants in south-western Bohemia to father Ivan, who was an architect and mother Irena, nee Blahovcová, who was a housewife – a typical bourgeois family. After the communist takeover he was dismissed first from the French Lycée he was attending and then from the regular high school as a bourgeois element; he eventually finished his secondary education at the Community College of Surveying (Vyšší průmyslová škola zeměměřičská) in Prague in 1954. He graduated from Czech Institute of Technology (ČVUT) in Prague in 1959 with an Engineering Diploma in Surveying (Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Emil Buchar); Faculty of Surveying was the only one willing to accept him in spite of his questionable political profile. After graduation, he served one year in Czechoslovak Army, and after the military service was employed until 1963 as a field surveyor in the Cadastral Office in Nové Strašecí. He married Jana Vančurová in 1960 and they have had together three children, Filip, Štěpán, and Anna, born in 1961, 1962, and 1970, respectively. His hobbies during his student’s years were sports, bridge and painting.
In 1963 Petr Vaníček changed jobs: through a family acquaintance of an influential professor, he was accepted as a scientific employee in Mathematical Laboratory of ČVUT Faculty of Technical and Nuclear Physics (FTJF). There he worked for 4 years as computer programmer and numerical analyst. While employed by FTJF, he was accepted as an external Ph.D. candidate by Institute of Geophysics of Czechoslovak Academy of Science (Supervisor: Dr. Jan Pícha). In May of 1967 he left Czechoslovakia for the UK, where he was offered Senior Research Fellowship by Natural Environmental Research Council of Great Britain tenable at Tidal Institute of the University of Liverpool (Supervisor: Mr. Geoff Lennon). One year later, just before the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, he traveled back to Prague to defend (summa cum laude) his Ph.D. in mathematical physics. The topic of his Ph.D. research was “least-squeares spectral analysis”. His wife and two sons were permitted to join him in UK, during the Prague Spring. At about the same time, the Tidal Institute was taken over by UK Government and Petr became a Senior Scientific Officer of British civil service.
In September 1969 the whole family Vaníček left Europe to become Canadian immigrants. Petr was accepted as National Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow, a position tenable at Surveys and Mapping Branch of Department of Energy, Mines and Resources in Ottawa. He held this post for two years, before he assumed a tenure-track position of Associate Professor of geodesy at the Department of Surveying Engineering of University of New Brunswick (UNB) in Fredericton, NB., where he has been more or less continuously ever since. In 1974, Petr and his family became citizens of Canada, in 1976 he became full professor at UNB, and in 1983 he became Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) in the province of New Brunswick. He was president of Canadian Geophysical Union between 1986 and 1988.
Petr spent five months in 1978 as U.S. Academy of Science Senior Visiting Scientist at National Geodetic Survey, Rockville, Maryland and for several summers between 1975 and 2003 held various other visiting positions at Universities of Parana (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Stuttgart (Germany), US National Centre for Earthquake Research (USGS), Menlo Park, Ca. (USA), Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (Sweden), K.N.Toosi University of Technology (Tehran, Iran), South African Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (Johannesburg), Curtin University of Technology, Perth (West Australia). Between July 1981 and June 1983, he held full professorship at the University of Toronto in Survey Science, Physics and Civil Engineering. Thereafter, until 1989, he remained Adjunct Professor of Survey Science there. Between 1982 and 1985 he was member of US NRC/Academy of Sciences Committee on Geodesy, Washington, between 1990 and 2000 he was member of international editorial board of Studia Geophysica et Geodetica, a journal of Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague and during the years of 1992 – 95 he was Editor-in-Chief of Manuscripta Geodaetica and Bulletin Géodésique, the international journals of IAG. He also held different functions within IAG and AGU.
In 1990, the Vaníček family returned to Czechoslovakia for the first time since 1968. In 1991 Petr married Valeria, nee Vašaryová, and in1993 had another degree bestowed on him, Dr. Sc. in mathematical physics, by the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic for his geodesy textbook. After retiring from UNB in 1999 Petr was made Honorary Research Professor and in 2002 Professor Emeritus. He still lives in Fredericton, co-supervises some graduate students, write papers and lectures in different parts of the world. Also, he is now able to devote more time to his hobbies, which include: five grandchildren, tennis, golf, downhill skiing, bridge, travelling, hunting and investing.