Oswald was born in Temse, Belgium, on Sept. 16, 1921, to Ghisleen and Elvire (Heirwegh) Roels.
He earned his PhD in organic chemistry in 1944 from the University of Louvain. He was a member of a Belgian Army Unit disbanded after most of its members were executed in the early days of the German Invasion in 1940.
Oswald devoted his life to the study of the effects of malnutrition on the human body and on the development of practical ways of eradicating hunger and its effects on its victims by developing low-cost ways of providing protein and other vitamins and nutrients in an environmentally sustainable fashion with minimal impact on the environment.
He worked at the National Institute for Agricultural Research in the former Belgian Congo (INEAC) from 1945- 1949. From 1949 until 1953 he worked in the chemical industry in London (ICI) and Flanders, Belgium. While serving as a leader of a Boy Scout troop in Londo,n he met a fellow Scoutmaster, Dorothy Broadhurst, M.D., an expert in the field of tropical medicine. After their marriage in 1950 and the birth of their daughter, Ann, they returned to the Congo as research partners working at the Institute for Scientific Research in Central Africa (IRSAC) from 1953-1960. During this time Roels discovered that peanut oil could enhance the absorption of vitamin A, which was needed to prevent a type of blindness common in the indigenous population of Africa, and many other countries at that time. It was in the Congo that Roels discovered that mariculture could be used to provide locally generated cheap sources of protein to help alleviate the Kwashiorkor, then rampant in the region.
Roels immigrated to the United States to become a professor of biochemistry at Columbia University. After five years he began working at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory there, where his research was focused on his “artificial upwelling” project in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. He also did extensive research on the environmental effects of Deep Sea Mining. During this time Roels served as a professor of marine studies at the City College of New York. He also served as adjunct professor at the Rockefeller University in New York City from 1969-1980 and as a visiting research professor at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada.
In 1976, Roels became director of the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas. The research he pursued now is used to increase yields of low-cost sustainably-produced protein to feed people worldwide.
In 1980 he founded the mariculture company, Maritek, raising shrimp and redfish on Long Island, Bahamas. He served as the president and chairman of the board until his retirement in 1993.
Roels was awarded fellowships at The University of Brussels, Liverpool University, Vanderbilt University, with the WHO, and at the Sorbonne. From 1961-1968 he was associate editor of Nutrition Reviews.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Dorothy; daughter Ann (Carmen) Talarico; grandchildren Leslie Talarico and Matthew Talarico. He is also survived by his sister Lydia Bels of Temse, Belgium, and numerous nieces and nephews in Holland and Belgium. His sisters Marie Jose Weenen and Solange Ringoet preceded him in death.
Memorial contributions may be directed to the Leopold Schepp Foundation, 551 Fifth Ave., Suite 3000, New York, New York 10176.
Condolences may be expressed at www.harryandbryantfuneralhom.com.