Blue mountains

In Memoriam

AGU and the Earth and space science community is comprised of more than 130,000 experts and science-engaged individuals from around the world. We want to provide you with a place to share and remember those in our community who have passed away.

If you would like to add someone, please fill out our "In Memoriam" form. AGU is posting only what is written and submitted via the form.


Reiner L. Stenzel, PhD

  • Passed: 9 December 2023
  • Age: 83
  • Cause: Brain hemorrhage
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Professor Plasma Physics
  • Institution/Organization: UCLA
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam. In lieu of gifts or flowers, the family would like to further the study of physics and enjoyment of the outdoors with donations to the following organizations: UCLA Physics, Caltech Physics, Sierra Club Los Angeles.
  • About
    • Prof. Reiner L. Stenzel was a pioneer in experimental physics, developing several diagnostic techniques as well as conducting seminal research on magnetic field reconnection and antenna/electrode coupling with plasmas. However, his research interests were much wider as demonstrated by the diverse topics covered by the doctoral theses he supervised: magnetic reconnection, beam/plasma systems, current and heat transport, ion and beam-plasma turbulence, expanding plasmas, wave excitation, and the transition between magnetized and unmagnetized plasmas. In addition, he also studied fusor-type discharges, plasma bubbles and fireballs, as well as ion sound, lower hybrid and EMHD turbulence. 
    • His research has relevance to laboratory and space plasmas and the latest findings were annually presented at the meetings of the Division of Plasma Physics of the American Physical Society (APS) and the sessions of the Space Physics and Aeronomy division of the American Geophysical Union. The work was also presented regularly at topical conferences as well as international meetings.
    • Prof. Stenzel was born in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland), and received an Abitur from the Gymnasium am Barkhof, Bremen, Germany, in 1959. He was awarded a Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes while obtaining his Diplom Ingenieur in 1965 from the then Technische Hochschule Carolo-Wilhelmina in Braunschweig (now Technische Universität Carolo-Wilhelmina zu Braunschweig). He was invited to attend the California Institute of Technology, where he served as Graduate Research Assistant and was advised by Prof. Roy W. Gould. He was granted an M.S. in 1966 and a Ph.D. in Applied Science in 1970. 
    • Shortly after graduating, Prof. Stenzel was recruited by Prof. A.Y. Wong at UCLA as an Adjunct Assistant Professor and then Assistant Research Physicist. He simultaneously worked at TRW, Inc., where he became a Member of the Staff in 1972. He returned to UCLA full time as an Associate Professor in 1977, and advanced to Professor in 1981, a position he held until retirement in 2012. He was also a Visiting Scientist at Tokyo University (1980), University of Tromsø (1981), University of Paris-Sud (1995), University of Innsbruck (2007, 2009, and 2012), and the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (2015). He was elected an APS Fellow in 1993 for his pioneering work. 
    • Even though Prof. Stenzel and his wife had moved to the Bay Area to be close to his children and grandchildren, he continued experimental work as a Research Professor until the pandemic made periodic visits to UCLA impractical. Prof. Stenzel was one of the best experimentalists of his time with 226 publications and countless conference presentations.

Yuriy Litvin, PhD

  • Passed: 7 December 2023
  • Age: 86
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Geochemistry and Mineralogy
  • Institution/Organization: Korzhinskii Institute of Experimental Mineralogy (Russian Academy of Sciences)
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam
  • About:
    • Yuriy A. Litvin was a professor and major scientific researcher at the Mantle Laboratory of the Korzhinskii Institute of Experimental Mineralogy (Russian Academy of Sciences) in Chernogolovka.
    • His scientific interests included the physical geochemistry of the Earth’s mantle, genetic mineralogy of diamond and paragenetic inclusions, and experimental study of multicomponent multiphase mantle systems.
    • His principal scientific findings concerned the physico-chemical mechanisms of diamond formation in metal-carbon and carbonate-carbon systems; peritectic reactions of orthopyroxene and olivine (upper mantle), ringwoodite (transition zone) and bridgmanite (lower mantle – “stishovite paradox”); the physico-chemical foundations of the ultrabasic-basic evolution of mantle magmas and diamond-parental melts; and the mantle-carbonatite theory of diamond genesis.
    • He is the author of several books: Physico-chemical studies of the Earth’s deep substance melting (1991); Experimental studies of carbonate-silicate systems of the mantle in the context of the problem of diamond formation (2011); Genesis of diamonds and associated phases (2017); and Evolution of magmatic and diamond-forming systems of the Earth’s lower mantle (2019).
    • In 2020, with his colleague Oleg Safonov, he edited a special book publication entitled: Advances in Experimental and Genetic Mineralogy, Special Publication for the 50th Anniversary of DS Korzhhinskii Institute of Experimental Mineralogy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Springer.
    • Litvin’s last paper was published in Minerals on 4 August 2023 entitled: The Peritectic Reaction of Olivine as the Mechanism of the Ultrabasic–Basic Evolution of the Diamond-Forming Silicate-Carbonate-(C-O-H) System: Experiments at 6.0 GPa, By Y. A. Litvin, A. V. Kuyura and A. V. Spivak.

Allan Lewis Lazrus, PhD

  • Passed: 27 November 2023
  • Age: 90
  • Cause: Complications due to pneumonia
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Atmospheric chemistry
  • Institution/Organization: National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam. Condolences may be sent to Dr. Suzanne MacAulay, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, [email protected], 720.883.5205, 124 Creekside Lane, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80906 USA
  • About
    • Allan Lazrus was a research chemist in the Atmospheric Quality Division (AQD), he joined the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) close to the time of its inception in the early Sixties. Throughout his career, Allan’s research projects underscored founder of NCAR, Walter Orr Roberts’ vision of creating a “research program of the highest quality, dedicated to the common goal of progress of the atmospheric sciences.” Collaborating with a consortium of academic institutions, Allan managed the National Precipitation Network and participated in the Climatic Impact Assessment Program, which yielded many first measurements of trace chemicals in the stratosphere. Data collected by Allan and his laboratory also measured lead in the atmosphere, resulting in Congress relying on these results in order to pass legislation to replace leaded gasoline with unleaded.
    • In the mid-seventies Allan’s lab was the first to provide data on hydrochloric acid in the stratosphere and to corroborate predictions of imminent ozone depletion in the atmosphere, which ultimately led to the ozone hole in the southern hemisphere. All of this was foundational to the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty created to protect the ozone layer. Allan’s large-scale project, the Acid Precipitation Experiment (APEX) , involving many institutions, identified a major site of acid rain production emanating from the Ohio River Valley where it flowed north into Canada and to the Northeastern states. Allan was rewarded with a hug from the British Prime Minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher, for verifying the U.S. source of acid rain contamination affecting Canadian lakes and plants. Allan retired from NCAR in 1992.

James E. Faller, PhD

  • Passed: 14 June 2023
  • Age: 89
  • Cause: Multiple strokes
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Geodesy, gravimetry
  • Institution/Organization: JILA/University of Colorado Boulder and National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam. Donations in memory of Dr. Faller's lifelong commitment to students or instrument shop capabilities should be made to the Thomas O'Brian Endowed Memorial Fund for Graduate Student Support at JILA or the JILA Shops Fund.
  • About:
    • Dr. James E. Faller's scientific career spanned precision measurement of physical constants, fundamental tests of basic laws, and innovative instrumentation.
    • Starting with his doctoral thesis at Princeton and continuing with numerous graduate students, he developed a succession of absolute gravimeters for measuring the Earth’s gravitational acceleration ‘g.’ The gravimeters were all more-or-less portable to facilitate gravity mapping and side-by-side comparisons at reference locations. Both research and commercial versions became standards for gravimetry, geodesy, and fundamental tests of ‘fifth force’ and Newton’s Law of Gravitation.
    • One of Dr. Faller’s most enduring research contributions was the proposal for precision ranging to the Moon using lasers and retroreflector arrays left on the Moon by the Apollo 11, 14, and 15 missions. He originally proposed the concept while still a graduate student, supported the refinement of the design, and carried out the first successful ranging at Lick Observatory with Joe Wampler. Initial ranging accuracy of centimeters, and now millimeters, enabled unique lunar science, geophysics, and fundamental tests of Newtonian gravity and General Relativity.
    • In the field of gravitational waves, Dr. Faller made important contributions to the quartz-fiber final suspensions and the active seismic isolation systems incorporated into Advanced LIGO. He collaborated with students and faculty at the University of Glasgow in developing silicate bonds for final suspensions. The active seismic isolation system is critical for the low-frequency response of the instrument that enables detection of merging stellar-mass black holes which make up the bulk of the revolutionary detections.
    • In 1981, Drs. Faller and Peter Bender proposed the first workable concept for a space-based, gravitational-wave detector that would operate in the millihertz band where the richest array of sources is found. Working with Dr. Bender and others, he pioneered the conceptual design that became the Laser Interferometric Space Antenna (LISA), now a major space mission in the European Space Agency’s program. Dr. Faller recognized that laser frequency noise could be canceled in an unequal-arm interferometer by suitable combinations of time-delayed signals.
    • Many of Dr. Faller’s students and early career associates will remember him for his persistent concern for their motivation and his empowerment of them. He was extraordinarily successful at engaging students in creative instrumental solutions for major experimental challenges in ways that transformed their careers.

Alexander Dessler, PhD

  • Passed: 9 April 2023
  • Age: 94
  • Cause: Age
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Space Plasma Physics/Magnetospheric Physics/SPA
  • Institution/Organization: Rice University, Duke University, California Institute of Technology
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam. Memorial contributions may be sent to the "Dessler-Greider fund for Physics and Astronomy" at Rice University, Houston TX.
  • About:
    • Alex Dessler founded the Space Science Department at Rice University in 1963, and guided hundreds of students to successful careers in that field.
    • He retired from Rice in 1993, but not from space science research. He remained an active and productive researcher until well into the twenty-first century.
    • He is widely recognized as a founding father of the scientific field of space physics, not only in the United States but also in the world. He was a leader, a mentor, and a friend. He will not be soon forgotten.


David Woolhiser, PhD

  • Passed: 19 August 2022
  • Age: 90
  • Cause: Severe infection after surgery
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Hydrology
  • Institution/Organization: Agricultural Research Service, USDA, University of Wisconsin, University of Arizona, Cornell University
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam. For those who wish, memorial contributions may be made to Larimer County Food Bank, Oxfam America, or Child Fund International.
  • About:
    • David Arthur Woolhiser was born 21 January 1932 in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, the son of Blanche L. and Algie D. Woolhiser. For the first three years the family lived on a dairy farm near Melrose, WI. In 1935, they moved to Stoddard, WI where his father built and operated the Log Cabin filling station. The family moved to Viroqua, WI where he graduated from high school in 1949. He graduated cum laude from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1955 with BS degrees in Agriculture and Civil Engineering. He was a member of Lamda Chi Alpha social fraternity and was elected to Alpha Zeta, Chi Epsilon and Tau Beta Pi honorary fraternities.
    • After graduation, he moved to Tucson, AZ where he took a position with the Department of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Arizona. He met his lifelong love, Kathryn Brown- a fashion artist, in Tucson and they were married at her parents’ home in Lordsburg, NM on Apr. 21, 1957.
    • In 1958 he accepted a position with the Agricultural Research Service of USDA as a field engineer at the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed in Tombstone AZ. He completed an MS in Civil Engineering at the University of Arizona in 1959, and was transferred by the ARS USDA to Madison, WI where he completed a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering with minors in Meteorology and Geophysics while working part-time and was elected to Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society. He was transferred to Columbia, MO in 1961 as an engineer for a new ARS watershed research center. Academia called again and he accepted a position at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY developing a graduate program in Water Resources Engineering with a counterpart in the Department of Economics.
    • He returned to ARS in 1967 as Research Investigations Leader for Watershed Engineering in the Northern Plains Branch with headquarters in Fort Collins, CO. He was a Faculty Affiliate in Civil Engineering at Colorado State University and was a full member of the Graduate School. In 1977-78 he was a visiting professor at Imperial College, London and visiting scientist at the Institute of Hydrology in Wallingford, UK.
    • In 1981 he transferred to the Southwest Watershed Research Center in Tucson, Arizona, where he served as senior scientist and research leader and was an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona. He enjoyed backpacking in wilderness areas with his family and dogs. He also had great fun with paddling and sailing “Molly Brown”- a two-man kayak he built from a kit.
    • He retired in 1991 after 30 years of government service, and in 1993 he and Kay returned to Fort Collins. After retirement he served as visiting professor at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg VA, and the University of Cordoba, Spain and was a part-time consultant. In 1994 he and Kay purchased an irrigated farm near Hotchkiss, CO and with son Carl, constructed buildings and improved the irrigation system for raising organic herbs and vegetables, hay and grain.
    • He was recognized for his expertise in the hydrology and hydro meteorology of arid lands, numerical modeling of surface runoff and probabilistic modeling of precipitation and runoff. He received many honors and awards for his research including the Robert E. Horton Award and elected Fellowship in the American Geophysical Union, the Arid Lands Hydraulic Engineering and the Ven Te Chow Awards and the Hunter Rouse Lectureship of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Ray K. Linsley Award of American Institute of Hydrology. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1990 and received the Distinguished Service Citation from the University Of Wisconsin in 1991. He felt that it was a privilege to work with his many colleagues and students over the years.

Nikolas Christensen, BS, MS, PhD

  • Passed: 19 May 2022
  • Age: 85
  • Cause: Natural Cycles
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Seismology, Mineral & Rock Physics
  • Institution/Organization: University of Southern California, University of Washington, Purdue University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of British Columbia
  • About:
    • Nikolas Christensen will be remembered as a gifted Earth scientist who made fundamental contributions to geology and geophysics, particularly the physical properties of the oceanic and continental crust and mantle lithosphere. He stood out for his exceptional skills in the laboratory and was the world's foremost authority on elastic properties of crustal and upper mantle lithologies. His measurements of seismic velocities on the full range of commonly occurring rock types have provided the basis for countless interpretations of active and passive seismic studies aimed at understanding lithospheric structure and evolution.
    • A Wisconsin native, Nik began his career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison earning the B.S., M.S. and PhD (major in metamorphic petrology, minor in physics) degrees in 1959, 1961 and 1963. He moved to Harvard University in 1963-1964 as Research Fellow in Geophysics working under Francis Birch, one of the founders of solid Earth geophysics. It was under Birch's supervision that Nik developed his life-long interest in the elastic properties of rocks and their utility in deciphering the secrets of the then nascent theory of plate tectonics.
    • Nik's career included faculty appointments at five universities: the University of Southern California (1964-1966, assistant professor), the University of Washington (1966-1983, assistant, associate and full professor), Purdue University (1983-1997, professor), his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1997-present, professor and emeritus professor), and the University of British Columbia (2005-present, honorary professor). Nik performed extensive community service through his role on committees and panels of the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, the Ocean Drilling and Deep Sea Drilling Programs, the International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth's Interior, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the National Research Council. Nik's exceptional contributions to Earth science have been recognized through Fellowships in the Geological Society of America (1969) and American Geophysical Union (1995), and through the George P. Woollard Award of the Geological Society of America (1996).
    • For those who worked with him, Nik was an inexhaustible source of insight regarding the Earth’s crust. He was a gifted teacher who could summarize complex concepts with uncommon clarity. He guided dozens of M.S. and Ph.D. students, tailoring cutting-edge research topics to fit individuals' interests and skills. A majority of his students’ theses appeared as papers in the leading scientific journals, invariably with student as first author.

Charles T. Prewitt, BS, MS, PhD

  • Passed: 28 April 2022
  • Age: 89
  • Cause: Unknown
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Mineral and Rock Physics
  • Institution/Organization: Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam
  • About:
    • Following a S.B. in geology from M.I.T., Charles Prewitt remained in Cambridge to pursue advanced degrees under Martin Buerger. His Ph.D. thesis on the crystal structures of wollastonite and pectolite was completed in 1962. Immediately following his doctorate, Charlie joined DuPont as a research scientist. There, in collaboration with Bob Shannon, he developed the crystal chemical systematics that led to the much-cited Shannon and Prewitt tables of effective ionic radii.
    • From 1969 to 1986, Prewitt was Professor of Crystallography at the Stony Brook campus of the State University of New York, where he began one of the country’s preeminent programs in crystal chemistry and high-pressure research. His tenure was distinguished by extensive service to the Earth science community, including membership on U.S. National Committees on Geology and on Crystallography, and several offices in the Mineralogical Society of America, including President in 1983–1984. It was also during this period that he forged important international ties through visiting professorships in Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom. In the process he was instrumental in establishing the new field of mineral physics. He was also one of the founding editors of the new journal Physics and Chemistry of Minerals and, in 2003, was awarded the Roebling Medal of the MSA.
    • In 1986, Charlie Prewitt moved to Washington, D.C. become the Director of the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and Alexandra Navrotsky moved from Arizona State University to Princeton University. These transitions created new opportunities for collaboration. In 1991, a proposal for an NSF Science and Technology Center for High Pressure Research (CHiPR) was funded for a total of 11 years to 2002, with total funding of $36 million. Stony Brook served as the headquarters of CHiPR with Weidner as the Principal Investigator (PI) and Liebermann as the Co-PI, and branch campuses at Princeton (Co-PI Navrotsky) and Carnegie (Co-PI Prewitt).
    • As Director of the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington from 1986 to 1998, Prewitt had a dramatic impact on the content and scope of the Lab’s research program. He was Co-Director of the NSF-sponsored Center for High-Pressure Research, in collaboration with Stony Brook and Princeton, and he championed an expanded view of mineralogy in the context of materials research. Under his direction, the Lab moved to new facilities and increased its scientific staff to more than 50 researchers. He supported new research programs in high-pressure physics and astrobiology, and helped to establish a summer intern program for undergraduates. Then, as a staff member, Charlie returned full time to the scientific research he loved.

David Falvey, PhD

  • Passed: 9 April 2022
  • Age: 76
  • Cause: Prolonged illness
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Marine Geophysics
  • Institution/Organization: Research Connect Pty Ltd
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam, 2016 History of Australian Geoscience Oral History Project
  • About:
    • David Falvey was a marine geophysicist whose international leadership, management, and research career spanned government, academia, and industry. Born in Sydney on 19 December 1945, Dave graduated from the University of Sydney with a BSc in Geology & Geophysics/Applied Mathematics (Honors, Class 1) in 1972. His PhD work in Marine Geophysics at the University of New South Wales (1967-1972) included nine research voyages.
    • Following his PhD Dave worked for the Royal Australian Navy in Sydney. Later in 1972 he joined Shell in Melbourne as an exploration geophysicist, developing concepts of pre-breakup structuring on continental margins and authoring a seminal paper on the breakup unconformity. In 1974 Dave was appointed Senior Lecturer in Geophysics at the University of Sydney, where he investigated southwest Pacific marginal basin development and continued basin analysis and petroleum exploration research, resulting in two landmark papers on geohistory analysis.
    • In 1982 Dave became Chief of Division of Marine Geosciences & Petroleum Geology at the Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR; now Geoscience Australia) in Canberra. He established the Continental Margins Program, procured the first major Australian marine geoscientific research capacity (RV Rig Seismic), and drove Australian membership in the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP). In 1989 Dave rose to Associate Director, BMR, where he integrated a national program of research, onshore and offshore basin analysis, and evaluation of petroleum resource potential.
    • Dave was appointed Director of ODPs at Joint Oceanographic Institutions in Washington DC in 1994. He led development and implementation of ODP’s 2nd Long Range Plan, conducted significant cost containment, and restructured ODP’s management, scientific advice, and delivery.
    • In 1998 Dave became Executive Director of the British Geological Survey (BGS) in Nottingham. He shifted BGS from traditional scientific discipline-based divisions to user-oriented directorates, and changed its focus from a traditional geological survey to 3D modelling, airborne geophysics, environmental monitoring, hazard assessment, groundwater, soils, the urban environment, and information management and delivery. Dave initiated a major program in carbon capture and storage.
    • Dave served as Executive Director of the Australian Research Council (ARC) responsible for the physics, chemistry, and geoscience portfolio, plus oversight, management, and review of all ARC research centers from 2006 to 2008 in Canberra. He drove Australia’s membership in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, and establishment of a Special Research Center in groundwater.
    • In 2008 Dave founded Research Connect, a global consultancy focusing on strategy, management, program development, organizational reviews, and energy exploration. He served as its Managing Director until his death. Concurrently, Dave co-founded Tamboran Resources and was Managing Director (2008-2011), and later founded and was Managing Director of Palatine Energy (2011-2018).
    • For an extraordinary career spanning academia, government, and industry, Dave considered it to be extremely rewarding and couldn’t have hoped for a more diverse, yet thematically connected professional life experience. Beyond work, his passions included family, Aboriginal art, travel, history, golf, wine, brandy, cigars, and his beloved vintage Morgan. Survivors are his widow Gillian Tidey, two children, and three grandchildren. Margaret Kaye, his first wife and mother of their children, predeceased him in 1984. We shall miss Dave’s brilliance, inspiration, incisiveness, enthusiasm, hospitality, bonhomie, irreverence, humor, and hearty laugh, and will endeavor to build upon his legacy.

Nikolai V. Sobolev, PhD

  • Passed: 25 March 2022
  • Age: 86
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Mineralogy and Petrology
  • Institution/Organization: Professor at the V. S. Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk. Director of the Mineralogy and Petrography Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
  • Thoughts & Tributes:  In Memoriam
  • About
    • The Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), Joint Scientific Council on Earth Sciences of the Siberian Branch of RAS, V.S. Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy of the Siberian Branch of RAS informs with the deepest sorrow that on March 25, 2022, Nikolai Vladimirovich Sobolev, the outstanding scientist, the expert in the field of mineralogy, petrology and geochemistry passed away.
    • Nikolai Vladimirovich Sobolev was born on May 28, 1935 in Leningrad. In 1958 he graduated with honors from the geological faculty of the Lviv State University named after I. Franko and worked as a head of the mineralogical museum for a year and a half. On May 25, 1960, he started working in the Institute of Geology and Geophysics Siberian Branch of USSR Academy of Sciences (SB RAS), where he rose from the Junior Researcher to the Director of the Associate Institute of Mineralogy and Petrography SB RAS (1990-2006), and Adviser of RAS. In 1963 he defended his PhD and, in 1971, his Doctor of Science thesis. In 1976 at the age of forty, together with future Academicians N.L. Dobretsov and V.V. Reverdatto, he was awarded the Lenin Prize for the series of monographs "Facies of Metamorphism" under the guidance of Academician V.S. Sobolev. In 1981, Nikolai Vladimirovich Sobolev was elected a Corresponding Member and, in 1990 – a Full Member (Academician) of the USSR Academy of Sciences.
    • Nikolay Vladimirovich was an outstanding scientist, author and co-author of more than 350 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and of ten monographs. He was at the top of the list of the most cited Russian researchers in Earth sciences. According to the Web of Science, the works with his participation were cited more than twelve thousand times. For 24 years, N.V.Sobolev was the editor-in-chief of the journal "Geology and Geophysics", and, during this period, the journal had the highest impact factor among geological journals in Russia.
    • Nikolay Vladimirovich Sobolev was one of the world's leading experts in petrology and mineralogy of deep zones of the lithosphere, ultrahigh-pressure metamorphism, and geology of diamond deposits; as well as the recognized leader in these research fields in Russia. A unique role in his research was the study of natural diamonds and coexisting minerals.
    • The pioneering research of N.V. Sobolev's in the years of 1969-1971, anticipated the similar research of others by many years and greatly impacted the development of several fields of Earth sciences, including experimental research in the field of high pressures and diamond synthesis. They became the basis for creating a set of principally new mineralogical and geochemical methods of forecasting and prospecting diamond deposits, the high efficiency of which was proved by discovering the Yubileinaya pipe and forecasting of the Arkhangelsk diamondiferous province. These prognoses were highly awarded by the government. The methods developed by N.V. Sobolev have been used worldwide for many decades.
    • In the 1980s, under the leadership of N.V. Sobolev, the metamorphic rocks of the Kokchetav massif (Kazakhstan) revealing inclusions of micro diamonds and coesite in zircons, garnets and pyroxenes were studied in detail. Thus, it was proved for the first time that these rocks were subjected to ultrahigh pressures due to their immersion into the mantle, which led to the formation of not only coesite but also diamond.
    • N.V. Sobolev's works have received broad international recognition. He was elected a member of the European Academy, a foreign member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and the National Italian Academy of Sciences, an honorary member of the Russian Mineralogical Society and Fellow of several foreign scientific societies, the vice-president of the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) from 1990 to 1994, and the vice-president of the Russian Mineralogical Society. He was awarded the A.E. Fersman Prize of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the A. von Humboldt International Award.
    • N.V. Sobolev was the first Russian scientist to whom the IMA Council uniting mineralogical societies of about 40 countries, granted the highest award of the IMA - the "Medal of Excellence in Mineralogical Sciences.”
    • N.V. Sobolev was a laureate of the Lenin and State Prizes of the USSR, an honored scientist of the Yakut ASSR, awarded with many orders and medals. Among the pupils of N.V. Sobolev, there are two academicians of the Russian Academy of Sciences and about 30 doctors and candidates of sciences.

Olav Eldholm, PhD, Professor Emeritus

  • Passed: 18 March 2022
  • Age: 80
  • Cause: Natural
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Marine geology and geophysics
  • Institution/Organization: Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam
  • About:
    • A proud native of Stavanger in western Norway, Olav completed his secondary education at Stavanger Katedralskole in 1960 and then served 18 months in the Royal Norwegian Navy. After completing his degree in geophysics at the University of Bergen in 1967, he began a research career, first at the University of Bergen until 1969, and then at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University in New York – an institution at the forefront of global research in marine geophysics and plate tectonics – from 1969 to 1974. There Olav worked closely with leading researchers such as Manik Talwani and John Ewing, and he experienced the rapid development of geoscientific research in the context of the new plate tectonics paradigm. He subsequently completed his PhD degree at the University of Bergen in 1976.
    • Olav brought this knowledge, considerable enthusiasm, and an international research network back to Norway in 1974, where he was appointed Professor of Petroleum Geology (1974-1981) and Professor of Marine Geophysics (1981-2003) at the University of Oslo. He began to build a strong research group in marine geophysics studying the formation and development of Atlantic ocean basins and surrounding continental margins in close collaboration with top international researchers. He also led large research projects focusing on the development of sedimentary basins on the Norwegian continental shelf in collaboration with the petroleum industry, which at that time was growing rapidly in Norway.
    • A seagoing scientist, Olav spent over 16 months aboard American, Japanese, Norwegian, and Swedish research vessels, including serving eight months as Chief Scientist, over the course of his career. These voyages encompassed the Norwegian-Greenland Sea, the Barents Sea, the Arctic Ocean, the eastern Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, and the western Pacific Ocean. Highlights included serving as Co-Chief Scientist aboard D/V JOIDES Resolution Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 104 (Norwegian continental margin), sailing on the famous R/V Vema with Captain Henry Kohler, and experiencing research and Japanese culture aboard the R/V Hakuho Maru.
    • Many Dr.scient./Dr.philos. (16) and MSc. (56) students were supervised by Olav, a significant portion of whom obtained key positions in the hydrocarbon companies exploring the Norwegian shelf. He also motivated young researchers pursuing an academic career, and provided useful advice, mentoring, and academic freedom to explore the academic network that he established. Olav was a knowledgeable and strong leader with clear strategic vision. He was always consummately prepared and organized in the development and implementation of research strategies and projects.
    • Based on his experience from Lamont-Doherty, Olav strongly advocated establishing geophysical databases and developing tools for integrated analysis of geophysical data. He was the driving force behind the establishment of a modern IT infrastructure and internet at the University of Oslo’s Department of Geology during the 1980s. At Oslo, he served as Head of Department from 1981-1983 and 1994-1997, raising the profile of the department to be a world leader in the study of volcanic rifted margins. In 2003, he returned to Bergen where he was Head of Department until 2009 when he retired.
    • As an Emeritus Professor, he continued his research career for the rest of his life. Internationally, Eldholm is best known for his studies of volcanic rifted margins and large igneous provinces (LIPs). His work on LIPs, together with Mike Coffin, was groundbreaking and remains fundamental for ongoing studies of such provinces. Their collaboration involved multiple reciprocal visiting appointments at Oslo and the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics in the 1990s. Their seminal 1994 publication on LIPs in Reviews of Geophysics has garnered >1600 citations, and they co-authored 18 other publications.

Walter Komhyr, MS, BS

  • Passed: 15 February 2022
  • Age: 90
  • Cause: Natural
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Atmospheric Sciences
  • Institution/Organization: Canadian Department of Transport, U.S. Weather Bureau, NOAA, and EnSci Corporation - founder and CEO
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam
  • About:
    • “The data gathered comprises for mankind an invaluable scientific archive.” - Walter Komhyr.
    • The atmospheric science community recently lost one of the world’s foremost experts on ozone and a strong advocate for long-term measurements to monitor human impacts on the planet. Walter D. Komhyr passed away peacefully in Boulder, Colorado on 15 February 2022 at the age of 90.
    • Born 12 Nov. 1931 in Spedden, Alberta, Canada, the son of Ukrainian immigrant farmers, Walter's career has impacted atmospheric science worldwide. Among his accomplishments, he developed an approach to calibrate and standardize total column ozone measurements by the Dobson spectrophotometer; he invented, developed, built, and distributed globally the electrochemical concentration cell (ECC) ozonesonde, still to this day the world standard instrument for in situ measurements of ozone on balloons; he advocated for and led the establishment of a network of long-term, clean-air observatories to monitor ozone, carbon dioxide, and other trace atmospheric species to track human influences on weather and climate; and at a time when there were not many colleagues in the area, Walter was a scientific pioneer to the front-range in Colorado, arriving in Boulder in 1966 at a new small outpost known as the Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry Laboratory. That outpost has since grown into a world-recognized leader in making and understanding atmospheric trace gas measurements, including its descendants, the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratories, which employ over 650 scientists and staff today.
    • Walter began work as a physicist during the First International Geophysical Year (1957-1958) at the Canadian Department of Transport. He was assigned to the new Dobson spectrophotometer in Moosonee, Ontario where he upgraded the Canadian 4-station Dobson network. Subsequently he managed the 6-station Dobson network maintained by the U.S. Weather Bureau. His efforts led to the establishment of the Dobson primary standard instrument #83. Beginning in 1970 and in recognition of the value of such standardization, the World Meteorological Organization sponsored regular calibration of all Dobson instruments to that world standard.
    • Recognizing the importance of human impacts on weather and climate, Walter advocated for the establishment of a network of stations distributed around the world to gather long-term records of ozone and carbon dioxide at clean-air sites. His presentation of the paper, “Inadvertent Modification of the Atmosphere” to the National Academy of Sciences on 9 November 1967 ultimately led to the establishment of such a network of sites: Barrow, Alaska; Mauna Loa, Hawaii; American Samoa, and the South Pole. He developed a CO2 infrared analyzer for use at the observatories and implemented a program to collect flasks at 20 stations around the world to analyze CO2 concentrations. His publication on CO2 flask data (1968 - 1982) analysis earned the U.S. Department of Commerce Distinguished Authorship Award.
    • While working at the Weather Bureau’s Air Resources Lab, Walter became interested in balloon-borne ozone measurements. He invented and patented the highly sensitive ECC ozonesonde, one of 6 patents he held. The first flight from Boulder took place 27 April 1967, beginning a continuous record of ozone profiles at the site that extends more than 50 years to this day.  Eventually, he founded EnSci Corporation, which built and sold ozonesondes under his leadership for more than 40 years. A network of ECC ozonesonde instruments remains operational around the world, and their data remain in high demand for scientific research, including instrument and model validation.
    • Walter efforts were recognized with many awards, including the Silver Medal Award for meritorious service (U.S. Department of Commerce) and the naming of Komhyr Ridge (U.S. Board of Geographic Names). The atmospheric science community offers its condolences to the Komhyr family.

Murray Dryer, PhD, MS, BS, Senior Scientist Emeritus

  • Passed: 7 February 2022
  • Age: 96
  • Cause: Natural
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Solar and Interplanetary Physics
  • Institution/Organization: Space Weather Predictions Center, National Weather Service, Boulder CO
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam
  • About:
    • Murray began as an aeronautical engineer and later delved deeply into advanced research of the solar wind and its complex relationship with our magnetosphere. One of his chief contributions to solar physics was his 3D numerical simulation studies of solar wind expansion and his foundational knowledge of shock wave theory into predicting both recurrent and non-recurrent geomagnetic storms.
    • With 134 first authored research papers to his name, Dr. Dryer co-authored 420 others. He mentored numerous students worldwide who are now leaders in the field of space research. He is the recipient of numerous awards including an AIAA Space Science Award (1975), a NOAA Certificate of Scientific Accomplishment (1981) and was credited in several Who’s Who compilations. Dr. Dryer also pioneered three design patents for hypersonic aircraft configurations. Murray first dedicated himself to aeronautical engineering.
    • His first summer job was plotting pressure distributions on supersonic swept wings in the subsonic regime. After graduation he worked for about six years at the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory under NACA in Cleveland, OH. It was here that research was given free rein to allow the aerodynamicist to experiment with exotic supersonic and hypersonic models in wind tunnels. Various air inlets, nozzles and aircraft configurations were tested and data collected. One of Murray’s ideas was to come up with a flat bottom design on supersonic vehicles so as to get the pressure behind the shock in order to improve efficiency for turbojet and ramjet engines.
    • Murray moved to Littleton, CO in 1959 to work for Martin Marietta. This entailed refining jet nozzle design initially, but later he was assigned to use his knowledge of aerodynamic coefficients to study shuttle atmospheric re-entry, which would be applied on the Mercury and subsequent projects. Then from the impetus of data from the IMP-1 spacecraft it became apparent that there existed a “disordered region” in front of the Earth’s magnetosphere and that the solar wind had effects in interplanetary space. Murray thought, “that sounds like a bow shock in front of a missile - seems pretty familiar to a wind tunnel guy like me.” This simple analogy would guide him for the rest of his career. The heliosphere, the vast region surrounding the sun and solar system containing protons and electrons of the solar wind, was in a sense just a “giant wind tunnel in the sky.”
    • Dr. Dryer moved into the realm of space at SWPC. His research would be foundational in studies of how events on the sun such as flares, coronal mass ejections, prominences, etc. would affect what we now call “space weather.” He took a hiatus and obtained his PhD in Space Physics. Murray fully transitioned from aerodynamicist to solar physicist. He tirelessly expanded our knowledge of the complete range of solar events. Forecasting, theory and prediction all played key roles, gleaned from data from numerous spacecraft. The three dimensional application learned long ago in NACA’s wind tunnels provided a firm basis advancing knowledge.
    • Although Dr. Dryer retired from his NOAA affiliation in 1994, he remained extremely active with the scientific community all over the world and organized numerous meetings through COSPAR, SCOSTEP, IAU, AGU and others. Murray made extensive efforts to include and collaborate with international participants in countless scientific efforts. In 2008 he was nominated for the COSPAR (Committee on Space Research) William Norberg Medal for “distinguished contribution to the application of space science in a field covered by COSPAR,” as well as nominations for the Edwin A Flinn Award for “unselfish cooperation in research.” He continued work with CIRES, the SOHO spacecraft, and even some late career consulting work with Exploration Physics International Inc. in Huntsville, AL and the Carmel Research Center in Santa Monica, CA. Murray shall be missed by all.

Leanne Armand, PhD

  • Passed: 4 January 2022
  • Age: 53
  • Cause: Cancer
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Paleoceanography
  • Institution/Organization: Australian National University
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam
  • About:
    • Leanne was an internationally recognized leader in the paleoclimate and micropaleontology research communities. Leanne built her position of prominence over three decades, through the breadth and depth of her scientific accomplishments as well as her remarkable ability and enthusiasm to engage actively with multi- and inter-disciplinary science.
    • Leanne was trained as a biologist and specialized in micropaleontology and paleoceanography during her Ph.D. conducted jointly at the Australian National University (ANU, Australia) and Bordeaux University (France). After her PhD, Leanne obtained an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship which she undertook at the University of Tasmania, Australia.
    • In 2005, she was awarded the prestigious European Marie Curie fellowship to spend three years at the Centre d'Océanographie de Marseille, France. Her early work provided breakthrough contributions to the study of both modern and fossil diatom assemblages and their applicability to reconstruct past Southern Ocean conditions, especially sea-surface temperatures and sea-ice extent. Her transversal expertise in the fields of diatom taxonomy and ecology, and quantitative paleoceanography, has shaped our field and earned unconditional respect from her colleagues. These skills have provided the foundation for the use of high latitude diatoms in paleoenvironmental reconstruction.
    • In 2007, Leanne was awarded the distinguished Dorothy Hill Medal by the Australian Academy of Science for her “rigour to the study of diatoms by applying statistical analysis, increasing the degree of confidence in the reconstruction of sea water temperatures of the past.” Leanne inspired the marine diatom community to think outside the box and integrate diatom micropaleontology with other paleo-proxies. Her vision paved the way for development of new tools for paleoceanographic research, including work that combines microfossil data with biogeochemical data, organic biomarkers and ancient DNA. These contributions were the product of relationships forged with many international colleagues and many of our most promising early career researchers, who spent time with Leanne as graduate students, post-docs and visiting scientists.
    • Throughout her career, Leanne was an integral member of several international, field-based research programs whose successful missions have enriched our science. This includes, for example, the iron fertilization research of three field campaigns, SOIREE, KEOPS and KEOPS2, the SAZ-Sense expedition to evaluate the sensitivity of sub-Antarctic ecosystems to climate change, and two marine geological and geophysical cruises focused on the exploration of the Sabrina Coast, East Antarctica, including her 2017 role as Chief Scientist aboard the RV Investigator. Leanne spearheaded and shepherded numerous Southern Ocean-associated projects with broad reach and wide-ranging community benefit. Early in her career, Leanne successfully re-invigorated the biennial Polar Marine Diatom workshops, bringing together the international diatom community and providing an opportunity to build taxonomical skills and relationships. She also developed the Collaborative Australian Post-graduate Sea Training Alliance Network (CAPSTAN), a national Master-level training program at sea.
    • Leanne had the vision that science must be genuinely collaborative and selfless, with special attention to the training, wellbeing, and success of early career researchers. She was a role model especially to young researchers, and a mentor to women in science of all-ages. Leanne was most recently appointed to Program Director for the Australian and New Zealand International Ocean Discovery Program Consortium (ANZIC). She earned this position through extensive grounding in her scientific knowledge, combined with generosity and enthusiasm in sharing innovative ideas, building collaborations, and exceptional leadership qualities. We share our sadness with Leanne’s family.


Martin Walt IV, PhD

  • Passed: 15 December 2021
  • Age: 95
  • Cause: Brief battle with cancer
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Atmospheric and plasma physics, trapped radiation, and space science
  • Institution/Organization: Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, Stanford University, University of Wisconsin, California Institute of Technology
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam. Condolences can be sent to Patricia Walt at [email protected].
  • About:
    • Martin Walt was a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the AGU. His contributions to the AGU included serving on the Publications Committee, Journals Board, Budget and Finance (two terms, including once as Chairman), and Development Committee. As Chairman of theBudget and Financing Committee he instituted investing in Mutual Funds rather than relying on an advisor to buy individual securities. The subsequent bull market financed the new AGU headquarters building in Washington, D.C. He very much enjoyed the 5 years he spent as General Meetings Chairman organizing the two annual AGU meetings.
    • Martin was dedicated to his field and received several honors and awards including Wisconsin Alumni Research Fellowship and an Atomic Energy Commission Fellowship. He served on advisory boards for several organizations including NASA Space and Earth, the University of California, Berkeley, Defense Nuclear Agency, Department of Defense, and the American Institute of Physics. In addition to writing dozens of scientific articles and a chapter in the Air Force Trapped Radiation Handbook, he was author of Introduction to Geomagnetically Trapped Radiation (1994) and editor of Auroral Phenomena Experiments and Theory (1965).
    • Most of Martin's career was spent at Lockheed where he held a number of managerial positions. He retired from Lockheed in 1992 as Director of Research, then took on a new role teaching graduate courses, advising doctoral dissertations, and continuing research at Stanford University.
    • Mary passed away in 2011 and Martin spent the last decade of his life socializing with close friends and his growing family. He thankfully was able to enjoy good health and remain active in the Los Altos Hills home where he and Mary raised their four children. During the COVID pandemic he kept busy participating in online research seminars, taking walks, doing yard work, and playing the piano and guitar. He dutifully 'practiced' his piano skills for an hour each day through his 95th year.
    • Although Martin's true passion was science, he was a lifelong learner and well versed in many subjects from poetry to the Civil War. He also enjoyed being physically active and at different times was involved in a number of activities including racing sailboats, running, hiking, skiing, and playing tennis competitively as a member of the US Tennis Association. He was self-taught in carpentry, masonry, plumbing, and to an extent was a jack of all trades, with enough talent to successfully build a horse barn for his daughter and maintain his home almost singlehandedly until his passing. Martin was truly the epitome of a well-rounded man.
    • Born in West Plains, Missouri in the middle of the Ozark mountains as the United States descended into the Great Depression and World War II, Martin would say his life turned out much better than one might have expected. As a young boy his family relocated to La Crescenta, California where he spent the rest of his childhood. It was at Glendale High School that he met his future wife, Mary Estelle Thompson. After graduating he served in the United States Naval Reserve from 1944-1946, and upon his return from service attended Caltech, got married, and moved to Wisconsin to pursue his PhD at the University of Wisconsin.
    • Martin was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Mary Estelle (nee Thompson), and his daughter Susan W Bryson. He is survived by his sister Dorthy Waugh, and three of his children, Steven Walt (Rebecca Stone) of Brookline, MA., Anne Johl (Budge) of Olathe, KS., and Patricia Walt of Indianapolis, IN. He is also survived by 15 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. His family meant the world to him and the love, wisdom, humor and guidance he so generously offered to all, is missed beyond measure.

Siegfried J. Bauer, PhD, Prof. Emeritus

  • Passed: 19 September 2021
  • Age: 91
  • Cause: Natural
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Ionospheric physics; Aeronomy; Planetary Atmospheres
  • Institution/Organization: University of Graz and Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Graz, Austria
  • Thoughts & Tributes: Expressions of condolences should be emailed so they can be collected and shared with his family.
  • About:
    • Siegfried (Sig) J. Bauer was born on September 13th, 1930 in Klagenfurt, Austria, and grew up in nearby Griffen in the wonderful southernmost Austrian province Carinthia. After grammar school in Griffen and secondary boarding school at the Abbey St. Paul, Lavanttal he earned his PhD in Physics, Geophysics and Meteorology with a dissertation on experimental ionospheric radio measurement techniques with Prof. Otto Burkard at the University of Graz in 1953.
    • Shortly after graduation he joined the US Army Signal Corps Research and Development Laboratory in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, to work on weather radar and sferics. After one year in the US he returned back to Austria to prepare for a longer stay there. He married his girlfriend Inge and together they returned to the U.S., where he resumed his work at the Army Laboratory, this time performing research with the Diana moon radar.
    • Working in Fred Daniels' group, he used the radar antenna in Belmar, New Jersey, as transmitter and a receiver at the the electrical engineering institute of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign. The Faraday rotation of the radio waves traversing the ionospheric plasma caused by the Earth magnetic field lead to information about the state of the ionosphere. The results of theses investigations were presented at the spring meetings of URSI in Washington, D.C. After six years at the military laboratory he joined the then recently-established NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, in 1961, where for the first four years he worked on sounding rocket campaigns mainly from Wallops Island, Virgina, and on preparations for the Canadian Alouette Topside Sounder.
    • In 1965 he was promoted to head of the Planetary Ionospheres Branch (later renamed Ionospheric and Radio Physics Branch) and in 1970 to Associate Chief of the Laboratory for Planetary Atmospheres. During this time his research encompassed also the German Aeros 1 and 2 Satellites launched in 1972 and 1974, respectively. From 1975 to 1981 he served as Associate Director of Sciences at GSFC and his research interests shifted to the upper atmosphere of Venus investigated by the Pioneer Venus mission as he was chosen as one of the missions Interdisciplinary Scientists. In September 1981 he succeeded his doctoral thesis adviser Prof. Otto Burkard as Professor of Meteorology and Geophysics at University of Graz (a chair held be Alfred Wegener in the 1920ies), where he educated geophysics/physics students in the field of space sciences/geophysics/meteorology till his retirement in 1998. Supplementary to his university enrollment he was head of the Department of Physics of Near-Earth Space of the Space Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Graz (1982 to 1998) and its Vice Director.
    • During his career he was co-investigator of several scientific instruments on space probes and thereby responsible for the successful data analysis and interpretation (i.a. on Ariel 3, Aeros 1& 2, Pioneer Venus, Mars Global Surveyor, and the Titan entry probe Huygens in the Cassini mission). He was elected member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (1983), the International Academy of Astronautics (1986) and the Academia Europaea (1992). His scientific work was honored by being named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (1970), Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (1978), and Honorary Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (2011). He received the Erwin-Schrödinger Award of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (1991) and the David Bates Medal of the European Geophysical Society (2000). Siegfried J. Bauer in 1974 gained the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and since 1996 he was member of the „Kurie für Wissenschaft“ (curia for science) of the most prestigious award for science and arts in Austria (Österreichisches Ehrenzeichen für Wissenschaft und Kunst, Austrian Decoration for Science and Art).

Ronald S. Oremland, PhD

  • Passed: 16 September 2021
  • Age: 74
  • Cause: Acute leukemia
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Biogeosciences
  • Institution/Organization: U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA (Emeritus Senior Scientist)
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam
  • About: ,
    • Dr. Ronald Seth Oremland (known to all as “Ron”), a towering figure in biogeochemistry, passed away on September 16, 2021 after a long battle with leukemia. Ron was a 42-year AGU member, an AGU Fellow, and the 2016 recipient of AGU’s William and Carolyn Reeburgh Lecture. He is survived by his wife Francine (Fran), her daughter Veronica and her family, his nephews Lenny and Howard, and his bacterial namesake Alkaliphilus oremlandii.
    • Born to Murray and Rose Oremland in 1946 in Brooklyn, Ron received a BSc in Biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1968 and a PhD in 1976 from University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. He served as an active-duty officer in the U.S. Navy.
    • Over his 42-year career at the USGS, Ron mentored and supervised over 28 postdocs, students, and technicians. His group made significant contributions to understanding the biogeochemical cycling of extreme environments, especially saline lakes in the western US. Ron made breakthrough discoveries of how the oxyanions arsenic, selenium, antimony, and tellurium are redistributed in alkaline aquatic systems by microbially mediated oxidation and reduction. Ron was a prolific and entertaining communicator who, in addition to publishing over 200 peer-reviewed papers in disciplines as varied as limnology, astrobiology, geochemistry, and genomics, could carry a tune, tell a tall tale, and light up a stage.
    • In his final years, Ron authored a memoir, It Was a Stark and Dormy Night (2021) about his days as a Navy officer and a series of essays chronicling his lifetime of adventures in environmental microbiology. These essays capture the essence of Ron’s exuberant personality and are particularly encouraging to early career researchers looking to chart their own path in science. Ron’s wit, energy, and joie de vivre were infectious; he will be remembered for scientific achievements as well as his loyalty, generosity, and his larger-than-life personality.

Christopher Harrison, BA, MA, PhD, ScD

  • Passed: 7 September 2021
  • Age: 84
  • Cause: Unknown;
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Geomagnetism, Paleomagnetism, and Electromagnetism
  • Institution/Organization: RSMAS, University of Miami
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam. The Geological Society.
  • About: On the 7th September 2021 Geophysics lost a great man Prof Chris Harrison. In 1957 Christopher went to Cambridge, England, to study Natural Sciences. Following his undergraduate degree he went on to study for a PhD, first in Cambridge, and then between 1961 and 1967 at Scripps Institute in San Diego, first as PhD researcher and after the defence of his thesis in 1964, as a post-doc. Whilst in San Diego Christopher met Martha Raitt, daughter of the renowned geophysicist, Russell Raitt and Helen Raitt. Christopher and Martha got married in 1964. This was also the year of Christopher’s first publication on paleomagnetic reversals recorded in deep marine sediments (Harrison and Funnell, 1964). In 1967 Christopher joined the faculty at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (RSMAS) and was pivotal in the rise of RSMAS to one of the premier marine schools in the world. Christopher remained at RSMAS until his retirement in 2015 and becoming an Emertus faculty member. Chris was a devoted member of the AGU, serving on many committees and as General Secretary from 1992-1998. Christopher was elected a Fellow of AGU in 1986. He was critical of some of the developments in AGU over the years but stayed faithful and supportive of the organisation. He also served on many committees for the ocean drilling programme. In RSMAS he took on many leadership roles including interim Dean (1986-1989). Christopher leaves behind an impressive publication record of over 350 publications with over 6,000 citations in total. Whilst the main theme of his research was palaeomagnetism, he published on a wide range of geophysical areas from geodesy, sea-level change planetary tectonics. He published at least one paper a year from 1964 until 2009 and published his last paper in July 2021, a personal view on plate tectonics (Harrison, 2021). Christopher had been involved in the development of this paradigm-shifting theory at the beginning of his career and it is fitting that he returned to give an account of its development at the end of his career. Chris was also a prolific educator having served as the principal advisor for over 30 MSc and PhD students, many of whom later became important researchers and educators. During his career, Chris, Martha and their family were more than generous, opening their home to foreign students during festive events such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, holding legendary defence parties at their house in the deepest jungles of Coconut Grove, parties that more than often ended up in the swimming pool. Chris leaves behind his wife Martha, two children Ariel and Ewen, and grandchildren, Rowan, Helen, Phoebe, Rosie. They, his extended family in the UK and his colleagues will miss him greatly.

Adriaan Ballegooijen, PhD

  • Passed: 30 August 2021
  • Age: 68
  • Cause: Cancer 
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Solar Physics,Theory and Modeling of the chromosphere, corona and solar wind
  • Institution/Organization:Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Aad's memory to the Dallas Arboretum, 8525 Garland Road, Dallas, TX 75218.
  • About: Aad van Ballegooijen was born in the village of Wijk en Alburg in the Netherlands. There he worked with Kees Zwaan and Henk Spruit on this thesis. He met Christine Lacki during a visit to the US in 1979, and they were married in 1980. The couple moved to Palo Alto, where he worked at Lockheed until 1986, when he joined the Center for Astrophysics, Aad retired in 2013. A significant part of Aad’s research was devoted to understanding the role of magnetic fields in the structure and stability of filaments and prominences. He collaborated with scientists from around the world to develop a novel modeling toolkit. At the heart of his approach was an intimate connection between observations and simulation. He was a theoretician who made himself an expert in state-of-the-art observations. He shared his software package widely within the international solar community and opened up a new approach to modeling complex active region and global scale filament magnetic fields. In the 1990’s, Aad joined the US/Italian team building the UVCS ultraviolet spectrometer for the SOHO satellite. He led vital parts of the development effort, especially those related to software and testing, and he was known among the Italian engineers as the guy who says little but knows everything. The success of the UVCS mission owes a great deal to Aad’s ability to identify what needed to be done, his willingness to take on new tasks, and his ingenuity. After UVCS began to take data, he provided theoretical interpretation for observations of coronal mass ejections and streamers. Another major contribution of Aad's research was studying the role of magnetic braiding and MHD wave dynamics in the heating and acceleration of the Sun's outer atmosphere and solar wind. Aad's sophisticated approach to MHD modeling included the upward propagating waves reflected downward to get the interactions required for turbulent heating. He modeled these interactions in great detail and showed for the first time that density fluctuations could enhance the turbulent heating in the solar wind. Aad's research greatly improved upon existing models of magnetic braiding and MHD wave models and expanded the scientific understanding of the Sun's corona and outer heliosphere. We have heard from numerous colleagues since Aad’s passing. It is clear that Aad was a scientist that took great care in developing the careers of young scientists. He appreciated the struggles of postdocs moving to a new city and was ready to offer assistance and support. Personal connections were always important to Aad and through them he had a broad impact across the international solar physics community. There is much talk about building communities that allow a diverse population of scientists to thrive. Let us take a lesson from Aad’s approach, person to person, caring, challenging and building through collaboration. Take the time to understand people’s needs in the moment and help build a foundation for their success. Through our actions each of us can honor the legacy of Dr. Aad van Ballegooijen.

Min Chen, PhD

  • Passed: July 18th, 2021
  • Age: 42
  • Cause: Unknown
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Seismology, Geophysics
  • Institution/Organization: Michigan State University
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam. An endowment, named The Min Chen Graduate Award for Computational and Earth Sciences at MSU, has been set up to remember Dr. Chen as a talented computational seismologist, advocate for students and diversity, and valued colleague. The hope is to continue Dr. Chen’s legacy at MSU through supporting efforts to promote diversity and future trainees in computational and Earth sciences. Donations to the fund are greatly appreciated
  • About: Prof. Min Chen, an impassioned and talented computational seismologist, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday July 18th, 2021. She received her B.Sc. from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC, Class 9607) in 2001 and Ph.D. of Geophysics from California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 2008. Min was an expert in numerical simulations of seismic wave propagation in anisotropic models, and laid the foundation for the implementation of full 3D anisotropic models in some of the open-source spectral-element codes for seismic wave simulations. Through waveform modelling work for the Japan subduction zone, she discovered a thin, elongated low-velocity zone (LVZ) atop the slab and extending down to a depth of 300 km. She was the first person to utilize adjoint tomographic methods to image structures beneath a regional array of stations based on the Empirical Green’s Functions (EGFs) extracted from ambient-noise seismic data. In another ambitious project of adjoint tomography imaging of the crust and upper-mantle of East Asia, Min presented an impressive 3D radially anisotropic model (EARA2014) utilizing 1.7 million measurements and 8 million CPU hours on supercomputers. Min explored this model for the low-velocity regions beneath the enigmatic Hangai Dome in central Mongolia, and also observed a T-shaped high wave speed structure beneath South-Central Tibet interpreted as an upper-mantle remnant from earlier lithospheric foundering. Using the improved seismic images in Japan, Kuril, and Izu-Bonin subduction zones, Min sought to clarify the spatial relationships between the source properties of intermediate-to-deep focus earthquakes and the internal structures of subducting slabs, and suggested that the water released from dehydration processes likely raises pore-fluid pressure and facilitates the triggering of slab mantle earthquakes. In August 2017, she joined Michigan State University (MSU) as an assistant professor, jointly appointed by the Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. In early 2020, she received the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award to conduct a five-year project on adjoint tomography of the North American Lithosphere. Her group was on track to construct a new generation model EARA2021 of East Asian, as well as apply the novel imaging technique around the globe. Min was elected to serve on the Science Steering Committee of Computational Infrastructure of Geodynamics (CIG) in 2020-2021, and was known for organizing virtual group meetings and special seminars with open invitations to researchers around the globe during the Pandemic. Min was a social, warm, welcoming, passionate, generous, creative and ingenious person, and a ‘life-jugger’ with many hobbies, including salsa and tango dancing, skiing, cooking, gardening and travelling. She was known to be a formidable force in the soccer fields of USTC, Caltech, Rice University, MSU, as well as many conferences and workshops.

William S. Reeburgh, PhD, Prof. Emeritus

  • Passed: 9 July 2021
  • Age: 81
  • Cause:Unknown
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Biogeosciences, Ocean Sciences, Hydrology
  • Institution/Organization: University of California, Irvine
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam. Remembrances can be shared on this Kudoboard. Condolences can be sent to the family: Reeburgh Family c/o N. Bacon P.O. Box 388 Boring, OR 97009 Or through Evergreen Memorial Gardens.
  • About: William “Bill” S. Reeburgh was born February 25, 1940 in Port Arthur, Texas. He received his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Oklahoma in 1961, and his Ph.D. in oceanography from Johns Hopkins University in 1967. From 1968 to 1993, Bill was professor and chair of Marine Science at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. In 1993, Bill became a founding member of the Department of Earth System Science (ESS) at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). He was recruited to UCI by former chancellor and ESS chair Ralph Cicerone, and was one of the key people who helped propose and found ESS — the first department in the nation founded specifically to study how humans interact with the earth system to alter climate, element cycles and atmospheric chemistry. He served as chair of ESS from 2000 to 2003. Along with his wife, Carelyn, Bill established the Carelyn Y. and William S. Reeburgh Endowed Earth System Science Lecture Series. Bill Reeburgh’s research contributed enormously to our understanding of the global methane cycle, and it was once said that he was to methane what Dave Keeling was to CO2. He recognized that methane entering the atmosphere and oceans represents the small imbalance between very large methane production and oxidation sinks resulting from microbial activity in sediments and soils. He demonstrated an important new sink mechanism for methane in oxygen-free environments, but had to convince skeptical microbiologists, as no microbe had then been discovered with this metabolism. To do this, Bill used what he called “the 3R’s” – documenting routes, reactions and rates by combining tools ranging from sediment reaction-diffusion modeling, isotope labeling and stable isotope distributions to build an incontrovertible case. Many of the measurements came from favorite field sites in Skan Bay, Alaska and the Black Sea. With his students, Bill Reeburgh vastly expanded our understanding of methane biogeochemistry in marine and terrestrial environments. To his work on ocean chemistry, Bill added research on methane fluxes from tundra soils, doing one of the first regional upscalings to estimate the balance of sources and sinks along the “Haul Road”, the Dalton Highway that runs from Livengood to Deadhorse, Alaska. Bill enjoyed working outdoors, whether on ocean-going vessels or in the Arctic. Among his many academic distinctions, Bill was a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geochemical Society, the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served as the Chief Editor of the American Geophysical Union journal, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, from 1998 to 2004, and was a major influence in shaping the journal in a period of rapid growth. He was active in the growth of AGU’s Biogeosciences section, serving as its President, and sponsoring the William S. and Carelyn Y. Reeburgh Lecture, which recognizes scientists making significant contributions to the fields of global biogeochemistry and marine geochemistry through novel measurements. In addition to his commitment to science, Bill enjoyed woodworking and was always on the lookout for the Norfolk Pine that had to be cut down on the UCI campus for use in his projects. Bill and his wife, Carelyn, met while studying in Bermuda, and were married for 54 years until Carelyn’s death in 2017. Bill was very proud of his three children, Scott, Nancy and Peter and kept his colleagues up to date on their growing families. On retiring from UCI, Bill moved to Vancouver, Washington where he continued to enjoy his woodworking, spending time with grandchildren, and serving on various scientific advisory committees. Bill is survived by his three children, six grandchildren and two sisters. He also inspired his graduate students and postdocs, many of whom continued to work in biogeochemistry.

Guenter W. Lugmair, PhD 

  • Passed: 1 April 2021
  • Age: 81
  • Cause: Cancer 
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Physics, Isotope chemistry, Cosmochemistry
  • Institution/Organization: UCSD, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam.
  • About: Lugmair made significant contributions to understanding the genesis of the solar system and profoundly influenced the evolution of isotope geochemistry. In 1974, he developed a mass spectrometric method for determining the age of lunar and meteorite specimens, which is now considered one of the most reliable and widely used techniques for dating terrestrial rocks and explaining their history. He proved the former existence of a certain samarium isotope in meteorites and thereby answered questions about the early history of our solar system. Lugmair also made important contributions to our knowledge of the formation processes of chemical elements in stars by determining the isotopic composition of trace metals with unprecedented precision. He also succeeded in determining the age of our solar system precisely at 4.57 billion years. In 1998, he found evidence of the extraterrestrial origin of the iridium anomaly: considered an indication of the impact hypothesis, which traces the extinction of many large animal species about 65 million years ago to the consequences of a meteorite impact.

Vladislav Babuska, PhD 

  • Passed: 30 March 2021
  • Age: 84
  • Cause: Unknown 
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Seismology/Mineral and Rock Physics
  • Institution/Organization: Geophysical Institute of the Czech Academy of Science (Emeritus, Retired)
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam.
  • About: In 1967, Vladislav Babuška graduated with a Ph.D. in petrophysics from Charles University in Prague. In 1969-70, he was a Research Fellow in Francis Birch’s laboratory at Harvard University. As a top scientific and organizational authority who understood the need for multidisciplinary approach in Earth sciences, he served as Secretary of the UNESCO International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) in Paris in 1992-1998. At home he had served as the Chair of the Czech National Committee for Geology, and several terms as a member of the Scientific Board of the Institute of Geophysics and of the Institute of Geology. Dr. Babuška spent more than 50 years in the seismology department of the Geophysical Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences [ČSAV] in Prague. He was a leading personality highly recognized in both domestic and international community in the field of research of deep Earth structure, petrophysics and seismology. During his career he accomplished extraordinary results in solving a wide range of scientific problems and has directly influenced corresponding research and shaped present views on creation and development of the system of continental lithosphere and asthenosphere. His pioneering role in the study of seismic anisotropy, from laboratory experiments of elastic anisotropy of rock samples with Zdeněk Pros through seismic anisotropy of the Earth’s crustal and mantle structures on continental and global scales with Jaroslava Plomerová is recognized world-wide. At the ČSAV, he pursued active research, initially focusing on the elasticity of natural rocks with Zdeněk Pros using a novel technique to fabricate spherical specimens. His pioneering role in the study of seismic anisotropy, from laboratory experiments of elastic anisotropy of rock samples through seismic anisotropy of the Earth’s crustal and mantle structures on continental and global scales, is recognized world-wide. With his colleague, Jaroslava Plomerová, he developed an interest in the anisotropy and lateral heterogeneity of the lithosphere, and published many papers on this topic. In collaboration with their colleague Vlastimil Červený and Bob Liebermann from Stony Brook, they convened a series of decadal international workshops in the Czech Republic focused on anisotropy and inhomogeneity of the lithosphere and asthenosphere” and convened at castles used by the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences”; Anisotropy and Heterogeneity of the Lithosphere at Castle of Liblice, Czechoslovakia, June 1976; Anisotropy and Inhomogeneity of the Lithosphere and Asthenosphere at Castle of Bechyně, Czechoslovakia, September 1986; Geodynamics of Lithosphere and Earth’s Mantle: Seismic Anisotropy as a Record of the Past and Present Dynamic Processes at the Castle of Třešt, Czechoslovakia, June 1996. By locating these workshops in the Czech Republic workshop in Eastern Europe, many scientists from countries in the Eastern Bloc could attend.

Peter Fox 

  • Passed: 27 March 2021
  • Age: 61
  • Cause: Unknown 
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Infomatics
  • Institution/Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam. Other remembrances of Peter’s lasting impact are provided herehere and here.
  • About: The AGU community is saddened by the passing of Dr. Peter Fox, who served as editor-in-chief of Earth and Space Science and was the first AGU fellow in the Earth and Space Science Informatics Section.Dr. Fox was known as a pioneer in informatics, particularly within the Earth and space sciences, and for his contributions to developing this discipline. He was also known for his playful sense of humor, his seemingly endless energy and the way he always made time to help others, including as a generous and kind mentor to students and partners alike and a dedicated AGU volunteer. Dr. Fox’s work was widely recognized. In addition to being an AGU Fellow, Dr. Fox was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2018. He was awarded ESIP’s Martha Maiden Lifetime Achievement award, which recognizes leadership, dedication and collaboration in advancing Earth science; and the European Geosciences Union’s Ian McHarg Medal, which recognizes distinguished research in information technology applied to Earth and space sciences. The number of lives that Dr. Fox touched was shown in the number of people who reached out with concern after he missed a meeting last week, or wrote to say they had recently spoken or emailed with him. His death is a true loss for AGU, but his legacy of always pushing forward to the next innovation will live on.

Paul Crutzen 

  • Passed: 28 January 2021
  • Age: 87
  • Cause: Unknown 
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Chemistry, meteorology
  • Institution/Organization: Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam.
  • About: Prof. Paul Crutzen a prominent atmospheric chemist, former Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany and of the Atmospheric Chemistry Division at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO, passed away on 28 January 2021. Paul was an extraordinarily creative and original scientist who brought important new knowledge in several areas including, ozone depletion, nuclear winter and climate change. Paul discovered in 1970 the important role of nitrogen oxides on stratospheric ozone and identified the biospheric source of these nitrogen oxides. The study was key for assessing the impact of supersonic aircraft on the ozone layer planned by the aeronautics industry. Paul later showed the importance of methane in the global budget of tropospheric ozone and highlighted the role of wildfires as a major source of chemical compounds and aerosol particles in the atmosphere. This led him to stress that a nuclear conflict, by forming a thick layer of particles around the earth, would generate a global cooling of the planet. Paul also contributed to the identification of the processes responsible for the formation of the Antarctic ozone hole in response to the production and use of industrially manufactured chlorofluorocarbons. He also evoked the possibility of counteracting global warming by injecting large quantities of particles in the lower stratosphere, a topic that led to vivid debates about the benefits and dangers of climate engineering. At a meeting held in year 2000 by the International Geosphere Biosphere Program (IGBP), Paul launched the concept of Anthropocene, referring to a geological epoch dominated by the impacts of human activities. This concept had important impacts on the science agenda in the last 20 years and on international diplomacy. In addition to his many scientific achievements, Paul was a warm, generous and modest personality who inspired a new generation of scientists in earth system science. Together with Mario Molina and Sherry Rowland, he was the recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Written by Guy Brasseur, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology

Professor Alan Edward Beck

  • Passed: 12 January 2021
  • Age: 92
  • Cause: Unknown 
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Solid Earth Geophysics
  • Institution/Organization: Western University, London Ontario
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam.
  • About: Alan Edward Beck, Professor Emeritus of Geophysics at the University of Western Ontario, passed away peacefully on December 1st, 2020 at his home in London, Ontario. He was born January 27th, 1928 in London, England. Professor Beck was the Head of the Department of Geophysics (now Earth Sciences) at the Western Ontario from 1963 to his retirement in 1993. From 1979 to 1983, he chaired the International Heat Flow Commission (IHFC), the inter-association commission of the IASPEI, and held leading positions in several international scientific organizations. In particular, he was a promoter of the foundation of the International Geothermal Association (IGA) since its first preparatory meeting, held in 1987 in Sparks (USA). He took part in several heat-flow measurement projects in regions of North, Central and South America, Australia, Africa, Asia and Europe. Alan’s lifelong scientific interest in the terrestrial heat-flow measurement and the study of the Earth’s thermal state led to invitations to speak around the world. Among his pioneering works are experimental studies on borehole temperature measurements, thermophysical properties of geological materials and crustal radiogenic heat production. He designed and implemented the “Divided-Bar apparatus”, a well-known, classic technique for thermal conductivity measurements, which has been adopted in many laboratories worldwide and calibrated following his indications. More recently, he addressed the reconstruction of ground surface temperature history from underground temperature records. He was the author of the textbook 'Physical Principles of Exploration Methods' and numerous other publications. Professor Beck was the 1993 winner of J. Tuzo Wilson Medal of the Canadian Geophysical Union. Alan was by far one of the most respected and loved member of the geothermal community and his passing away is indeed a great loss. He played a formative role model for many scientists in several respects - in his approach to scientific questions, as a textbook author, and (not the least important aspect) also in human terms. His benevolent smile, exigent but highly equitable personality and witty humour were displayed since the first meeting. This is why we will always keep his honourable memory in our hearts. The International Heat Flow Commission

Peter S. Eagleson, PhD 

  • Passed: 6 January 2021
  • Age: 92
  • Cause: Natural 
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Hydrologic science and hydrology
  • Institution/Organization: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam and AGU From the Prow.
  • About: Peter S. Eagleson was deeply engaged with the AGU and impacted the geoscience community through his service and his scientific contributions. He was AGU Hydrology Section President 1982-1984, Union President 1986-1988 and received the Robert E. Horton Medal (1988) and William Bowie Medal (1994). Professor Eagleson was a pioneer in the field of hydrology by expanding its scope to encompass both engineering applications with important societal value and science investigations on the global water cycle with broad and deep impacts on understanding how the Earth System works. His 1970 book, titled Dynamic Hydrology provided radically new perspective on the movement and storage of water in the environment. The water cycle interface with the climate system and biogeochemical cycles and its interactions with the biosphere were hallmarks of his new vision. In a series of seven papers under the main title Climate, Soil, and Vegetation - in a single issue of Water Resources Research – he demonstrated the potential of this new thinking for solving some of the long-standing disciplinary and interdisciplinary challenges. In 1991 the National Research Council published Opportunities in the Hydrologic Sciences as the book report of a committee chaired by Professor Eagleson. This report recommended a new vision for the field of study that built on his pioneering ideas. The so-called “Blue-Book” established the hydrologic sciences as pillars along other geosciences that collectively support our understanding of the Earth System and guide our stewardship of the home planet. Following his retirement from MIT, Professor Eagleson continued producing inspiring new ideas. He published two books: Ecohydrology (2002) and the AGU-published Range and Richness of Vascular Land Plants (2009) that ushered in yet another transformation of the discipline by bridging the fields of hydrology and ecology.


W. J. "Jim" Shuttleworth

  • Passed: 20 December 2020 
  • Age: 75
  • Cause: Cancer complications
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Hydrometeorology/Hydroclimatology 
  • Institution/Organization: University of Arizona 
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam.
  • About: W.J. “Jim” Shuttleworth was born in 1945 in the United Kingdom. He received his BSc degree in physics in 1967, a Masters degree in 1968 and a PhD in high energy nuclear physics in 1971, all from Manchester University. After graduation, Jim joined the Institute of Hydrology in Wallingford. He was among the first scientists to recognize the need for hydrology to expand and to recognize the importance of the hydrology-ecology interface to climate and weather prediction. In line with that, he led the effort at the Institute of Hydrology to create the world's first system that measured surface-atmosphere interactions using the eddy-correlation principle now used widely across global flux networks. In 1983, Jim and his colleagues then carried out the first direct evaporation measurements from the Amazon rainforest initiating Amazonian environmental research and training a group of young Brazilian scientists that would later form the core of the international ABRACOS and LBA experiments. In 1993, Jim joined the faculty in the Department of Hydrology & Water Resources at the University of Arizona. There Jim wrote the influential chapter ‘Evaporation’ in Maidment’s Handbook of Hydrology. In 2001, Jim received the Hydrology Section Prize, by the American Geophysical Union, for “outstanding contributions to the science of hydrology”. In 2006, he received the International Hydrology Prize, awarded jointly by the IAHS, UNESCO, and WMO, for “innovative, international leadership over more than thirty years, contributing to the growth of hydrology into a major discipline of earth system science”. In 2009, Jim was appointed to Regents Professor at the University of Arizona. He published the first textbook on Terrestrial Hydrometeorology in 2012. In 2013, he received the AGU Langbein Lecture Award, followed by the AMS Robert E Horton Lecturer Award and the AGU Robert E Horton Medal both in 2014. Shortly before his retirement, Jim proposed with his Arizona colleagues, a network of cosmic ray neutron sensors to estimate root-zone integrated soil moisture at sub-kilometer scales. The theory behind this technology and the establishment of the Cosmic-ray Soil Moisture Observing System, or COSMOS network, neatly brought Jim back to nuclear physics. For close friends and former students, it also is clear from his words and actions that Jim was a devoted family man. He referred to his wife Hazel as his best friend and acknowledged her whenever he was honored with an award. Jim also became part of the Tucson Regional Ballet performing for several years in the Southwest Nutcracker, along with his daughter. His family-man characteristic was also felt by some of his students. Jim was extremely supportive and always concerned about our well-being, especially those coming from abroad and still learning all aspects of an international life. After his retirement, Jim was a Challis Bearer for his church, and rolled up his sleeves to be actively involved in Habitat for Humanity, serving his community, no matter the context. Those who worked with Jim will remember Jim as a smiling face, never too busy to sit down and share some ideas and stories.

Victor Labson, PhD

  • Passed: 1 November 2020
  • Age: 68
  • Cause:Unknown
  • Discipline/Focus/Section:Near Surface Geophysics and Electromagnetism
  • Institution/Organization:U.S. Geological Survey
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In recognition of his passion for mentoring scientists, the family requests, in lieu of flowers, that donations be given to Advancing Science in America (ARCS) or the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Near Surface Geophysics Section Fund in memory of Dr. Victor Labson. Gifts made to AGU will support women scientists traveling to present their scientific work at the 2021 AGU Fall Meeting. Gifts can be made by visiting its website or through the mail: American Geophysical Union, 2000 Florida Ave NW, Washington DC 20009. Please note that your gift is for the Near Surface Geophysics Section Fund and in tribute to Victor Labson when making your gift online or by mail.
  • About:Victor Franklin Labson, 68, of Lakewood, Colorado and Reston, Virginia, died in his Lakewood home on November 1, 2020. He was born in Washington, D.C. to Arnold and Dorothy (née Deskin) Labson, and relocated with his family to San Francisco, California, during his high school years. While still pursuing his Ph.D. in Engineering Geosciences from the University of California at Berkeley, he joined the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in 1977, relocating to the Denver, Colorado office in 1985. A voracious reader and a man whose humility belied a probing intellect, he devoted his life to civil service in the name of science and was recognized for his collaborative approach and global vision. Vic will be remembered for his thoughtfulness, a wry sense of humor, his devotion to his family, and his dedication to fostering the careers of many colleagues at the USGS and around the world. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Rebecka Snell Labson, and his children, Eva Labson and husband Kevin Blum; and Daniel Labson and wife Linsey Labson. Vic’s career at the USGS spanned 43 years. In the first half of his career, he made great contributions first as a research scientist and subsequently as a science manager of a USGS research group that develops and applies geophysical techniques to map variations in the magnetic and electromagnetic properties of the Earth’s crust. He provided scientific expertise on globally important issues such as geologic hazards, water, energy, mineral resources, and the environment. As a science manager, Vic also fostered innovative, interdisciplinary collaboration among diverse groups of scientists. In his last role at the USGS, Vic served as the Director of International Programs in Reston, Virginia. In that capacity, he was the Survey’s principal advisor regarding international activities and scientific cooperation on a broad range of natural resource and natural hazard science projects. Vic’s leadership in this area greatly enhanced the scientific contributions of the USGS globally, and positively influenced the innovation of geological surveys worldwide. As stated in the condolences offered by his colleague Danielle Lebel, Director General of the Canadian Geological Survey “he was the quintessence and personification of soft science diplomacy.” Recently, Vic was the driving force behind a tri-lateral Canada-US-Australia collaborative research project on critical minerals and served on the Steering Committee of the new venture aimed at creating a world community of geological survey organizations. In summary, as stated by Karen Senhadji, Director, Office of International Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior: “Vic was passionate about the international mission of USGS, and an effective leader who navigated complex intra-agency and inter-agency challenges with patience, persistence, kindness and an excellent sense of humor”

Chalmers Sechrist, PhD, MS, BE

  • Passed: 29 October 2020
  • Age: 90
  • Cause: Cancer
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Aeronomy
  • Institution/Organization: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Philanthropy Fund at Cypress Cove, 10200 Cypress Cove Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33908. Memo: In memory of Chalmers Sechrist.
  • About: On October 29, the Aeronomy and AGU community lost a true gentleman-scientist when Dr. Chalmers Sechrist passed away in Fort Myers, Florida, at the age of 90. His wife of 62 years had passed away previously this year on January 14. He is survived by his son, Jonathan and wife Nancy, and daughter Jennifer Sechrist Mai and her husband Phillip Mai. Chalmers graduated with honors from The Johns Hopkins University with the B.E. degree in electrical engineering. At the Pennsylvania State University, he received the M.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1954, and the PhD degree in electrical engineering in January 1959. From 1959 to 1965 he was a Staff Engineer in the Research Department of HRB-Singer, Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. From 1965 to 1992 at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, he rose from Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering to Professor of ECE, Associate Head of the ECE Department, and Assistant Dean of Engineering where he assisted with the creation of student exchange programs with universities including Japan, China, and Russia. His research in the Aeronomy Laboratory was involved with the lower ionospheric D region and he supervised graduate students who investigated the winter anomaly, seasonal and diurnal variations in the electron concentration vs. altitude, based on rocket measurements and computer models of the ion and neutral chemistry. Between 1992 and 1996 while on a Leave of Absence he served as a Program Manager in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. In 1996 he retired from the UIUC and moved to Fort Myers, Florida where he joined in 1998 the new Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) as an Adjunct Professor of Engineering. He created and taught several courses in engineering and technology. In 2005 he was appointed to the Advisory Board and assisted with the formation of the School of Engineering. Chalmers’ interests were photography, amateur radio, golf, tennis, sail and power boating, and volunteering. In his “retirement,” he gave talks on various subjects, including global warming and climate change, fixing systems that should be upgraded and updated, and what the Boomers plan to do in their retirement years. Chalmers was a member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and was a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE). Chalmers will be missed by his family, his students, his professional colleagues, as well as all with whom he came into contact during his long and productive life.

Belmiro M. Castro, PhD

  • Passed: 11 October 2020
  • Age: 71
  • Cause: Cancer complications
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Physical Oceanography
  • Institution/Organization: Oceanographic Institute, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam.
  • About: Belmiro M. Castro, a leading Brazilian coastal oceanographer, died on October 11 at the age of 71 from complications of cancer. He was a Professor at the Oceanographic Institute of the University of Sao Paulo (USP) in Brazil. Professor Castro began his long career in physical oceanography as an intern at the Oceanographic Institute in 1970, while he was an undergraduate student in Physics at USP. He completed a master's in Physical Oceanography at USP in 1977 and a Ph.D. in Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the University of Miami in 1985. He then returned to his alma mater and raised through the ranks, eventually becoming USP's longest-serving active Full Professor of Oceanography. Castro's research targeted the coastal ocean, with a regional focus on the Brazilian continental shelf. He contributed fundamental understanding of the low-frequency, synoptic and tidal circulation and dynamics of the Sao Paulo continental shelf and the tidal circulation of the Amazon continental shelf. His review of the Physical Oceanography of Brazilian Continental Shelf, published in The Sea, and his book on estuary physics with L.B. Miranda and B. Kjerfve––recently translated into English––are two of his most influential contributions. Castro spearheaded several national observational experiments and took part in international collaborations to further advance oceanographic knowledge in the region. He was a visiting scientist at the University of Miami and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Castro was also a dedicated member of his home institution. He served as director of USP's Oceanographic Institute from 2001 through 2004 and as Chair of the Department of Physical, Chemical, and Geological Oceanography for multiple tenures. Among all his important academic contributions, teaching was the one he valued most. He frequently reminded colleagues, junior and senior, that teaching is the noblest duty of University professors. At USP, Castro developed and taught fundamental and applied classes in Ocean Dynamics. While he was an observational scientist at heart, his command of theoretical physical oceanography was wide and deep. He taught for 35 years an 8-credit (roughly 6 hours per week) foundational graduate class in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, the most important course in USP's Physical Oceanography Program. Many of USP's Physical Oceanography students, spanning several generations, refer to Castro as the best instructors they ever had. His lectures were formal but memorable. His explanations were clear and precise. His notes were thorough and organized. His board work was neat. Early in his career, Castro developed an unwavering commitment to educating the next generation of Brazilian oceanographers. It's fair to say that the Brazilian Physical Oceanography community owes him its solid foundation. His sense of duty and dedication to teaching never faded away. He taught even in his busiest administrative years. And he taught through illness, until a week before his passing. Castro's academic contributions will live on through influential oceanographic studies and through over 40 students that he advised and hundreds more who learned Geophysical Fluid Dynamics and Physical Oceanography from him. The Brazilian Oceanographic community is much smaller without him.

Daniel Weill, PhD

  • Passed: 3 October 2020
  • Age: 88
  • Cause: Unknown
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Volcanology, Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Institution/Organization: University of Oregon (retired)
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam.
  • About: Daniel Weill graduated with a Ph. D. from Berkeley followed by a distinguished research and academic career at the University of California San Diego and University of Oregon. He then initiated a career as a science administrator with a sabbatical at Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Department of Energy (1983/84) and later joined NSF (1985-2001) as Director of the new Instrumentation and Facilities Program. Dan’s confidence, respect and trust in the wishes and advice of the research community provided the intellectual base for his vision of the revolutionary changes needed to advance Earth science research. During his years at NSF, Dan Weill played a major role in improving the availability of advanced instrumentation to the Earth science community, which led to significant progress in modern geophysics and geochemistry research. His adage that discoveries lead to the next generation of questions, combined with his ability to recognize fundamentally promising research directions, motivated him to help establish new geophysical and geochemical facilities essential to propel the earth sciences into a modern era. The comprehensive scope of the expanded capabilities has revolutionized our understanding of Earth. He nourished the fledgling facilities for seismology (IRIS) and geodesy (UNAVCO). His stable support and encouragement provided the security that enabled long-term planning and rational development for the programs to become global leaders in high quality seismological and geodetic research. The requirement for the facilities to provide open access and distribution of archived data became the foundation for the democratization of research that allowed the integrated studies exemplified by EARTHSCOPE to flourish. Results contribute to a much improved understanding for the processes controlling the dynamics and evolution of continents. In the area of Geochemistry Dan supported a number of “national laboratories” that included ion microprobes, accelerator mass spectrometers and synchrotrons that fostered a wide array of new discoveries in the Earth sciences. As a result, geologists are better able to quantify such wide-ranging questions as the nature and timing of Earth’s changing environment over the last 4 billion years ago, the rate of mountain uplift and erosion, changes in ocean circulation patterns, and the response of Earth to the rise in atmospheric oxygen 2 billion years ago. Dan’s skill in working with colleagues in sister science agencies has expanded opportunities for mineral and rock physics research These include the DOE synchrotron X-ray facilities at the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Advanced Radiation Source at Argonne National Laboratory, which have enabled unrivaled technical advances. For the first time, using diamond-anvil cells and multi-anvil presses, the ultra-high intensity X-ray beams allowed diffraction patterns to be taken every few seconds of samples under high pressures and temperatures. The new observations have led to a revolution in our understanding of the dynamics controlling the chemical and physical properties of materials. For his remarkable and distinctive service to the Earth science community as a program administrator at DOE and NSF, Dan Weill received AGU’s, 2002 Edward A. Flinn III Award.

Robert (Bob) Malone, PhD

  • Passed: September 2020
  • Age: 70s
  • Cause: Parkinson's Disease
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Climate
  • Institution/Organization: Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam. In lieu of flowers, please feel free to donate to a climate change organization of your choosing.
  • About: Robert (Bob) Malone passed away in September, after 30 years of living with Parkinson’s Disease. He is best known as the progenitor of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL’s) efforts to develop and use ocean and sea ice models for climate science. Bob came to LANL in 1973 with a freshly minted Cornell PhD in astrophysics, to work on inertial confinement fusion. Bob’s interest in climate met with a first opportunity late in the decade, contributing to NCAR’s development of CCM0 (now the Community Atmosphere Model), spending summers from 1979 to 1983 in Boulder. In the 1980s he used that model at LANL to study nuclear winter and to identify the self-lofting effect of the fire-produced smoke. Sometimes referred to as the Malone Effect, this phenomenon has since been verified by many observations of large fire smoke plumes. A crucial opportunity arose in 1990 when the Department of Energy initiated a program in Computer Hardware, Advanced Mathematics and Model Physics (CHAMMP), and asked Bob to lead model development. Bob proved to be exceptionally good at assessing strategic opportunities, understanding where an outsized contribution might be made to the field. He realized that LANL’s capabilities in computational fluid dynamics and parallel computing made ocean modeling a good fit for the Lab. Initial effort at LANL focused on rewriting the original Bryan-Cox-Semtner ocean model for massively parallel computers and overcoming its major limitation, a streamfunction formulation that greatly limited the number of islands able to be included in the model. The problem was solved by John Dukowicz and Rick Smith, who initially comprised Bob’s team, by introducing a surface pressure formulation, now used by all ocean models. The unique capability to run on massively parallel computers meant that for several years, Bob’s team at LANL produced groundbreaking simulations with the Parallel Ocean Program (POP), capturing the path of the Gulf Stream realistically for the first time. Bob also saw and pursued a strategic opportunity to apply the LANL team’s expertise to sea ice modeling. Elizabeth Hunke, then a postdoc working with John Dukowicz, introduced an elastic-viscous-plastic rheology in what became known as the CICE sea ice model. Both CICE and POP were adopted first by DOE’s Parallel Climate Model and then the Community Climate System Model (now CESM), resulting in prominent contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The CICE model was eventually adopted worldwide by most climate centers. While good strategic thinking is often found behind the successful establishment of a science team, Bob was also an exceptionally warm, gentle leader who always was able to draw the best from his team and others at LANL. We who worked with and were mentored by Bob know we have been very fortunate, and are thankful for the impact he had on our lives and science. Bob is survived by his beloved wife and step-daughter.

Donald V. Helmberger, PhD

  • Passed: 13 August 2020
  • Age: 82
  • Cause: Unknown 
  • Discipline/Focus/Section:Seismology
  • Institution/Organization: California Institute of Technology
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam and In Memoriam.
  • About: Donald V. Helmberger, Smits Family Professor of Geophysics Emeritus at Caltech, and one of the most impactful seismologists to have lived, died on 13 August 2020. Don was born 23 January 1938 in Perham, Minnesota. He completed his bachelor’s degree in physics at the University of Minnesota in 1961. That summer he participated in a cruise involving seismic imaging of the oceanic crust in the Bering Sea and was inspired by the challenge of interpreting the recorded seismic waveforms – the beginning of a lifelong passion. He enrolled in the graduate program at the University of California San Diego, where he completed a master’s degree in 1965 and a Ph.D. in 1967. After a two-year appointment as a research associate at MIT and a year on the faculty at Princeton University, in 1970 Don moved to the Seismological Laboratory at Caltech where he was to spend the rest of his career. From 1998 to 2003 he served as Director of the Seismo Lab. He became emeritus in 2017. In his Ph.D. work, Don pulled together source and wave propagation theory to develop new synthetic waveform modeling capabilities. This was initially applied to active source seismic signals and nuclear test signals. The 1971 San Fernando earthquake spurred his interests in earthquake signals, and he focused on applying the powerful analytic techniques of Cagniard and de Hoop to develop Generalize Ray Theory, enabling quantitative earthquake waveform modeling capabilities for both far-field teleseismic signals and near-field complete dynamic deformation including the seismic waves and evolution of static deformations. In concert with a host of talented Caltech graduate students, Don’s long streak of major discoveries ensued, including space-time models of faulting for large earthquakes, imaging of strong lithospheric lateral gradients in velocity structure, details of transition zone velocity discontinuities, discovery of lower mantle seismic discontinuities, discovery of ultra-low velocity zones at the core-mantle boundary, existence of strong lateral gradients on the margins of large low shear velocity provinces in the deep mantle, anomalous gradients in seismic velocity above the inner core, faulting triggered by nuclear explosions in the form of tectonic release, quantitative explosion yield estimation from waveform modeling at regional and teleseismic distances, source directivity effects and improved depth determination for small earthquakes, and many other applications. The common denominator through his many studies is quantitative prediction of recorded seismic waveforms with physical source representations. Don received many honors in recognition of his contributions including being selected as the first recipient of the American Geophysical Union Lehmann Medal in 1997, chosen for Seismological Society of America Society Medal in 2002, and being elected to the U.S. National Academy of Science in 2004. Throughout his career he was unassuming and generous, never seeking the limelight despite his profound contributions and creativity. He consistently supported career development of his numerous Ph.D. students. His easy-going, cheerful demeanor always made him a joy to interact with. Truly, he was a giant of the golden age of seismic waveform modeling, and his impact will sustain for generations.

Donald R. Nielsen, PhD

  • Passed: 24 July 2020
  • Age: 88
  • Cause: Complications from surgery
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Hydrology and Soil Physics
  • Institution/Organization: University of California, Davis
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam – Donald R. Nielsen
  • About: Dr. Don Nielsen was a pioneer and leader in the recognition of the linkages between agronomy and the hydrologic and environmental sciences beginning in the 1970’s. His work on solute transport in unsaturated soils and on the role of soil heterogeneity on infiltration and contaminant transport helped launch a revolution in hydrologic thinking. He received his doctorate in soil physics at Iowa State University and spent his career at the University of California, Davis where, in addition to advising graduate students and international visitors, he helped develop graduate degrees in hydrology and earth sciences. He served the University as chair of both the Department of Land, Air and Water as well as Agronomy and Range Science as well as Associate Dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. His service to our profession was profound, serving as AGU Hydrology Section President, American Society of Agronomy President, Soil Science Society of America President and editor of AGU’s Water Resources Research. As a scientist, Don was honored by many awards including AGU Fellow, the Don and Betty Kirkham International Soil Physics Medal and the AGU Horton Medal for “his fundamental work in hydrology, combined with his uncanny love of the profession”. Don’s support for early career and international scientists, along with his passion for science and the human spirit will be greatly missed in the future. To not hear his booming voice and his words of encouragement is a loss for all but also a lesson to each of us to carry on his values towards science, education and humanity.

Donald Kennedy, PhD

Valerian Tatarskii, PhD

  • Passed: 19 April 2020
  • Age: 90
  • Cause: Unknown
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Corresponding Member, Russian Academy of Sciences, USSR State Prize, Max Born Award (OSA), US Nat'l Academy of Engineering, PhD, Moscow State University. Propagation of sound and light waves in a turbulent medium.
  • Institution/Organization: Institute of Physics, Russian Academy fo Sciences, NOAA Wave Propogation Laboratory (Boulder)
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam.

Sir John Houghton, PhD

  • Passed: 15 April 2020
  • Age: 88
  • Cause: Complications from COVID-19
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Global climate change; science policy
  • Institution/Organization: Oxford University, UK Meteorological Office and U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam.
  • About: Dr. Houghton was among the most influential early leaders of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was set up in 1988 to advise policymakers on the science of global climate change. He was the chief editor of the IPCC’s first three reports and chaired or co-chaired the panel’s scientific assessment committee as well. In 2007, Dr. Houghton was among the IPCC scientists who collected the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on behalf of the organization, which shared the award that year with former vice president Al Gore "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."

L. Douglas (Doug) James

  • Passed: 2 April 2020
  • Cause: COVID-19
  • Discipline/Focus/Section: Hydrology
  • Thoughts & Tributes: In Memoriam.
  • About: In 1992, Doug James became the founding director for the newly launched Hydrologic Sciences Program t the U.S. National Science Foundation. Over the 18 years that he oversaw the program, he grew it into the successful program we know today. He was a tremendous force in hydrology, championing many of the causes and programs that led to major advances of our science and how we do our science. His leadership, generosity and humanity will be greatly missed by all who knew him. For those that did not know him personally, know that many of the programs and advances in hydrologic sciences that we benefit from today were started or profoundly influenced by his leadership. Sadly, his passing will likely not be the first, nor will it be the last through this pandemic. We will remember Doug James and all those whose lives have been cut short by this virus in our hearts and, when we come out of the other side of this, we will celebrate their lives and their accomplishments together.

Last updated: 28 August 2023