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" formAGU is posting only what is written and submitted via the form. 

2021

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.

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.

2020

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:14 September 2021 8:33 am ET