April 16, 2010

In memory of Steve Fitzwater

stevef-100MBARI Senior Research Technician Steve Fitzwater passed away on April 5, 2010. Steve worked in MBARI’s Chemical Sensors Group, developing new instruments and analytical techniques and organizing many important field experiments. He also helped author over 50 peer-reviewed publications during his three decades of marine research.

According to MBARI Senior Scientist Ken Johnson, who directs the Chemical Sensors Group, “Steve Fitzwater left an incredible legacy in ocean biogeochemistry, having played important roles in some of the most influential field experiments of the past 40 years. His Master’s thesis work at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories with John Martin established the basis by which nearly all accurate measurements of primary production in the ocean are now made. He played a key role in the development of methods to measure carbon export and participated in almost all of the U.S. Joint Global Ocean Flux Study field programs.”

Johnson added, “Steve was the logistical organizer for the successful IronEx I, IronEx II, and SOFEX iron fertilization experiments. He organized and wrote the first paper from the MBARI MOOS Upper-Water-Column Science experiment, describing iron transport from the upwelling center at Año Nuevo, off the Central California coast. He coordinated the field work for the Sampling and Analysis of Iron experiment with some 20 labs from around the world. Most recently, Steve had been coordinating the field work for MBARI’s Land/Ocean Biological Observatory and was participating in development of a novel carbon dioxide sensor.”

Prior to working at MBARI, Steve was a graduate student and researcher at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. There, too, he made significant contributions to ocean research, developing new methods for measuring the growth rates of marine algae and the concentrations of dissolved organic matter in seawater, both of which are critical to modern oceanographic research. Some of this work challenged deeply entrenched methods and paradigms in marine science.

Kenneth Coale, director of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, said, “Steve’s welcoming, unpretentious, and mischievous attitude helped to advance marine science, not just for the sport of paradigm busting, but for the love of the natural world and his dearest colleagues, who will miss him very much.”

For additional information or images relating to this article, please contact: Kim Fulton-Bennett
831-775-1835, kfb@mbari.org