Dale at Mont Rochelle in South Africa
Dear EEPS, Alumni and Friends-
We regretfully write to you that Dale Sawyer passed away peacefully on September 15, 2020. We are all devastated by this loss. Dale was truly a kind human being. He was a leader in his science and in the way he inspired everyone around him to be just as kind and generous. He will be remembered for his dedication to mentoring his students, from undergrads to graduate students.
He advised numerous M.S. and Ph.D. students, as well as postdocs, over the years, all of whom have gone on to lead productive careers. For many years, he and Elise served as Magisters of Rice residential colleges, first Will Rice College, and later Sid Richardson College, providing that personal touch of support that has become the signature of the undergraduate experience at Rice. He was so deeply committed to education and outreach that he also started a program to train high school teachers in the Earth sciences.
Even after he retired, requests for his teaching materials continue to come in. Dale remains one of the broadest and most creative geophysicists of our time. After receiving his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982, he became a pioneer in numerical modeling of crustal deformation, making important contributions to how continents break apart. He was a world expert in the oceanic acquisition and interpretation of active source seismic profiles. Because of his expertise and his calm leadership skills, he was widely sought to lead these oceanic expeditions. In the decade before he retired, he became chief scientist of an expedition to map the subsurface structure of the Galicia margin, an amagmatic spreading center. This remarkable dataset became the research foundation for many graduate students at Rice and beyond, and has led to fundamental new insights into the complex interplay between rifting and serpentinization.
We are truly saddened by Dale’s departure. It is too soon, but we know he lived a wonderful life, enriching the lives of so many of us. Please stay tuned for more information about a future memorial. Also we encourage you to share your fond impressions and recollections of Dale in the comments below.
Cin-Ty Lee & Julia Morgan