Sunday, January 5, 2014

Maury Schwartz Has Left Us

Maury Schwartz died this past week. Maury has left a legacy in our understanding of shoreline processes in the inland waters of the Washington State both through his own research and his teaching at Western Washington University. Schwartz came to WWU in the early 1960s after a stint in the Navy during WWII, owning and running a store for ten years followed by college at Columbia University where he received his B.S, M.S. and PhD in geology.

Perhaps it was during his time in the Navy, Maury developed an interest in shoreline processes. The bulk of his research and study was focused on this subject. I frequently have come across various papers and studies he completed in Western Washington. But even more importantly, he greatly influenced and taught many of the shoreline practitioners that work today in western Washington. Our understanding of shorelines and shoreline processes has been greatly advanced through Dr. Schwartz and perhaps more importantly some his students who will and are continuing his fine work.

Excepting a required single-credit undergraduate course on science writing, I was not a student of Dr. Schwartz. My graduate work was all hard rocks, metamorphic petrology and tectonics. My studies were far removed from Dr. Schwartz's area, but being in the department as a student for that brief stint still provided opportunity to be exposed to shoreline process work as part of the broader opportunities of being at a university. Dr. Schwartz's put a lot of effort and time into broadly teaching shoreline processes beyond just the classroom and his own graduate students and some of his efforts managed to get embedded into my hard rock head.

Because Dr. Schwartz worked in a field where people interfaced with geology along shorelines, he had a deeper understanding of science and policy interaction. A sometimes difficult interface which he managed with grace and clarity. It was within that context that my fondness for Dr. Schwartz developed after I became involved in science and policy as a geologist both as consultant and for a time as an elected official. He was always very supportive of my efforts including very kind personal notes.

A bit over a year ago, I had a wonderful conversation with Maury about a particular shoreline issue and he followed up within a few days sending me a large package of papers on the subject area we discussed.

He was forever a great teacher and his enthusiasm for his science and comfort with policy implementation based on sound science has been passed on to many of us that work along the coasts of Washington State.

I'll miss seeing him and his involvement and hope I can honor his legacy.    

1 comment:

Geoffrey Middaugh said...

Very nice and respectful.