SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
16 April 2015
Volume 16 Issue 4

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In Memoriam: Robert Engler and Donald Curtis Hutchinson

Todd Bridges, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers , and Mark Jaber, Wildlife International Ltd.

SETAC recently lost two individuals who were very important to the development and growth of our Society.

Robert Engler

Robert M. Engler

Bob Engler, a long-standing member of SETAC and several international science and maritime organizations, died on 5 March. During his 33 years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Bob played a pivotal role in shaping science, engineering and regulatory perspectives on sediment management that have been adopted by scientists and professionals in academia, business and government around the world. Bob was an innovator and an ardent supporter of science-based problem solving. Bob was born on 18 October 1941 in Alexandria, Louisiana. Bob enrolled at Louisiana State University after serving in the U.S. Navy and earned his Bachelors of Science in 1967, his Masters of Science in 1969 and his Ph.D. in 1972. His degrees were in agronomy and the chemistry of flooded and upland soils. He began his distinguished career with the USACE in 1973 in the newly formed Environmental Laboratory at the Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Bob served in several key leadership roles during his career including research scientist, branch chief, division chief, research program manager and lead technical director for the USACE's Civil Works Research and Development. Bob played a critical role in forming the Dredging Operations Environmental Research Program, one of the largest research programs ever undertaken in the history of the USACE.

After retirement from the USACE in 2006, Bob joined the engineering firm Moffatt & Nichol as a senior environmental scientist. He was active with his clients and on several international maritime committees up until his untimely passing.  During his career, Bob directed or substantively contributed to hundreds of infrastructure, environmental, dredging and contaminated sediment projects in the U.S. and internationally.

Bob authored and coauthored numerous publications on geochemistry of dredged material, flooded soils, sediments, toxic substances, aquatic disposal, domestic and international regulatory criteria, and related environmental contamination, navigation and restoration topics.

Bob was active internationally throughout his career. He was a delegate for numerous international symposia on navigation and environmental dredging in the European Union and Japan. He was also an active member many societies in addition to SETAC, including the Western Dredging Association and the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

Bob’s dedication to his profession was matched by a deep devotion to his family and the community of Vicksburg, where he lived and raised a family for more than 40 years. He was a member of the Vicksburg Lions Club, Y’s Men and the Army–Navy Club. Bob devoted nearly 30 years to the Vicksburg Soccer Organization, for which he served as a boys and girls coach, league director, VSO president and referee. His teams were perennial representatives at state and regional soccer tournaments. Bob was an active member of Christ Episcopal Church. But among all his accomplishments and all his responsibilities, Bob will be remembered as a deeply devoted husband, father and proud grandfather.

Editors’ Note:  A more detailed memorial declaration of Bob’s contribution as a scientist and his support of SETAC will be published in IEAM’s July 2015 issue. 

Author’s contact information:

Donald Curtis Hutchinson

Donald Curtis Hutchinson Jr.

On 25 March 2015 the SETAC community lost a colleague and a friend. Donald Curtis Hutchinson Jr., 74, of Oxford, Maryland, died at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. Curt was born on 17 January 1941 in Wichita, Kansas, and went on to receive undergraduate degrees from St. Benedicts College and Colorado State University in Fisheries Biology. He spent his entire working career in ecotoxicology. Curt was a charter member of SETAC and was a standard fixture in the exhibit hall at SETAC North America meetings.

Curt was an entrepreneur, and in 1969 along with three partners, started the first private aquatic toxicology laboratory in the U.S.  The company was called Bionomics and was the predecessor to what is now known as Smithers Viscient.  After selling Bionomics, Curt worked with Union Carbide Environmental Services in Terrytown New York, and Biospherics in Rockville, Maryland.  In 1983, Curt and I became partners and acquired a struggling Avian Toxicology business called Wildlife International Ltd. in Easton, Maryland.  Little did I realize that our partnership would last another 32 years.

Curt always had an optimistic, big picture view. Where some saw problems, he saw opportunities. Instead of why, he would ask why not?  He had honesty, integrity and energy, and he conveyed it to those around him. He was a lot of fun to be around. He could be irreverent, or crude, but his razor sharp wit was always there. I am sure this trait will be missed in the exhibitors’ meetings at SETAC North America!

In the fall of 2013, Curt was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and underwent a lung transplant. His strength, courage and optimism through a very difficult illness carry lessons from which we all can learn. Even in the face of all his own difficulties, he was always generous, concerned and supportive of others. He was very appreciative of the care he received from the doctors and staff at the University of Maryland and requested that contributions be made in his name to support the University of Maryland’s lung rescue program. Contributions can be made online or by check, payable to University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation (UMBF, Inc.), with reference to the Program in Lung Rescue and a note that the contribution is in memory of Curt Hutchinson. Contributions can be mailed to:

University of Maryland Development Office
31 S. Greene St.
Baltimore, MD 21201.

Curt is survived by his wife of 49 years, Elizabeth Hutchinson, as well as a son and daughter, five grandchildren and a sister. Curt will be remembered by all as a loving husband, father, grandfather, friend and colleague.

Author’s contact information: 

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