Thursday, October 29, 2020

Remembering Adrian Semmelink

Kai's post on the "Remembering Adrian Semmelink" Facebook Group:

I've been fumbling around trying to function since hearing this tragic news, so apologies if this is barely coherent.

Dear Semmelink family and friends, my deepest condolences for your unimaginable loss. Although it's unimaginable, it's not for lack of sharing—my wife and daughters, CHANS Lab, Terre Satterfield and the rest of the IRES community are feeling it more than you can probably imagine. But we too cannot imagine the loss.

We can recall his limitless generosity, as Alida did. We can bathe ourselves in the memory of his chuckle and his hearty laugh. We can call to mind his sheepish grin, his kind eyes, his hybrid South African accent. But I think none of us can imagine how much darker a place the world is without Adrian Semmelink.

From the first time Adrian poked tentatively into my office to ask if he could join my lab, I knew he was perfect for us. And he was—in so many ways. His brilliance, his rigour, his passion for sustainability, his interdisciplinarity, as Alida and Alejandra noted above. But Adrian also brought depth, and love, and comfort.

In the emails that went around when we first heard, one thread was remarkable: Adrian made all our days and lives better. When Adrian came into my office many other times as my student (first an undergrad, then a Master's student), I immediately relaxed a little. And by the time he left, I was a lighter and better person. He bathed us all in the warm sunshine of his soul.

When Emily Anderson first let me know by email, I first saw "Urgent—Adrian Semmelink". My heart braced, as I wondered what had happened, and how I could help. With the notion of 'urgent', I thought he needed something, and I was instantly ready to do anything for him. I was *not* ready to mourn him.

We loved and cherished Adrian in my lab and at IRES. We miss him and we will miss him, deeply and sorely.

At IRES, we will be honouring Adrian with an endowed award in his memory, for the best thesis in sustainable agriculture. I've already heard from dozens of people that they wish to contribute. We'll need over $10,000 to make it happen, but I promise we'll hit that target. Let me know if you'd like to join us.

PS, Here's the official UBC text for contributions: To honour Adrian Semmelink and in recognition of his dedication to sustainable agriculture practices, family and friends will be establishing an award in his name. The award will support students pursuing their Master’s or PhD in UBC’s Resources, Environment and Sustainability (RES) program with preference given to those whose studies focus on sustainable agriculture. Our goal is to establish either an annual award or an endowed award. The minimum amount to establish an annual award is $10,000 to be distributed in increments over 5-10 years. We will be able to endow Adrian’s award in perpetuity if we reach $50,000. The final use of funds will be determined by IRES in consultation with Adrian’s family.

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