Dr. Thomas M. Church, In Memoriam

Tom Church setting out trace metal sample systems at the AEROCE tower, Bermuda.

With sadness, the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) has received news of the passing of BIOS Trustee, Dr. Thomas (Tom) M. Church.

Tom first came to BIOS in the 1970s when it was known as the Bermuda Biological Station for Research (BBSR). In the early 1980s he was instrumental in the research of atmospheric transport of pollutants over the Western Atlantic and Bermuda. Working alongside atmospheric scientist Jim Galloway and others, he helped launch WATOX (the Western Atlantic Ocean eXperiment), which coordinated air and sea observations to investigate sources of sulfur in the marine atmosphere as part of the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study.

Tom became a trustee of BIOS in 2001 and served on the Education, Science, and Marine Operations Committees. Through his work at the University of Delaware (UDEL), he was active in promoting collaborations with BIOS and was thrilled when a 2019 UDEL Winterim (winter term) session was offered at BIOS, and when a collaboration with BIOS’s coral reef and underwater robotics research came to fruition.

Galloway, who became a trustee of BIOS in 1983, remembers Tom as “an amazing person who had a tremendous impact on my life. In the late 1970s, he called from BBSR saying that the rain on Bermuda was acidic and asked if I wanted to come figure out why. This began my long association with BIOS and started my collaboration with Tom on the impact of North America on the Western Atlantic Ocean atmosphere. His work on the trace metal biogeochemistry of the marine atmosphere was fundamental at the time and is currently the foundation of our knowledge.”

Walwyn Hughes, Vice Chair of the BIOS Board of Trustees, remembers visual snippets of Tom enjoying Bermuda. “Tom astride a mobylette [bike], dressed in a Mark Twain white suit complete with pith helmet is a favorite of mine.”

Galloway sums up Tom’s friendship as, “He taught me that graduate students can have fun and he had similar impacts on numerous others. As such there are many, many who are privileged to be able to say ‘Oh yes, I knew Tom Church, he was my friend.’”

The staff and board of BIOS extend its sincerest condolences to Tom’s wife Karen, and their children, family, and friends.