GoMRI Mourns the Passing of Dr. Stan Kuczaj

Dr. Stan Kuczaj. (Photo source: USM Office of University Communications)

(Click to enlarge) Dr. Stan Kuczaj. (Photo source: USM Office of University Communications)

It is with deep sadness that we share the news that Dr. Stan Kuczaj passed away on Thursday, April 14 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Dr. Kuczaj served as a co-principal investigator on the Littoral Acoustic Demonstration Center – Gulf Ecological Monitoring and Modeling (LADC-GEMM) funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.

Dr. Natalia Sidorovskaia, principal investigator of LADC-GEMM consortium, said “I have been working with Stan over ten years. He was a delightful colleague and excellent researcher, a teacher who deeply cared about his students. It is a great loss.”

“Dr. Stan Kuczaj had the exceptional qualities of being an outstanding scientist, a great colleague, a dedicated mentor to his students, and someone devoted to his love for teaching and learning,” stated Dr. Denis Wiesenburg of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Research Board. “We are deeply saddened by his sudden death. We have lost a good friend and a remarkable talent who dedicated his career to understanding marine mammal behavior.”

Dr. Kuczaj joined the faculty of the University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Education and Psychology in 1996. He was director of the Department of Psychology’s internationally recognized Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory and served previously as chairman of the department.

“Dr. Kuczaj was a beloved professor and respected colleague in the College of Education and Psychology, and his death represents an irreplaceable loss for all of us,” said Dr. Ann P. Blackwell, dean of the College. “He brought great distinction to The University of Southern Mississippi through teaching and research that benefitted students from around the world.”

Dr. Kuczaj was president of the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 6 and was recently selected editor-in-chief of the Oxford University Press Encyclopedia of Mammalian Social Behavior.

Dr. Kuczaj and his graduate students conducted international research concerning comparative cognition, behavior, communication, and play in marine mammals and other animals for more than 20 years both in the field and in captive facilities. His work gained international recognition, having been featured in National Geographic, on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), and Japanese Public Television.

Audra Ames, a graduate student of Dr. Kuczaj who has known him since she was a child, shared “Stan was so passionate about his students, and he loved the animals a great deal. We have only begun to experience his loss. He was an incredible scientist, as well as an incredible person. He meant a good deal to so many people.”

The GoMRI science community extends sincere sympathy to Dr. Kuczaj’s family, friends, and colleagues.

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The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies.  An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research.  All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available.  The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP.  For more information, visit http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/.

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