GoMRI Mourns the Passing of Dr. George Ioup

Dr. George Ioup. (Photo provided by Natalia Sidorovskaia)

(Click to enlarge) Dr. George Ioup. (Photo provided by Natalia Sidorovskaia)

It is with deep sadness that we share the news that Dr. George Elias Ioup passed away on Wednesday, January 20 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Dr. Ioup, Professor Emeritus of Physics and Geophysics at the University of New Orleans, founded the Littoral Acoustic Demonstration Center in 2001 for ocean acoustic measurements and analyses of ambient noise and marine mammals. He served as the university’s Director at the John C. Stennis Space Center’s Center of Higher Learning and the Center for Energy Resources Management. Earlier, he was the Coordinator of the university’s Geophysics Program, Director of their Geophysical Research Laboratory, and a Senior Summer Faculty Fellow Acoustics Division at the Naval Research Laboratory.

As a Co-Principal Investigator with the consortium Littoral Acoustic Demonstration Center – Gulf Ecological Monitoring and Modeling (LADC-GEMM) funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, Dr. Ioup continued his research with Director Dr. Natalia Sidorovskaia, Endowed Professor and Chairperson of the Physics Department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. They along with scientists representing seven research institutions are studying the relationships among short- and long-term marine mammal population variations with environmental factors such as natural and human-induced disasters, weather conditions, seasonal migration, industrial operational noise, and food supply.

“George was a remarkable and kind man,” said Dr. Chuck Wilson, Chief Scientist for the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.  “He touched the lives of many students and materially advanced acoustic theory and practice during his career.  I was delighted to see him join the GoMRI program under the LADC-GEMM Consortium; his talents and presence will be greatly missed.”

Dr. Sidorovskaia, who started working with Dr. Ioup as a graduate student, spoke about his research vision, “George was one of the first scientists who saw a need to bring acoustic monitoring to the Gulf of Mexico. He advocated for acoustic identification of marine mammals and to create an acoustic library of sperm whales for long-term monitoring.” She continued, “Under his leadership, we were the first research team who recorded beaked whales in the Gulf in 2007, collecting baseline data on marine mammals near the Deepwater Horizon site.” Sidorovskaia said that this work helped them continue their research as the LADC-GEMM consortium dedicated to understanding potential long-term environmental impacts from the oil spill using deep-diving marine mammals as sentinels.

Dr. Ioup’s research in signal analysis and processing began in 1964. Since then, he served as a reviewer for ten scientific journals; published eighty-two journal and proceedings articles and book chapters; written six technical reports; and presented 136 papers at national, regional, and international meetings.

“George was an ideal university professor, the one they write books about,” said Sidorovskaia. “He devoted over 45 years to the University of New Orleans Physics department, working until his last breath. He loved life, his research, and people he worked with. The LADC-GEMM consortium will continue his legacy of research and advance our knowledge about amazing Gulf whales we know so little about.”

“When I met George in graduate school at the University of Florida in 1962, I made a friend for life,” said Dr. Grayson H. Rayborn, Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Southern Mississippi. “He was a brilliant and insightful physicist, the one you turn to first when baffled by a problem. But, I believe George will be remembered as much for his humanity and concern for others as he will be for the considerable body of original work he left behind. Kind and gentle, he was loyal to a fault to his friends and students. We are all the poorer from his loss.”

Dr. Sidorovskaia echoed a similar sentiment, “He taught us by example how to be better human beings. George was one of the kindest, most just and ethical, hardworking, and extremely modest people who rarely are we fortunate to come across during our lives. He did not show favoritism; rather, he had enough heart and love for all of us who knew him.”

Dr. Ioup received the Amoco Outstanding Educator Award and an Honorary Life Member of the Royal Southern Geographical Society. He was a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, and a member of the EPA Office of Science Advisors, Society of Exploration Geophysicists, American Geophysical Union, American Physical Society, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

The GoMRI science community extends sincere sympathy to Dr. Ioup’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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