The chief scientist of the Census of Marine Life, Ron O’Dor, passed away in Nova Scotia from COVID-19 at the age of 75 on 11 May 2020. Ron was a curious, good-humored colleague.
Jesse first met Ron in December 1997 at a meeting at the New England Aquarium to assess the feasibility of censusing the “non-fish nekton.” Ron represented the cephalopods, very well. Ron’s creativity immediately became apparent. Chats about the potential of Internet databases with spatial information about marine species led Ron to enlist his grad student James Wood to create CephBase, for all squids and octopi. CephBase launched in 1998, biblical times for on-line services, pre-dating Google. By the time the CoML officially launched at the start of 2000, it was clear the program would need a full-time senior scientist. Ron was the unanimous preference of the founding members of the Scientific Steering Committee.
The CoML went terrifically well in large part because Ron brought many outstanding people into the program, always neatly aligned with CoML objectives. His ability to work on airplanes and in hotel rooms amazed everyone. It did not matter where he was or when it was, work got done, and was always well-written and clean. The Baseline Report that Ron (sole author) produced in October 2003 was a tour de force and did much to establish the credibility of the program.
The Ron O’Dor Memorial Fund has been set-up to sustain his legacy: giving.dal.ca/ronodor Deep condolences to his widow Janet and family and the Dalhousie science community of which he was a formative member.