Oct. 2nd, 2015

vernard: (scarletletter)
This was originally posted on my facebook account but I also wanted to put it here as this is my
personal journal.

Karsten Schwan died.

Karsten was my PhD advisor during my long and ultimately failed attempt to obtain a PhD at GA Tech. It wasn't his fault though. Far from it. Of the both of us, I have to confess that Karsten probably worked harder on my PhD than I ever did. Not necessarily on the science part of it but definitely on me the person. Karsten continued to support and believe in me far longer than any advisor would have done. And I know for a fact that he got an earful about it from some of his colleagues. All. The. Time. He even took me back as a student after I took a leave of absence after my divorce from my first wife. I can't imagine what folks were saying about him after that. But not a word of it reached my ear from him. Not an ounce of negativity. None. You often hear about unwavering loyalty. Well I’ve seen it.

When I announced that I was dropping out of the PhD program for good, Karsten again never said one negative word. Not one. Over the next 10+ years he was always happy to see me and always wanted to know what I was doing in my career. Despite not finishing my PhD, he still made me feel like I was one of his "kids". That meant a lot to me.

I got an opportunity to briefly work with him again on a small project while I was working at The Emory Center for Comprehensive Informatics. He was the same old Karsten. Full of absolutely brilliant ideas and enthusiasm but impressively humble at the same time. Those are rare qualities these days.
He was an amazing researcher but an even more amazing person. I don’t honestly recall if i ever told him that to his face. He probably would have blushed and played it down. That was just his style.

I miss him already.

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Vernard Martin

April 2017

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