Remembering Our Friend and Colleague John Schade

With great sorrow, we learned that our friend and colleague, Dr. John Schade, a Program Director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) passed away on Friday, March 26. John was a respected biogeochemist, an inspirational mentor, a great friend, and a tireless advocate for the ecology research community.

John received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Michigan and both his M.S. and Ph.D. in Biology from Arizona State University. He went on to develop a strong teaching and mentoring program for undergraduate students during the decade that he spent as a member of the faculty at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, where his research focused on the interface between land, water, and atmosphere. His most recent work examined the impacts of fire and permafrost thaw on carbon and nitrogen cycling in southwest Alaska. John was deeply committed to student-led research and collaboration, and he developed an extremely effective undergraduate training experience through his collaborative work on the Polaris Project. At the time of his passing, John held an appointment as a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, where the Polaris Project is based.

Beginning in the summer of 2013, John served in DEB as a rotating Program Director with the Ecosystem Science Cluster. In 2018, he was invited to return to NSF as a Permanent Program Director, working again with the Ecosystem Science Cluster and the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program. John was an outstanding champion for the LTER program and its unique role in ecological research. He was also deeply committed to convergence research, and he was active in the beginning phases of many innovative cross-directorate programs at NSF such as Navigating the New Arctic, Signals in the Soil, and Sustainable Regional Systems. John was particularly valued by his colleagues and many friends across NSF for engaging in deep and sincere dialogues about ecological science, education, and their role in society.

John was also appreciated for his great sense of humor, wry wit, and strong sense of mischief. He often had a “glint in the eye” and was involved in numerous escapades and adventures. He could find fun in almost any situation, and approached life with curiosity, wonder, and joy. We were all enriched by his warmth and friendship. We know many of you had the pleasure of working closely with John over the years and share our grief at this news of the loss of a wonderful colleague and friend, insightful scientist, and passionate educator and mentor. He will be profoundly missed.

John’s family invites friends and colleagues to find more memorial information at the Woodwell Climate Research Center. John’s many friends and colleagues are welcome to offer their thoughts and memories of him in response to this blog post in the comment section below. There will be a slight delay before your comment becomes visible.

3 thoughts on “Remembering Our Friend and Colleague John Schade

  1. I don’t know what I did to be lucky enough to have John as a mentor – but he reached out to me when I started my job at Colorado College and soon became a mentor and friend, helping me navigate research life at a small liberal arts school (& co-mentoring some #wundergrads along the way). Six years later he told me about my CAREER grant at the top of the escalators at the Fall AGU meeting … how did i get so lucky to have a mentor & role model for my program officer? i will never know, but i will pay it forward.

    be kind & do great science. just like john
    sending love to all who were lucky enough to know him

  2. John was a graduate student at ASU when I met him, and his humor and wisdom made a lasting impression: so much so that I am deeply saddened thinking about his passing even after 30 years have gone by since I last saw him. I am not surprised to read of his great success.

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