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Katharine "Tara" Willey 1976-2012

Published On: 11/12/2012

Katharine "Tara" Willey, student SFS member,  1976-2012


Katherine "Tara" Willey, 36, died at her home in Washington DC, with her loving husband, Charles, and family by her side. Tara died six months after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. Tara was a student member of the Society for Freshwater Science.

Tara was raised in Eastern Garrett County, Maryland, and was always interested in the environment. She studied at Virginia Tech where she obtained her Bachelor of Science and Master's degrees while working full time as an environmental water science technician. Her Master's thesis was completed under the direction of J. Reese Voshell in the Department of Entomology. The title of her thesis is "Environmental Factors Determining the Pre-Restoration Benthic Macroinvertebrate Assemblage in a Stream Used by Cattle."

Tara continued her studies with Christopher Swan as an NSF IGERT trainee at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). The focus of her dissertation research was to understand community assembly in restored rivers. Tara had just been accepted as a doctoral candidate in March 2012. Unfortunately, because her cancer diagnosis soon followed, she was unable to complete her PhD.

Tara was an enthusiastic educator. In addition to her role as a teaching assistant and guest lecturer in various ecology courses, she was heavily involved in the Baltimore Ecosystem Study LTER. She collaborated in mentoring K-12 teachers as part of the NSF Research Experiences for Teachers program, and routinely served as mentor to undergraduate researchers in the Geography and Environmental Systems program at UMBC.

Tara was a great colleague to students and faculty alike, and will be missed by many.

Contributed by:
Christopher M. Swan
Department of Geography & Environmental Systems
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Baltimore, Maryland

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