Rafael Katzman


With great sorrow, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at MIT, and the United States Geological Survey Woods Hole Field Center announce the deaths of Dr. Rafael "Rafi" Katzman, a recent graduate of the MIT/WHOI Joint Program, and his wife, Niva. They were killed in an automobile accident on August 26, 1998, in Jackson County, Minnesota. Rafi was 34 years old, Niva was 31 years old.

Rafi Katzman was born in Petach Tikva, a town outside Tel Aviv, Israel. He attended a high school for engineering and served in the Army Corps of Engineers in the Israel Defense Forces. Following his military service, Rafi completed his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees at the Department of Geophysics, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at Tel Aviv University. He came to the United States in 1992 to pursue a Ph.D degree in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program and was soon joined by his wife, Niva. While in Woods Hole, Rafi worked closely with Drs. Uri ten Brink (U.S. Geological Survey) and Steve Holbrook of WHOI (now at the University of Wyoming). During this time, he also spent three months doing field work on the East Antarctic polar plateau and three months as a summer intern at ARCO (Atlantic Richfield Company) in Texas. In 1995 Rafi moved to Cambridge, where he completed his Ph.D. degree in December 1997 under the supervision of Professor Tom Jordan at MIT.

Niva Katzman (formerly Nidva Baier) grew up in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel. She graduated with a B.Sc. degree in Mathematics and Computer Sciences from Tel Aviv University, and served for five and a half years in the Israeli Navy. While in the United States, she worked as a computer scientist in the Boston area.

During the last six months Niva and Rafi fulfilled an old dream, backpacking throughout South America, climbing high mountains, and trekking through jungles. Upon their return, they gathered their belongings in the Boston area and were driving across the country to Pasadena, California, when the accident happened. Rafi was about to begin a postdoctoral fellowship at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and they were both looking forward to starting a family.

Rafi and Niva are survived by their respective parents and siblings in Israel. Condolence letters to their parents celebrating their life in the United States will be greatly appreciated. The addresses are: Ester and Hannan Katzman, 63 Degel Reuven St., Petach Tikva 49551, Israel and Amira and Zvi Baider, 30 Kedoshei Kahir St., Holon 58362, Israel.

A memorial gathering will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 9, 1998, at the home of Tom and Margaret Jordan, 6 Kenilworth Circle, Wellesley, MA 02482 (telephone 781-237-3941).