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Diane Poehls Adams

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death of former Joint Program student Diane Poehls Adams after an illness.  Diane was an assistant scientist at Rutgers University.  She came to WHOI in 1999 as a summer fellow with Rob Olson and returned in 2001 as a Joint Program student with Lauren Mullineaux and was awarded her doctoral degree in June 2007.  She also had a current appointment at WHOI as a Guest Investigator.  Diane’s thesis was titled “Influence of Hydrodynamics on the Larval Supply to Hydrothermal Vents on the East Pacific Rise.”

Diane approached her science the same way she approached life – with exuberance and joy.

She did groundbreaking work at deep-sea hydrothermal vents, including discovery of a novel potential mechanism for larval dispersal, driven by surface winds.

She was never daunted by difficult problems, and in fact was drawn to them.  She did the equivalent of two thesis projects – one deep sea and one coastal.  She started a coastal mussel project as backup in case the deep-sea cruises didn’t come through.  They did, but she continued with the mussels because she wanted to learn culture techniques and molecular genetics.

Diane was fearless and determined in her research.  Her curiosity demanded answers, and her incredible intellect sought them by whatever means necessary — be it deep-sea observations, numerical models, or satellite remote sensing.  The breadth of her approach to the complex interdisciplinary problem of larval transport was truly extraordinary, and her success inspiring to those who had the blessing of knowing her.

She was always game for adventure.  When the eruption at the East Pacific Rise occurred in 2006, she was the one who dropped everything else and said “I’ll go!”  When James Cameron was looking for a student to star in a documentary on the mid-Atlantic Ridge, Diane said ‘count me in’. When she came back from the cruise, one of the other students had pasted a large star on the back of her seat.  She loved it and it stayed there for her full graduate career and many years after.

She was truly a star.

A celebration of life will be held at the Rutgers University Marine and Coastal Sciences Building on Friday, July 14, at 10:00 a.m.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Diane’s name to the Diane Poehls Adams Graduate Student Support in Marine and Coastal Sciences Endowed Fund through

Diane Poehls Adams