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The sad passing of Michael Rosen

Updated: May 5, 2021

Michael Robert Rosen, of Carson City, NV, passed away April 27 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, from complications following surgery for pancreatic cancer.

Michael was a Research Hydrologist at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and Water Quality Specialist for Research with the California Water Science Center. Michael worked on both groundwater and surface water quality. He also studied paleoclimate, paleohydrology, and playas (seasonal lakes in desert regions). In addition, Michael was adjunct faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Global Water Center. In 2010 Michael was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. He was author or co-author of numerous scholarly papers in his field of limnogeology, including most recently a book of essays he co-edited, Limnogeology: Progress, Challenges and Opportunities (Springer 2021), which was published two days before his death.

Previous employment included work at the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences in New Zealand, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Perth, Western Australia, Curtin University of Technology also in Perth, and the Limnological Research Center at the University of Minnesota. Michael also did research for Arco Oil and Gas while pursuing his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin.

Michael was born January 19, 1961 in Philadelphia, PA, the youngest of four sons born to David and Gloria (Uhlmann) Rosen. He was raised in Swarthmore, PA and attended public K-12 schools there. He lived abroad with his family during his father’s sabbatical research leaves, in 1961-62 (Glasgow, Scotland), 1967-68 (Cambridge, England), and 1971-72 (Cork, Ireland). Michael was a competitive soccer player both in high school and as an undergraduate at Haverford College. After college he completed his MS at the University of Rochester (NY), his PhD at the University of Texas/Austin, and post doctoral research at the University of Minnesota.

Michael had passions for hiking, music and taking his family on birding adventures. He was an accomplished self-taught guitarist, singer and songwriter in the British folk tradition, and used to perform locally with his wife Laura accompanying him on violin when they lived in New Zealand. He was a loving and devoted father and husband, and a loyal brother who will be sorely missed by his family, his colleagues and co-workers, and indeed by anyone who had ever encountered his uplifting, cheerful and genial spirit.

Michael is survived by his wife of 29 years, Laura Gibson, his children Nick and Emma, and his three brothers (Carl, Ralph and Paul) and their families. A memorial service is planned for a later date. A memorial scholarship fund has been established in his memory at the Geological Society of America (GSA). Contributions to the Michael R. Rosen Research Award in Limnogeology can be made at this link: We will be celebrating his life and his science during the next IAL-IPA conference in Bariloche, Argentina in 2022. Please look out for further updates on how you can participate.

1 Comment

May 01, 2022

So sad to read this news. I had quite a bit of conversation with Mike in Phoenix, Arizona (GSA annual meeting, 2019). We overlapped as graduate student at the University of Rochester. Mike was very personable, always upbeat, and kept his smile. Even he was aboard for quite sometimes after receiving PhD, I used to have email connections and GSA meetings made it even easier. An acclaimed hydrogeochemist with focus on limnology, Mike earned recognition among his peers. It is a tragic loss for the geoscience community. May Almighty rest his soul in peace.

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