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Community Mourns Death of Jon C. Boothroyd, Acclaimed Coastal Geologist

Multiple environmental agencies participated in volunteer beach profiling training led by Dr. Jon Boothroyd, Professor Emeritus, URI. Boothroyd explains changes seen at South Kingstown Town Beach over the past decade. (Photo credit Tracey C. O'Neill)

Multiple environmental agencies participated in volunteer beach profiling training led by Dr. Jon Boothroyd, Professor Emeritus, URI. In 2014 Boothroyd explains changes seen at South Kingstown Town Beach over the decades. (Photo credit Tracey C. O’Neill)

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The University of Rhode Island announced the loss of their “beloved” Geosciences Professor Emeritus Jon C. Boothroyd, a field researcher, Coastal and Environmental Geologist,  and active participant in development of the Rhode Island Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan (Beach SAMP).

Boothroyd provided his expertise, time and advice to students, organizations and environmental agencies across the state, and worked closely with the Coastal Resources Management Council on coastal issues including beach erosion, coastal inundation, sea level rise and climate change initiatives.

“He was a huge presence in Rhode Island geology and coastal zone management, but his influence went far beyond that,” said CRMC’s coastal geologist Janet Freedman, also a former graduate student and long-time colleague of Boothroyd in a written statement.  “Whenever I meet former students at conferences, everybody always has a story to share. He was very generous with his time and knowledge.”

The revered geologist and professor, died on October 15, one day prior to being inducted into the university’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences Hall of Fame.

Boothroyd served as Rhode Island’s Geologist for more than a decade. A statement was issued from the University’s Coastal Resources Center earlier this week.

Throughout his career, Dr. Boothroyd trained several generations of environmental geologists, managers, and academics working in the field today. In 2013, a group of former graduate students had a special elevation benchmark placed near the beach in Charlestown, R.I., to mark the professor’s vital research related to the consequences of sea level rise and storm surges on Rhode Island’s vulnerable coastline.

“Jon had a lasting and profound impact on the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Program. Much of the geologic language in the program was drafted by Jon and he trained many of our staff, including me,” said CRMC Executive Director Grover Fugate. “Jon was an ‘old school’ scientist and had a sense of integrity that people could see and hear and I think that is why he was so widely respected. He was able to take very complex geological processes and break them down so that the average individual could understand, and this is what made him so widely sought after – his ability to span so many audiences. He will be sorely missed but not forgotten, as his legacy will live on through our program.”

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Boothroyd earned a B.A. in Economics from the University of New Hampshire-Durham, an M.S. in Geology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of South Carolina-Columbia.

A wealth of institutional knowledge, members of the coastal community spoke of their friend and colleague as irreplaceable.

“Jon’s work on the Beach SAMP was invaluable, and the CRMC will profoundly miss his input on such endeavors. He was a credit to the scientific community,” Anne Livingston Maxwell, Chair said in a statement for CRMC.

“He loved his work and all the ways he could use his work for good.  But more than that, he was a good person. He is irreplaceable and he is already being missed!” – Veronica Berounsky in a statement for the Narrow River Preservation Society


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