It has been something of a mixed start to 2011, with some highs, some nice surprises, some hard work, and the most unexpected and difficult of lows. Our research team lost one of its bright flames. A post-doc in the lab travelled to northern Europe for a nordic skiing vacation with her family, and along with her partner and parents were lost in bad weather. They were later found dead, the news filtered to her family and friends, and then to her colleagues.
During my career have experienced a great variety of situations, but never anything quite as numbing as the shock of losing an immediate colleague so suddenly. She was a sparkling, fun, and determined person who brought so much to our group of researchers. In the short time with us she positively and brightly set about her project, and made friends easily along the way. The students in the lab clearly benefited from her influence, and looked to her for guidance and advice which she freely gave. Often with colleagues it is hard to gauge who they really are as a person, this was very much not the case here. From open smiles and candid conversations it was easy to engage with and respect both the person and the scientist.
Personally I am saddened that time was so cruelly short, and that we here in Cardiff didn’t get to benefit more from working with and knowing such a very real person and very bright flame. We are all truly humbled by the thought that whatever we as colleagues might feel those closest to her can only be so much more hurt. I only hope that the knowledge of the positive impacts and memories she left with us softens, just a little, the impact of her loss on those hurting more.