Dr. John Tim Kwiatkowski

November 27, 1965-August 16, 2013


After graduating in 1998 with his PhD in Physics from OU, Tim began working for the Center for the Prediction of Storms (CAPS) managing their supercomputers. A colleague, Brandon George, who later became the coordinator for the CAPS supercomputers says of Tim, “He was then and still is to this day one of the most intelligent people I know. I don’t think there is anything he can’t accomplish when he has put his mind to it.”

In December of 2000, he began working for the Shell Crustal Imaging Facility (SCIF) as Systems Administrator. Early in his career, Tim demonstrated his talent for translating scientific concepts into mathematical models for computer implementation. Tim began helping graduate students and senior scientists with their software projects, helping to optimize routines and to add user interfaces. Eventually Tim was instrumental in releasing Fusion Geophysical’s spectral decomposition software to the geophysical world.

During his time with SCIF, Tim and others on campus had the idea of a supercomputing center. As a result of their discussions, Henry Neeman, a PhD in computer science, was hired and the OU Supercomputing Center for Education & Research (OSCER) was off and running with Tim serving on the Board of Advisors.

Tim was a dedicated scientist. He reviewed his last paper for the SEG two weeks ago before his death. He sat on his last thesis defense as a committee member a week later. He made a software release three days before his passing. Tim was a scientist up to the end. He has donated his remains to OU Medical Center for cancer research. So, in true Kwiatkowski form, he continues to do science even now. Tim filled four roles at the university - mentor to students with technical applications, guru/teacher of computational geophysics, research scientist, and lead programmer/problem solver/system administrator. Each of Tim’s accomplishments was made while assisting his colleagues with whatever geophysical or computer difficulty that arose in the course of a day. Computer crashes and network outages seemed no more troublesome than a cloud momentarily blocking the sun.

Most students thought “Tim is brilliant” and therefore at a level that they could never attain. Tim was indeed very smart, but his strongest suits were persistence and patience, whether unraveling a piece of “spaghetti code” or reconstructing hopelessly scrambled seismic geometries, often taking days of hard work. When it came to coding, Tim was a perfectionist. While his office was a mess, his software products were pristine and perfectly organized. He serves as a role model for colleagues and students alike. He is sorely missed. (Aug 19, 2013).

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