Thomas Meixner: A Tribute to the University of Arizona Professor

thomas meixner

University of Arizona Thomas Meixner

Thomas Meixner was identified as the University of Arizona professor and department head who was shot and killed on the Tucson campus.

Campus police named the shooting suspect as Murad Dervish, a former student. The slaying occurred on October 5, 2022.

Tributes flooded in for Meixner, who researched water quality and climate change. Kaveh Madani, a professor in New York, tweeted, “A sad day for our field! A sad day for #science!”

“Law enforcement authorities have apprehended a suspect in the shooting that occurred today on the University of Arizona main campus,” the University of Arizona wrote in a statement.

“Arizona Department of Public Safety officers apprehended Murad Dervish after a traffic stop near Gila Bend, Arizona, at 5:10 p.m.” The suspect’s full name is Murad Can Dervish, 46. He has previous addresses in Pennsylvania and California.

The Tucson Sentinel first identified the slain professor as Thomas Meixner.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Meixner’s Death Was Described as a ‘Crushing Loss to the Water Community’


UAPD Press ConferenceLive on October 5, 2022. University of Arizona Police Chief Paula Balafas provides a campus update. Subscribe: go.arizona.edu/yt-subscribe University of Arizona COVID-19 response: covid19.arizona.edu/ Follow University of Arizona: Facebook: facebook.com/uarizona Instagram: instagram.com/uarizona/ Twitter: twitter.com/uarizona Official Website: arizona.edu/ Watch More: POPULAR PLAYLIST 1: youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMrsYOKrP2J8UbSQJjKtzpc3qqrOk9iAC POPULAR PLAYLIST 2: youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMrsYOKrP2J-b0q-u8M8buw9_BFdChltC POPULAR PLAYLIST 3: youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCCE7A9F739BD5ADA About the University of…2022-10-06T00:50:20Z

Kathy Chavez tweeted, “Crushing loss to the water community. Tom was highly respected for his research in water harvesting. Mourning this senseless tragedy tonight.”

A person who interacted with Meixner on Twitter wrote, “Thomas Meixner, a professor at UA who died of gun violence today, retweeted this recently. I only knew him On Here, but he very much seemed to be working toward good things. My heart goes out to the #azwater community and his circle.”

Dr. Jason H. Davison, PhD, tweeted, “Thomas Meixner came to my AGU poster when I was a PhD student, talked to me about my research for 20-30 min, and then asked me to apply to their department. He was really nice, that was my total interaction with him, and it was so positive.”

Police said Meixner was shot in his office.

The University of Arizona Police Department wrote on Instagram that the university “experienced a shooting today on its main campus in Tucson. At approximately 2 p.m., a person entered the John W. Harshbarger Building and one victim was shot and died.”

The police said that the university was asking “all non-essential faculty, staff and students to leave the Tucson campus or go to their dorms.”

Campus police Chief of Police Paula Balafas said in a news conference that the suspect was wearing a blue baseball cap. Meixner was the only person shot.


2. A Staff Member Asked Police to Escort the Suspect From the Building Right Before the Shooting of Meixner, Who Was Described as a ‘Great Teacher’

At 1:59 p.m., police received a call from the Harshbarger Building that a former student was in the building who was not supposed to be there.

The caller wanted the police to escort the suspect out, police said in the news conference.

The University of Arizona Police Department was en route when they received two calls of a shooting. By 2:07 p.m., the suspect had fled the scene, running out the main doors.

The shot victim was transported to the hospital but was pronounced deceased in the emergency room. The suspect’s date of birth was in 1976.

KOLD.com reported that Dervish was a former graduate student.

According to his LinkedIn page, he was previously a teaching assistant at San Diego State University. He is listed as a student working in the climate informatics laboratory there.

Meixner was described favorably by students in evaluations on Rate My Professor. “Tom is a great teacher and very successful researcher,” wrote one. Wrote another, “Excellent professor, very flexible so long as he sees your effort. Easiest A throughout my college history. His exams were based on all the quizzes.” Some students said the lectures were tough to understand, and one criticized a teaching assistant.


3. Meixner Was a Professor in Hydrology & Atmospheric Science Who Studied Water Quality & Climate Change

Police confirmed that the shooting victim was a professor. The suspect used a handgun in the shooting, according to police.

Meixner was a professor in the School of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, the police chief said.

Meixner’s faculty web page said he also served as the head of the department.

His research interests were listed as:

Watershed hydrology and biogeochemistry hydrologic controls on water quality, GIS, remote sensing, hydrochemical modeling, atmospheric chemistry, aqueous geochemistry, water quality modeling, sensitivity analysis, automatic parameter estimation, semi-arid hydrology, riparian sustainability, climate change impacts on water resources, and multi-criteria analysis.

He obtained his PHD in hydrology in 1999 from The University of Arizona.

Meixner wrote:

My research interest lies at the intersection of hydrology and biogeochemistry. In particular I am interested in how hydrologic processes play a fundamental role in controlling biogeochemical processes and fluxes at the catchment scale. My research group spans from field investigations designed to understand these controls at a mechanistic and process level to modelling studies focused on forecasting biogeochemical and water quality conditions at the catchment to basin scale. In particular on the modelling side my group works on developing model calibration and uncertainty techniques that can coexist with the both multi-dimensional and yet sparse data that is typically available for water quality modelling at the basin to catchment scale. My work has spanned environments as diverse as desert scrub and alpine ecosystems and from scales of single soil profiles to 10,000 square kilometer catchments.


4. Meixner Had Bachelor’s Degrees in History & Soil & Water Conservation

Meixner had bachelor’s degrees in history and soil and water conservation from the University of Maryland College Park.

He previously served as an assistant professor at the University of California Riverside before moving to the University of Arizona in 2012.

For his Ph.D., he studied, “alpine biogeochemical modeling [electronic resource] : case studies, improvements, and parameter estimation,” his university web site says.

You can read his research articles here. “Implications of projected climate change for groundwater recharge in the western United States,” is an example of one.

Court records in San Diego show that Dervish has a criminal history, although details of it were not immediately available. He also had a civil action for harassment from 2020; it was a restraining order filed by a woman against him, court records say. A woman with the same last name made domestic abuse allegations against him in 2011, court records say.

In a statement posted to Facebook at 7 p.m. on October 5, 2022, the University of Arizona also wrote, “Law enforcement authorities have apprehended a suspect in the shooting that occurred today on the University of Arizona main campus.”

They suggested people check this page for updates.

“All remaining in-person classes, campus activities, events and performances on main campus have been canceled today, Oct. 5,” the university wrote.


5. The Campus Police Chief Called the Death, Which Occurred in an Office, a ‘Tremendously Tragic Event’

The campus police chief called it a tremendously tragic event.

She said that it was still being investigated whether the student knew the professor who was killed, including whether he taught him.

The chief called the shooting an “anomaly” for the campus, which she described as an “island” that is generally safe.

The motive is not clear. She said the professor was shot to death in an office.

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