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Queen’s remembers J. Harry McCaughey

The Queen’s community is remembering Professor Emeritus J. Harry McCaughey of the Department of Geography and Planning, who passed away on Friday, May 1. He was 76.

Professor Emeritus J. Harry McCaughey
Professor Emeritus J. Harry McCaughey

Dr. McCaughey joined Queen’s University in 1971 where he specialized in climatology research and teaching. He retired June 30, 2012 and was granted the title of Professor Emeritus.

He was a pioneer and leader in the micro-climate and eddy covariance research communities. In 2003 he received the NSERC 25 Years of Excellence in Research certificate in recognition of twenty-five years of continuous funding support from NSERC.

In the department, Dr. McCaughey served a year as Acting Head (1984-85) and served on a number of committees. He was also cross-appointed to the School of Environmental Studies.

Dr. McCaughey served on numerous committees both on and off campus. Some of those included: International Review Panel for the Swedish Natural Science Research Council; Review Panel for Climate Change Action Fund in the area of Adaptation and Impacts (Forestry); The BERMS Science Committee; the Science Committee and the Board of Directors of Fluxnet-Canada; and the Operational Science Committee of the Canadian Carbon Program.

Born in Limavady, Northern Ireland he received his undergraduate degree (BSc) from Queen’s University, Belfast. He received both his MA and PhD degrees from McMaster University.

Harry mentored and graduated many graduate students who fondly remember him. One of his former students, Dave Branson, reflects: “Harry had an immense impact on my education and preparing me for my future jobs. As an undergrad it was always a challenge to keep up with his lectures. He would be writing frantically on the acetate for the overhead projector and in a split second that acetate would be gone and he would be onto the next. In grad school, I could not have had a better supervisor. Although he was meticulous about our writing and would send back drafts full of edits and comments, he was also sure to keep us on schedule.”

Another former graduate student, Rene Barendregt, recalls: “I really enjoyed Harry as a professor. Much of what he taught me about weather and climate I still use in my lectures. Most mornings when I wake up and look to the sky, I try to understand the day’s weather. Often I am reminded of Harry’s descriptions of sky conditions and clouds and what these might be telling us. Harry was a very practical man, and that appealed to this young Alberta farm kid trying to work his way through a Ph.D. in Geography at Queen’s University.”