Remembering Dr. Thomas Meixner

Winter 2023
A candlelight vigil on the steps of Old Main

A candlelight vigil was held on the University of Arizona campus Oct. 7, 2022, to honor the life of Thomas Meixner.

/ Chris Richards photo

In October 2022, the University of Arizona community mourned the loss of hydrology and atmospheric sciences department head and professor Thomas Meixner, who worked to educate the next generation of water researchers and make our world’s most precious resource safer for all. He was killed in a campus shooting on Oct. 5. He is survived by his wife, Kathleen Cotter Meixner, and sons Sean and Brendan.

Meixner grew up in Maryland, playing in streams and digging in the garden. As an adult, he carried the passion for water and the environment that he had discovered as a child throughout his research.

“He was passionate about hydrology, and one of the last acts he performed on this Earth was to teach a class. He described his work as ‘making the world better through biogeochemistry,’ but to us, he was trying to save the world’s most precious resource,” his family wrote in a statement. 

Meixner studied water in arid and semi-arid regions, with a focus on the American Southwest, which eventually became his home. His research interests included understanding how water influences the biology and geology of landscapes as well as where rivers source their water, urban hydrology in desert cities, and the effect of climate change on groundwater recharge. His work spanned environments as diverse as desert scrub and Alpine ecosystems, from scales small to large.

Meixner earned his bachelor’s degree in the history of science, as well as soil and water conservation, from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1992. He then came to UArizona, where he earned his doctoral degree in hydrology and water resources in 1999, with work focused on Alpine biogeochemistry.

Thomas Meixner

He worked as an assistant professor in environmental sciences at the University of California, Riverside, until 2004, before returning to UArizona as an assistant professor. He gained full professorship in 2015 and became department head in 2019.

Meixner Family GoFundMe 

Help lift up Thomas Meixner’s family through a GoFundMe account established by the Meixner family:

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