A photo tribute to Boris Avdeev

Boris Avdeev, a brilliant young geologist, and a friend, has passed away.  He went up into the High Sierra on April 19th, and was found by a recovery team on May 3.  He was 31 years old, and a recent PhD graduate of the University of Michigan, specializing in low temperature thermochronology and its application to tectonic evolution (see his recent paper).  He was due to start a post-doc at UC Berkeley soon, and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

I first met Boris in 2003, when he came to the US to pursue a masters degree at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA).  I was an undergraduate there, and I recall thinking, “damn, this guy is really smart!”  Although he spoke little english at the time, my buddy Walt and I prided ourselves in teaching him english.  His accent was very heavy then, and I remember a time when he wasplanning a hiking trip, and he was practicing with me how to say “Howdy” and “Good morning” and “Afternoon!” so that people wouldn’t think he had an accent when he passed them on the trail!

Throughout the next few years, Boris and I spent quite a bit of time together in classes, on research projects, and playing in the outdoors.  We spent a memorable summer mapping abandoned river meanders along the Missouri River, which resulted in 4 published quadrangle maps (here is Boris’ map).  We both moved on from UTA in 2005, Boris going to Michigan and me to California.  We kept up, though, and saw each other when we could – the last time was at AGU in 2011, where we reminisced about our days in Arlington.

I will tell one funny story about Boris, and then Ill let the photos do the rest of the talking.  In 2003, we went to a bar with Boris and he wasnt yet acquainted to American bar traditions.  We ordered beers, and in typical Boris fashion, he said, “I would like a glass of vodka.” The waitress came back with a shot glass of vodka and he scoffed, and pointed at a cocktail glass, and repeated his order.  She poured the shot into a glass, thinking he wanted it ‘neat.’  But Boris had other plans and proceeded to tell the waitress that he wanted a full glass of vodka.  She complied, and he slugged it down, and said, “One more!”  It brought the house down, to say the least!

So, here is a photo tribute of sorts, based on a few photos that I have of Boris from his early days in the US (2003-2006).  Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of photos from that time, due to the fact that I though digital cameras were a fad, but here are a few:

Boris, Walt, Lance, and myself went on a 3 day hiking trip in Big Bend in the winter of 2004, and then Boris came home for Christmas with me – we had a blast that winter hiking, and it is one of my favorite memories of Boris.

Before our big hike – Boris (third from left) looking stoic as ever.

During the hike – Boris again looking unconcerned.  Just after this photo was taken, Boris was making fun of the instructions on an MRE that we packed for food, and got a huge kick out of the fact that the instructions said to prop the heater packet on a “rock or something.”  The photo in this link shows the instructions, and maybe you had to be there to get the joke…

Now he is excited about something!

Boris with friends at Christmas, 2004.

The next group of photos shows one of several canoe trips that we took during our time at UTA, and Boris and I shared a canoe on this particular trip.  He was, as always, full of energy and a blast to be around.

Boris and Tatiana enjoying the canoe trip and passing the bag-o-cheap-wine that we brought…

Boris ‘wielding’ a canoe paddle to get the wine back.

This last photo is from 2012 from his Google+ page.  Boris was a great scientist, a mentor to Walt and I, and a great friend.  His enthusiasm and energy was unparalleled, and this photo typifies him – doing what he loved in the outdoors with his friends.

{UPDATE, May 8, 2012} – please also visit this website www.borisavdeev.ru, or the english version www.borisavdeev.com to see more photos, or to submit your own.


{UPDATE, January 11, 2013} – Jim Lewis from Richardson, TX has sent me his tribute to Boris – download the word document here.  Also, Jim alerted me to this link about Boris’ experience with the law while at UT Arlington – I had forgot about that, but it made me smile – that was Boris!


10 thoughts on “A photo tribute to Boris Avdeev

  1. Lori

    I didn’t know Boris except through stories from Walt – Boris must have been a very special person to have touched so many so deeply – he will be missed, but he is in our hearts – thanks, Zane. When you think of him – he’s there with you.

  2. Pingback: Zane Jobe | Boris Avdeev

  3. Josh Caster

    I saw Boris at GSA a year before we lost him and recently tried to look him up. Thanks for giving Boris a tribute, Zane. This unfortunately makes two of us on that UTA Missouri river meander mapping project that have passed too soon. Boris and I joked that we were likely to be shot that summer wondering around the corn fields looking like two guys that didn’t belong while Zane was being invited back to the farmers’ houses for a beer. He was a great scientist and a good guy to have around. I am sad I didn’t make the effort to reconnect with him sooner. Boris will be missed

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