Staff News

Remembering Nathan Hearn

Nathan Hearn (CISL) passed away after a long illness on February 14.

In his three years at NCAR, Nathan touched the lives of his coworkers with his personable manner and professional skills.

“Nathan will be sorely missed,” said Al Kellie, CISL director. “Those of us who had the privilege to work with him during his brief tenure here will recall the pleasant way he had about him—his kindness, helpfulness, and the contributions he made.”

Nathan was a project scientist in CISL's Technology Development Division who worked on a NSF-funded project for performing century-scale, very high-resolution climate model simulations using the Community Earth System Model (CESM). The experiment is one of the first of its kind. Nathan worked specifically on the flux coupler, which serves as the hub for exchanging material and energy fluxes between the various components of the Earth system (ocean, atmosphere, sea ice, land, etc.). He modified the coupler to allow multiple components of the same kind to be coupled within the climate model, a capability that is important for understanding how climate feedbacks work and for climate prediction experiments.

"Nathan was an incredibly talented scientist and programmer," says Rich Loft (CISL), who helped hire Nathan and worked with him. "His code exhibited true artistry and an elegance of design."

Mariana Vertenstein (CISL), who closely worked with Nathan, also praised Nathan’s competence as a software engineer and scientist. "He worked hard and had a remarkable attitude. He was also an extremely nice person—very kind and gracious."

John Dennis (CISL), another of Nathan’s co-workers, says that Nathan was known for his quiet, easygoing nature as well as for his skill at writing code. He was part of a team that won a CISL award for building the interactive ensemble in CESM.

Nathan grew up in Portland, Oregon. He attended Santa Clara University as an undergraduate and earned a doctorate in theoretical physics from the University of Illinois, followed by postgraduate work at Washington State University and the University of Chicago. In 2009, he and his wife, Sandra, moved to Longmont from Chicago when Nathan began working in CISL.

His hobbies included singing, photography, computer programming, video games, movies, and rollerblading. He belonged to a number of church choirs and several professional scientific and programming organizations.

Nathan is survived by his wife, Sandra; his parents, Vern and Olivia; his brother Joel; and sister Charis.