Professor Simon J McQueen-Mason

“Do what you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” Simon once told me, in one of our weekly supervisory meetings.

He said he knew this saying was greatly overused, but it was something he truly believed. Anyone who knew Simon knows that he absolutely loved being a scientist, and his enthusiasm and creativity rubbed off on everyone. As his PhD student I left every one of our meetings feeling inspired, and smiling – he had such a great sense of humour and so many incredibly funny stories to tell. 

Simon taught me how to be a better scientist – that the greatest discoveries come when you approach problems with curiousity, perserverence, and a willingness to take risks. That sucess comes to those who have the humility to accept failure and learn from their mistakes. Most imporantly of all, he taught me never to forget that life is for living.

If things were going badly in the lab, he would encourage me to take a break, go for a walk, or ride my bike across town. Let your mind wander and the answer will come, he said. As an anxious, perfectionistic young scientist this was the best mentorship I could have possibly been given. It had a profound effect on how I think about my work and my life, and I hope to have the opportunity to pass his wisdom on to another young person some day.

Simon was one of my favourite human beings. He guided and motivated me through some of the most challenging times of my life, and I will be forever grateful to have known such a brilliant, kind and unpretentious person. My sincerest heartfelt condolances go out to his family, friends and colleagues – he brought joy and inspiration to all who knew him, and I will remember him fondly until the end of my days. 

Aritha Dornau

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