Mervyn Paterson

Paterson in the Paterson Lab

Mervyn had an enormous impact on my career starting from my first few months of graduate school. My fondest memories are from the time he came to David Kohlstedt’s lab in 1991 (while I was a Postdoc) to finalize the set-up of the Paterson apparatus there – working with Mervyn for those two weeks was an incredible experience. His concentration, thoroughness, and attention to detail during a few trouble-shooting tasks was remarkable.

A few anecdotes: In my first semester of graduate school, I was giving a presentation at Brown about the role of compaction on stress-strain curves (this was one of my first scientific presentations of any sort).  I showed a few figures on how compaction influences strain weakening (without attribution) and someone in the audience asked where I found the figures.  I told them (naively) – “I found them in a paper by some guy named Mervyn Paterson (uproarious laughter follows).  Not too long after that, I was sitting next to Mervyn during and AGU session on the Brittle-Ductile transition (in those days, a special session at AGU was still a big thing).  I gave a talk in the session – Mervyn asked me a question.  Upon returning to my seat he looked at me and simply said something along the lines of: “I think you should think more about your answer to my question” (gulp).  Well, needless to say I did, and learned so much from reading his work on many topics in the years that followed (and still do today). What an amazing man.

Greg Hirth

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