Bernie McConnell

Like I imagine many others, I will remember Bernie for being the life and soul of meetings, conferences, and parties – the person who knew everyone and welcomed everyone’s input and expertise (no matter whether a research assistant, professor or a neighbour), thriving in turning regular science meetings to these incredible brainstorms. He leaves huge shoes to fill in SMRU with his many talents, from botany to technology, to sniffing out details on Google Earth, to tackling numerical and statistical problems. Obviously, his many interests and passions were not limited work – from music to boat restoration with the Scottish Fisheries Museum (thanks to him I too got involved in painting the bunks of Reaper in Anstruther).

Bernie’s role and influence as a mentor is something I can speak to about more personally. I probably wouldn’t be in SMRU if it wasn’t for him taking me under his wing, starting as a research assistant fresh out of the marine mammal masters. Years (even well over a decade) after working on projects with him, he would still be the one person in SMRU I would turn to in the hours of my greatest need. Though incredibly busy, he always made time to lend his ear, and his support and advice helped me solve more than one conundrum. He was also one of the first people I approached about a research project that I had dreamt up (now in full swing!) which he encouraged me to pursue. So above all, I will remember him as a career-defining, dedicated mentor with one of the biggest hearts that I will ever know. I will have been influenced by and will strive to repay that kindness and mentorship to others for years to come.

My condolences to Bernie’s family, friends and family. I share in the heartbreak that he has gone so soon, and miss his presence, humour and advice.


Photo: the King and Queen of the SMRU quiz night (Sept 2018), behind the fab decorations and tricky questions, spiced with science and topped with poetry!

Saana Balfour (Isojunno)

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