Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Nikolai Dotzek (1966–2010)

The atmospheric science community lost a dear friend and colleague this past weekend. Nikolai Dotzek was a research scientist at DLR's Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, but he was also the Director of the European Severe Storms Laboratory, founder of the European Severe Weather Database, and organizer of the 5th European Conference on Severe Storms, as well as numerous other activities.

During a visit to Munich several years ago, Nikolai and his family opened their home to me for dinner. It was very kind of him, but it was something that he did for many of us severe-weather scientists who passed through town. He was a generous man.

I was amazed at how many things Nikolai did. He had boundless energy and enthusiasm, was a positive and endearing person, and was one of the most friendly scientists I knew. His demeanor made you want to join his vision for a European-wide research and forecasting effort for severe storms. It was a big vision, but I believed that he could do it. Nikolai dreamed big.

I will miss my friend very much.


At 6:58 PM, Blogger Jonathan Gourley said...

I searched the web to see if there were some posts about Nikolai and am glad to discover this from Dave's blog. I, too, was a colleague and moreover a good friend of Nikolai. I first met him as a grad student when he visited Norman back in 2002. We went on many storm chases and then attended a conference together in New Orleans, along with Birgit. We had many stories from that trip, but what sticks in my mind most is the one when we visited his home in Germany in 2006. Like Dave, I had a similar experience with Birgit and Nikolai opening up their home, providing traditional Bavarian dishes, touring Munich, etc. Nikolai even arranged to fly us from the airstrip at DLR over the Alps for some amazing views in a small, single-engine plane (Nikolai told me he once wanted to be a figher pilot in the German air force, and he was just under the max height limit by only a cm or two). I remember getting great views of Neuschwanstein Castle and also of Bavarians drinking beer in Andechs Monastery (we were flying very low and banked hard to port to get the view).

He was a great friend, husband, father, and a brilliant scientist. He will be missed.

JJ Gourley

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