Memorial honoring late hydrology professor Dr. Thomas Meixner installed at Holy Hope Cemetery

Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 4:20 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - It’s been nearly six months since the death of Dr. Thomas Meixner. The Hydrology professor was fatally shot on the University of Arizona campus in October.

Now, those who knew Dr. Meixner are looking to keep his legacy alive, by continuing the work he did during his career. Neha Gupta, an assistant research professor at the university, said this idea came about shortly after his death.

“It almost came about as a joke we said, ‘We should put a rain gauge on his grave.’ Then we started talking and we said, ‘if we need a rain gauge then we need those totals reported’ because that’s a big part of it too,” Gupta said of the idea.

Once the plan was in motion, the Pima County Regional Flood Control District offered to maintain and operate it. Gupta, who was one of the driving forces to make this tribute happen, called Meixner a “fantastic mentor” and wanted his work to live on even though he isn’t able to continue it.

“His approach to life and the way he made science engaging and not intimidating. His personality was very boisterous. He would walk into a room and the mood would lighten up,” she said.

This new memorial will work to collect rain and then send an electronic signal to servers where officials can record the data. It can also send warnings to officials about excessive rainfall and it report directly to the National Weather Service.

Interim Head and Professor of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences Chris Castro echoed some of those same thoughts in his first interview since the shooting happened.

“Tom was a hydrologist, and he had a love for all things related to Arizona hydrology and also atmospheric sciences and so much of his work here in Tucson was monitoring rainfall and hydrology in this local area,” he said.

He added that the work this rain gauge will do for years to come is the best way to honor his former colleague and friend. “Tom Meixner was really the embodiment of the faculty member here at the University of Arizona that represented all of the values and all of the best of what this University has to offer. I think the best legacy that we all can give to Tom is to act in that same spirit.”

If you’d like to see the rain gauge at work and track the rainfall you can visit this link.