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Seagrass expert Evamaria Koch remembered

March 24, 2014

Dr. Evamaria Wysk Koch of Easton passed away on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 9 p.m. at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore from complications of lung cancer. Like many other lung cancer victims, she had never smoked and she maintained a healthy lifestyle. By the time the cancer was detected in July of 2013, it had progressed too far for surgery and chemotherapy ultimately failed.

Evamaria was born to German parents in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on May 11, 1961.  She grew up in Brazil enjoying the outdoors and her family.  She developed an interest in environmental science at an early age. 

She received her B.S. in Oceanography from the Universidade de Rio Grande, Brazil, and her M.S. in Biology and Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of South Florida. She carried out postdoctoral studies at the University of Connecticut Avery Point Laboratory.  She joined the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory in 1995 as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2001.

She was author or co-author of more than 60 papers, book chapters, or technical reports. She was major advisor to 13 graduate students and 2 postdoctoral scholars.  She belonged to 5 professional associations, organized numerous sessions at professional meetings and was a founding member of the World Seagrass Association.

Dr. Koch’s area of expertise was seagrass ecology, but her interest was more than academic.  She loved seagrasses. She loved scuba diving and swimming through waving meadows of seagrasses, talking about seagrasses and visiting seagrasses in different parts of the world. She carried out her research with great energy, enthusiasm, and insight. Evamaria and her students made many important advances in our understanding of seagrasses, especially interactions between seagrass beds and their physical and sedimentary environments.  

Dr. Koch was an active member of the Scientific and Technical Analysis Committee for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program. She was also an active member of theSubmerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) Workgroup in the Chesapeake Bay Program. She was a key contributor to the Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Technical Syntheses, which have helped to guide SAV restoration efforts in Chesapeake Bay. Her unique contribution in both Chincoteague and Chesapeake Bays was to provide a hydrodynamical and sedimentological perspective on SAV ecology.

Evamaria’s greatest calling in life, however, was as a mother.  She was fiercely determined to be a mom, and to that end she was blessed to be able to adopt her daughter Olga Koch-Eilers, who became the light of her life and the center of her world.  She spent countless hours traveling to and from school events, dance lessons, skating lessons, and skating competitions throughout the mid-Atlantic region.  She would talk about Olga to anyone who would listen, her face alight with joy and pride.

In addition to Olga, Evamaria is survived by her brother Walter W. Koch, sister-in-law Claudia Y. Koch, and nieces Caroline and Catherine Y. Koch, of Sao Paolo, Brazil.  She is also survived by her mother Eva W. Koch, most recently of Easton.  She was preceded in death by her father Walter Koch.

Evamaria was multi-lingual, speaking fluent German, Portuguese and English. She was a conscientious practicing environmentalist and a rigorous experimental scientist.  She was a single mom who held down a demanding job and cared for her mother at the same time.  But more than all of her accomplishments, she was an integral and active member of multiple communities of scientists, mothers, family members, and friends. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Evamaria Koch Student Travel Fund of the World Seagrass Association (http://wsa.seagrassonline.org/).