Mourning the loss of our former lab manager

Categories: News

The department is saddened by the sudden passing of Jon Watkins, our former lab manager of more than 10 years. Jon was beloved by many faculty and staff, as well as both undergraduate and graduate students who passed through McEniry and the lab facilities.  Jon graduated from Alfred University with a B.S. degree in Engineering and then later enrolled at UNC Charlotte and graduated from our department with a B.S. degree in Earth Sciences with a minor in Geology. He combined his skills as an engineer with his love for the environment and began his role as the department’s geosciences lab manager shortly thereafter in 2011. 

Jon was instrumental in helping design and run the research and teaching laboratories for faculty members in the geosciences for more than a decade.  Jon excelled at his role, where he operated the laboratory analytical equipment which supported faculty and student research projects.  He also maintained and repaired the department’s lab and field equipment. During the COVID pandemic Jon was instrumental in maintaining critical laboratory support services and helping the Department move out of McEniry and later transition back after the McEniry renovations were completed.  But more than that, Jon was someone you could always chat with, always tinkering in his workshop, and always willing to lend a hand.  From analyzing soil and lake samples, to launching weather balloons, Jon was always there when you needed him.  

In 2022, Jon retired from the University and moved to Virginia, but would often come back and visit all of the friends in the department that he had such an impact on.  Jon made the department a better place for students, staff, and faculty and he will be dearly missed.