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Crash Kills Carolyn Merry, 63; Ohio State U. Academic Head and National GIS Expert

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A June 3 highway accident has killed Carolyn J. Merry, former Ohio State University civil engineering chair and noted remote sensing researcher. She was 63.

Merry's husband Robert K. Redfield confirmed to ENR that tractor-trailer driver Adrian Rogers, whose vehicle slammed into a car driven by Merry on Ohio’s I-71, is set to be in court on July 21 following a not-guilty plea to vehicular homicide charges.

Merry, who had taught at OSU since 1988, was chair of its civil, environmental and geodetic engineering department from 2005 until her 2013 retirement and former director of its Center for Mapping.

She also was active in industry groups, 2012 chairwoman of the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations—which represents 30,000 producers and users of geospatial data for engineering and construction applications—and former president of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.

She also had been a physical scientist and geologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H.

Merry chaired the American Society of Civil Engineers’ council for university department heads and was past president of its Central Ohio chapter. “She was always positive, creative and collaborative—a respected teacher, researcher, mentor, and leader,” says Jeffrey Russell, a University of Wisconsin vice provost and ASCE colleague. “And she was a rabid OSU footfall fan.”

Merry and Redfield also started in 2009 an engineering scholarship fund for OSU students in civil or environmental fields, particularly aimed at women.

He is a civil engineer who worked with Merry at the Corps Cold Regions Lab and recently retired as a U.S. Army project manager.

"A role model and a mentor to many women in engineering and a first female [civil engineering] department chair, Carolyn was a true change maker," says her department chair successor Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska: “It’s an enormous loss for the university.”

Former students praised Merry's skill in teaching complex topics and connecting to aspiring engineers.

“Although I still have not used the eigenvector theory Dr. Merry taught me in advanced remote sensing class, I remember her ease in covering abstract concepts in a manner that made them seem simple and applicable,” says Doug Wilson, an OSU engineering student in the early 1990s in an online tribute.

"From the first day of class, it was easy to distinguish that she was an educator who was passionate about her teaching and who also cared about the success of her students," adds Todd Gadawski, an alumnus of Merry's surveying course from Westerville, Ohio. "I graduated from the OSU School of Engineering almost 20 years ago, but she is still probably at the top of the list of a handful of professors who I remember as having made a lasting impression upon me. She provided a very real, caring and human face to a large educational institution."

In confirming Rogers' appearance in a Madison County, Ohio court next month, Redfield said he was told there was no evidence of the driver's impairment at the time of the accident.

A full toxicology report and a probe of Rogers' cell phone records will not be complete until mid-July, Redfield said.

Donations in memory of Carolyn Merry can be made to:

Carolyn J. Merry Engineering Scholarship Fund, Fund Number 664695 at OSU.

To send a check, make payable to The Ohio State University Foundation and mail to:               The Ohio State University Foundation, 1480 West Lane Avenue, Columbus, OH 43221.

Online gifts may be made via credit card at the following website:


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