Martin B. Lagoe (1951-1995)

LagoeDr. Martin Lagoe died at home with his family on Tuesday, December 26, 1995, following a long battle with cancer. Lagoe was born on March 10, 1951, in Hagerstown, Maryland. He received a BS degree in geology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1973, followed by an MS degree at The University of Wisconsin, Madison. He then joined the Atlantic Richfield Company as an exploration geologist and later became operations micropaleontologist/stratigrapher, moving from Dallas to Bakersfield, California, and on to Anchorage, Alaska. In 1978 he returned to school at Stanford University, where he completed a PhD. Back with Atlantic, now ARCO, he worked in both research and exploration, applying micropaleontology to petroleum exploration and development problems. He joined the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UT-Austin in 1985 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1990 and Professor in 1995. The breadth and impact of Professor Lagoe’s professional life, both in industry and academia, are reflected in the dedications of the February, 1996, issue of Geotimes and an issue of the Journal of Foraminiferal Research to his memory and in the number of former students, his “extended family”, who returned to Austin to visit regularly during his illness and, finally, for his memorial service.

Martin Lagoe’s professional activities were many and varied. Not content to merely attend and present papers at scientific conferences, he was an active organizer of meetings and symposia. He held membership in ten international, national, and sectional societies. At various times, he served as Vice Chairman of the SEPM Research Committee, President of the North American Micropaleontological Section of SEPM, technical program chairman for the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM, and member of the Board of Directors of the Cushman Foundation. He was on the editorial boards of Geology and the Journal of Foraminiferal Research. He participated in numerous AGI Correlation Projects and Penrose Conferences of the Geological Society of America and convened several symposia at national and international meetings of the AAPG, SEPM, and GSA. Lagoe’s rapidly growing international reputation led to a Visiting Professorship at Aarhus University, Denmark, in the fall of 1993. He was sole or senior author of more than 30 publications.

In the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Lagoe developed and taught five graduate courses that traversed a spectrum of topics from micropaleontology to paleoceanography and quantitative stratigraphy. Several became regular offerings. He was awarded the Houston Oil and Minerals Faculty Excellence Award in Geological Sciences for the 1994-95 academic year. As his exposure and reputation grew, so did the number of graduate students under his supervision. He took a special pride in the accomplishments of his students, and it is obvious from talking with his students that their relationship with him was often the defining element of their graduate career. He supervised nine MA students and three PhD students.

At the same time, Professor Lagoe developed ongoing, multidisciplinary working relationships with numerous scientists at UT’s Institute for Geophysics, other UT departments, and at other universities, including Rice and Toronto. His work ranged from Kamchatka and Alaska in the northern Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic, and from ancient rocks to late Quaternary oceanography to modern faunal distributions. His last papers focused on topics as diverse as the stratigraphy and sedimentology of Neogene rocks in the Gulf of Alaska, Pliocene climate change and glaciation in the North Pacific margin, quantitative analysis of faunal patterns in Eocene deposits of the Gulf Coast Basin, Late Quaternary biofacies and paleoenvironments of outer shelf sediments off of New Jersey, bathymetric zonation of modem forams of the Texas continental slope, and micropaleontologic indicators of Holocene climatology. Lagoe was particularly known for his application of quantitative methods to micropaleontologic interpretation. He developed and co-taught a popular short course on quantitative biostratigraphy and paleoenvironmental analysis that was presented under both professional society and industry sponsorship. Colleagues comment repeatedly about the breadth of his knowledge. He was a fountain of ideas for new projects, research proposals, and original applications of micropaleontology to geologic problems.

To his friends, Martin Lagoe was equally well known for his culinary skills. An invitation to dinner was a treat to be thoroughly enjoyed and surreptitiously sought after. In the memory of many, Lagoe will forever be pictured wearing an apron and bustling about a stove covered with simmering pots, a cooking spoon in hand. He was also an avid mineral collector, frequently to be seen at local and regional gem and mineral shows, and with an eye-catching display of specimens collected personally or acquired though trade and knowledgeable purchase.