The Open University mourns the untimely passing of Dr. Eyal Wurgaft, a geochemical oceanographer and OUI senior faculty member. Eyal joined the Department of Natural Sciences four years ago, after completing a doctorate at the Hebrew University, a post-doctorate at Ben-Gurion University and an additional post-doctorate at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
Eyal's professional and personal contribution to the university was enormous, despite his ongoing battle with cancer. Eyal conducted groundbreaking research and developed innovative courses in the fields of geology and oceanography. His remarkable personality, wisdom, and kindness were cherished by colleagues and by all who knew him.
Eyal's research dealt with geochemical cycles in the ocean, particularly carbon and magnesium cycles. Eyal recently led projects that examined the applicability of limestone dissolution as a means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in Israel (Ministry of Energy), the effects of heterogeneous interactions on the oceanic carbon cycle (Israeli Science Foundation), the effect of sponges on the carbon system in the coastal environment (OUI Research Authority), and the formation of dolomite in the ocean.
The substantial breadth of his research in such a short time reflected the curiosity, initiative, and enthusiasm that characterized Eyal, and was a product of the special connection he created with collaborators and students.
In the realm of teaching, Eyal was a partner in developing a new curriculum for a dual-disciplinary degree in earth sciences, managing the earth sciences team, and developing courses. Eyal developed two new courses, Introduction to Geochemistry and Stable Isotopes in Earth Sciences, and paved the way for the revision of older courses in geology, a process that he started but was not able to complete as his illness advanced. In addition to developing courses, Eyal was delighted to share his knowledge with both professional and lay audiences. His lectures were characterized by the clarity of his explanations, the interest and curiosity they aroused in his audiences, and his ability to captivate his listeners.
In Eyal’s interactions with colleagues and acquaintances, the interpersonal relationship always came first. Eyal was attentive to others to an extraordinary degree and knew how to find the good in everyone, expressing his appreciation to others through actions and words. Eyal was full of generosity and humor, and he was a pleasure to converse with, inspiring optimism and joy in those around him. His presence will be greatly missed by us all; we cherish his memory, and send our condolences to his dear family.
May his memory be a blessing.
This memorial was written by Dr. Orli Lachmi.