The funeral for my brother Brian was perfect. One of the most beautiful services I've ever attended.
Our celebration for his extraordinary life and the love shared among family and friends transcends this wonderful world.
My siblings delivered wonderful tributes. Brian's father in law David Schmidt taught us beautiful doctrine pertaining to Jesus and His Resurrection.
Professor Steven M. Schuster spoke of Brian as one of the most gifted scientists among his generation. And even said with some humor that Brian was his teacher and kindly corrected his work at times.
Finally, my father paid a wonderful tribute, and counseled us, reminded us, that we believe in the principle of forgiveness. Although people should be accountable for their actions we believe in forgiveness.
I am continually in awe of my father and mother in their ability to lead and guide our large family with 22 grandchildren through a difficult time. We have forgiveness in our heart. Through God's grace and mercy it is a beautiful feeling.
As far as my health, I know it won't be long before a heart comes. I continue to pray with all my soul for the family, who I now understand will walk our same path and share our same emotions. I am going to fight that much more for them and for my brother.
I want to live and continue on with what my brother would have wanted me to do.
He had a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University. There he became interested in newts and garter snakes, and had the chance to work with one of the great professors of herpetology, Dr. Edmund Brodie Jr.
Brian went on to publish this work as an undergraduate student. The fraction of all undergraduate students who ever finish college is less than 50%. The fraction of such students that ever engage in scientific research is less than a tenth of this number. And the fraction of that number of students who actually complete their research and publish it in a scientific journal is less than a tenth of that number.
At a very early age and stage in his career, Brian Layton Cardall showed he had the ability to make important contributions to science. But as an undergraduate, Brian hadn’t tired of discovery yet.
Brian went on to complete a Masters’ degree at Utah State University in Dr. Karen Mock’s laboratory. There Brian showed, using skills he was developing in molecular genetics, that certain native fish in Lake Bonneville, Utah, were actually two distinct species. Okay, two different species instead of one. Why should this be so important?
In fact, this is one of the most fundamental contributions any biologist can make. It is a biologist’s job to give humanity a better understanding of how the natural world works. Brian showed us all something we had never known before; that is until Brian decided to consider this aspect of Nature himself.
Brian gave the scientific world a way to see things differently than they had seen it before. He was excited about using his skills as a biologist and a scientist. He had shown he could make important discoveries, and again, he had published his work. But as a Master’s student, Brian hadn’t tired of discovery yet.
Brian contacted me about becoming a graduate student in my laboratory. I was familiar with some of Brian’s work and the chance to have a seasoned scientist join my lab as a doctoral student seemed almost too good to be true.
Brian and I discussed several options for graduate support and decided he should apply for a Science Foundation Arizona fellowship, a recently established organization designed to invest early in individuals who have the highest potential to drive innovation and scientific research in Arizona.Brian seemed a sure bet to receive this funding and indeed he was awarded a fellowship. But as a Science Foundation Arizona Fellow, Brian hadn’t tired of discovery quite yet.
Brian decided to shift his interests yet again to investigate what is now known, as “community genetics,” the study of how genetic variation within one species may influence the distribution, abundance and reproduction of other species. This new discipline links molecular and evolutionary genetics to population, community, and ecosystem processes. Community genetics has fundamental implications for conservation biology. And this was a connection that I believe Brian, who was passionate about conservation, could simply not resist. Brian’s work took several different avenues. His cottonwood work focused on locations in Arizona and Utah in which an invasive plant known as salt cedar or Tamarisk, had changed riverbanks that had once been populated by cottonwood trees. Brian’s work has already shown that there may be particular genetic variants of cottonwoods that are resistant to invasion by salt cedar, a discovery that could revolutionize river restoration efforts in areas where salt cedar is abundant. But as a community geneticist, Brian hadn’t tired of discovery quite yet.
Brian became interested in Diorabda beetles, another invasive species that happens to like to eat Tamarisk. And consistent with community genetics theory, Brian showed that beetles preferred to eat certain salt cedar plants and avoid others. Brian had begun work, independently, with scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara to understand the genetic basis of such preferences. But again, as a conservation biologist, Brian hadn’t tired of discovery quite yet.
Brian’s interest in animals was never too deep below his cheerful exterior because Brian had almost single handedly developed molecular genetic markers that he and I planned to use to explore sexual selection in marine isopods in Mexico.
Brian had also grasped statistical methods I was exploring to understand how animals such as beavers can change ecological communities by preferring some cottonwood trees and not others. Brian had grasped this approach so thoroughly that he was already correcting my work and gently and patiently showing me places where my calculations were in error. But, you guessed it, as a theoretician, Brian hadn’t tired of discovery yet.
Brian immersed himself in each of these fields, and by the spring of 2009, he had comfortably assumed his place among the intellectual cream of young Arizona scientists. At Northern Arizona University, he had become the standard against which all Science Foundation Arizona Fellows were judged. He was a leader among the graduate students in our department and he had the respect, admiration and affection of all of the members of my laboratory.
Brian loved his work. It never seemed to represent work to him. He seemed charmed by the beauty and complexity of nature and Brian was wearing the largest of his infectiously large smiles when in the field with his daughter Ava, she riding on his shoulders or strapped to his chest, facing outward so she could see the world through her father’s inquisitive and perceptive eyes.
Brian Cardall was one of the most outstanding people I have ever known. He was a consistently friendly, hard working, intelligent, witty and even-tempered guy. He was a kind and gentle human being. He was a devoted father and a caring husband. And Brian had all of the intellectual, creative and scientific tools he needed to become one of the most outstanding scientists of his generation.
His work spanned questions and applications from molecules to ecosystems. But Brian, although he is no longer with us, does not seem to be tired of discovery quite yet.
Brian’s work and love of nature lives on in his publications, those that have already explained so much about the natural world, as well as those on cottonwoods and tamarisk, on tamarisk and beetles, and on marine isopod crustaceans, all of which are very close to completion and eventual publication.
It is a tragic understatement to say that Brian Layton Cardall will be missed. But I believe, Brian’s discoveries and insights have a long and bright future ahead. Brian’s publications will do much to keep us all from growing tired of discovery.I have been and continue to be inspired by Brian Cardall; my student, my colleague, and my friend.