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Virginia Tech mourns loss of fisheries and wildlife sciences graduate student


BLACKSBURG, Va., July 9, 2004 – Jeffrey A. Kaminski, a master's degree student in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences in the College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech, died suddenly Thursday morning at Montgomery Regional Hospital. He was 32.

An autopsy has been performed. Test results are not expected for several weeks.

Kaminski received his bachelor's degree in biology with honors from the University of Southern Mississippi. He enrolled in the fisheries and wildlife graduate program in the fall 2002. He was a member of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society, SCUBA club president, and treasurer of the Fisheries and Wildlife Graduate Student Association. To support himself in graduate school, he worked as a waiter and bartender for nine years.

For two years he had worked for The Nature Conservancy as a biological technician at Camp Shelby, Miss., to conduct research on the environmental influences of multiple launch rocket systems and aluminum accumulation in small mammals.

His field research concentrated on small mammal ecology, Gopher Tortoise radiotelemetry surveys, and Global Information Systems applications.

"This is a sad and tragic event, and our hearts extend to his family and friends," said Donald J. Orth, head of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences. "Jeff loved to teach and hoped to make teaching his career. He started as an undergraduate teaching assistant, where he contributed art work to the new laboratory manual and teaching exhibit. He taught "Principles of Fisheries and Wildlife Management" with me, and "Wildlife Field Biology" with Scott Klopfer and Carola Haas in our department."

His associates described their former colleague as "reliable, kind and generous in spirit, wise beyond his years, eager, and bright."

According to Marcella Kelly, assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife sciences and Kaminski's research adviser, his research project on small mammal community and population dynamics in a central Appalachian industrial forest, in cooperation with the MeadWestvaco Wildlife and Ecosystem Research Forest in Randolph County, W.V., was nearing completion after summer field studies.

Orth said that Kaminski's research was "incredibly rich and had never been done before. It was a major contribution to how to manage a working forest."

He is survived by his mother, Alice Kaminski of Hattiesburg, Miss, and three brothers, David of Raleigh, N.C, and Todd and Erik of Atlanta, Georgia.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, July, 10, at 4 p.m., at Virginia Tech's University Club (located at the corner of Wall Street and Otey Street). Further details are available from McCoy Funeral Home at (540) 552-3815. In lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Jeffrey A. Kaminski Memorial Fund at Virginia Tech, College of Natural Resources, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, 100 Cheatham Hall, Blacksburg VA 24061. Checks should be made payable to the Virginia Tech Foundation with Kaminski Fund noted at the bottom.