The staff of the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) mourns the loss of their dear colleague and friend Dr. Gary N. Murphy, who lost his battle with cancer on March 23, 2022, in Hamburg, Germany, at the age of 45.

Gary was born in Ireland, and earned his BSc Hons in Marine and Fisheries Biology at the University of Aberdeen. He completed a MSc in Marine Biology at Bangor University, and latterly his PhD at the University of Exeter, pioneering the first techniques of understanding reef-scale carbonate budgets to estimate habitat scale variability in coral reef framework production and erosion.

Known for his expertise in reef ecology and carbonate sedimentology, Gary was an avid traveler – a true explorer at heart – with extensive experience in organising and leading field research campaigns, e.g., to Borneo and the Great Cayman, participating in research cruises to the North and South Atlantic, the Antarctic and the Chagos Archipelago, while having researched and taught at Exeter and previously at the Manchester Metropolitan University.

We were delighted to have him join us at ZMT in the summer of 2019 as a member of the Geoecology and Carbonate Sedimentology workgroup. His expertise contributed to the understanding of the dynamic influences of coastlines and beaches of tropical islands.

Gary possessed a sharp wit and an expansive mind with which he shared his broad knowledge on the marine sciences. He was also a devoted and gifted teacher, with an inherent talent for mentoring students while guiding them in developing their own ideas and insights. Ever the team player, Gary was known for his warmth, gentleness, and generosity with time, often taking responsibility for community issues, co-leading ZMT’s postdoctoral cohort, organising social events and ensuring the people around him were well taken care of.

Above all else, he was a close friend and confidante to many at ZMT, imparting invaluable wisdom and insight into complex professional and deeply personal issues. Gary was always among the first to lend a helping hand. His cheerfulness, quiet strength and integrity was a guiding light to many. He taught us so much, especially his optimistic outlook on life.

Gary will be sorely missed by our workgroup, the wider ZMT community, the students he guided, and his large international network of friends and collaborators. We have lost a dear friend, a wonderful advisor, and a bright researcher with rare expertise. He will be remembered as an exceptional scientist with an endearing sense of humour and the biggest, compassionate heart for those around him.