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UF laboratory dedicated to a “super” friend

By:
Stu Hutson 352-392-0400

Source:
Jim Jones jimj@ufl.edu, 352-392-1864 ext. 289

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The word “super” will forever be synonymous with Room 288 of the University of Florida’s Frazier Rogers Hall—now known as the McNair Bostick Simulation Lab.

In a ceremony Friday afternoon, the lab was dedicated to Welch McNair Bostick III, a doctoral student in UF’s agricultural and biological engineering department who, friends say, will be remembered not only for his stellar research, but more so for a personality that made him the cornerstone of his academic community.

Bostick was killed on the evening of Aug. 28 when a driver veered off Williston Road, striking him from behind as he rode his bike on the road’s paved shoulder. A plaque bearing Bostick’s photo was unveiled outside of the lab, reading, “A ‘super-friend’ whose intelligence, energy, compassion and generosity inspire us all.”

Graduate student Jawoo Koo, who worked alongside Bostick in Room 288, said that Bostick used the word “super” to describe events so often that it became an inside joke. However, when the time came to describe his personality, nothing else seemed appropriate.

“He sat in the corner of the room, but he was the middle of everything,” Koo said.

James Jones, a distinguished professor in the department and Bostick’s mentor, said he often relied on Bostick to assist other graduate students. Bostick would often go so far as to find lodging and other accommodations for foreign students new to America.

“And on top of that, his research was so advanced that even I had trouble understanding it,” Jones said. Last month, Jones presented a portion of Bostick’s incomplete doctoral thesis during an agricultural conference in Indiana.

Bostick used advanced computer models to study the chemical composition of soil used by farmers in one of the poorest regions of Africa. The research may one day help dramatically increase crop yields in the area.

The plaque was unveiled by Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Jimmy Cheek and Bostick’s widow, Carmen Valero, for whom the plaque bears another important symbol—leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree.

“We met in Japan and sent the leaves in all our wedding invitations,” Valero said after the dedication. “It makes me think of him, so beautiful and yet something that can make you feel strong as well.”

The ceremony was also attended by Bostick’s son, Luca, who celebrated his first birthday last week. “I’m so glad that this way to remember him will be here,” Valero said. “So that when Luca grows up he can come and see—and maybe understand a little bit more about his father.”

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