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A tribute

Remembering 'eternal optimist' Dr. Tahir Husain

Campus and Community

By Jackey Locke

Whether you met him in the hallways at Memorial University, in his office, in the laboratory or in the classroom, Dr. Tahir Husain always welcomed you with a smile and a cheerful greeting.

Dr. Tahir Husain wears a brown jacket and tie, glasses and a white shirt. A lab is in the background.
Dr. Tahir Husain
Photo: Chris Hammond

Dr. Tahir Husain, known as a gentle soul with a big heart and an extraordinary mind, passed away suddenly on Jan. 26, 2022.

Inspiring individual

Dr. Husain joined Memorial University and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science as a civil engineering professor in 1995.

Over the next 25 years, he became known as a kind-hearted, wise and selfless colleague, professor,supervisor and inspiring leader of colleagues, students and staff.

“Dr. Husain was eager to share his research discoveries with others and especially with pride when they involved his students,” said Dr. Greg Naterer, dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “I worked most closely with him when he was the associate dean (research) in the faculty from 2014 to 2018. He shared far-sighted words of wisdom with me. His dedication to helping others will be his long-lasting legacy — not only in teaching and supervising students, but as a mentor and role model for other faculty members.”

Dr. Husain made outstanding contributions in research, teaching and administrative leadership to Memorial and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

“He was an outstanding scholar, a wonderful colleague, an important mentor and close friend.” — Dr. Bing Chen

He served as associate dean, research from 2014-18. He was director of the executive master of business administration program in oil and gas engineering from 2009-10.

He was chair of the board of studies for the master of applied science program in environmental engineering and applied science and master of applied science program in environmental systems engineering and management from 1996-2004 and 2005-08, respectively. He was chair of the civil engineering discipline from 2005-07 and director of continuing education from 2002-05.

Significant contributions

Dr. Husain received numerous research and project leadership awards and co-supervised over 50 graduate students. In particular, he made significant contributions in the areas of waste management and mitigation of air pollution. He published over 400 technical publications, including more than 130 refereed journal articles.

He led or co-led more than 80 projects and was a respected consultant and advisor to various mining and oil and gas companies, government bodies, United Nations agencies, and other universities — for his expertise and groundbreaking contributions in the field. He received many institutional, national and international awards and recognitions during his long and illustrious career.

Dr. Husain was also a visiting scientist at Harvard School of Public Health in 1995, and worked with the Research Institute at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia for 16 years (1979-95).

Most recently, he led an international team to develop new oil spill response technologies to support Canada’s Ocean Protection Plan.

His service to the United Nations after the Gulf War resulted in his highly cited book, Kuwaiti Oil Fires: Regional Environmental Perspectives.

‘Eternal optimist’

Until his untimely passing, he was dedicated to advancing the fields of civil and environmental engineering while always aiming to help his students succeed.

“An eternal optimist, Dr. Husain guided the civil engineering department in many different ways,” said Dr. Bipul Hawlader, current head, Department of Civil Engineering. “He always saw the positive sides of an individual to develop a stronger team. Just three days prior to his death, he was sharing his plans to accommodate students of varying backgrounds in the courses, developing new projects and looking for ways to transfer his knowledge to the younger generation.”

“My collaboration and friendship with Dr. Husain began in 2006 when he recruited me,” said Dr. Bing Chen, former head, Department of Civil Engineering, and current acting associate dean, graduate studies. “We worked closely together and, to me, he was an outstanding scholar, a wonderful colleague, an important mentor and close friend. We discussed our collaborative projects just before the holiday break and chatted about teaching and students only a few days before he passed away.”

Dr. Husain will be remembered as someone who was passionate about supporting students and providing an exceptional learning experience for them.

His vision, dedication, passion, encouragement and generosity impacted so many, as his family, friends, colleagues and students, from all over the world remember him.

Rest in peace, Dr. Husain. You are missed.

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