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In Memoriam of Jason Davis, Assistant Professor of Geography and Carolina Population Center Faculty Fellow

April 12, 2018
Carolina Population Center

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill community mourns the passing on April 1, 2018, of Jason Davis, assistant professor of geography and faculty fellow at the Carolina Population Center. Jason was a young and prolific scholar who studied the relationships between migration, development and environmental change in origin countries. He received his doctoral degree in geography in 2010 from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and was subsequently awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Carolina Population Center. At that early stage in his career, Jason’s research had already been recognized by prestigious national awards including the Jacob Javits Graduate Fellowship from the Department of Education as well as a Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health. In July of 2017, he was appointed assistant professor of geography at Carolina. He is survived by his wife, Jessica Morse, and his son Jackson.

Shortly prior to his death, four of Jason’s colleagues addressed him in a letter of professional tribute. David Lopez-Carr, Jason’s dissertation advisor, wrote: “Jason, your influence on the community of knowledge at the intersection of migration, health and the environment will continue upward as new knowledge and budding scholars build on the sturdy foundations you built. I was your Ph.D. advisor, but you have served as a life advisor to me.”

Sam Sellers, a former UNC-Chapel Hill graduate student, remembered Jason this way: “When I think about the time we’ve spent working together, I remember a colleague who was passionate about answering important research questions as well as improving the lives of the subjects of that research. I remember a colleague who thought constantly of others, who was generous with his time and his thoughts, and was more than willing to spend time working with students and others on various research projects. I remember a colleague who worked hard, who was collegial, who acted with integrity and humility, and who treated others with the utmost respect.”

Clark Gray, Jason’s colleague in the geography department, wrote this to him: “I will always miss the twenty years we would have worked together teaching, doing research and mentoring students, and especially your unexpected insights that always seemed to leap from a place of deep rumination. I aspire to carry this model of calm, contemplative scholarship with me always.”

Finally, Richard Bilsborrow, one of Jason’s postdoctoral mentors, said this: “Jason was likely entering the most productive phase of his career, full of ideas for further research on migration and children’s health in Central America.  On a personal level, he was an extraordinarily polite and modest man, who works so easily and gracefully with others, across space and cultures. I will miss Jason. The world will miss him.”

The Department of Geography and the Carolina Population Center mourn Jason and are deeply grateful to have had him as part of their community. Several members will be remembering Jason at the memorial service to be held on April 26th at the Population Association of America annual meeting in Denver, Colorado.

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