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CAS Professor Seriously Injured by Car

“Bat Man” Thomas Kunz in ICU

Thomas Kunz, Boston University, Aeroecology, Bat Man

Popular and colorful, CAS Professor Thomas Kunz is affectionately known as “Bat Man” to students and colleagues. Photos by Vernon Doucette

Thomas Kunz, a prolific and popular College of Arts & Sciences professor of biology, was hit by a car in Toronto while crossing a busy traffic circle, suffering serious brain damage. Kunz, director of the Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology and an internationally known expert on bats, was walking with students when he was hit at about 8 p.m. on October 26. No charges have been filed in connection with the accident. Kunz was taken to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and was transferred October 29 to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he remains in intensive care.

Kunz’s daughter, Pamela Kunz, says her father is in critical condition, but that his condition has improved slightly over the past week. She says that swelling of his brain has decreased since he was operated on October 30 and color is returning to his cheeks, and that the family remains hopeful that his improvement will continue.

Kunz had traveled to Toronto to attend the Annual Symposium on Bat Research, sponsored by the North American Society for Bat Research, an organization whose members know the popular and colorful professor well. He is affectionately known as “Bat Man” to students and colleagues and is highly regarded for his study of white-nose syndrome, a little known and lethal disease affecting little brown bats, as well as for other work. Kunz has spent 45 years researching, observing, and caring deeply for bats, in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Trinidad, India, Malaysia, and throughout the United States.

Virginia Sapiro, dean of Arts & Sciences, says Kunz’s accident was a truly terrible event. “Tom is a greatly valued member of this community as a researcher, scholar, and educator,” Sapiro says.

Frederick Wasserman, a CAS associate professor of biology, has known Kunz for 33 years and describes him as “the kindest and warmest person you will ever meet.”

Thomas Kunz, Boston University, Bat Man, bat research, aeroecology

“Tom is a remarkable scientist and one the best editors around,” says Wasserman. “He has had incredible success because he deserves it. He works so hard, he’s always the last one to leave, and he has a high level of intelligence. He is always willing to do the right thing, always willing to help. I miss terribly not being able to go in his office and chat.”

“We are all devastated by the terrible accident,” says Kate Langwig (GRS’15), a PhD candidate who works at the center. “We are hoping for a speedy recovery, and we are comforted that he is surround by his family and thankful for the support of his friends and colleagues at BU and other institutions.”

Kunz is a founding member of the Tiputini Biodiversity Station’s scientific advisory board in eastern Ecuador, and the inventor of aeroecology, the study of the web of airborne influences and creatures, from bats and birds to microbes. Author, coauthor, editor, and coeditor of more than 240 publications, he is a former president and an honorary member of the American Society of Mammalogists and the 2008 winner of the lifetime achievement award from the aquifer-researching Karst Waters Institute. Last March, he was awarded a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professorship, BU’s highest faculty honor.

Art Jahnke

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.

8 Comments on CAS Professor Seriously Injured by Car

  • Szu on 11.07.2011 at 9:24 am

    My heart goes out to Prof. Kunz and his family as well as my prayers. I hope Prof. Kunz gets better real soon.

  • Nicole on 11.07.2011 at 10:01 am

    We wish you all the best Prof. Kunz! All your students miss you terribly! We know you to be a strong and determined person, so hope that you’ll be back at BU in no time! <3

  • David on 11.07.2011 at 2:25 pm

    Unbelievable tragedy to a great professor and a better human being. I can only hope he has a speedy recovery and can return to the life he had before the accident.

    I also hope for justice on his behalf, there is no reason one should have to fear for their life while crossing through a noted crosswalk. The driver had to be extraordinarly negligent to have caused this kind of injury to a pedestrian crossing through a designated crosswalk. To not have the driver feel a repercusion for their action only encourages this kind of accident to happen again.

    Get well soon Prof. Kunz.

  • Faculty Member on 11.07.2011 at 5:23 pm

    Wishing Prof. Kunz a speedy recovery — lots of love and support coming to him from the faculty of CAS.

  • amc on 11.07.2011 at 9:53 pm

    Sending my thoughts and prayers to Prof. Kunz and his family. Wishing him continued success throughout the recovery process.

  • student on 11.08.2011 at 6:55 pm

    his family posts updates here: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/tomkunz

  • Jinhong on 11.09.2011 at 11:37 am

    I was so sad to hear about this accident and hope for a speedy recover for Professor Kunz. You have given me so much courage to pursue my dream as a bat researcher.

  • Yuyan You on 11.09.2011 at 7:15 pm

    Hoping you has a speedy recovery.
    Come on, Prof. Kunz. We are waiting for you.

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