Michael Levandowsky

We are saddened to announce that respected microbiologist and River Project board member Michael Levandowsky has passed away as a result of brain cancer. He died peacefully in his sleep on December 23, attended by his cherished caretaker Guzel. Michael's dear friends Leisha Aras, Dan Zweig and Tom Gorell had been taking care of Michael in recent months. 

Michael was a founding member of The River Project and a member of the Board of Directors for almost 30 years. His voice on the Board was always cheerful and funny, but he was most respected and valued for his wise and constructive thoughts and opinions on all matters that arose as we grew into the organization of today. 

His microbiology work was rigorous and clear, and unconfined by trends and politics. Michael's database of plankton at our site and in the East River is long and uninterrupted over decades, and he probably knew more about plankton in New York Harbor than any other active scientist. He was an intrepid field worker, collecting samples in all weather conditions, and often by himself. He happily shared his knowledge and skills with great generosity. 

His long term impact over the years as a mentor to many, many of our students and interns, in addition to thousands of students at other places where he taught can not be overstated. At the time of onset of his illness he was teaching at Pace University, the American Museum of Natural History, New York University, the New York Harbor School and the School of Visual Arts. 

Michael was a life-long student of nature, and a frequent and shining presence at our Wetlab. He would wander in with his bucket, secchi disk and container of coffee, never failing to meet with and inspire our students and volunteers. 

Most importantly, he was a beloved member of our community for decades, and he will be greatly missed. If you have thoughts about Mike that you want to share, please send them to cathy@riverprojectnyc.org and we will post them here.