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Elen M.C. Cutrim

April 17, 2009

Dr. Elen M.C. Cutrim, professor of geography at Western Michigan University, died April 15 in Rose Arbor Hospice, Kalamazoo. She was 62.

Cutrim joined the Department of Geography faculty in 1990 as an adjunct professor and was appointed a full professor in 2006. Due to her illness, she was scheduled to retire Aug. 9 after 19 years of service to WMU.

Born in Brazil, Cutrim was well versed in Portuguese, Spanish and French. She primarily conducted research on South America, meteorology and global climatic change. Two special areas of focus included precipitation climatology of Michigan and Brazil and meteorology and climate as they relate to the interaction of atmosphere and land cover in Brazilian Amazonia.

Cutrim received grant funding from such organizations as the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Most recently, she was collaborating with colleagues from WMU's Mallinson Institute for Science Education on an NSF-funded program designed to enlist, equip and empower middle school science teachers.

Cutrim was active in several professional and academic organizations, including the American Meteorological Society Board of Higher Education. She also served on the NSF/Unidata Users Committee, a consortium of more than 160 institutions seeking to provide the data services, tools and cyberinfrastructure leadership that advance Earth system science, enhance educational opportunities and broaden participation.

On campus, Cutrim represented the geography department in the Faculty Senate, served as president of the WMU chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, and participated on several committees related to international education and international students. She also was instrumental in helping found WMU's Martin Luther King Jr. Committee.

Cutrim was known for caring greatly about her students and colleagues as well as for hosting social events for them, including an annual geography department potluck that has now become a regular feature among all of the departments housed in Wood and Rood halls.

Prior to joining WMU's faculty, Cutrim was a visiting scientist at the Space Science and Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1987 to 1990. She began her academic career in 1975 at institutions in Belem, Brazil, where she served as an instructor of civil engineering, an assistant professor of geology, meteorology and geophysics, and finally, headed the Department of Meteorology at the Federal University of Para while also directing Belem's Regional Meteorological Training Center of World Meteorological Organization.

Cutrim earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Pontifical Catholic University in 1970, a master's degree in civil engineering from the University of Utah in 1975, and a doctoral degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Michigan in 1983.

Among others, she is survived by her husband, Dr. William Sauck, WMU associate professor of geosciences.

Friends will be received from 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday, April 19, in the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive in Kalamazoo. The funeral service will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, April 20, in the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 1747 W. Milham Ave. in Portage. A dinner will follow in the church hall.

Additional information about Cutrim and memorials, such as the scholarship fund her family is establishing in her honor, will be posted at lifestorynet.com under the name "Cutrim."

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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