In Memoriam
Professor JoAnn Carmin

We are saddened to report the news that Associate Professor JoAnn Carmin passed away on July 15, 2014. 

Professor Carmin was an internationally-renowned scholar of the institutional and societal dimensions of environmental governance. Her research focused on urban climate adaptation with particular attention to the question of why cities pursue climate adaptation planning, how adaptation activities are mainstreamed, and in what ways do local governments address the needs of the most vulnerable populations in their decisions and implementation activities. She published four books, as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters, on research conducted in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the United States. Professor Carmin served on multiple editorial boards and a variety of national and international climate adaptation steering committees and advisory boards. She was a Lead Author for the urban chapter of the US National Climate Assessment and the Working Group II contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

A liturgy and memorial service will be held on Thursday, July 17, at 7:00 p.m. at Shambhala Meditation Center of Boston, located at 646 Brookline St. in Brookline. 

Donations in her memory can be made to the JoAnn Carmin Memorial Fund at MIT to support student research in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

In addition, if you'd like to leave a comment or remembrance about JoAnn, please feel free to use the form below.


Even only knowing Professor JoAnn through her work, it was a great sadness to hear about her dead today. It is a great lost not only to the academic field, but for the world due to her very significant research. I'm sure her work will keep incentivating other people around the world, and we keep on the cause. Family, friends and DUSP, please accept my most sincere condolences.
JoAnn was my academic and thesis supervisor and mentor. It was JoAnn who called me back in March 2010 to say that I had been admitted to MIT DUSP. I wrestled through the two most challenging years of my life at MIT under her wise guidance and with her careful support. I owe the success of my thesis and book wholly to her. She was tough and uncompromising as a supervisor at times, pushing me beyond all imaginable limits just days before defense.. Back then I thought it wasn't necessary. In hindsight, I realize that it was she who taught me much of the dedication, passion and perfectionism that characterize me as a researcher and professional today. It is both a blessing and a burden – to always try to live up to the personal and professional standards of people like JoAnn and many others I was lucky to work and study with at MIT. She was a true stoic fighting her disease over many years, keeping up with her work in most difficult times.. I emailed JoAnn a few weeks ago, saying that she is truly missed at the Resilient Cities Congress and asking about her health. She said she was much better. I am so thankful I did not forget to send that email in the mad rush of the congress days.
We have lost a wonderful colleague. JoAnn brought so many of her great qualities to all she did and to all who worked with her -- passion, smarts, integrity, rigor and active concern about the feelings and interests of all. All of this with warmth and quiet humor. I appreciated this as a colleague and her students valued this as well. She was also tenacious as illustrated in her work for a better environment and in her fight for survival. She helped to make the department a better place.
JoAnn pushed her students to pursue their passions. She reminded us that we didn't have infinite time, and it was most important to do the work that we each felt most motivated to do. She brought high standards to the classroom, particularly in 11.233, where she was a mentor for several generations of first year PhD students. She was an advocate for the PhD program in the department, continually thinking about how to improve the doctoral experience. In these ways, she shaped most doctoral students, directly or indirectly, during her time at DUSP. She was brave in the face of recurrent illness and is already missed.
I am so sad to hear of JoAnn's passing. She was a sensitive and compassionate mentor for the MCP students' thesis prep. She helped to shepherd a lot of confused and stressed-out students through the research design process. Her wisdom and support meant so much to me. I am grateful for having had the chance to learn from her. I hope JoAnn knew the positive impact she had on so many students.
I miss JoAnn already. She was a singularly brave, intelligent, and dedicated woman, and a wonderful collaborator. She deeply valued the impact she was making in the academic world, but especially when her work had use for policy-making and for helping the world's most vulnerable. And she was an incredibly serious scholar, dedicated teacher and mentor. We are the lucky ones who got to work with JoAnn. Let's keep alive the work she did.
JoAnn Carmin was an exceptionally bright, motivated, driven, and uncompromising individual. While I never formally studied under her tutelage, I did learn a great deal of invaluable lessons from her through her engagements with ICLEI and through our friendship over the years. She always pushed those around her to be better, to be more thoughtful or critical, to be more focused. She has left a mark on hundreds and while the climate adaptation field lost one of its stars today, the mark JoAnn has left on this world will continue to shine for decades to come. We miss you, JoAnn.
I could not have asked for a better way to enter the department and the program than to be in JoAnn's 11.233 class. I will not forget her commitment to research and to her students, and her drive to stay in front of her illness. I occasionally took care of her cat Shiwa when JoAnn was away, and will also remember the dedicated care she gave him too! To echo Timmons: we are lucky to have worked with her, and to have known her in person.
I just wanted to add my voice to those remembering Prof. Carmin and her influential work.
Dear Joann, You inspired me to stay true to scientific principals in asking questions of corporate climate adaptation and wrote a seminal paper on urban adaptation that I treasure. I'm glad you have generously inspired the next generation of practitioners, as I will now rely on them for ND Global Adaptation Index's next steps in our global urban work. I was proud to be a DUSP graduate knowing they attracted top talent like you to their faculty. Joyce
One of my favorite courses at MIT was Joann's seminar on environmental justice. I learned so much from those discussions and still cherish the books we read in that class. She was a passionate and curious researcher and pushed her students to show the same devotion to their work. I was very sad to hear of her passing.
It was with profound sadness I got the news about Joann.She was a great scholar and colleague with a bright future in the climate change discussions in cities. We all will miss her. I pass my condolences to her family and DUSP colleagues. Jose.
Although Jo-anne arrived at MIT after my graduation from the DUSP doctoral program, I had an opportunity to contribute a chapter to a book which Jo-Anne edited and through that process I had a chance to spend time with her. She was a bright scholar with a strong commitment to environmental justice. It is so sad to receive this news and also concerning that 3 DUSP faculty have succumbed to cancer in the past few years.
This is heartbreaking. I knew JoAnn when we were both students and then when we were both teaching, although niether together. She was a fine intellect and a fine person. We are all poorer today for the loss. Keep smiling, JoAnn!
So sad about it. I was among her first students on Environmental Justice when she joined DUSP back in 2003. Deep and meaningful conversations, true interest in her students, formidable guidance, and nice and kind person to whom you could approach and talk. I always thought of her as one of my best professors in my academic life. I always tried to make her justice by instilling her words into colleagues in the environmental field back in my country. My condolences to family and friends, and the MIT DUSP community at large.
Dear JoAnn, I miss you! You are the person who opened the door of MIT to me, who inspired me to work in NPO/NGO sector, who advised me to start my career in energy field, who hugged me when I temporarily lost my faith, who smiled to me all the time, who told and taught me to be a woman being confident and nice at the same time... You are such an important person in my life and you mean so much to me. I waited to contact you until I can bring you good news but now it is too late. It's such a pain and regret. I will always remember your smile and words!
I was privileged to share JoAnn's passion for working on cities and climate change and to collaborate with her on a recent project. She was challenging and invigorating in equal measure, pushing us to ensure that we did the very best that we could. Her passion, wicked humour and amazing tales kept us going, and her very high standards of insight and scholarship led us to produce some of our very best work. I will miss her work and her friendship, but will keep in my mind her insistence that we should do our utmost to make sure that our work makes a difference to the world.
JoAnn was a colleague I deeply admired and respected. It was my honor to work with her through our doctoral program and in 11.233 this past year; it was also my privilege to learn so much from her. We often spoke about our mutual work on the African continent, as well as the rigor and standards for the upkeep of an outstanding doctoral program, a program that strongly bears her mark. She was very dedicated to DUSP, the PhD program, and so much more. JoAnn will be greatly missed - I am so saddened by this news...
<p>JoAnn was my PhD adviser at DUSP and had remained a wonderful mentor after I graduated. It is hard to put in a few words the impact she had on my academic life during all these years. She taught me everything in order to become a rigorous researcher -- from sound research design and methods to the importance of theory building and of developing my own intellectual identity. She very much value strong mentoring and guidance and encouraged everyone to follow his/her own intellectual path and trajectory. This is one of the aspects that has stuck most with me through the years - her commitment to ensuring that each student develops his/her own field of research independently. She would work endless hours at day and night for students and be here for them at every stage of their graduate education and beyond. Through the years, I have also been impressed by JoAnn's own quality of research and writing and by her groundbreaking work on urban climate adaptation planning. She really built up the field when so much of the academic and policy discussion was still much focused on climate mitigation. As with her battle with cancer, she went against the storm and fought endlessly. With this research on climate adaptation and on environmental inequalities and justice, she also built a wonderful community of friends, scholars, and activists. Just a few weeks ago, she wrote: "I am so elated to see you working together and generating ideas and products. It it truly exciting and rewarding. I hope it can serve as a foundation for ongoing collaboration and collegiality!" I think these words and this spirit will remain with many of us for years to go.</p>
Beware of the Flying Spaghetti Monster! You've left an indelible and beautiful mark JoAnn. Thank you.
I am truly honored to have had the chance to work with JoAnn. She loved her work with a passion, and her passion was contagious. I learned so much from her dedication, precision, creativity and commitment to conducting rigorous social science research, especially through working on her urban climate adaptation research in Japan. During our fieldwork, I would always admire her energy, attitude and ability to connect with people. I saw so many people – across language and culture - moved by her integrity and passion towards her research that they felt inspired to respond and engage in a meaningful way. Thank you JoAnn for your mentorship, inspiration, and many fun memories through our adventures in Japan. I will miss you very much.
I knew JoAnn as a friend for thirty years. She often talked about her academic work, and I know it meant the world to her. I am so saddened by her death. I knew she was very ill, but I wasn't expecting her death so soon. I live far away, so I don't always have up to date news. Touched by her students and colleagues.
Passion and commitment to excellence. It is clear that these are the qualities that JoAnn will be remembered for, and they are the values that she has endowed upon scores of researchers and practitioners. Her dry wit, however, was one of a kind! I was honored to be JoAnn's research assistant and am saddened by the loss of an incredible person.
I talked with JoAnn before applying to DUSP, when coming here seemed like a distant possibility. She made me feel that I might just belong here, and encouraged me to take on the challenge of coming. When she called me to let me know I'd been admitted, I was so impressed by her willingness to answer my questions patiently; her encouragement and warmth; and her sincere passion for her work, the department, and her students. She was the perfect first face of DUSP for me, and our department will miss her terribly.
JoAnn was a wonderful mentor to me and a key member of my exam and dissertation committees. Her commitment to supporting her students in their learning, in making them better researchers, and in achieving their goals was astounding. Her passion and energy for her work inspired me and serve as a model in my own life. As her teaching assistant, I appreciated her thoughtfully crafted syllabus and learning objectives. Her 11.233 class was a key element in transforming first year doctoral students into a community of scholars. She gave us a common research language and the confidence to develop and communicate our own research agendas. She was a force to be reckoned with, and I will miss her very much.
My condolences to her family, colleagues and friends. It is pleasure to work With JoAn on the chapter 14 for IPCC AR5. Intelligent woman. Mes condoléances à toute la Famille, collègues et Amis à JoAn. Que la Terre lui soit légère Amin. Nous n'allons jamais t'oublier JoAN.
JoAnn, thanks for the wonderful and inspiring conversations.
May her memory be eternal.
My condolences to her family, colleagues and friends. IPCC has lost a bright scientist, a contributer
JoAnn was a dedicated professor who cared deeply about ideas and knowledge. As a researcher, she was committed to furthering urban climate adaptation through rigorous social science inquiry. As a teacher and advisor, she was committed to making sure that all her students had the intellectual tools to conduct sound research, the intellectual freedom to pursue their own ideas, and the ability to communicate their findings with the field through clear, effective writing. JoAnn was also brave. She fought cancer with dignity and her trademark dry humor, and she was an inspiration to everyone who worked with her. DUSP will not be the same without JoAnn. She will be truly missed.
I join in the chorus of so many shocked and saddened by JoAnn's passing. She was a dear adaptation colleague to me, and I always enjoyed our conversations when we had a chance to meet. Her work on urban adaptation was truly crucial to the field. Over the last couple of years she and David Dodman wrote a chapter for a book Max Boykoff and I edited. Even as she was fighting cancer she wrote this chapter - yet another testament to her dedication and passion for this work. I had not been in touch with her these last few months so the news of her death came as a shock. Her undying optimism, it seems, surpassed her body's capability. How much we will miss her voice. My condolences to all her students, colleagues, friends and family. And thank you for supporting her so well through all the years and weeks and final days and hours. When she needed it most, JoAnn was met met in dedication, strength and spirit.
I first met JoAnn when she came to MIT in the early 2000s. We shared interests in many things, especially environmental justice. Four years ago this month, JoAnn and I were putting the finishing touches to one of the fruits of our friendship: the chapters and promotional material for our edited collection 'Environmental Inequalities Beyond Borders: Local Perspectives on Global Injustice' (MIT Press). During the prior two and a half years that we had been hatching the idea for a book, we would meet at The Diesel in Davis Square. She would often baulk at my quad espresso, and I at her strange teas! JoAnn was always a mixture of business and pleasure. In business she had extremely high expectations, was rigorous, exacting and attentive to detail. In pleasure, she was clever, witty and mischievous! JoAnn, I miss our business, our pleasure and most of all I'll miss you.
I am deeply saddened at the news of JoAnn's passing. My appreciation for JoAnn and her rigor, passion, dedication and intellect has grown since my days in DUSP as it's impossible to miss her research and contributions to the field of urban climate change adaptation. She has left an important base of work not only in her publications but in the influence she has had on the emerging scholars and practitioners she's touched through her teaching and mentoring. I was hoping to see her in another month when I'll be back in the U.S. as it's been too long since we caught up, but I'm sad to miss this opportunity. The world has lost an amazing force, but may her contributions and spirit live on.
It is indeed a very sad news. Her departure is very untimely. We lost a very bright scientist, colleague and a friend. Althogh I first met her during the last round of the IPCC, I have been familiar with her works for many years. Her works on cities, communities, and nongovernmental organizations are very influential. My condolences to family, friends and colleagues.
JoAnn and I collaborated on a special issue of Environmental Politics, and a subsequent book entitled "Green Activism in Post-Socialist Europe and the former Soviet Union". She was a true scholar with a wonderfully sharp mind and a feisty personality to match. We met up several times in London and Boston and I thoroughly enjoyed our time together. I cannot believe she is no longer at the end of an email. We must learn from her strength and determination.
A strange twist of fate in 2008 turned into an opportunity for JoAnn and I to meet and talk for the first time. From there we became colleagues and friends, constantly wrestling over what would make cities better and more adaptive spaces and debating where in the world you could eat the biggest and best hamburger! Like others I can't believe that she is no longer at the end of an email or Skype call. Go well Brain and know you are sorely missed in the ACME lab tonight! All my love Pinky.
A strange twist of fate in 2008 turned into an opportunity for JoAnn and I to meet and talk for the first time. From there we became colleagues and friends, constantly wrestling over what would make cities better and more adaptive spaces and debating where in the world you could eat the biggest and best hamburger! Like others I can't believe that she is no longer at the end of an email or Skype call. Go well Brain and know you are sorely missed in the ACME lab tonight! All my love Pinky.
So many of JoAnn’s students, friends and colleagues above have already commented so very eloquently above on her extraordinary devotion to mentoring her students, her uncompromising commitment to excellence, her passion for justice, her wonderfully wry sense of humor, and so many of her other qualities. It was my great blessing and privilege to serve as a mentor to JoAnn through her doctoral degree, and throughout her professional career since. Every teacher should be so fortunate as to mentor such a special person. JoAnn was an outstanding scholar of environmental governance, and in particular a pioneering contributor to the study of one of the great emerging urban issues of the 21st century, urban adaptation to climate change; not to mention her previous work on environmental movements in post-Communist eastern Europe. What I shall always remember about her at least as much, however, is her spirit as a human being, as a colleague and friend and a mentor herself. She brought intense energy, engagement, caring and joy as well as intellect to all that she did. She could kvetch with the best of us when frustrated, but that was usually a byproduct of her passion for excellence rather than the core of her approach to life and work. Far more than many of us in the academic world, she was extraordinarily generous and collaborative, co-authoring with so very many of her students and with colleagues from around the world. She was immensely productive, but motivated not just to contribute to the scholarly literature but also to help local governments and citizen organizations make better decisions. Her courage, engagement with the medical community, and endurance and acceptance of suffering in her battle with cancer was exceptional; and in the midst of it, she also showed extraordinary commitment in caring for Shiwa as he went through his own process of terminal illness, treating him to the end with the same compassionate respect and love as one would a human companion. May her spirit live on through the lives and work of all of us who have had the blessing and privilege of sharing her life.
JoAnn Carmin was a lovely person – bright, dedicated, curious and complicated. My thoughts and condolences go out to the rich community of family, colleagues and friends JoAnn built around her. Her passing is a loss to all.
JoAnn will be sorely missed - rest in peace. I will always remember enjoying meals and conversation, collaborating with, and learning from JoAnn - from Budapest to Durban. I am proud to say that I greatly benefitted from her wisdom and extremely generous mentorship. She could be tough, but it was always out of passion for her students and the wider work we all do, a belief that we could do better, and a strong commitment to supporting us as we grow. I personally owe my life path to JoAnn, after working with her in Central and Eastern Europe inspired me to apply to MIT. Her support and mentorship made that possible, and has sustained me along the way. A debt of gratitude and ocean of appreciation JoAnn.
JoAnn and I met when we were both in the Ph.D. Program at UNC-Chapel Hill. She was a couple of years ahead of me and extremely busy with her own research but she still made time to encourage me in my work. I am truly honored to have stayed in touch with JoAnn since we both left Chapel Hill. She is the reason I have my current job - I remember talking to her from my hotel room during the interview. She convinced me that I sounded much more excited about this position than my other job offer. And she was right. Through the years, we stayed in touch with frequent (and long!) conversations about life and research. I am so glad I got to visit her in Boston last summer and meet her network of friends there. I also found comfort in her Buddhist beliefs about death which we talked about at length. JoAnn was a fighter - not just against cancer but against injustice everywhere. I am proud to have called her my friend.
I met JoAnn at Resilient Cities in Bonn several years ago and not only really liked her work and looked forward to collaborating in the future. I'm saddened to hear she passed away. Her work with ICLEI and others involved with climate adaptation strategies was significant, useful, and accessible.
I knew JoAnn's work because I was interested in environmental justice, and even though I only corresponded with her via email, I always received a kind and smart response from her, even though I wasn't even her PhD student. After graduating from my PhD I continued to reference JoAnn's work in my own publications. The world may have lost a bright light but wherever you may be, JoAnn, I hope you know how much the world of scholars in environmental policy are indebted to you and your brilliant mind.
I met JoAnn during our participation as authors in the 5th Report of the IPCC few years ago. She was the engine of the team, always ready for discussion and the completion of our task within Chapter 14. Always strong and determined character, became voluntarily on our link with the rest of the chapters, contributing with her assertive proposals to the task of link them in a fluid and comprehensive manner. JoAnn had a fine and intelligent humor and rigorous work strategy. The most I wanted from JoAnn was her direct form of aware us when you're going off track and unnecessarily complicating a discussion among peers. I thank life, having had the opportunity to share with JoAnn, a short, but very intense time of fruitful intellectual activity. Rest in peace.
Like others here, I am deeply saddened by JoAnn's passing, but as a small condolence, reading through the comments posted by others lucky enough to have also fallen into her "sphere of influence" has put a smile on my face. JoAnn was the one who called me and patiently answered all of my questions upon my admittance to DUSP, and who mentored, advised and employed me all the way through. I echo what others have written here about her combination of impressive intellectual stamina and rigor mixed with candid enthusiasm for, and unparalleled dedication to, her students. She pushed me hard through the thesis process, but always with constructive and timely guidance, and always with a genuine interest in what I was writing and wrestling with that made me feel treated like an academic peer and not just her student. In the years since I graduated from DUSP, JoAnn always remained accessible and responsive, always interested to hear what I was up to, never hesitating to provide a job reference on short notice or to make an introduction. I feel truly lucky to have been part of the JoAnn clan. Her legacy will certainly be remembered by, and will live on through, her carefully cultivated community of scholars, friends and admirers.
In the academic arena we are 'sometimes' blessed with perceptive, erudite, extremely intelligent and, more importantly, honest scholars - those who remain true to themselves and their craft. Although I did not know her very well, I soon got to admire JoAnn - her ability to cut through to the meat of an issue and not just be caught up in the 'publish or perish syndrome' was admirable. As an African academic working on cities her intellectual appreciation of very complex issues and her incredible contributions will be very sorely missed.....we have lost a really deeply caring and 'thinking' colleague. To her family, apologies that I cannot be at the service but warm and special thoughts coming to you from South Africa. She will be missed!
I have read all the wonderful posting written as remembrances of Joanne-most written by those who initially came to know her professionally. I come with a different perspective-that of a family member who adored her from the first day we met. Driven, engaging, possessing great wit, she was different, kind and probably most of all generous in spirit. I am heartened to read the loving thoughts that you have all shared. Over the past few days I have become profoundly aware of the number of "seeds" that have sprung from Joanne's mentoring and collegial relationships. There is great comfort in knowing that through her efforts and now yours, these seeds will continue to propagate. Again, I thank you for your kind words. May we all keep Joanne in our hearts and, as a tribute, continue to move her hopes for our world a little closer to reality.
I am so saddened by her passing, and full of so much pride because of all of her accomplishments. Reading everyone's posts has made my heart so full. I knew Jo Ann before all of you. She was my next door neighbor and friend for 18 years where we both grew up in Glenside, Pa. This was before she accomplished any of these amazing things. JoAnn was quiet, sweet, funny and a good friend. She loved her childhood dog, a collie, and one night while I was walking by her house with my dog, I heard her laughing, and she poked her head out the window. She offered me a magical brownie she had just baked, and it was the most fun I ever had eating a brownie. Just wish I had some milk. I will miss Jo Ann, even though I have not been in touch for years, never knew she was a professor, author and scholar. You are all blessed to have known her. Jo Ann, I am sorry if you suffered, but I hope that all of the love for you makes up for it. Rest in peace, my old friend and neighbor. Lots of love.
It has been my honor to know JoAnn for twenty years as a Ph.D. student, colleague, co-author, and good friend. Her passing has left me bereft of a companion whom I saw as a sister. The synchronicities in our lives have been striking, and I am so sorry that I am not able to be there for the service to celebrate her life in the town where I spent the first two years of my life. I will miss JoAnn’s intelligence and insight, but even more her wit and passion. Scenes from these twenty years keep flooding my eyes with tears -- JoAnn’s first visits to my office (the unrelenting drive of this new Ph.D. student to nail everything down pointed out to me fuzzy spots in my own thinking); sampling sessions for her gourmet cookies (toward the end of dissertation writing, she contemplated opening a cookie business); painstaking joint writing sessions (three hours of wrangling on the phone to produce one paragraph); hilarious moments in the field (JoAnn once emerged from a Slovak train station with a huge raw bacon, pickle, and sauerkraut sandwich for breakfast, her Czech having not quite translated to Slovak); slogging through the cold rain and mud of a Romanian mountain village on little sleep and empty stomachs; having to strip down and change into JoAnn’s clothes just inside her front door this Christmas (despite my best efforts to prepare for the sensitivity to scent her illness and treatment had brought on, my coat lining betrayed us); and many, many long conversations over the phone about work, health, cats, and life. For almost fifteen of the years I have known JoAnn, she repeatedly fought off and lived in the shadow of recurrence of the cancer that eventually wore her body down to the point that it could not serve her iron will to live. As rich as her life was before her academic turn and as fruitful as her scholarly life was, she still had things she wanted to do. The brilliance, honesty, humor, and tenacity that we all appreciated permeated all aspects of her life. JoAnn took no easy or partial answers and cut herself no slack in her work and no self-pity in her medical struggles. I do not think I have ever met a stronger, braver person, and her great strength makes it all the harder to believe that she is gone. I hope her new path is peaceful and good. While I have faith that JoAnn’s students and colleagues will carry on with the crucial work she has done in climate change adaptation and its service to human communities, I know that the hole her passing has left in my heart cannot be filled. I already miss her deeply.
I had known JoAnn since last 5 years and had interected with her several time during this period on e-mails. I have mentored 3 of her DUSP students who were involved with their internship here at TERI, in India and through their work we got to know each other better.I finally could see her last year when I visited her at her home.She wanted to take me out but her health did not allow this.I was amazed and cannot forget her sparkling eyes when we saw each other at the stairs and hugged each other as if we had known since ages.That was JoAnn, the epitome of strength and vigour ! In her illness she was discussing her work and the work of her students , very keen to know their progress. I am deeply saddened and this is indeed a great loss, a precious life snatched away so early.May she rest in peace.
JoAnn was at the top of her field but I also remember her for her love of cooking (what a surprise to learn of her professional experience in the kitchen!) and her love of shoes! I have eaten many good meals prepared by her and she approached food and travel and life in the same way she pursued her work at MIT and with students...with gusto! My heart is breaking right now. All my thoughts and love go to her family and all her friends and students.
I feel very lucky to have known JoAnn in my time at DUSP. A true inspiration in the classroom, with contagious enthusiasm and tireless energy to support her students. JoAnn will be greatly missed.
JoAnn was the first student to seek me out and visit me when I arrived at the University of North Carolina in January 1995. She impressed me as an engaging young woman with a truly unique intellect and wry sense of humor…ready to take on the world. We had a special relationship ever since our first conversation. Over the past 20-years, I watched her emerge as one of the leading scholars in cities and climate change in the world. I will miss JoAnn.
We deeply miss JoAnn and her wry sense of humor. My sincere condolences to her family, friends, colleagues, and students. She was a leader in her field. I know her students will carry on her important work. Karen R. Polenske
I knew JoAnn through the PEGS program. JoAnn was so incredibly supportive of our work. She believed in the power of collaboration and team work. And her commitment to sustainability and environmental justice is a legacy that will live on through PEGS scholars who were given the opportunity to put their ideas into practice. I am fortunate that I had the opportunity to work with her. She will be missed.
JoAnn was an exemplar. She taught like she gave a damn. She sought and spoke the truth like it mattered. She always did the right thing, because for her, there was nothing else. All-too-brief they may be, my memories of JoAnn will always be with me. I miss her very much.
To put it simply, JoAnn changed my life. She was, of course, a great teacher: She taught me how to navigate MIT, she taught me how to do fieldwork in unfamiliar places, she taught me how to not act weird in front of people, and she taught me how to realize my own potentials. To many of her students and colleagues, she was a tireless advocate and dedicated educator. But, for me, she was more than just a teacher, she was my mentor. She was the master and, for four years, I was her apprentice. Most people already know about JoAnn’s dedication to her work, her immense accomplishments, and her wide network of friends and admirers from all around the world. She was a titan in her field, and was known for her professionalism, passion, and dedication. In the past several days, I’ve received so many phone calls and emails from friends, colleagues, and former students telling me how much JoAnn has impacted their lives. These messages are so nice and so comforting and, as I read them, I smile and cry at the same time, mostly because I keep imagining what JoAnn would say if she were reading these tributes. I’m amazed by how much JoAnn’s work has affected these people, how much her words have touched peoples’ hearts, and how much JoAnn’s passion for her job has influenced such a diverse group of people. JoAnn dedicated her life to her work, and I think the shear number of people that she touched along the way ranks as one of her life’s greatest accomplishments. I spent a lot of time with JoAnn. I have so many profound and funny stories from our four years together as mentor and “mentee." Too many to recount in detail, in fact. She always had the best advice, yet she also knew how to deliver the most stinging criticisms. Because of this, I often believed that I could not meet her expectations, that I could never be the scholar that she wanted me to become. But even during my darkest days of self-doubt, JoAnn’s belief in me never wavered. Behind those criticisms and expectation, JoAnn was my loudest cheerleader and was always the first person to catch me whenever I fell. She was hard on me because she cared deeply about me. She was instrumental in shaping the person I am today, and for that I will be eternally grateful. So, JoAnn, I miss you. Thank you for everything. I treasure our time together. You were my rock and my guiding light and your words will live on in my heart for the rest of my life.
My interaction with Joann began when she took the position here at Virginia Tech and continued after she left by virtue of her work and meeting with her a conferences. I believe Joann had several attributes that made her such a good colleague and friend. She was passionate about her work, intellectual discourse, and the academy. All of these meant she was quick to ask probing and difficult questions regardless of the forum or persons. All of this was done to clarify and advance one’s thinking and ability to provide a well-informed narrative on an idea. Joann could do this is a way that was not threatening or abusive but showed genuine interest in you and your ideas. This aggressive discourse was always tempered by a great sense of humor, most of which was very self-deprecating. She would break into laughter and say “well you are probably wrong, but I am too, so we make a great pair of idiots.” She will be missed by people within the discipline, by her academy colleagues, and by the community of people she called her friends. I was fortunate to fall into all three of those.
I am very sad to hear this news. JoAnn will always have an important place in my memory of my time at DUSP. She challenged and inspired me, I learned a lot from her. I will miss her.
I still recall very vividly a very hot South African day under the hills of Inanda west of Durban when I met Prof Carmen for the first time. She spoke with amazing humility and great respect. After a brief chat she told me that she would facilitate that I attend a youth conference at MIT - The Millennium Campus Conference in 2008. The April of that year marked my first time in the US. Last year I was again almost in tears with joy when she emailed me and asked to meet briefly during her climate change adaptation visits to Durban. We had a very beautiful and cheerful chat. Learning that I was an academic in the housing programme of the University of KwaZulu-Natal she eagerly wanted to create links between UKZN Housing Programme and MIT Housing Studies. You have been a great community servant, a nurturing Professor and a knowledgeable academic. I'm blessed to have met you. "Mhlaba kawunono" is an IsiZulu proverbial expression that means the earth never reaches optimum fertility levels despite swallowing many of our great community leaders. My sincere condolences to Prof Carmen's academic family and her close family and friends. It is with a great sense of loss that I leave this incoherent message.
I am devastated to lose JoAnn this week even though we knew this date was coming. JoAnn was fierce and brilliant in friendship as she was in her work. JoAnn brought her keen intellect, high energy and commitment to her creative research on urban climate adaptation and environmental movements. She was a chef prior to becoming an academic, and in the best style of those who come to academia following other careers, was always so excited to be doing what she was doing. She knew it was important work, she did great research and wrote so well, and she generously shared that excitement with all of us. I was deeply moved by her energy, determination and spirit and treasure our time together. Time spent with JoAnn, especially this past year, cut to the core, and usually included equal measures laughter and tears and great conversation. I dearly miss JoAnn, loved and admired her, and wish that I had more time with her. My sympathy to her friends, students and colleagues, and all who miss her too.
JoAnn casts a very long shadow... or perhaps shines a very bright light. Because I started in DUSP's doctoral program only this past year, my direct interactions with her were limited to serving on a committee together and being a member of the last group of 11.233 students under her watch. Nonetheless, I have keenly felt her presence; in the dedication of her students and in the well-wishes from colleagues at conferences and on field sites across the US and around the world. Everywhere I go, when I tell people where I am studying, they ask about JoAnn and sing her praises. My thoughts and best wishes to her family, friends, students and colleagues.
JoAnn stands as a professor unencumbered by the trappings of status and prestige. These were not what drove her. She is a fully-fledged professor by her actions and contributions. She was productive. She also was a good person. She had great quirks, and at the same time was remarkably consistent. She held herself to high standards and believed everyone should do the same. She was perplexed by the lack of a meritocracy, and felt the best work was done when everyone was carrying his/her own weight. She was a straight shooter. I remember the first time I met her. She intimidated me, not by what she did, but by her calm, straightforward and professional manner. She had a terrific blend of theoretical rigor and precision of practice. I remember how much it mattered to her to get on that next plane and just go. She was determined to leave her mark and to make the world a better place. A demanding advisor, her students deeply admired her even as she pushed them beyond their own perceived limits. She had a full life and followed her passions. She was more than an academic, a great cook, a wanderer, and a thoughtful friend. Joann was not one to engage in petty banter and as time went on she shed personal disappointments and turned her attention to the important task of making a difference. Looking back now, I realize that her formal manner was nothing more than a gesture to ensure that each one of us pushed as hard as we could to be the best we could be. I can't believe how hard she struggled to live. She made her fight with the disease a game of logic. If she could just know more about it, she could stave off its cruel intentions. Steadfast, systematic, absent frills, JoAnn’s task orientation now provides the foundation for future conversations about life, science, and the well being of others. As professors, we know our value not only based on what we have written, but importantly on the effect we have had on others. JoAnn won the game of life in this regard. Her students will continue to hit home runs because she taught them how to play the game without losing one’s self. For all whom she touched, we will be sad for this moment, but we will be thankful for the moments we had to spend with her. She will be missed.
I never met JoAnn, but her work was inspirational. Such a shock to hear of her passing. My most sincere condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.
JoAnn never hesitated to share her passions and to push me to precisely develop and define my own. I will forever be grateful to the opportunities that she helped make possible for my classmates and me and I am honored to have had her introduction to many members of her extraordinary global community of scholars. I am privileged to have had her mentorship, her trust, and her high hopes and great expectations as a part of my life. JoAnn, thank you for all that you have given. You will be greatly missed.
I always will remember JoAnn as a great colleague from her stay at our department in Prague and as a nice friend from many non-official opportunities and events.
JoAnn! You will be missed. Our history for now has come to an end, but it goes back to that first class we had together at UNC in 1994-- Harvey Goldstein's research design course that started a 20 year on-going discussion about research design. We wrote our fist article together as graduate students in that class. You introduced me to dim sum. I nearly OD'd on malted milk balls from Whole Foods with you. You took Coby (my dog) and me in during a massive ice storm when we lost power and water. This was way before Shiwa. You gave me beautiful crystal glasses from the Czech Republic as a wedding present. Impossible woman! You rejected all the names I came up with for your cookies. You prohibited me from naming Lina (my daughter), Samaya. You would argue as passionately and stubbornly about how to re-upholster your parent's couch, what kind of bread to buy or exactly what kind of transportation you wanted to take in Japan as you would the next potential medical treatment or the precise meaning of a sentence in an article. You were exhausting in your precision. I love you all the same. Chapel Hill, Durham, Denver, Fort Collins, Boulder, Blacksburg, Durham again, Boston-- all places we were together. We never made it to India. We needed to save something for next time around. I will miss our long talks-- always long except toward the end. Buddhism, cooking, teaching, politics, travel, Shiwa, work, people, family, books, future articles we would write and so much more. You lived your life. It was cut short. I so wonder what will come next for you. Toddi
It has been so many years since you first challenged my brain and became my friend…I always thought we would have a chance to work together again and am so sad that is not to be. I am grateful you shared so many of your insights through your teaching and publications so we can continue to learn from and celebrate those contributions. It is a delight to read notes from so many all the students and colleagues all over the world whose lives you have touched.
JoAnn became active in the American Sociological Association's Section on Environment and Technology in recent years, and it was great having her join us. She had a wonderful personality as well as superb intellect, and she exemplified interdisciplinary scholarship with her strong contributions. She will definitely be missed.
JoAnn was smart, funny, and generous. She will be missed.
I met JoAnn when I was a PhD student and wrote her an email asking questions about one of her publications. Her reply was generous, thoughtful and motivational. She talked about how these were the "best types of emails to receive" because they meant that people were reading her work. A year or so later I contacted her again to see if she might be able to meet in Boston where I had fieldwork scheduled. Again, she impressed me with her generosity - spending several hours with me giving advice, etc about the profession in a local coffee shop. We continued to stay in touch over email and at professional meetings where she would always make sure to introduce me to colleagues and friends. I will never forget these encounters and her sage advice.
Professor Carmin was my teacher during my second year of grad school in the DUSP program. She was always very helpful to me in my educational journey, offering advice that served to improve my thesis research. Her expertise and memory leaves nothing but positive memories in my life. -Jeff (DUSP '11)
My dear friend Joann, may you rest in peace in heaven..... I will always miss you.... thanks for being a friend .... our planned series of case studies did not materialize but I am happy that we planned .... you always credited me for inviting and enabling you to start research in this part of the world, especially Japan... I am honored... thank you for contributing to my series of workshops and conferences while in Japan...... when you visited my house, I recall that my son was so happy to talk to you- since MIT was his dream at that time... and you perhaps recall that I asked you to buy the Japanese rice crackers in the supermarket in Tsukuba/Japan which caused your tooth-crash and had to shelve your travel plan to Taipei with us...... and I still recall we had to walk many shops in a bid to bring you to good Japanese restaurant..... we miss you but I solemnly pray for your soul to rest in peace in heaven..... Shobhakar Dhakal, Associate Professor, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand
Joanne remains in my memory as perhaps the most single-minded PhD student I have known, absorbing and evaluating closely the terms of whatever issue was under consideration, then posing one or more alternate positions that threw new light on the matter. We worked in different fields and on different continents, occasionally communicating on points of common interest, as her fine career progressed. It is clear from the testimony of others that her contributions were many and will continue in the work of colleagues and students.
I met her only for a week, during the IPCC process. I will miss not getting to know her more.
It was JoAnn who first gave me a call to let me know that I'd been granted a position at DUSP and it was with and through JoAnn that I was able to finance a large part of my Master degree doing research for her in South Africa and Namibia on urban climate adaptation and TA'ing for the methods class she offered to Masters students in the program. In both settings, JoAnn provided training with a rigor and fastidiousness that was equally balanced by her own patience and curiosity to receive thoughts and feedback even from first year students. She was all about encouraging this kind of exchange that made one feel like a peer, while very cleverly imparting wisdom and guidance on the intellectual development of a personal project or paper. She kept those who knew and worked with her at DUSP under her wing, while giving them ample room to soar. And what I really liked with her is that even if it was often about the ideas, the methods, how could this hypothesis be strengthened and how could one go about testing it (and she was really devoted to the craft), she knew also how to cut her team a little slack and go enjoy a good meal and a bottle of wine. I still remember the fist-pumps some of her students gave in Cape Town when we got a big thumbs up from her to go together to test out one of the fancier restaurants in the vineyards of Constantia. That's where I also learned, to my surprise that she used to be a top-chef herself in a previous life. Full of surprises, JoAnn. I'm really encouraged to see the appreciation written on these pages for someone who worked so hard and yet clearly touched so many people in different ways across different continents. RIP JoAnn Carmin.
JoAnn was my masters thesis adviser and mentor while I was at MIT. She helped guide my research in a way that made it more rigorous, methodologically clear, and theoretically informed. I benefited so much from her guidance. I took both her environmental justice and her civil society and the environment course. I've continued to pursue this work through my PhD in human geography at Rutgers and my ongoing research program at the US Forest Service that builds on the foundation that JoAnn helped create. I did not stay in touch very well once I left Boston. But I monitored her work from afar, I was certain our paths would cross again, and I thought of her often. I will miss her dearly.
Prof. JoAnn accepted me as her student, and she changed the path of my career. I reenforced my vocation during her classes and urban climate adaptation will be my legacy for life. Everything I contribute in this field will carry her knowledge and wisdom! Be well wherever you are
JoAnn was a wonderful teacher. She made the language of research make sense, she taught us how to conduct research with rigor, and she helped us develop and clarify our own ideas. I will carry her lessons with me always. She will truly be missed.
I will never forget the first time I met JoAnn in Marseille in 2009, when we took a break from a conference to have a relaxed lunch. She enjoyed great food! It was great to discover the many passions we shared, food being just one of them. I dreamt of showing her my favorite places to eat in London, but never had a chance. It was great to meet JoAnn in many occassions and learn so much from her. She fostered in me a love of urban planning and convinced me that, even with my interdisciplinary background, planning could be some sort of a home for an engineer turned sociologist turned geographer. I loved JoAnn dearly and took inspiration from a lot of her work. I cannot believe she will not be there, somewhere, having a laugh and enjoying great food.