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Memorial

Below we highlight prominent systems thinkers and System Dynamicists whose service has been invaluable to the field.  Their contributions and memory will live on through the work of the many they touched throughout their lives.

Jane K. Boorstein

1928-2024

It is with great sadness that we inform you of Jane Boorstein’s passing on May 24th, 2024, just over 2 months away from her 97th birthday. Jane was the wife of Allen Boorstein, a System Dynamicist who studied under Jay Forrester at MIT; they were married for 68 years, until he passed away in 2018. In the 1980s, Allen became a passionate advocate for teaching systems thinking to young students and was a generous benefactor to the System Dynamics Society. Jane was a devoted international humanitarian and continued contributing to the System Dynamics Society, caring deeply about the System Dynamics community. She was passionate about international development and family planning for women. Jane was the Founder of LOWO, Learning Our Way Out. Her international development work established a community conversation model that prioritizes keeping local voices at the forefront, with the goal of helping local people find solutions to the challenges in their own lives. This model continues to evolve and contribute to work in poverty reduction, environmental protection, and community wellbeing.

Jane is remembered by those close to her for her winning smile, her impeccable sense of fashion, her indomitable spirit, and her commitment to helping others.

She is survived by her brother Peter Kulla, her three children Gail, James and William, her grandson Nicolas and great-grandson Jonah. 

We will miss her dearly. To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.

Jane K. Boorstein

Daniel Kahneman

1934-2024

Daniel Kahneman was a best-selling author, psychologist, and economist notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making. He was known as the father of behavioral economics and is famous for his book Thinking, Fast and Slow. Danny’s work in behavioral decision-making is fundamental to the realistic behavioral formulations in our simulation models. Dr. Kahneman was affiliated with Princeton University when he shared the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences “for having integrated insights from psychological research into economic science, especially concerning human judgment and decision-making under uncertainty.’’ His co-recipient, Vernon L. Smith, then of George Mason University in Virginia, pioneered the use of laboratory experiments in economics.

Daniel Kahneman Memorial

Edward (Ed) Roberts

1935-2024

With sadness, we share that Edward Roberts, long-time faculty member of the MIT Sloan School of Management, passed away in February 2024. Our thoughts are with his family, extended family, and many friends and colleagues.

Ed made significant contributions to the field of System Dynamics, as one of the founders of the discipline. As an undergrad, Ed was one of the first three students Jay Forrester hired as RAs to help develop the field of “Industrial Dynamics”, now known as System Dynamics. Ed was the first person to receive a doctorate in System Dynamics. Ed’s first entrepreneurial venture, with Jack Pugh, was the creation of the first System Dynamics consulting firm, Pugh-Roberts Associates. PRA continues to this day as the Sage Analysis Group, which continues to do System Dynamics modeling for clients in industry, government, and other sectors.

Early in his career as a faculty member at MIT Sloan, Ed did important work in health care and health policy, often using System Dynamics. Ever concerned with the real-world impact of modeling, Ed also published Managerial Applications of System Dynamics

Ed was a member of MIT Sloan’s faculty for over sixty years, serving as the David Sarnoff Professor of Management of Technology and a Professor of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management. Over the course of his tenure at MIT, Ed became known as the father of entrepreneurship, ultimately founding and chairing MIT’s entrepreneurship center, now known as the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. He also chaired the MIT Management of Technology (MOT) Program. Most recently, he co-created the MIT Sloan Entrepreneurship & Innovation Certificate program. As important as his research and academic leadership at MIT, Ed supported thousands of MIT and Sloan student entrepreneurs. He will be missed dearly. 

Edward Roberts, image courtesy of MIT Sloan School of Management

Jac Vennix

1951-2024

With a heavy heart, we sadly announce that Jac Vennix, Emeritus Professor of Methodology, passed away in January 2024. Jac Vennix started his career in the field as a research assistant and then as a university lecturer at the Faculty of Social Sciences of what is now Radboud University. Subsequently, Jac Vennix worked as an Associate Professor at Utrecht University. He returned to Nijmegen as a professor in the 1990s to help design the structure and curriculum of the new Department of Business Administration. He was Professor of Methodology at Nijmegen School of Management and chair of Business Administration.

He defended his PhD thesis on Mental models and computer models in 1990. With his in-depth knowledge of sociology, research and intervention methodology and System Dynamics modelling, Jac made an important contribution to Nijmegen Business Administration. He was known as one of the initiators of the European Master in System Dynamics. He was also known for his scientific contribution to Group Model Building, a participatory modeling methodology that has received wide national and international recognition. He received the Jay Wright Forrester Award in 1999 and the Outstanding Community Services Award in 2014. In 2000, he served as President of the System Dynamics Society. For his exceptional academic achievements, Jac Vennix received the royal honour of Knight of the Order of the Dutch Lion in 2014.  

 

Jac Vennix Memorial

Mark Paich

1953-2022 

Mark Paich was a gifted modeler and a generous mentor who made exceptional contributions to the field of System Dynamics. Mark earned his Ph.D. in System Dynamics from MIT, taught for many years at Colorado College, and returned frequently to MIT Sloan as a visiting lecturer. He helped establish the simulation and modeling practice at PwC US when he joined the company in 2010 as Director of Analytics. A recipient of the System Dynamics Society’s Forrester Award and Applications Award, Mark was widely recognized as a leading expert in System Dynamics.

In 2002, Mark and his collaborators earned 2nd place in the Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences for their work, which was published in Interfaces as “A multimethod approach for creating new business models: The General Motors OnStar project.” Mark and this team received the inaugural Applications Award from the System Dynamics Society for the best real-world application of System Dynamics in 2007. As an author of the book Pharmaceutical Product Branding Strategies: Simulating Patient Flow and Portfolio Dynamics, Mark and his colleagues were honored by the System Dynamics Society in 2010 with the prestigious Jay Wright Forrester Award.

 

Jim Thompson

1946 -2021

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our dear friend, Jim Thompson. He was a light in this world with his wit, humor, and work in System Dynamics education and health modeling.

After graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Jim settled in Connecticut.  He started his career at Arthur Andersen and then worked as Treasurer at Kollmorgen. In 1990, Jim chose to make a change and pursue his passion, System Dynamics. He studied at MIT and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland.  He also taught other budding System Dynamicists at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Jim’s drive to make a difference in the world led him to focus on the development of computer-aided health systems models.  He did this locally at Cigna and around the globe.  His work served the World Bank, the Governments of Indonesia and Bangladesh, and the Graduate Medical School of the Duke-National University of Singapore.

A life-long learner, Jim enjoyed sharing new insights and contributing to research as an active member of the System Dynamics Society and as an adjunct professor and student advisor at Central Connecticut State University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  Jim has been a loyal and active member of the Society since 1988, that is 33 years!  He rarely missed our annual research conference and participated as a Modeling Assistance Workshop coach and conference reviewer.  He also served on the Policy Council, the Administrative Committee, the Strategy Committee, and the Investment Committee.  His colleagues at the Society, students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and all the others he has touched with his work will miss him dearly. His legacy will live on in so many others that he touched with his work.

Dave Packer and Ginny Wiley

David William Packer 1937-2021
Virginia Wiley Packer 1944-2021

It is with great sadness that we share the loss of both Dave Packer and Ginny Wiley during the past month. They were champions of the field and very active in philanthropy generally.  They touched many lives in profound ways and will not be forgotten.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Bedford Citizen (TheBedfordCitizen.org) or to The Home for Little Wanderers (TheHome.org). Fall dates are being considered for a combined service to remember and celebrate the lives of these two wonderful people.

Jim Waters

1925-2021

Jim Waters was a prominent systems thinker. The System Dynamics Society recognizes his extensive and invaluable service to the field. In 1989 he founded the Waters Center for Systems Thinking, a nonprofit organization dedicated to delivering benefits through systems thinking to school districts, organizations, and communities around the world. As a firm believer in the power of education, he had a profound influence on spreading systems thinking in K-12 education and will be missed. Waters is an industry pioneer and entrepreneur. His legacy will be part of Waters Corporation and resonate in all fields and projects he led. 

 

3 thoughts on “Memorial

  1. I’m deeply saddened to hear about Ginny and Dave both passing. My goodness. Their leadership significantly shaped the content and culture of the systems thinking community that I participated in–especially through the Pegasus ST in Action conferences. Both Ginny and Dave were creative and bold in their thinking, as well as kind and oh-so generous with their time and talents. I’m holding their family and friends in my heart today as I reflect on their transitions.

  2. I have a very fond memory of Ginny. When I was new to the Society and trying to pitch Albuquerque as a conference site, way back in 2005. We brought chips and salsa to the Policy Council meeting and made a very short pitch (Aldo Zagonel was with me). The Society president made a comment about us trying to influence the 2007 site decision, something like ‘butter up’ the Policy Council. I was a bit terrified, it was my first introduction to the Policy Council and I must have looked terrified. Ginny Wiley said, “They’re not try to butter us up, they’re trying to spice us up!”. I made room in my heart for her at that moment. Thank you Ginny.

  3. Jim Thompson was a wonderful person. Thoughtful and willing to listen. It was always a pleasure to see him at conferences and just chat. Besides all his contributions to to conferences he also published a great “Introduction to System Dynamics”. It may be hard to find but it is worth the effort.

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