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Mark Turnquist, engineering professor emeritus, dies at 67

Mark Alan Turnquist

Mark Alan Turnquist, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering at Cornell, died Dec. 5 at home in Falmouth, Maine. He was 67.

Turnquist’s research focused on the development of advanced algorithms and computer models for management and optimization of large, complex systems under uncertain conditions. He began his research in transportation systems and later applied the techniques he developed to many areas, including the stewardship, dismantlement and environmental impact of storage and transportation of nuclear weapons to comply with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties; efficient movement and allocation of railroad cars; positioning and management of the supply chain of manufacturing parts; and the pre-positioning and management of health care resources to optimize response to natural disasters.

Turnquist was a recipient of a U.S. Department of Energy Excellence Award in 2000. With a team from General Motors, he was a winner of the prestigious Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Franz Edelman Award in 2005 for improvement of throughput management methods now valued at $2 billion.

Turnquist was well-liked and respected by students and colleagues alike. He received teaching awards from the College of Engineering in 2003 and 2013, and was the recipient of the Chi Epsilon Professor of the Year Award in 2006. According to colleagues, he enjoyed working with students, many of whom went on to make meaningful contributions to the world.

“He was an outstanding educator, scholar and colleague. He always put the needs of the students first, and there were always long lines outside his office of students eager to meet with him,” said Linda Nozick, director of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

“As a colleague you could always count on him to step up to the plate and do whatever needed to be done with no regard to the large overload of work already on his desk. Mark has been deeply missed since his retirement, and his passing is a source of great sorrow,” added Nozick.

Turnquist received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1971, began his career as an assistant professor at Northwestern University and joined the faculty at Cornell as an associate professor in 1979, becoming a full professor in 1986.

During the early 1980s, Turnquist served as associate dean for computing, directing computer resources and policy for the College of Engineering. He was director of the Engineering Management Program for the school from 1988 until his retirement in June 2015.

Following his retirement, Turnquist moved to Maine to be closer to his family. He is survived by his wife, Lynn, two sons and a granddaughter.

No memorial services are planned. In lieu of flowers, his family requests donations in his name be made to the Maine Medical Center, Development Office, 22 Bramhall Street, Portland, ME 04102.

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