It is with sadness that I am writing this letter. In the 22 years Erik had with us, he touched everyone in a profound way. He was genuine, loving, kind, helpful and considerate.

Erik had a love for science as far back as eight to nine years of age when he and his brother Pl started science classes at Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences in New York City where I worked. Erik smiled in amazement when he dissected worms, frogs, fish, etc., and he was hooked for life. He also went to science summer camps at the same place, making rockets, studying rocks and learning about science in nature. Erik had a great interest in philosophy and was well read in that area. I loved having conversations with him and we discussed much of what he had read. He had a good-sized library of many different authors and subjects, including poems which he himself started to write in fourth grade and continued until his death.

I would like to include Erik’s personal statement I found on his computer after his death which shows his love for the sciences:

“I love chemistry. Learning to understand the complexities of matter has thus far been an amazing experience. As with anything else worth doing, there have been struggles and doubts but also the blessed ‘eureka’ of solving the problem that has taken a week to answer. I am looking forward to continuing this experience at the University of Rochester.

“During my collegiate career, all of the chemistry faculty members have stressed the complex nature of their respective field and also the relations between fields.

“The difficulties of explaining inorganic processes in terms of biochemistry or physical chemistry through organic reactions can create problems.

“This seems to be a problem, but the professors are also trying to create a situation where you learn another necessity of chemistry, and for that matter, all sciences, ask questions. It seems simple, but the intentional use of external information from classes that are not required will clearly show who is willing to learn and who will simply get by with a minimal knowledge of the subject. I am grateful to all my professors for training myself and my peers to be better human beings as well as scientists.

“The class that truly solidified my enjoyment of all things chemical was not a chemistry class, it was called ‘Scientific Thought.’Before that course, I never had to think about what science was or what is the purpose of its accomplishments.

“Understanding the limitations of science, the logical basis for it and also philosophical attacks that can be leveled against it forced me to make the decision sealing me forever in the laboratory and loving every minute.

“During my junior year, I was asked by my advisor and organic chemistry professor Dr. Dexter Chriss to be his laboratory assistant: prepping labs and supervising experiments.

“This is one of the most fun and cathartic parts of my life. I can still remember being on the other side of the lab bench, slightly confused about doing an experiment to create a compound that we had kilograms of in the cabinet.

“How many times can you take the melting point of benzoic acid before you stop expecting it to change from 122 degree Celsius?

“It is not until you have to use the exact same technique on completely unknown compounds that you may produce from important research where you are not sure if what you made is pure or even what it is at all that knowing your technique is highly refined matters.

“The almost Buddha-like awakening that this assistance-ship has brought to me cannot be over-appreciated.

“After my experiences with my own professors and lab students, I think I want to be a professor as well. I know I would not be the person I am now without them and I know I could do the same for others.”

Erik is a great loss to the scientific community and the world at large.

He had much to teach us all and will be deeply missed by me (his mother), the rest of his family, friends and everyone he came in contact with.

I have been told by fellow students at UR of Erik’s “soft eyes and beautiful smile.” To me, he stood for everything good in this world. He was my heart.

I will forever be grateful for your kindness and love I felt while at UR and at Erik’s remembrance on Dec. 8.

Again, I want to thank each and every one of you, students and faculty. May you all have a bright future and I wish you all the best.

-Ellen Charlotte Maceira



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