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Scripps Institution Of Oceanography Researcher Dies After 5-Year Battle With Cancer

San Diego researcher David Hilton gathers samples from a hot air vent in Indonesia in this undated photo.
Justin Kulongoski
San Diego researcher David Hilton gathers samples from a hot air vent in Indonesia in this undated photo.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography community is mourning the death of researcher David Hilton, who lost a five-year battle with cancer earlier this month. Hilton studied tectonics, solid earth dynamics and noble gasses. He was 59.

Justin Kulongoski was one of the researcher’s first graduate students in the mid 1980s. He remembered Hilton’s professional drive.

Hilton authored more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, articles and books and his work is cited some 6,000 times in other publications.

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“It’s kind of a measure of how well your work is read and how widely known it is,” said Justin Kulongoski.

Hilton spent most of his professional life in the lab analyzing samples and writing, but he wasn’t afraid to venture out into the field.

In one video provided by Kulongoski, Hilton stands over a hot air vent in Ethiopia. He was taking gas samples while a student and guides look on. There was a broad smile on his face.

“David was very thoughtful. And also very competitive. He was very driven by the science and I think that shows in how productive he was over the years,” Kulongoski said.

He valued Hilton’s high expectations because it helped drive Kulongoski to do better work.

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Hilton’s family requests that in lieu of flowers, to consider donating to “science, education in STEM, or just have a good medium-rare steak and a beer, and think of Dave while you do so."

Scripps Institution Of Oceanography Researcher Dies After 5-Year Battle With Cancer
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