A tribute to João Meirelles
It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of João Meirelles earlier this year. João was the fifth member to join Metabolism of Cities when he became part of the team in January 2017. Originally from Brazil, João worked as a Data Scientist at the Big Data team for the city of Rio de Janeiro before he moved to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he was undertaking his PhD at HERUS / EPFL by the time he joined the Metabolism of Cities team.
João was one of the founding members of the Global Urban Metabolism Dataset (GUMDB). This was one of the first efforts to centralise urban metabolism data generated in academic studies. These data are normally very decentralised and obtaining them is very time consuming and labour intensive. The team's efforts to collect and disseminate these data points were the start of a larger endeavor to make urban metabolism data more accessible. João unveiled the GUMDB at the ISIE/ISSST 2017 Joint Conference (view Joao presenting here, and see a short interview with him here), and later that year he presented the work at the 2017 World Resources Forum in Geneva where he won the Best Scientific Paper Award.
Metabolism of Cities is a global collective of researchers and urban metabolism enthusiasts, and many of us do not frequently meet in person. For me, meeting João in person only happened at the ISIE/ISSST 2017 Joint Conference in Chicago. This first and only meetup was an exciting time where João's passion for urban metabolism and open data stood out. I am sure that not just for me but also for others in our team meeting him in person emphasised João's friendliness, warmth, and enthusiasm that already became clear through our remote collaborations. After the first year of working together I was very much looking forward to many more years of collaborating with João - but sadly this was not what happened.
João passed away on February 4, 2020, after a lengthy battle with cancer. He passed away much too young and he is sorely missed. His passing left everybody at the Metabolism of Cities team truely saddened.
From the awards and great reception of João's work at Metabolism of Cities, it is clear that he leaves behind a legacy that we can only hope to honour. It is a great loss to our team and to the wider urban metabolism community, and we will seek to find suitable ways to remember João. We wish his family and other friends strength to cope in these difficult times.
- Paul Hoekman, on behalf of the Metabolism of Cities team