Joe Caruso In Memoriam – by Todd Kelson, Brigham Young University



by Todd Kelson

Florida Atlantic University Senior Instructor Joseph P. Caruso was chosen as one of 14 faculty members to be trained in the Small World Initiative during the summer of 2014. He attended the weeklong training at Yale University where I first met him. As soon as he returned home to Florida after the training, he wrote me to indicate that he had received permission from his Department Chair to collect data using the California Critical Thinking Skills Test. Indeed, he did collect his own data set and presented his results at the 2015 ASM-CUE poster session. I received a copy of his manuscript that he submitted for publication just a week before I heard of his death.

Joe attended the 2015 ASM-CUE meeting along with 6 undergraduates who were enrolled in the SWI lab at Florida Atlantic University. They presented 3 posters at that meeting.  He volunteered to be one of the trainers assisting Ana Maria Barral and Debra Davis at the 2015 Training Workshop at National University in California. Those who attended will remember him for his insights and lecture on assessments and evaluation. He taught us many things based on the experiences he had in his own lab. He was chosen to be the “buddy” to 2 faculty members at the University of Belize, and he had begun working to help them acquire a PCR machine so that they could fully implement at their institution.

Joe was known by most of the Partner Instructors. He was thoughtful in the questions he asked and the advice he offered. I can summarize his enthusiasm for the SWI by quoting from the application he submitted to Tiffany Tsang to be a faculty implementer. When asked why he was interested in becoming a Partner, he wrote, “I’d like to be able to show non-major students how much fun discovery-based science is and why it’s important for everybody.”

We will miss his enthusiasm and love for science. Thank you, Joe, for reminding us how much fun science can be.


  1. Larry McCusker

    Thank you, Todd, for this touching remembrance of a very old friend. Joe and I met at the University of Wyoming more than 3 decades ago and our friendship endured until his untimely death in September.

  2. Diuto Esiobu

    Joe and I taught Microbiology at Florida Atlantic and I worked with him to develop tools for assessing student learning and performance for our Department. This week, I took over teaching his large Microbiology class in Boca and spent a moment to honor his memories in class. Joe was a dear colleague. He is dearly missed!

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