In Memoriam: Dr. Jason M. Beddow

July 8, 1974 - April 14, 2016

Jason joined the University of Minnesota Department of Applied Economics faculty in 2013 after completing his Ph.D at Minnesota and several years of post-doctoral work in InSTEPP focused on the HarvestChoice initiative. He was already having a big impact via his cutting-edge research in food security and technology policy, and in teaching courses. Earlier in 2016, he was one of a dozen early-career faculty featured in the "The Future is Now" edition of CFANS Solutions magazine. Jason was leading the development of new spatial bio-economic analytical methods to address key global food security challenges. He was a rising star with a broad professional reach around the college, the campus and internationally. He was also one of the first MnDRIVE Fellows, selected to be a key leader in discovering new paths to solving the problems of food insecurity.

Jason was kind and went the extra mile for all who engaged with him. He will be deeply missed.

In honor of Jason, CFANS has established the Jason Beddow Memorial Fund. To contribute, visit Jason Beddow Memorial Fund, select Make a Gift where various methods of giving are available. Please specify the Jason Beddow Memorial Fund under the Department of Applied Economics.

Memories of a Colleague and Friend

"This is really such tragic news that I have found myself at a loss for words. Jason was always one of the most pleasant – and smart – people around any of the times I had the honor of being in his company. He inspired me to critically explore new ways of approaching complex challenges, at once indulging in the sheer enjoyment of delving into the process. He made an impact on me, personally and professionally, and he will be dearly missed. He was so generous and easy going. I aspire to emulate many of the qualities that made him such a wonderful man.”
– Jagger Harvey, Manhattan, Kansas

"Jason will be remembered by my family with admiration, gratitude and love. The more opportunities we got to share with him; the most we appreciated his friendship. He was an excellent mentor and a wonderful professor. I knew that if I needed help I could rely on him and that meant a lot to us. My family and I will always have a special place in our hearts for him. We will remember him for the wonderful person he was and as a mentor he is an example that I would like to follow. My professional and personal life will carry always his mark.”
– Robert Andrade, St. Paul

"Jason was one of the most intelligent and kindhearted people I have ever known. I first met Jason when I was applying for the research assistant position in the InSTePP center. Jason showed me the wheat rust disease project he was working on including his beautiful maps and complicated programming. I was greatly impressed by his computer skills and his kind personality. I thought it would be great to work with someone as smart as Jason. Luckily I got the position, becoming his student and working closely with him. Coming from a Plant Pathology background, all InSTePP’s work was new to me. Jason provided me with the knowledge and confidence needed for my first research project which was a second InSTePP wheat rust disease study. Jason meet with me for hours showing me each step of the research method. Any time I had a question, I could rely on Jason to offer solutions and suggestions. He guided me through my research and made sure I received acknowledgement for the work I was involved in. He helped me establish my publication portfolio. With English as my second language, I struggle with writing research papers. Jason was usually the first person to look over my drafts to correct grammar and help restructure sentences. Jason served on my PhD committee. Jason’s ideas and suggestions heavily influenced my research topics. His insights on spatio-temporal aspects of agricultural economics have substantially helped form my research focus. As I continue my research, I will be guided by Jason’s brilliance. For me, he was truly a wonderful and wise mentor and a dear friend on both academic and personal levels. His passing is a huge loss for his family, for his colleagues, and for the world. As a teacher and mentor, his work will continue on through his influence on his students. Jason will always be in my memory and I will miss him dearly.”
– Yuan Chai, St. Paul

“I loved Jason like a brother. I knew that I didn't have to guard my words with him. We shared a deep and abiding respect for the truth, and values of fairness and equity, values that we learned as youngsters. Working with Jason was fun! We would attack a problem together mercilessly, rejoicing at each discovery - even when that discovery was that our preconceptions were wrong. In between working sessions, we could occasionally twist Jason's arm into playing - canoeing down the Mississippi, bushwalking around Canberra, wandering around a reserve in Linwood. I cherish all of my time spent with him. Jason was a good, warm-hearted, generous man. Through his actions he inspired me to be a better person. I miss him so much already! I know it sounds cliche, but on so many levels, the world is a far poorer place for Jason's passing. He was so clever, and his research career was just starting. That aside, Jason had a way of leaving people feeling better about themselves – even if he didn’t agree with them. Lucy, Vernell and John, my very deepest sympathy to you. Jason had a profound effect on me during our relatively short acquaintance. Your loss is immeasurably greater.”
– Darren Kriticos, Canberra

“This is devastating news. I can’t make sense of it. A very warm and big hug to all of you and his wife. It’s an incredibly sad day. Certain things should never happen, especially to a person like him.”
– Carlo Azzarri, Rome

“Jason’s family and the rest of you must have been through a very traumatic few days and I know the loss of Jason has also been felt very deeply by colleagues over at IFPRI (and I, of course, count myself in that sense of the HarvestChoice team). To a person we all experienced both the humanity and the talent Jason embodied.”
– Stanley Wood, Seattle

“I am so sorry to hear about Jason. I am still in shock... almost disbelief... with so many questions. Jason is not only a loss to you but also to me. I met him only a few times but he assisted me with developing my PhD ideas. I remember the questions he asked me and how much it helped me. My heart goes out to you and the whole Department. May God console us and his family. With deepest sympathy”
– Colleta Gandidzanwa, Pretoria 

“To Lucy, John and Vernell: I am at loss for words during this sorrowful time. Please accept my heartfelt condolence for your loss. I hope that fond memories and time and the love of family and friends will help bring comfort and peace. I feel blessed that I have gotten to know and work with Jason since he became part of the InSTePP family. He was such a good man, so kind, peaceful and caring. He was always happy to help and willing to share his knowledge with us as a great friend, colleague and scholar. He was always calm and had a great sense of humour no matter how busy he was. Having met Jason once via Skype, my 9 years old daughter told me: '' Jason is the best! ''. And I can only agree with that. With caring thoughts and sympathy”
– Connie Chan-Kang, Ottawa

“.. I'm so sorry. It's absolutely heart breaking. He was such a great individual, and I know how sharp he was with his work. It's not possible to put into words the shared loss and grief right now, but please know I'm thinking of you both as well as InSTePP, Applied Econ, and of course Lucy.”
– Mark Erickson, Minneapolis

“I’m shocked and saddened, too. I had some good conversations with Jason, and found him to be a thoughtful guy with interesting ideas.”
– Frank H. Koch, Research Triangle Park

“This is very very sad! He had such a bright future ahead of him!”
– Johann Kirsten, Pretoria

“I was so shocked and sorry to hear the news of Jason's sudden passing. I'm sure this was a terrible shock for you. I just wanted to send a note to let you know that I always enjoyed talking with Jason and I looked forward to working with him for many years in the future. He was a good guy. I will miss him! Hard to understand when something like this happens to someone so young. Makes us remember to enjoy life while we can..”
– Karen E. Hokanson, St. Paul

“I am at a complete loss for words. I had just been working with Jason on some new projects. I feel blindsided by this news. I will deeply miss Jason's enthusiasm and genuine interest in collaborative work. He seemed to care deeply about up and coming scientists. He was an outstanding representative for your Department. He was genuinely a great guy. My deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, and colleagues.”
– Rob Venette, St. Paul

“The news of Jason’s sudden death is very difficult to believe and to process. I am so very sorry. Please extend my condolences to Jason’s wife and family.”
– Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Ithaca

“This is terrible news. It was just a few weeks ago that Jason shepherded me from airport to your campus, to the lecture, and to lovely meals. It is really hard to fathom what has happened. He was such a vibrant, kind and dedicated human being and scholar with such immense potential yet to be realized. Please express my condolences to his family and all those affected..”
– Hans P. Binswanger-Mkhize, Pretoria

“VERY sad news, indeed. What a great colleague with such a bright future in so many ways -- my heart goes out to all of you in Applied Econ., but especially to his wife Lucy...and family. Of course, I was just emailing with him early this week -- always a gracious young man!.”
– Bill Hutchinson, St. Paul

“I’ll miss his sense of humor. He was a really really funny guy. He had a gift for the well timed one liner”
– Tim Beatty, Davis

“I'm so sorry to hear about Jason. Such a shock as Jason has been taken much too early.”
– Sue P. Worner, Lincoln, New Zealand

“I didn’t realize that Jason was only 41—he had so much of his life and career ahead of him, that makes his death doubly tragic.”
– Stephanie Mercier, Washington D.C.

“I was shocked to hear of this and still cannot believe it. Words are never adequate in moments like these. How could it happen to such a kind and intelligent person. Jason was not just a co-worker but a friend to us. Please accept my deep condolences and let us know if there is anything we can help. My thoughts also are with you all and obviously with his wife and family..”
– Zhe Guo, Washington D.C.

“A few days before we left for ICAE in Milan last summer, I was chatting with Jason about our respective flight itineraries. When Jason mentioned that he was getting upgraded to business class on the New York-Milan flight, I jokingly asked him whether he'd consider ceding his business-class seat to my wife, who was then five months pregnant with our daughter Sophia. Jason respectfully declined, and we both had a good laugh about the cheekiness of my request. The following morning, I woke up to an email from Jason, in which he wrote: "I looked into it, and unfortunately, it looks as though global upgrades are nontransferable." That is the kind of man Jason was, and I will always remember him for his selflessness and his kindness.”
– Marc F. Bellemare, St. Paul

“The weekend after Jason’s death has passed by me, and I can still not fathom that he should no longer be here. He was such an unassuming guy, behind whose shy and humble demeanor was so much knowledge, humor, kindness and fun. The last memories of Jason are him dictating a class which introduced complex terms in such an intuitive and ‘easy’ manner, and some email exchange we had about choosing colors in a map and equating that with his choice of shirts when getting ready for work. All very ‘Jasonesque’! Please tell my deepest appreciation for him to his wife Lucy, his parent and the rest of his family.”
– Ulrike Wood-Sichra, Washington D.C.

“This is so heartbreaking… I don’t know what to say. It feels so surreal. Not only as a colleague has been working on the same project, I have so many joyful memories with him traveling around here and there. He was like a brother/friend/neighbor to me. Let us all know about any arrangement or anything we can help. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you all and his family”
– Jawoo Koo, Washington D.C.

“I met Jason few times and I was inspired by his competence and innovative ways of thinking. please share with the InSTePP team my sympathy for your loss.”
– Gabe Gusmini, St. Paul

“I am so terribly sorry to hear about Jason. Without fully knowing the dynamics of your relationship, I feel like he was, to you [Phil], a peer, a brother, possibly a son. Rarely does someone come along as brilliant as Jason - and to boot he was a kind, gentle man.”
– Nikhil Joglekar, Minneapolis

“It isn't fair that someone who made such an impact on the world should go so soon. He was truly a lovely person. He was extremely talented and capable and cared about his work. He was always kind and patient with others, even those of us far less capable than him. He was always kind and helpful to me and was patient with me beyond any reasonable expectation. I will miss him and I hope his family knows how much he meant to those that he worked with.”
– Devon Phillips, Minneapolis

“This took a while to work through. We have all lost a truly great friend and colleague. One that we still had so much to learn from - not only professionally. Very few people leaves such a lasting and positive mark on your life, such as Jason had. It is really devastating news. Such a talented scholar and a personality second to none. Became a really good mate of mine and we had so many ideas we wanted to build on. He is leaving a huge gap in the lives of a great many people around the globe!”
– Frikkie Liebenberg, Pretoria

“Oh my God, this is a shock!! He is so young and I just talked to him a few months ago. My prayer goes to his family and friends.”
– Liangzhi You, Washington D.C.

I’ve been thinking about Jason through the past several days and I realized how much I always liked him. He started a bit after me but our time overlapped quite a bit. He used to be in the office during some late hours, as was I, so I would wander over and ask him all kinds of questions. He always humored me and was so passionate about his work. I really enjoyed talking to him, I learned so much from him. When I left the UMN, I kept in touch with the department, through the professors and of course, David. When I heard that Jason was appointed an Assistant Professor, I was so excited for him – he deserved it and I saw how much the department and the broader ag research community would benefit from his work. When I saw him in Italy, I was so impressed to see how his work had progressed, how he had progressed. It really felt like he had hit his stride and I looked forward to working with him. I regret not making the time to speak with him while we were there – I thought we would have so much time through the UMN / Syngenta collaboration. When we spoke to him a few weeks ago, I was reminded how much I valued his research and how beneficial he would be to us, helping to push our thinking and expand our view. I focused on his research but really, what made working with him great was the fact that he was a lovely person. Dave and I reflected on how nice Jason was and how he was always open to talking. He was quiet but once you started speaking with him, it was great to speak with him. He was welcoming and kind and an overall good person. Our agricultural research world lost a great researcher but we also lost a genuinely kind person.”
– Shefali V. Mehta, Washington D.C.

“I am extremely shocked and saddened to hear about the passing of Jason. I never had the pleasure of meeting him personally but I know a lot about his talent, dedication, sense of humor and good heart. I know you worked closely with him and nurtured great admiration for him. I am writing to express my sincere condolences. I know this is a huge loss and only time will bring closure to this. Please extend my condolences to his wife and to the InStepp team.”
– Eduardo Magalhaes, Ottawa

“Oh my gosh I am so sad about this. I am so, so sorry. There are very few things that leave me speechless but this does. What a loss.”
– Cynthia Cashman, Minneapolis

“I am really shocked and saddened. What a loss. He was a wonderful colleague and wonderful person. My thoughts are with you [InSTePP].”
– Stephen Polasky, St. Paul

“On behalf of all of us at SPIA, I wanted to let you know how sad we are to learn of Jason’s death. In the small community of people working on the economics of agricultural research, Jason was a tremendously important contributor. And although I did not know him at all well, it was clear through every interaction that I had with him that Jason was not only a good scholar but also a first-rate human being. Please convey my condolences to Jason’s family and to all of his friends and colleagues at InStepp and the university. We join you in mourning for him. With deep sympathy”
– Douglas Gollin, Rome

“This is very sad news and big loss for all of us. Please accept our sincere condolences.”
– Miriam Mironova, Moscow

“It’s shocking and very sad to hear. Please accept my condolences.”
– James Wilgenbusch, Minneapolis

“Jason will be sorely missed. I’ve only met Jason a handful times in Australia over the past few years but it was always stimulating and fun. We were both really looking forward to build on the relationship into the future, and I to taking up his invitation to visit him on his new and much-loved farm and enjoying more of his dry humour. He was a good man, with big ideas that will live on.” – Rieks Vanklinken “Jason really did engage people with his warmth, sincerity and professionalism. A real loss to us all”
– Peter Durr, Melbourne

“Oh no. That is just so terrible. Unbelievable. He was such a lovely guy, as well as being brilliant, of course.”
– David Pannell, Perth

“I cannot believe it. This is devastatingly sad news indeed. I'm nearly speechless. I am so sorry to hear of this terrible news--and I know it is an especially devastating personal and professional loss for you [Phil].”
– Steven Dehmer, Minneapolis

“How shocking and sad… Even though I have only known him for a short while, I enjoyed our interactions and admired his gentle, steady leadership style. It pains me to think of your loss and grief.”
– Hikaru Peterson, St. Paul

“My sympathies, thoughts and prayers are with you and all of your team on the news of Jason's sudden death. I too am saddened to hear the news.”
– Kent Olson, St. Paul  

“I am almost speechless, this defies belief. As you are aware, I only really met Jason on a handful of occasions, but he was the kind of person who radiated warmth and sincerity, a vibe I picked up immediately. And he had a sense of humour that I found instantly appealing, subtle and dry! I can understand fully how devastated you all must be, my thoughts are with you. So sad, and such a tremendous loss. Many thanks for taking the time to let us know. With warmest regards to you, Michelle, the UMN team and to Jason’s family.”
– Robert Park, Sydney

“My sincere condolences, that's a terrible loss. Jason was a great scientist to work with. He had great skills and knowledge in his field but more importantly he was a great person to collaborate with, with his genuine interest in the people he worked with. He will be sorely missed.”
– Will Cuddy, Sydney

“On behalf of all members of the Agricultural Development team I’d like to convey our simple but most heartfelt condolences and sorrow to the family, friends and colleagues of Jason on his most tragic and untimely passing. I’ve learned not only of Jason’s immense professional promise and his commitment – shared by his wife – to improving the lives of others, but also of the immensely respectful, warm, and generous way he engaged with all those whose lives he touched. This devastating loss also gives us cause to reflect on and appreciate the immense debt of gratitude we owe to those like Jason and their families without whom our common goals cannot be achieved. We would be honored to contribute to the establishment of a scholarship in Jason’s name that seeks to carry forward his academic prowess, his passions, and his values”.
– Sam Thevasagayam, Seattle

“Jason inspired me to continue believing in my dreams. He even offered to advise me in choosing courses as he knew I am planning to continue my studies here in the US. I am still in shock and disbelief that he passed away. I am deeply saddened by his passing. I feel he was more than a colleague if not like a brother to you [Phil] and the others in InSTePP. He will be truly missed and I will include him and remember him in my prayers. My thoughts are with Lucy at this difficult time.”
– Brook D. Demissie, St. Paul

beddow studio