Here is a tribute that I received this morning from the California Environmental Health Tracking Program email list:
Craig David Wolff, Geospatial Sciences Director for the California Environmental Health Tracking Program, passed away from an aortic aneurysm on April 30th, 2013 at age 40. Craig's enthusiasm and dedication to providing timely information about and resources to vulnerable communities in California will be remembered as one of his primary legacies.
Craig was instrumental in the conception, establishment, and implementation of CEHTP, and he contributed greatly as the CDC-led national Tracking initiative grew from its nascent stages to the present. During his 10-year tenure at CEHTP, Craig championed the use of informational technology to improve the environmental health of Californians, developing novel web-based tools which displayed agricultural pesticide applications, potential exposure to traffic pollutants, and locations of public drinking water systems.
Craig was passionate about using state of the art geographic information systems to map environmental and health data for public health programs, policy, and research. He created the infrastructure for data dissemination and visualization processes for CEHTP, which resulted in a web-based portal with data and information on topics such as asthma, cancer, heart disease, heat-related illnesses, and birth defects. Craig developed a geocoding service to allow geographic analysis of public health and environmental data, currently used by over 45 state and local programs to support program planning and decision-making. He conceived and developed web-based tools which allowed researchers to link maternal residence near pesticide applications to the risk of autism spectrum disorders in children.
His most recent accomplishment was the development of a tool which maps public drinking water systems in the State. Knowing the location of drinking water systems can and has been used to inform issues on drinking water affordability and equity, quality, and emergency preparedness and response - benefiting the public health of all Californians. Craig's next dream was to replicate this project nationally to ultimately inform public health research and policy on water across the country.
Craig held dual bachelor degrees in mathematics and geography, a master's degree in environmental engineering, and in addition to his work at CEHTP, was pursuing a doctorate degree in Environmental Health Sciences at UC Berkeley.
Craig was a dedicated and loving husband and father who, despite his many responsibilities and interests, always prioritized his family. He enjoyed spending time outdoors with friends and family, completing the 545-mile AIDS/LifeCycle three times and coaching his children's sports teams. Craig's survivors include his wife Sonia, and his three children, Clarisa (9), Sebastian (7), and David (5).
Craig was a wonderful co-worker to our team and all of the staff at the Environmental Health Investigations Branch at CDPH. He was extremely talented and very generous with his time and energy. He had great enthusiasm for all of his projects, inspired and encouraged many of his colleagues, and accomplished an incredible amount of excellent work. We are grateful to have known Craig and to have worked together toward a shared vision for improved public health in California. We are heartbroken by our loss and for a vibrant life cut too short. Craig will be dearly missed; his legacy and impact on public health in California will continue on.
See below for a tribute from one of his supporters:
Here is a link to the Agriculture Pesticide Mapping Tool. While it's a little kludgy today, I am sure someone will carry on Craig's work of making it better and more usable.
If you do try to use it, know that you have to w-a-i-t for the results to return for a few seconds longer than you might think. But it's worth waiting for - don't touch it while you wait - and it will appear, rising from the page like an old Polaroid photograph.
It maps much more than I knew for the first several years I used it. I didn't know you could search just by one chemical or one town. Check it out - and you'll find its hidden powers.