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Memorial set for UA scientist killed while riding bicycle

A public memorial service for University of Arizona scientist Raphael D. Sagarin, killed while riding his bike in May, is scheduled for Saturday.

The event will take place at 5 p.m. at Biosphere 2, 32540 S. Biosphere Road, Oracle, his family said Friday. At the time of his death, Sagarin had been working on a project at Biosphere 2 to create a living model of the Gulf of California.

Sagarin, a 43-year-old father of two, was well-known nationally and internationally for writing and lecturing about applying the adaptive lessons of the natural world to dealing with security threats.

His obituary ran in both the New York Times and the Washington Post. The Post said Sagarin “pioneered new ways of thinking about protecting national security through the lens of the environment and animal behavior.”

The Connecticut-born UA associate research scientist was hit by a suspected impaired driver while bicycling on Arizona 77 near Oracle Junction.

The 44-year-old man driving the pickup that struck Sagarin was impaired at the time of the collision, state public safety officials have said. Gary L. Colvin of Tucson is facing a charge of manslaughter.

Sagarin was an adjunct assistant professor in the UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment. He was riding a bicycle northbound near Milepost 99 and was struck from the rear shortly after 6:30 p.m. on May 28, authorities said.

The investigation revealed the pickup swerved partially off the road and struck Sagarin, who was wearing a helmet.

Sagarin, who went by “Rafe,” had planned to stay overnight at Biosphere 2.

Colleagues said Sagarin’s work at Biosphere 2 was an extension of his deep affection for the Gulf of California. His family said his interest in natural science began as a child exploring the tide pools of Cape Cod.

In a 2009 interview with the Star, he said there was no laboratory substitute for what can be learned on such a trip.

“The key is the idea of serendipity — just go out and study nature. You may discover something completely unexpected,” he said.

Sagarin’s survivors include his wife, Rebecca Crocker, daughters Ella and Rosa, as well as his grandmother, parents, and his brothers and their families.

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