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UMaine Grad Student Marcos Rodríguez Dies Suddenly at Harvard Forest Research Program

Harvard Forest is the University's 4,000-acre outdoor laboratory and classroom. University of Maine graduate student J. Marcos Rodríguez died suddenly at Harvard on Tuesday.
Harvard Forest is the University's 4,000-acre outdoor laboratory and classroom. University of Maine graduate student J. Marcos Rodríguez died suddenly at Harvard on Tuesday. By Julian J. Giordano
By Matan H. Josephy and Tilly R. Robinson, Crimson Staff Writers

Updated July 3, 2024, at 9:00 p.m.

J. Marcos Rodríguez, a graduate student at the University of Maine, died suddenly at Harvard Forest on Tuesday.

At the time of his death, Rodríguez was working at Harvard Forest as a mentor to undergraduate students in the Summer Research Program in Ecology. He studied Ecology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Maine.

Harvard University Police Department spokesperson Steven G. Catalano declined to comment, referring a reporter to the Petersham Police Department.

Rodríguez had a longstanding relationship with Harvard Forest, which is billed as the University’s 4,000-acre outdoor laboratory and classroom. Rodríguez previously did research at Harvard Forest during his undergraduate studies at Brown University.

As a rising junior in college, Rodríguez told Brown’s official campus publication that his experience in Harvard Forest’s program for undergraduates helped him consider what kind of research he wanted to pursue in the future.

“I really enjoyed the theoretical approach of this research,” he told the campus publication in 2018. “The Harvard Forest program isn’t about studying one species in order to conserve it, but how all forests are structured.”

This summer, Rodríguez mentored students working on a project to study the effects of invasive forest insects on seedlings in hemlock and oak forests. He served in a similar role last summer as a mentor on a project that tested ecological theories predicting energy use among seedlings.

Following Rodríguez’s death, administrators suspended regular programming at the Harvard Forest Summer research program from July 2 until the end of the week, according to Harvard spokesperson Amy Kamosa.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of an integral member of the Harvard Forest team and our thoughts are with their family and friends during this difficult time,” Kamosa said.

Rodríguez was from El Paso, Texas, according to Brown University’s official campus publication. Efforts to reach his family on Wednesday were not immediately successful and information about survivors was not available.

Rodríguez’s unexpected death at Harvard Forest’s summer research program left the small group of students, mentors, and professors shocked and distraught. Students and staff at Harvard Forest met with a Harvard chaplain Wednesday morning and have been provided with information about additional resources, according to Kamosa.


If you or someone you know needs help at Harvard, contact Counseling and Mental Health Services at (617) 495-2042 or the Harvard University Police Department at (617) 495-1212. Several peer counseling groups offer confidential peer conversations. Learn more here.

You can contact a University Chaplain to speak one-on-one at or here.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Correction: July 3, 2024

A previous version of this article incorrectly described the death as a suicide. In fact, it has not been officially ruled a suicide.

—Staff writer Matan H. Josephy can be reached at Follow him on X @matanjosephy.

—Staff writer Tilly R. Robinson can be reached at Follow her on X @tillyrobin.

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