Olaf came to the University of Chicago in 2001 with the mission to build a strong program in Microbiology. He took this task very seriously. He secured a grant from NIAID to fund Biodefense and Infectious Disease research in the Midwest and the Great Lakes Research Center for Excellence (GLRCE) was born, funding over 50 laboratories in six states for over 11 years. Olaf heralded the construction of the first Regional Biocontainment Laboratory in Illinois, now known as the HTRL. Microbiology became an exciting and booming topic and the Department of Microbiology was created in the wake of these efforts.
Olaf and I merged our groups in 2002 prompted by a need to develop genetic tools and new animal models to study Staphylococcus aureus, as well as various pathogenic Bacillus and Yersinia species. The group expanded considerably and attracted many dedicated and talented scientists in training, many of whom have become exceptional investigators and educators of science!
Olaf passed away on May 26, 2019. He had known for a while that the odds of survival were not in his favors. Nonetheless, he continued to pursue science and life with his usual passion. We miss him terribly but remember him for his boundless generosity, brutal and fair honesty, and his fierce loyalty to science, friends and family.