Jasper Konter earned his bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees from the Free University of Amsterdam and his doctoral degree from the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, where he met his wife Bridget Smith-Konter, who is also a professor of Earth sciences.
After conducting post-doctoral research at San Diego State University (SDSU), he joined the faculty of the University of Texas at El Paso.
Jasper was then recruited to the UH Mānoa in 2014. He died as a result of an auto accident on July 3, 2022.
Jasper is recognized globally for his research on oceanic volcanism.
His scientific contributions include using evidence from isotope geochemistry and mantle seismology to confirm the deep origin of mantle plumes, and to show that materials that were once subducted in the ancient geologic past are returned again to the surface by these rising mantle plumes.
Jasper’s work on the different stages of intraplate volcanism advanced our understanding of the evolving source materials and magma production mechanisms as the volcanoes age.
He and co-workers also used a combination of isotope geochemistry, lava rock ages, and volcano location to identify motions of the Pacific plate relative to hotspot sources as well as the motions of hotspot sources relative to each other.
Jasper and colleagues also developed methods for using non-traditional iron isotopes to identify source materials and magma genesis at oceanic volcanoes.
Jasper’s research was interdisciplinary and addressed fundamental problems.
His numerous collaborators spanned the western hemisphere from Hawaiʻi to Europe.
He was skilled in geochemical modeling, laboratory analysis, and instrumentation.
Colleague and former mentor, Aaron Pietruszka writes,
He was exceptionally creative and careful in the lab at an early stage in his career, and these traits led directly to his many exciting scientific discoveries.
I have never met anyone else as talented with the technical aspects of instrumentation as Jasper. He could fix just about anything!
Jasper was a talented and highly valued teacher and mentor.
His impact spanned the entire curriculum, including introductory undergraduate courses in natural disasters and Hawaiian geology, advanced major courses in igneous geochemistry, and graduate courses in trace-element and isotope geochemistry.
He taught with scientific insight as well as special attention to the wide range of learning styles, ability levels, and backgrounds of his students.
Jasper cared deeply about enhancing Earth science education and engagement for a diverse population of students.
He put this passion into action as a co-investigator of two National Science Foundation-supported projects, one of which provided research experiences to undergraduate students from under-represented backgrounds, and the other provided short courses in Earth science for high school students in Hawaiʻi (EPʻIK).
As an advisor, Jasper was incredibly dedicated to the training, professional development and overall well-being of his undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral mentees.
Jasper was a keenly trusted, reliable, and respected colleague and friend.
He served his students and the department with heart, and produced research that will bring lasting recognition to UH Mānoa.
− Garrett Apuzen-Ito, EARTH Department Chair
Jasper was an exceptional and curious scientist, an inspiring teacher and mentor, and a compassionate and caring person who was deeply devoted to his family.
He will be greatly missed.
- Chip Fletcher, School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology (SOEST) interim dean.
My friend Jasper was incredibly honest and forthright, he had a foundational moral sense for what is right and wrong, and he was so very generous with friends, colleagues, and students. All of these qualities inspired the people around him - myself included- to be better and to do better. I feel a profound sense of loss without Jasper, but I know his legacy lives on through the example he set for those around him.
Jasper was also a genius, plain and simple. In the field, Jasper had an extraordinarily broad view of science across geophysics and geochemistry, and he had an uncanny facility with complex calculations. I told him regularly that he was a genius, and I meant it. I valued his scientific ideas and opinions more than anyone else’s. I miss my friend so very much.
- Dr. Matt Jackson, Professor, Department of Earth Science, UC Santa Barbara
Jasper was an immensely kind and caring individual, giving much of his time to help others. He selflessly taught isotope geochemistry to students that were not his own (my students and even myself included). Over the years I knew him, I was impressed at how much more he taught himself - always evolving, always developing, and finding novel solutions. Jasper was a valued colleague and a cherished friend.
- Dr. Tyrone Rooney, Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Michigan State University
Jasper was a fantastic mentor, collaborator, and friend. He was the kind of person who taught - and led - by being in the lab, on the deck of a ship, whatever it took. As one of his students, he and I were constantly working together on all aspects of the science - the lab equipment, repairs, sample work, data analysis and visualization, you name it - just the most incredible, challenging and outright fun PhD. He had this gift of bringing out the best in his students, and making us not simply better scientists, but better people. What I’ve learned from Jasper has become fundamental to my own research and developmental directions even as those have taken their own forms. I will forever miss his kind, gentle, occasionally absurd humor, his unwavering support, his curiosity and drive to innovate, the back-and-forth about whatever was going on in the lab, and our thought experiments into some truly wild research ideas. He was a genuinely good human, and that I miss the most.
- Dr. Val Finlayson, Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Geology, University of Maryland
Jasper will always be remembered by me not only as a mentor, but as
someone who has changed my life. He brought me from Brazil to Hawaii in
the middle of the pandemic, and once I got to Honolulu he did everything
to help and make me feel at home. He taught me geochemistry and how to
do lab work from scratch and we always had fun doing work together. I'm
happy I had the chance to spend more time with him during our cruise to
the West Pacific Seamount Province, and he served as my example on how
to conduct ship operations in a very professional way and also having
fun. He knew so much, and I'll always be grateful for having the chance
to learn from him. I will do my best to make him proud :)
- Natalia Gauer Pasqualon
Jasper, spending time with myself and a former student, taught us the analytical methods for strontium isotopes that fundamentally and permanently changed my career. I was not something he had to do and the benefit to himself was minimal. My colleagues and I have discussed what a legacy he has had on isotope research at UTEP and that even today, we largely are resting on the laurels that he placed for us. Jasper was incredibly detailed oriented in all things scientific. He was a very deep thinker who executed near perfection in his research. Beyond that, he was a dedicated father and husband and a valued friend. His impact on my career was significant and I miss him greatly.
- Dr. Mark Engle, Professor, Department of Earth, Environmental and Resource Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso
Jasper was an exceptionally creative, smart, considerate, and valuable colleague and friend in our department during his tenure at UTEP. On top of his dedication to research discoveries in Earth sciences, Jasper devoted his talents and creativity to build and grow UTEP’s isotope geochemistry research center. The isotope center has been benefiting and impacting research for many faculty, researchers, and students, including myself. We are still using many of the novel isotope methods for Sr, Pb, Nd, and Fe isotope systems that he developed at UTEP. Jasper will be forever missed for his talents and dedication to science and education.
- Dr. Lin Ma, Center for Earth and Environmental Isotope Research (CEEIR), University of Texas at El Paso
I lost a warm smile, a good heart, and an excellent scientist exuding huge amounts of energy and charisma. He was among the students that I really cared for the most, intelligent and generous. I will never forget his smiling face.
- Dr. Francis Albarede, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Professor Emeritus