Obituary | David R. Swanson

Aug 14, 2019      By University Communication

David Swanson
David Swanson

David R. Swanson, 53, director of the Holland Computing Center and research professor in computer science and engineering, died following a two-vehicle wreck on Aug. 11 in rural Minnesota.

Swanson started working at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln on Feb. 1, 1999. He advanced to director of the Holland Computing Center in 2005. Under his leadership, the center has grown to include 16 staff, who provide services, including computing support for campus departments, data analytics and storage, training, education and consulting.

During Swanson’s tenure, the Holland Computing Center assisted in a number of significant research studies, including a groundbreaking review of gravitational waves streaming from a 1.3 billion-year-old collision of black holes; modeling that showed water-repellent surfaces can improve ice removal; cracking the code into what makes a bestselling novel; and allowing musical groups the chance to practice in real-time from studios in Lincoln and DeKalb, Illinois.

“Words cannot adequately describe the immensity of this tragedy and loss,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “While we have lost a dedicated and talented colleague and friend, I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and depth of loss for the Swanson family. Please keep them in your thoughts.”

Swanson’s research focused on scientific and high performance computing along with cluster and grid computing. He also had interests in molecular dynamics and the Monte Carlo method, a broad class of computational algorithms that rely on repeated random sampling to obtain numerical results.

Swanson received a doctorate as a computational chemist at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Prior to returning to the university, Swanson served as an NSF-NATO Fellow at the Technical University of Wroclaw in Poland and as an NRC Research Fellow at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

Swanson is survived by his wife, Ronda L. Swanson, and four children, Abigail Swanson, Caleb Swanson, Sophia Swanson and Livia Swanson. Ronda, Abigail, Sophia and Livia were in the car during the accident and are recovering.

Services are pending and will be announced when available.

Two funds — one via the University of Nebraska Foundation, the other through Union Bank — have been established. Details are being finalized on how Swanson Memorial Fund donations will be used.

The Nebraska Foundation has created the Dr. David Swanson Memorial Fund, which is available online. Gifts by check should be made out to University of Nebraska Foundation, noting the Dr. David R. Swanson Memorial Fund, No. 01149990 in the memo line or on an attached note. Mail checks to University of Nebraska Foundation, 1010 Lincoln Mall, Suite 300, Lincoln, NE 68508. For more details, or to make a payment by credit card, contact the NU Foundation.

Union Bank and Trust has set up a fund to collect donations on behalf of the family. Abigail is employed as a teller with Union Bank. Donations are being accepted at any Union Bank branch, including the one in the Nebraska Union. For more information, contact Nicole Sweigard, vice president of business development at the campus Union Bank branch.