Whale enthusiast and SF State lecturer dies at 62

Correction: A previous version of this story did not specifically identify Jonathan Stern as a adjunct professor and lecturer. The information has since been updated.

SF State friend and colleague Jonathan Stern died at noon today at Marin General Hospital at the age of 62.

The SF State biology lecturer was also a leading researcher on porpoises in the Bay Area. Stern graduated with his B.A. in biology at Sonoma State University in 1980 and later earned his M.A. at SF State in 1990, which he followed with a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in 1998.

Stern focused his work in ecologic studies of minke whales in the Northeast Pacific Ocean. He was a representative of the American Cetacean Society, and one the world’s experts about the eating habits and movements of whales. A 2007 San Francisco Chronicle piece called him “The Whalehead,” which became a lasting nickname.

“Jon has been an active scientist engaged in study of marine mammals for most of his life, doing exactly what he’d dreamed from childhood,” according to an emailed statement from the SF State Department of Biology.

“We were incredibly fortunate that he came back to us to continue his research and writing, and to serve our students as a deeply beloved lecturer. The community of scientists, colleagues and students has lost much today.”