Remembering Vince Buonaccorsi

Vince Buonaccorsi

Vince Buonaccorsi and I first met when he was an undergraduate student in an Animal Behavior Lab I was teaching at the University of Notre Dame. The class was full of terrific students, but Vince radiated an impish curiosity that distinguished him from everyone else. Under normal conditions, that semester in lab would have been the extent of our time together. The bittersweet aspect about being an academic is that we have such a brief time with our students. We only catch a glimpse of what makes them remarkable people before they’re gone. Our lives rarely intersect with theirs in any substantial way. But I got lucky.

In 2001, Vince joined the Juniata biology department. When he arrived, he lived with me for several months while his house was being built. And over the next two decades, we had the opportunity to teach and serve on committees together. I finally met Kristin, the high school sweetheart he would talk so much about during labs. I coached his kids and he coached mine. Our sons became close friends. We had long talks about biology, teaching, the nature of God, youth soccer, and Notre Dame football.

It was a blessing to have the opportunity to see how much more remarkable Vince became after he graduated. I got to see first-hand how he forged relationships with colleagues, students, and people in the community and how he made everyone around him better. He inspired a generation of Juniata student researchers. He coached a host of soccer players and helped them discover the beauty in the game. He was a patient academic mentor who helped nurture students as scientists and as people. He strove to give his students a rich liberal arts experience. And when those students succeeded, as they invariably did, he celebrated their successes like a proud parent.

As an undergraduate, Vince was in a band called “Brian, Colin, and Vince.” I highly recommend their album “Bucket O’ Fun N’ Stuff N’ Yeah.” Vince sang, played the bongos, and whistled. In his time here, I never heard him sing or play the bongos, but he did whistle. Boy howdy, did he whistle. He could, almost miraculously in my opinion, whistle two notes at the same time, and he did so routinely as he roamed the halls of von Liebig. Since our offices were in different suites, I didn’t see Vince every day, but I always heard him. His whistling, like his spirit and curiosity, echoed through the halls. Sometimes I whistle in the hall, a little self-consciously, just to remember him. He was my favorite student of all time.

—By Jay Hosler, Professor and Chair of Biology

Vincent P. Buonaccorsi

June 30, 2022 — Vince graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences. He attended the College of William & Mary and received his doctorate in marine biology in 1998. He then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, part of the National Marine Fisheries Service in San Diego, Calif. Vince was a member of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Huntingdon. He is survived by his wife, Kristen, his sons, Andrew and James, and his daughter, Grace.