A University of Missouri faculty member died Friday while in Thailand advising students on a school-sponsored trip to study coral reefs and biodiversity.

Wayne McDaniel, associate director of the Office of Technology Management and Industry Relations, was traveling with 15 students and two faculty and staff advisors when he died, MU spokesman Christian Basi said. The cause of death was uncertain Friday evening, Basi said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, and we’re doing anything we can to support them during this very difficult time," Basi said. "Wayne is a longtime employee of the university and he was known by many faculty and staff. He’ll be missed."

The students are participating in a winter-break study program offered by the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. The trip was scheduled to last from Dec. 26 through Jan. 19. The faculty leader of the trip is Robert Sites, professor of entomology, who has taught the study abroad course since its inception in 1999.

The students on the trip have been offered counseling and the staff accompanying them have been in close contact with the university's International Center, he said.

"The students decided to continue with their work on the trip because they believe it is what Wayne would have wanted," Basi said.

Since 2001, McDaniel has been working to license technology developed at the university and has negotiated licenses for many engineering technologies and has helped faculty startups become successful businesses, according to his online biography. He also taught courses as an adjunct engineering professor.

McDaniel researched cardiac electrical stimulation for more than 30 years and studied tasers and other electronic control devices before they were released to the public, the biography states. He was an investigator on more than $1 million in research funding and holds two patents. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering with a biomedical focus from MU.

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