The University of Missouri adjunct professor who died in Thailand while helping to lead a winter-break study program died of natural causes and no students were ever in danger, according to a blog documenting their trip.
Wayne McDaniel, 64, associate director of the Office of Technology Management and Industry Relations and an adjunct engineering professor, died Friday while in the Phi Phi Islands. The islands are an archipelago off the west coast of the Malay pennisula.
"Wayne has gone from paradise on earth (Phi Phi Island) to yet a greater paradise," the blog post from an unidentified author states. "I will not go into the specifics of what happened, but I can assure you that it was from natural causes. The students were never in any danger of any kind."
The study trip to Thailand, a program that has been in existence for 20 years, takes students to mangrove swamps, wildlife areas and the Phi Phi islands for scuba diving to study coral wreaths. There are 15 students on this year's trip, MU spokesman Christian Basi said Friday, with three faculty and staff, including McDaniel, as study leaders. The trip began Dec. 26 and the group is due back Sunday.
"By now, most of you know about the unspeakable tragedy that has darkened our program," the blog states. "These have been some of the saddest days of my life."
The university is still working to gather and confirm the details of McDaniel's death, Basi said Monday.
The itinerary for the trip, which is offered by the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, was for the group to spend a week in the Phi Phi islands.
"I know Wayne well enough to know that he wouldn't want us to dwell on our loss, but to press on and enjoy life as fully as he did... pursuing what we love," the blog states. "And so, we continue our Thailand program."
The faculty leader of the trip is Robert Sites, professor of entomology, who has taught the study abroad course since its inception in 1999.
McDaniel's main position at the university was working to negotiate and license technology developed at MU and work with faculty startups to help them become successful businesses, according to his online biography.
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.