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Caelan Baker Lapointe


caelan lapointe

1993 - 2022

Caelan Baker Lapointe, 28, died at his home in Boulder, Colorado, on February 13, 2022, from a recurrent brain tumor. He died peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by his family and his beloved cat Ezio. On his wrist was his ever-present Runner’s ID. Along with emergency contacts, the bracelet’s worn metal plate read, “Run, sleep, repeat until fast, injured, or insane.” That was Caelan. During his too-short time on this planet he was known to many, many people for his unconditional kindness, quiet brilliance, and free spirit.

While he will be dearly remembered for all the times he brought people together over craft beers, television shows, video games, sports, and computer modeling, he will also be remembered for the photos he posted to social media while running and skiing by himself. He regularly hit his cherished local running trails (#raverun) or nearby ski slopes (#eldora) before starting his workday, typically wearing his trademark vibrant clothing. Caelan was born May 14, 1993, in Lafayette, Louisiana, and although he lived there for only three years, his great appreciation for music and local cuisine was testament to his Cajun roots. He grew up in Hallowell, Maine, playing youth baseball and soccer while becoming an accomplished Suzuki violinist and fiddler.

During freshman year at Hall-Dale High School he came to love cross country running and track, and by senior year he was a captain of both teams. An example of his dedication and commitment was a front-page newspaper photograph of him running up one of Hallowell’s steep hills during an extreme blizzard, wearing a high-vis yellow jacket and ski goggles. He was a superb student and graduated in 2011 as salutatorian of his class. His friends recall his extraordinarily thoughtful, welcoming, and helpful nature both in classes and on teams. Caelan graduated from Union College, in Schenectady, New York, in 2015, with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Japanese.

He also ran cross country and track, earning “top rookie” in cross country his freshman year. He flourished academically while always helping others, and upon graduation he was recognized with the prestigious Josephine Daggett Prize, awarded annually by the entire college faculty to the senior considered to have the best character and conduct. While at Union he caught the travel bug, completing a mini-term on sustainable energy production in New Zealand and a term abroad in Japan. He returned twice to New Zealand, visited Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong, and various European countries, and had planned to ski in Japan in an upcoming winter.

In 2015 Caelan moved to Boulder to enter graduate school, where he developed a group of fun-loving friends who adored his energy, silliness, wit, and passion. He was awarded a coveted National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to support his research in computational engineering and received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 2020. Caelan was an exceptional computational engineer who pioneered the use of adaptive mesh refinement for simulations of wildland fires. His primary areas of expertise were computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and optimization, and he was an author of numerous scientific publications.

He was beloved by all who worked with him for his considerable technical expertise, his incredible work ethic, his mentorship and willingness to help others, and his clever puns and solver names, e.g., “CAATS” (Compressible Adaptive Adjoint Toolkit and Solvers). Caelan will be greatly missed by his colleagues and collaborators, but his work will continue as many others use the new CFD solvers he created. That Caelan loved cats was unmistakable even to strangers, thanks to his colorful cat-print attire. He even trained his cat to sit and shake hands, a ritual they shared daily before treats and meals.

Caelan is survived by his parents, Hilary Neckles and George Lapointe, brother Wesley Lapointe, grandmother Lee Lapointe, aunts and uncles Margaret and Russ Gold, Dan Hugos and Nancy Ziegler, Andy Hugos, Mike Hugos and Venetia Stifler, John Lapointe, Barbara and Jon Harman, Val Dicus-Diers and Paul Diers, and many cousins and their children. He was treasured by multitudes of friends across the country and around the globe who will miss him dearly. Caelan’s philosophy is best summed up on a mug he bought recently at the Carousel of Happiness in Nederland, Colorado, that reads “Don’t delay joy”. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Caelan B. Lapointe Memorial Graduate Scholarship at the University of Colorado to support students historically underrepresented in science and engineering.

Donations may be made online at or by check to the University of Colorado Foundation, P.O. Box 17126, Denver, CO 80217-9155, payable to the Univ. of Colorado Foundation, memo “Caelan B. Lapointe Memorial Graduate Scholarship Fund 0151785”. All are invited to attend a Celebration of Life for Caelan in late June 2022 in Boulder, Colorado. More details will be forthcoming. Please consider wearing bright, colorful, comfortable clothing – maybe even with cat prints – in Caelan’s memory.