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Jonathan Byrnes, MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics senior lecturer and visionary in supply chain management, dies at 75

A cherished colleague, Byrnes left an “immense” legacy as a key member of MIT CTL’s education programs for more than 30 years.
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Headshot of Jonathan Byrnes outdoors
In 2021, Jonathan Byrnes endowed the Jonathan Byrnes Prizes for Academic Distinction and Leadership.

Jonathan L.S. Byrnes, a distinguished senior lecturer at the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL), passed away peacefully on May 7 after a long battle with cancer, leaving behind a legacy of profound contributions to supply chain education, industry, and the MIT community. He was 75 years old.

“Jonathan was not just a brilliant mind in supply chain management,” reflects Yossi Sheffi, director of CTL and the Elisha Gray II Professor of Engineering Systems. “He was a cherished colleague who had been a part of CTL for over half its existence. His impact on our community and the field of logistics is immense.”

Byrnes dedicated over three decades to teaching and shaping the future leaders of supply chain management (SCM). He authored over 200 influential publications and guided thesis work for numerous students and researchers. In 2021, Byrnes endowed the Jonathan Byrnes Prizes for Academic Distinction and Leadership, awarded each spring by CTL to a residential and a blended SCM master’s student who demonstrate, in Byrnes’s own words, "both a strong academic record (but not necessarily the strongest), linked with a strong contribution to student life."

Byrnes made a positive impact on countless MIT students. In 2019, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Master of Engineering in Logistics (MLOG)/SCM Program, several hundred alumni were asked to identify their most memorable class. Byrnes’s course, 1.261J - ESD.261J - 15.771J (Case Studies in Logistics and Supply Chain Management), was most frequently cited. Other anecdotal accounts and alumni surveys perennially note the course as their favorite and most highly recommended for its impact and influence on students’ careers.

Byrnes fostered a collaborative and discussion-oriented learning environment — a highly valued and sought-after experience of on-campus learning. “He was a gentle man, but was always so vigorous and energetic in class,” remembers Austin Saragih, MIT PhD student in transportation and a graduate research assistant at the MIT Megacity Logistics Lab, and a 2021 Byrnes Prize recipient.

Byrnes’s passion and influence extended beyond the realm of academia. He served on the boards of several companies, leaving an indelible mark on industry practices, and he co-founded Profit Isle Inc., revolutionizing profit analytics and acceleration.

Born in Lexington, Massachusetts, Byrnes earned his MBA from Columbia University in 1974 and his doctorate in business administration from Harvard University in 1980, where he served as president of the Harvard Alumni Association.

He is survived by his wife, Marsha (Feinman) Byrnes; sons Dan and Steve; daughter-in-law Nicole Ledoux; grandchildren Edison, George, and Adrian; and sister Pamela Byrnes and her husband Rick Jacobsen. He is predeceased by his daughter-in-law, Kristin Szatkiewicz Byrnes.

Remembrances may be made to Dana-Farber Cancer Center in gratitude to oncologist Toni Choueiri, or to the Experimental Model of Human Sarcoma Fund.

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