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Professor, doctoral candidate dies

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Carla Buss

Carla Buss

Carla Buss, an emerging scholar in business management known for her kindness and work ethic, died of cancer Saturday. She was 36. 

Buss skillfully balanced her life as an adjunct professor at TCU and doctoratal student at the University of Texas at Arlington, said Wendy Casper, associate professor of management at UTA.

Five research projects, doctorate courses and a budding teaching career would overwhelm most people, Casper said. And yet, Buss never turned down an opportunity to learn.

Her ultimate goal was to be the best professor possible, Casper said.

Buss devoted many hours to preparing discussions and exercises for her International Management course, which she began teaching this spring at the Neeley School of Business, said Robert Greer the M.J. Neeley Professor of Management and chair of the Department of Management, Entrepreneurship and Leadership.

But her journey to the university began in Santa Maria, Brazil, where she was born on October 7, 1975. 

In 1999, while working on her master’s degree at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Buss met her husband, Leo Nicolao. They married on September 14, 2002.

Two years later, Nicolao and Buss moved to Texas. 

After earning a doctorate in marketing from the University of Texas at Austin, Nicolao began teaching at TCU in the fall of 2009 as an assistant professor of marketing, said George Low, associate dean of the Neeley School. A year earlier, Buss earned a doctorate in industrial engineering from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in 2008.

After the couple settled in Fort Worth, Buss began studying at UTA in 2010 for her second doctorate, this time in management. 

“She loved learning,” Nicolao said. “She loved knowing, and she loved teaching.”

Buss’s international background and passion for teaching made her an excellent match for the International Management course, Greer said.

“Once you started talking with Carla about anything intellectual, she would become very engaged in the topic,” Casper said.

Her intellectual curiosity was boundless, said Susanna Khavul, assistant professor of management at UTA.

“She was never satisfied with an answer,” Khavul, who had worked with Buss since 2010, said. “She tirelessly pushed the boundaries of her research.”

Khavul said that the two spent long hours in her office discussing new methods of research.

Despite her massive workload, Buss never turned down a friend who needed help, said Nicolao, who was at times baffled by his wife’s capacity to serve. Buss poured a huge amount of time into her doctoral studies but never lost touch with those around her.

“She was a loving person,” Nicolao said, “and that’s why everyone will miss her dearly.” 

Buss is survived by her husband, Leonardo Nicolao; mother, Lorena de Oliveria; and stepfather, Luiz Jose Varisco.

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