Obituary: Michael Scott Warren Oct. 10, 1966 – Feb. 17, 2023

On Friday, February 17, 2023, Michael Scott Warren, loving husband and father, passed away at the age of 56 from complications of cancer treatment. Mike was born on Oct. 10, 1966, in Sacramento, California to Thomas and Lois (Bahr) Warren. He grew up in South Dakota. He received degrees in Physics and Engineering & Applied Science from Caltech and a PhD in Physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Mike’s work spanned many disciplines, with the recurring theme of developing and applying advanced software and computing technology to understand the physical and virtual world. He initially expected to leave Los Alamos at the end of a summer graduate research fellowship, but he went on to live in Los Alamos for over 32 years. He was a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 25 years and worked as a Senior Software Engineer at Sandpiper Networks/Digital Island. He co-founded Descartes Labs and served as its Chief Technology Officer. He pushed the boundaries of what was possible in the field of supercomputing where he was awarded multiple Gordon Bell prizes, though his most coveted award was the Supercomputing Test of Time Award that he shared with his friend and colleague John Salmon. At the time, Mike said he could have never imagined the code they wrote 25 years prior would scale in performance by a factor of a million, and win one of the most prestigious awards in high performance computing. At Descartes Labs he showed the world what was possible by applying cloud computing to large scale remote sensing datasets, and inspired all those who worked around him.

On March 17, 2008, he married Cyndi Ann Wells. They have one daughter, Maia Ashley Warren. Although Mike and Cyndi both worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their paths intersected a few times there, they found each other through their dogs. They were handlers on Mountain Canine Corps Search and Rescue Team. Mike and his dog Jasper were phenomenal search partners and they participated in over 70 searches and hundreds of team training sessions. Mike also served as Planning and Operations Section Chief in the Incident Command system. He and his wife had many great adventures together in the outdoors when they were not on a search mission, too.

Mike was most happy when he was in a high performance situation himself, whether at work or at play, always striving to be the best at whatever he set his mind to. At work, he would pull all-nighters to accomplish his latest computing “feat of strength”. Outside of work, he enjoyed riding his bicycle and applied the same intention and scientific rigor to bicycle racing. He soon became the number 1 rider in the state in his category. In 2012, he won the 3-day Tucson Bicycle Classic overall by winning both the Time Trial and the Road Bike Race stages. His passion for playing the guitar and photography could have easily led to alternate career paths. Mike carried a guitar pick in his wallet in case the opportunity to play presented itself. He would surprise all those around him with his abilities when telemark skiing, picking up a microphone at karaoke, recalling obscure trivia knowledge, or playing poker and pool, which he often won.

He was a good father. His face would light up when talking about his daughter Maia.

When he was diagnosed with the rare cancer of Fibrolamellar, he applied scientific rigor to his treatment and worked to further the understanding of this cancer among researchers. He wrote a paper on Fibrolamellar that is planned to be published, and researchers are pursuing some of the ideas in the paper today. He privately fought valiantly for his life and was steadfastly optimistic.

Those who knew Mike will remember him as a kind and genuine person. He was always there to listen, help if he could, and return any compliment with his own. 

Mike was of keen intellect, a subtle sense of humor, and few words. He will be missed by many.

Please consider donating to the FibroFighters Foundation:

Mike was preceded in death by his grandmother Eva Warren, grandfather Floyd Warren, grandmother Vivian Grieben, and uncle Wesley Bahr.  He is survived by his wife Cyndi Wells, daughter Maia Warren, mother and stepfather Lois and Joe Newingham, father and stepmother Thomas Warren and Brenda Warren, and brother Randall Warren.

Mike’s family and friends are invited to a graveside burial service Monday, February 27th at Guaje Pines Cemetery in Los Alamos at 1 pm. A Celebration of Life will also be held at a later date.

The family has honored Rivera Family Funeral Home of Los Alamos with Michael’s care. Please feel encouraged to leave any messages for the family, pictures, and stories about Michael’s life at for the family to reflect on now and in the future.