Alice Goldsby

Alice Goldsby

Dr. Alice Ingham Goldsby, Associate Professor Emerita of Natural and Applied Sciences (Microbiology), died on June 19, 2007, after a brief illness. She is survived by cousins, Evelyn Henderson and Lea Rawlinson of Georgia and Major George W. Cherry of Virginia.

Alice was born in Charlestown, West Virginia, on December 4, 1919. Her childhood and youth were spent following her father’s career moves from one southern state to another, in the process acquiring a southern accent and a taste for mint juleps that she never lost, even after nearly 60 years of living in the North Country.

She earned her baccalaureate degree in biology and English from Lynchburg College in Virginia in 1942 and then worked for two years at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia, as a research assistant in bacteriology and parasitology. Although discouraged from pursuing a degree in chemistry by a faculty member who thought the field to be inappropriate for a woman, she persisted in her goal of becoming a professional scientist. In 1944 she accepted a position as a parasitologist and veterinary assistant at North Dakota State University in Fargo. Her job there took her all over the state working with farmers and veterinarians, experiences that were the subject of many of Alice’s tales of driving in North Dakota weather and vaccinating sheep. This was a formative experience because she loved her work and decided to pursue graduate science training, taking a sabbatical leave to complete a master’s degree in zoology from Utah State University in 1952. In 1953 she moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where she worked briefly for American Scientific Laboratories before beginning her doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in veterinary sciences and pathology. Her doctoral dissertation, which she completed in 1962, was on Chemical and Bionomical Factors Influencing Swine Nematode Populations. Those who knew UW-Madison appreciated the story Alice told of how her doctoral research, which necessitated toting pig entrails from Oscar Mayer to the lab, got her a coveted on-campus parking space. In 1958, while continuing to write her dissertation, she became the head of the parasitology department of Jensen-Salsbery Laboratories in Kansas City, Missouri. And in 1963, she accepted a research scientist position at Loyola University in Chicago.

The time from the beginning of her work at North Dakota State University through her doctoral studies and position at Loyola University was a very productive period of research resulting in 49 published research papers in such journals as the Journal of Parasitology, Veterinary Medicine, the Canadian Journal of Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Science, Cornell Veterinarian, and North American Veterinarian.

In 1964, when Dr. Goldsby decided to focus her talent on the next generation of scientists, she accepted a faculty position at the University Center-Green Bay Campus, where she received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 1966. When the new four-year University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus opened in 1968, she became a member of its founding faculty. After 26 years of service, she retired as Associate Professor Emerita in May of 1990.

At the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where she taught microbiology and other sciences courses, Dr. Goldsby was known for her devotion to undergraduate and graduate students who, like her, had a passion for science. As then Dean Donald Larmouth noted in his support of her emeritus status, “Dr. Goldsby has shown a singular devotion to her students which has taken many forms, perhaps most significantly in the large number of independent studies and graduate thesis projects with which she has been involved…she has been responsible for sparking an interest in microbiology and related studies for many of our students in the life sciences. While some would make laboratory science esoteric and distant, she has made it accessible and exciting…” Many students remember her with great affection and appreciation for the encouragement she gave them to pursue their own careers in the sciences. The fact that her students have gone on to enjoy distinguished careers in science, medicine, and education is a tribute to her talent and dedication and to her insistence upon the highest standards of science education.

Former students June Dobberpuhl and Dr. Melanie R. Maas are representative of the many who valued Dr. Goldsby’s generosity with her time, talent, and resources. June appreciated the times they got together to talk about science, the environment, and life in general--in Madison in Alice’s last years and earlier in Green Bay, where Alice always offered her a place to stay whenever work brought her back to town. Melanie, who graduated from UWGB with a B.S. in Ecosystems Analysis with a concentration in Biology in 1972, remembers that: “As a freshman at UW-Green Bay Center I indicated an interest in microbiology as a career choice and after that point Dr. Goldsby took a special interest in the growth and development of all aspects of my career. Personally, the most influential aspects of her mentorship were the excursions to professional meetings. Dr. Goldsby would load several students into her car, and we would take off for far-flung meetings across the country. During these trips I observed areas of the country I had never seen before and learned about their ecology from Dr. Goldsby’s vast store of knowledge. One was a trip to Philadelphia for the meeting of AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), which was always held between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Alice took two students to this meeting; and along the way we spent Christmas at an old friend of hers in Lynchburg, Virginia (the home of Dr. Goldby’s alma mater) and had an old fashioned Virginia Christmas dinner complete with a Virginia baked ham. During this trip Alice gave us two students the use of her car so we could explore the Blue Ridge Mountains. We also stopped at Colonial Williamsburg and received a history lesson from Alice. At the meeting I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Paul Ehrlich (The Population Bomb) and Dr. Margaret Mead. Seeing all those famous scientists and listening to them debate scientific issues had a huge impact on my academic goals. This was my first professional meeting and after attending it, I decided that obtaining a Ph.D. in microbiology was my ultimate goal. This goal was fulfilled in 1979 when I received my Ph.D. in Biology/Ecology from Utah State University. Due greatly to the mentoring and support of Dr. Alice I. Goldsby throughout my career, I continue to have a successful and rewarding career in microbiology.”

Dr. Goldsby was supportive of all interested students, especially returning adult students, women, and minority students, who she thought needed some extra encouragement to study science. In part because of her own experience as one of a very few women in the sciences and in part in response to the requests by women students, she developed a course on women in the sciences and devoted energy and time to the women and science projects of the UW-System.

She often said that she liked working with the “sixties” students because they raised new questions about who should do science and what kind of science should be done. Particularly important to her were the questions about the environment that came up at that time. The new field of environmental science would become the focus of her own teaching, research, and service for the rest of her life. It even shaped the way she looked at her own death. In a 2003 statement, Alice requested that her body be cremated so that it might quickly be “…recycled many times, adding to diversity, and hopefully the world will be greener, adequately wet and filled with people who are bent upon betterment of all living things rather than dominating and belittling the poor and weak of the world.”

Her lifelong attention to the environment, animals, and veterinary medicine was reflected in her life outside the laboratory and the classroom. She was known as a person who would adopt stray animals, nurse them back to health, and give them a good home. Strays--four-legged and two-legged--who found their way to Alice’s house were fortunate indeed.

Lynn Walter


B.A. (1942); M.S. (1953) Utah State, Ph.D. (1963) UW-Madison