Tag: professor emeritus

Michael LaMarca 1931-2017: An enthusiastic teacher and distinguished scientist

A Head shot of former Lawrence University biology professor Michael LaMarca.
Michael LaMarca

Former Raymond H. Herzog Professor of Science and Professor Emeritus of Biology Michael LaMarca passed away Feb. 9 of complications from a stroke. A resident of Rochester, Minn., where he made his home in retirement, he was 85.

A specialist in reproduction and developmental biology, LaMarca joined the Lawrence faculty in 1965 and taught with distinction until he retired in 1995. His career as a scientist and teacher was distinguished by his legendary commitment to the disciplined study of the living world. He was recognized with Lawrence’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 1983.

From the study of amphibians to the exploration of human reproduction, LaMarca guided students for 30 years in both the technical and ethical investigation of biological science. His enthusiastic teaching style impacted thousands of students, especially those he mentored through independent study, many of whom went on to distinguished careers of their own as doctors, researchers and educators.

He served as the scientific director of the in vitro fertilization program at Appleton Medical Center from 1985-95 and his guidance was critical to the impressive successes of northeast Wisconsin’s first such program. Under LaMarca’s tutelage, numerous Lawrence students were able to begin their own research careers there.

LaMarca’s own research earned him a place of influence and honor in the scientific community and took him to laboratories and research centers around the country, including Argonne National Laboratory, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Harvard University School of Medicine, among others.

A photo of former Lawrence University biology professor Michael LaMarca in the laboratory.
Michael LaMarca taught in the Lawrence biology department from 1965-1995.

A native of Jamestown, N.Y., LaMarca was the first member of his family to attend college, earning a degree in biology from the State University of New York at Albany. He spent four years in the Air Force during the Korean War, serving active duty stateside as a meteorological officer while achieving the rank of lieutenant. He went on to earn his Ph.D in zoology at Cornell University and spent two years teaching at Rutgers University before joining the Lawrence faculty.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Joan LaMarca, daughters Cathy Stroebel, Rochester, Minn., and Nancy Gordon, Eden Prairie, Minn., and four grandchildren: Ben, Hannah and Andy Stroebel; and Zach Gordon. He was preceded in death by his oldest daughter, Mary LaMarca.

The family has requested memorials be directed to the National Science Teachers Association or the National Academy of Sciences.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Retiring Chinese professor Jane Parish Yang honored for 24 years of service

As a scholar of Chinese language and literature, Jane Parish Yang was instrumental in expanding Lawrence University’s foreign language curriculum when she joined the faculty in 1991.

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Chinese Professor Jane Parish Yang will be honored as a retiring member of the faculty with an honorary master’s degree at Lawrence’s 166th commencement.

But it was her involvement with the long-standing hallmark of a Lawrence education that she considers a highlight of her teaching career.

“I really enjoyed teaching Freshman Studies because you’re working with your colleagues. And the training we do for it is wonderful,” said Yang, who is retiring this month after a 34-year teaching career, including the last 24 years at Lawrence. She will be recognized Sunday, June 14 with professor emeritus status and awarded an honorary master of arts degree, ad eundem, as part of Lawrence’s 166th Commencement Ceremonies on Main Hall green, which will be available via livestream.

“Teaching Einstein dampened my enthusiasm somewhat,” Yang added with a smile of her Freshman Studies experience, “but I loved teaching Shakespeare. We also taught ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ for several years and then had the conservatory perform the opera, which was wonderful. I taught Freshman Studies a total of 10 years and I’m so glad I did it.”

Yang came by her career in Chinese in part by serendipity. After graduating from Grinnell College with a degree in American Studies — she grew up a half block from the Iowa campus, which is also the alma mater of both of her parents, her grandfather and a daughter — Yang participated in a “5th year abroad” program thanks to some left over funds from a long-since discontinued program in China that Grinnell once ran.

“I went to Hong Kong, which was completely by chance,” said Yang. “And then I traveled in India and Europe and when I came back I decided to start studying Chinese.”

She began an intensive Chinese language class at the University of Iowa while pursuing a master’s degree.

“Unfortunately you can’t really learn Chinese in the middle of Iowa, so I went to Taiwan,” said Yang.

After studying Mandarin at Fu Jen Catholic University and Stanford University’s Chinese center, she returned to the states to complete her master’s in Asian Studies at Iowa and earn a Ph.D. in Chinese at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Yang split the ensuing decade among teaching appointments at National Taiwan University, Colby and Oberlin colleges and UW-Milwaukee before arriving at Lawrence to help launch its fledgling program in Chinese.Jane-Yang-with-student_newsblog

In addition to sharing her language expertise — Chinese is a four on the four-level scale of difficulty of foreign languages —Yang played a critical role in helping the upstart program gain traction by successfully writing more than $2.1 million in grant proposals. The subsequent funding she helped generate opened up opportunities for students and faculty alike for internships and study trips tours to China and other East Asian countries.

“Directing some of these programs and providing opportunities for field experiences to students as well as faculty was certainly a high point for me,” said Yang, who has led at least 10 student and/or faculty trips to Asia during her tenure at Lawrence and counts Xi’an, China as her favorite destination. “When I came, we were not very internationalized, but I think that’s changed a lot now.”

Yang, who co-founded the Wisconsin Chinese Language Association of Secondary Schools while at Lawrence, points with particular pride to a $1.5 million grant from the Freeman Foundation that supported more than a dozen separate trips abroad between 2001-2005, impacting the campus beyond just the Chinese and Japanese department.

“We were able to take so many people on those trips. I think we took half of the faculty who were here at the time,” said Yang. “The various groupings of students and faculty who went on all those different trips represented so many areas of the college, including the conservatory of music. Our expectations were not that you came back as an expert, but perhaps you could add something about East Asia to a course as some sort of comparison or reference. On that front I think we succeeded.”

“Directing some of these programs and providing opportunities for field experiences to students as well as faculty was certainly a high point for me. When I came, we were not very internationalized, but I think that’s changed a lot now.”
— Jane Yang

With the emergence of China as a world superpower, Yang believes it is imperative Americans understand the role that region of the world will play in the future.

“I don’t think everybody needs to start learning Chinese, but I think everybody should be aware of the importance of East Asia,” said Yang. “We’re going to be dealing with China and all of its relationships with its neighbors for years to come. We need to have a good understanding of Chinese culture.”

An opera lover and an avid swimmer  — she’s less than 80 miles shy of earning her 750-mile t-shirt through the YMCA’s Y Miler program — retirement won’t mean an end to teaching entirely for Yang, who is about to become a bicontinental resident of the planet.  Her husband is the founder of an institute for philosophy for children in Taipei. For the past two years, Yang has split time between Appleton and their home in Taiwan, where she’s been leading an adult reading group, exploring children’s and young adult literature written in English at the institute.

“I’ve been taking the reading group more in the direction of my interests lately, looking at memoirs,” said Yang, who spends spring and summer and part of the fall here, but escapes in the winter to the family retreat in the mountains in Taiwan. “This past winter I did ‘A Room of One’s Own.’ Sometimes we do a bilingual class where we look at the original text but also the Chinese translation. I’ll be there for five weeks later this summer and we’ll study ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’ along with the Chinese translation. It’s fun for me because I get to do a little bit of teaching.”

Regarding her formal recognition at this year’s commencement, Yang says she’s looking forward to receiving her new attire, trading her University of Wisconsin regalia for her Lawrence academic hood.

“It has been a privilege to be a faculty member at Lawrence for this long,” she said.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Robert Rosenberg 1926-2015: Chemistry professor mentored Lawrence’s Nobel Prize winner

Robert-Rosenberg_cap&gown
Chemistry Professor Robert Rosenberg spent 35 years on the Lawrence faculty.

One of Lawrence’s most distinguished teachers, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and former Robert McMillen Professor of Chemistry Robert Rosenberg, died Friday, April 3 in Milwaukee. He was 89.

Rosenberg spent 35 years on the Lawrence faculty (1956-91), specializing in physical chemistry of proteins and chemical thermodynamics. His research was supported by grants from National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and Research Corporation.

He was the author of the book “Principles of Physical Chemistry,” which was published by Oxford University Press, and co-author of the third and subsequent editions of “Chemical Thermodynamics,” originally authored by one of his Ph.D program professors at Northwestern, Theodore Klotz. In retirement, he wrote “Why Ice Is Slippery” for Physics Today, which proved to be his most popular work, quoted in a New York Times article, and in the Weekly Reader, while the original article was translated into Italian and Japanese.

In conjunction with former physics professor Bruce Brackenridge, Rosenberg created the novel course “The Principles of Physics and Chemistry,” a mathematically rigorous, calculus-based introduction to both physics and chemistry, spread over all three terms, that they taught collaboratively. They also co-authored a textbook of the same title.

Rosenberg’s scholarly interests extended beyond the laboratory into the arenas of societal concerns through public seminars on nuclear disarmament and environmental issues.

Well known and highly respected for being unfailingly courteous, Rosenberg encouraged his students to learn chemistry by often designing their own experiments, gently leading and probing them to think creatively, frequently responding to their questions by asking questions in return to hone their analytical skills. His clear, patient explanations of equations describing complex physiochemical phenomena became legendary.

Rosenberg_Steitz_newsblog
2009 Nobel Prize winner Thomas Steitz (left) was a protege of long-time Lawrence chemistry professor Robert Rosenberg.

One of his students, Thomas Steitz, went on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009, a development Rosenberg said at the time had him “walking on air” with pride.

His commitment to his students often extended well past their graduation, remaining an active mentor during the careers of many chemistry alumni. He enjoyed reconnecting with former students during Reunion Weekend. During his last two years, many former students wrote or came to visit, crediting him as a foundational influence in a number of distinguished careers.

Rosenberg was recognized for his teaching prowess in 1987 with Lawrence’s Excellent Teacher Award. In 1991, the year of his retirement, he was honored by the Sears-Roebuck Foundation with its Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award in recognition of his continued “concern for the individual student beyond the classroom, both as advisor and role model.”

Born in Hartford, Conn., Rosenberg earned his bachelor’s degree from Trinity College and his Ph.D. from Northwestern University. He spent time as a research associate at Catholic University of America and taught at Harvard University Medical School and Wesleyan University before joining the Lawrence faculty in 1956.

During his tenure at Lawrence, Rosenberg spent a year as an NSF Fellow at Oxford University and served as director of the ACM program at the Argonne National Laboratory for a year. After his retirement in 1991, he spent several years as an adjunct professor of chemistry at Northwestern University, where he organized a well received symposium in honor of Professor Klotz.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia in 2013, and a son, James in 1994. He is survived by a son, Charles, Milwaukee, a daughter, Margaret (Eric) Wilde, Bronx, N.Y., and two grandchildren, Emma Wilde and Nathaniel Wilde.

A memorial service celebrating Rosenberg’s life will be held at Lawrence later this spring on a day and time to be determined. In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested memorial donations can be made in Rosenberg’s name to Lawrence University, Northwestern University or the Nature Conservancy.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.