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Pioneering Ecologist Dr. Ruth Patrick Dies

September 24, 2013 —  

Dr. Ruth Patrick, in her signature pith helmet, collecting organisms from a stream; circa 1970

Dr. Ruth Patrick, in her signature pith helmet, collecting organisms from a stream; circa 1970. Photo credit: ANSP Archives coll. 457

Dr. Ruth Patrick, a freshwater ecologist whose pioneering research on water pollution set the stage for the modern environmental movement, died Monday, Sept. 23. She was 105 years old.

Patrick, whose illustrious career at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia spanned nearly eight decades, was a world authority on freshwater ecosystems. She developed key methods to monitor water pollution and to understand its effects on aquatic organisms of all kinds. Recipient of the National Medal of Science, Patrick is credited, along with author Rachel Carson, as being largely responsible for drawing widespread attention to the health of the environment.

Patrick died at The Hill at Whitemarsh retirement community in Lafayette Hill, Pa., where she lived for the last several years. Before that, she was a longtime resident of Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood.

To read the full press release, please visit the Academy website

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