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Swoboda, Marian J.; Roberts, Audrey J. / Wisconsin women, graduate school, and the professions

Barnes, Bette; Dickie, Ruth
Chapter 2: Women in science: sketches of Sigma Delta Epsilon members,   pp. 13-20

Page 15

Many women have contributed to Sigma Delta Epsilon and to the further-
ing of the role of women in science. Some have been interested mainly in
search, others primarily in teaching, but all have been intensely and per-
sonally interested in the young students with whom they have contact.
Women in Science
Dr. Nellie Bilstad (1906-1974) received all three of her degrees from the
zoology department and stayed to teach courses in microtechniques, histology
and elementary zoology, and to become "the best teacher we have.. the
wisest adviser in the handling of undergraduates, and the heart and soul
the zoology laboratory," according to her faculty in 1942. Thousands
of stu-
dents, both undergraduate and graduate, remember her as one of the truly
fine teachers in the university. She was always available for extra guidance
and encouragement to students, and served as inspiration to young women
and as a warm and wise friend.
Dr. Pearl Claus Whitehead (1893-1975) also received three degrees at
the University of Wisconsin and worked in the zoology department, initially
research associate with Dr. Michael F. Guyer, and later as assistant professor,
teaching the laboratory course in cytology. She pioneered research projects
involving scientists from biology and medicine, whose knowledge of
biochemistry and microscopy of normal and cancerous cells could be integr-
ated. Through animal experiments, some understanding of the retarding ac-
tion of cancer chemotherapy agents was gained. She was a dedicated scientist
and a dedicated friend. She served as national SDE president in 1949.
Charter Member Emma Fisk (1892-1972) was an associate professor of
botany, teacher and adviser of students. From 1920 to 1963 she taught at
least one course in botany every semester except one when she returned to
Wellesley as a visiting professor. Her research dealt primarily with the
cytology and anatomy of selected economic plants and the effects of growth
regulators. Her special areas were plant anatomy and morphology but she
also taught elementary botany and other courses from time to time. She was
favorite adviser to undergraduate students, and a long line of students waited
in the corridor near her office door during every registration week. Among
those former students are more than fifty teachers and administrators now
UW-Madison. She served as advisor to numerous graduate students and spent
more time on doctoral committees than any other member of her department.
Women in Agriculture and Home Economics
On the agriculture campus of the University of Wisconsin were other
brilliant, devoted teachers, researchers and advisers to young women.
Abby Marlatt (1869-1943) came to the university in 1909 to organize
the department of home economics, and she served as director until her re-
tirement in 1939. Her specialties were housing and education, although she
had an almost equal interest in foods and nutrition. She laid the foundation
for the development of the strong graduate program in nutrition research
which was carried on by her students.
Marlatt was a tall, imposing woman who had little trouble being heard in
the large lecture hall or at the small conference table. Dr. May Reynolds
of her that "students and young faculty often didn't get beyond her
crusty ex-
terior. Underneath she was pure marshmallow. Many a scholarship fund grew
to adequate levels through the unheralded contributions from her pockets.

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