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Ruth Myrtle Patrick (November 26, 1907 – September 23, 2013) was an American
botanist Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Ancient Greek wo ...

botanist
and
limnologist Limnology ( ; from Greek λίμνη, ''limne'', "lake" and λόγος, ''logos'', "knowledge") is the study of inland aquatic ecosystems An aquatic ecosystem is an ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organ ...
specializing in
diatom Diatoms (''diá-tom-os'' 'cut in half', from ''diá'', 'through' or 'apart', and the root of ''tém-n-ō'', 'I cut') are a major group of algae Algae (; singular alga ) is an informal term for a large and diverse group of s. It is a grou ...

diatom
s and
freshwater Fresh water or freshwater is any naturally occurring liquid or frozen water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in ...
ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers organisms In biol ...
. She authored more than 200 scientific papers, developed ways to measure the health of freshwater
ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syst ...

ecosystem
s and established numerous research facilities.


Early life and education

Ruth Patrick was the daughter of Frank Patrick, a banker, and lawyer. Frank had a degree in botany from
Cornell University Cornell University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...
in Ithaca, New York, and was a hobbyist scientist. He often took Ruth and her sister on Sunday afternoons to collect specimens, especially diatoms, from streams. This sparked a lifelong interest in diatoms and ecology. Ruth Patrick recalls that she ''"collected everything: worms, mushrooms, plants, rocks. I remember the feeling I got when my father would roll back the top of his big desk in the library and roll out the microscope... it was miraculous, looking through a window at the whole other world."'' Ruth attended the Sunset Hill School in Kansas City, Missouri, graduating in 1925. Ruth's mother insisted that she attend
Coker College Coker University is a private university in Hartsville, South Carolina. It was founded in 1908 and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Coker's sports teams, nicknamed the Cobras, compete in NCAA Division II. Histo ...
, a women's school in Hartsville, South Carolina, but her father arranged for her to attend summer courses, through fear that Coker would not provide satisfactory education in the sciences. When she graduated in 1929, she then enrolled in the
University of Virginia The University of Virginia (U.Va. or UVA) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organisat ...

University of Virginia
, earning a master's degree in 1931, followed by a Ph.D. in 1934.


Career

Patrick's research in fossilized diatoms showed that the
Great Dismal Swamp The Great Dismal Swamp is a large swamp A swamp is a forested wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently (for years or decades) or seasonally (for weeks or months). Flooding results in oxyg ...
between Virginia and North Carolina was once a forest, which had been flooded by seawater. Similar research proved that the
Great Salt Lake The Great Salt Lake is the largest saltwater lake A salt lake or saline lake is a landlocked body of water that has a concentration of salt (chemistry), salts (typically sodium chloride) and other dissolved minerals significantly higher tha ...

Great Salt Lake
was not always a
saline lake A salt lake or saline lake is a landlocked body of water (Lysefjord) in Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official wr ...
. During the
Great Depression The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression An economic depression is a sustained, long-term downturn in economic activity in one or more economies. It is a more severe economic downturn than a economic recession, recess ...
, she volunteered to work as a curator of microscopy for the
Academy of Natural Sciences The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, formerly the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, is the oldest natural science research institution and museum in the Americas. It was founded in 1812, by many of the leading natural ...

Academy of Natural Sciences
, where she worked for no pay for eight years. She was payrolled in 1945. In 1947, she formed and chaired the academy's Department of Limnology. She continued to work there for many years and was regarded as a talented and outstanding scientific administrator, in addition to her other scientific contributions. In 1967, she founded Stroud Water Research Center in collaboration with W.B. Dixon Stroud and his wife Joan Milliken Stroud; this facility was located on the Stroud's property adjoining White Clay Creek in Avondale, Pennsylvania Patrick's work on the
Great Salt Lake The Great Salt Lake is the largest saltwater lake A salt lake or saline lake is a landlocked body of water that has a concentration of salt (chemistry), salts (typically sodium chloride) and other dissolved minerals significantly higher tha ...

Great Salt Lake
in the 1930s used the history of diatoms in the sediments of the lake to prove the lake was once a freshwater body of water, and established some solid clues as to what caused the shift to saltwater. In 1945 she invented the diatometer, a device to take better samples for studying diversity in water ecology. Patrick was a pioneer in the use of biodiversity to determine a body of water's overall health. Her work with both academics and industry giants like DuPont fostered an understanding of pollutants and their effect on rivers, lakes, and drinking water sources. Patrick was an advocate for clean water, including helping develop the guidelines for the US Congress Clean Water Act.
President Lyndon B. Johnson
President Lyndon B. Johnson
sought her expertise on water pollution, and
President Ronald Regan
President Ronald Regan
asked for her input on
acid rain Acid rain is a rain Rain is liquid water in the form of droplet Rain water flux from a canopy. Among the forces that govern drop formation: cohesion, Van der Waals force">Cohesion_(chemistry).html" ;"title="surface tension, ...
.


Awards and honours

Her work has been widely published and she has received numerous awards for her scientific achievements. A complete list is available on her institutional page. Highlights include: *
Eminent Ecologist Award The Eminent Ecologist Award is prize awarded annually to a senior ecologist in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the science of ecology. The prize is awarded by the Ecological Society of America. According to the statutes, the recipient ...
from the
Ecological Society of America The Ecological Society of America (ESA) is a professional organization of ecological scientists. Based in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a ...
in 1972 * John and Alice
Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement is an annual award for environmental science Environmental science is an interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic di ...
in 1975 * Golden Plate Award of the
American Academy of Achievement The American Academy of Achievement, colloquially known as the Academy of Achievement, is an American non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is ...
in 1975 * Fellow of the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, founded 1780, (abbreviation: AAAS) is one of the oldest learned societies A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization ...

American Academy of Arts and Sciences
in 1976 * Golden Medal of the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, Belgium, in 1978 * Honorary Lifetime Membership from the American Society of Naturalists in 1988 *
Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences The Benjamin Franklin Medal presented by the American Philosophical Society located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., also called Benjamin Franklin Bicentennial Medal, is awarded since 1906. The originally called "Philosophical Society" was f ...
in 1993 *
National Medal of Science The National Medal of Science is an honor bestowed by the President of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the Fed ...

National Medal of Science
in 1996 * A.C. Redfield Lifetime Achievement Award from the
American Society of Limnology and Oceanography The Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), formerly known as the Limnological Society of America and the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, is a Learned society, scientific society established in 1936 with ...
in 1996 * Mendel Medal from Villanova University (the university's highest honour), 2002 *
Heinz Award The Heinz Awards are individual achievement honors given annually by the Heinz Family Foundation. The Heinz Awards each year recognize outstanding individuals for their innovative contributions in five areas: Arts and Humanities; Environment; Hum ...
Chairman's Medal in 2002 The Ruth Patrick Science Education Center in Aiken, South Carolina, is named after her. The
Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography The Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), formerly known as the Limnological Society of America and the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, is a scientific society A learned society (; also known as a l ...
gives out a Ruth Patrick Award "to honor outstanding research by a scientist in the application of basic aquatic science principles to the identification, analysis and/or solution of important environmental problems." This botanist is denoted by the author abbreviation R.M.Patrick when citing a
botanical name A botanical name is a formal scientific name In taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specif ...
. On November 17, 2007, a gala was held in honor of. Patrick's upcoming 100th birthday at The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, PA. Notable guests included Governor of Pennsylvania
Ed Rendell Edward Gene Rendell (; born January 5, 1944) is an American lawyer, prosecutor, politician, and author. He served as the 45th Governor of Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2011, as chair of the national Democratic PartyDemocratic Party most often refers ...

Ed Rendell
. Dr Patrick received more than 25 honorary degrees. In 2009, Patrick was inducted into the
National Women's Hall of Fame The National Women's Hall of Fame (NWHF) is an American institution created in 1969 by a group of men and women in Seneca Falls (town), New York, Seneca Falls, New York. As of 2021, it had 303 inductees. Inductees are nominated by members of the ...
.


Personal life

Patrick was married twice. She retained her maiden name when writing scientific papers, at her father's request. Her husbands were Charles Hodge IV and Lewis H. Van Dusen Jr. With Charles Hodge IV she had one son. Charles was an
entomologist Entomology () is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is a ...

entomologist
and a direct descendant of
Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin ( April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simply the Founding Fathers or Founders, were a group of American revolutionary Patriots (also ...

Benjamin Franklin
. Patrick died at a retirement home in 2013. She was 105. As a tribute to her father and her childhood in
Kansas City, Missouri Kansas City (abbreviated KC or KCMO) is the largest city in Missouri Missouri is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of Stat ...
, Dr. Patrick left most of her library to the
Linda Hall Library The Linda Hall Library is a privately endowed A financial endowment is a legal structure for managing, and in many cases indefinitely perpetuating, a pool of financial Finance is a term for the management, creation, and study of money and i ...
at her death. These books focus on microscopy and microscopical observations.


References


External links


Patrick Center for Environmental Research
The Academy of Natural Sciences
Ruth Patrick, The Academy of Natural Sciences
{{DEFAULTSORT:Patrick, Ruth Botanists with author abbreviations 1907 births 2013 deaths American ecologists Women ecologists Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences American botanists American phycologists Women phycologists American women botanists National Medal of Science laureates Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences American centenarians Coker College alumni University of Virginia alumni People from Topeka, Kansas 20th-century American women scientists 20th-century American scientists Members of the American Philosophical Society Fellows of the Ecological Society of America Women centenarians Women limnologists American limnologists 21st-century American women