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Dr. Donald Davidson remembered

Posted on Feb 14, 2014
41 years of service to UW-Superior-Dr. Donald Davidson remembered
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Dr. Donald Davidson remembered

The University of Wisconsin-Superior campus community, alumni and friends mourn the loss of Donald Davidson, a retired Biology faculty member who recently passed away. For over 40 years, his passion was teaching students about biology, the environment and how to embrace it.

Donald retired from UW-Superior in 2007 and was an emeritus faculty member.

Dr. Ralph Seelke, professor in the biology department of Natural Sciences at UW-Superior worked alongside Donald for many years and holds him in high regard.

"Don was a kind and good man. He had both a passion for botany and a love for his students," said professor Seelke.

Dr. Donald Davidson started as a faculty member in Biology department back in September, 1965 and retired in August of 2007 a span of 41 years.

Seelke admired the passionate way Donald connected with students, faculty and staff. "I am not a taxonomist, but I can appreciate a good one. Don was a very gifted plant taxonomist (a scientist who identifies and classifies plants). One of my memories of Don is that you could go on a field trip with him and ask him about a particular plant. He not only would know what it was, common and Latin name, but could spend 5 minutes telling you about it."

Donald and his wife supported students by assisting in several different scholarship opportunities for them at UW-Superior:

· Donald and Ruthanna Davidson Botany Research Scholarship

· Eugenia Dorman Davidson Vocal Music Scholarship

· Dr. Emmett Davidson Transportation and Logistics Management Scholarship

· Dr. George K. Davis Biochemistry Scholarship

· Ruthanna Wood Davis Scholarship (Psychology)

Dr. Seelke said his former co-worker was dedicated to the subject and passing along that knowledge to students was his priority. He said, "In addition, Don was mentoring students who had an interest in Botany long before undergraduate research and mentoring were buzzwords on campus. Many of the students that he supervised went on to become successful professional botanists themselves."

Back in 2010 the University of Wisconsin-Superior named its herbarium for Dr. Donald Davidson, the retired biology professor who played a key role in building the archive of plant samples while educating thousands of students about botany.

A herbarium is a collection of plants that have been preserved and archived so scientists can study samples and understand a plant's geographic distribution. The Donald W. Davidson Herbarium contains samples of more than 6,000 plants, with each specimen entered into a digital database that is shared with a larger herbarium at UW-Madison.

UW-Superior's herbarium was begun in the early 1940s. During his 41 years as a UW-Superior faculty member, Davidson reorganized the collection and brought it online so more scientists could access its information. He enjoyed working with students, both through his classes and in the herbarium, where students such as Derek Anderson and Richard Gitar helped him to continually add samples to the herbarium and use the collection for research.

Back in 2010 at the dedication, he said, "I am humbled and grateful that my colleagues in the Department of Natural Sciences suggested naming the herbarium in my honor," Davidson said. "I have a deep love of botany, and I hope that the future generations of students and scientists who use the herbarium will benefit from my work and the work of others who have built this important archive."

In addition to his decades of teaching and research, Davidson and his wife Ruthanna over the years created five student scholarships in a variety of academic subjects.

He will be missed by many, but because of his dedicated work on campus spanning four decades, his impact here will never be forgotten.


News Contact: Tom Hansen | 715-394-8260 | thansen7{atuws}
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