Dr. Ruth Patrick

Hometown LegendsDr. Ruth Patrick was born in November 1907 in Topeka, Kansas. She was raised in Kansas City, Missouri with her older sister. Her father was a lawyer whose interest in science included a hobby collecting microscopes. RuthÕs mother attended Bethany College in Topeka in the 1890s where, at that time, Ruth says, "you learned to sew, you learned to paint, but you didnÕt do anything really." Dr. Patrick earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Coker College in South Carolina. As a newlywed, she moved to Philadelphia and took courses at the University of Pennsylvania but ultimately earned her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia because of her special interest in diatoms.

Diatoms are single-celled algae with cell walls of silica. Their varied shapes, colors and ornamentation make them an interesting organism to study under the microscope. The abundance or lack of diatoms in a waterway helps ecologists and environmentalists determine the health of the waterway.

Dr. Ruth Patrick Hometown LegendsView Quicktime clips from the program:

On her longevity »

On being a pioneer »

On uses for diatoms »

On determining the Great Salt Lake was freshwater »

On beginning her collection of Diatoms »

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