Legacy of Ruth Witkus, Biology Professor Emerita, Lives On
Throughout her professional career at Fordham, Ruth Witkus, Ph.D., professor emerita of biological sciences, was a staunch advocate for improving courses and research in biological sciences.
“She was an excellent teacher and enjoyed her interactions with students,” said William B. Thornhill, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. “As recently as 2002, Drs. Witkus and Grace Vernon, professor of biology, offered a summer course for graduate students in the use of the electron microscope. She published research on the structure of cells from a variety of animals and bacteria using both scanning electron and transmission electron microscopes.”
Witkus, who died in May 2008 at age 89, was among the first crop of female professors at Fordham College at Rose Hill. Her presence in the department gave female students the confidence to compete in a traditionally male dominated
“She did it before women did it,” said Laura Coruzzi, Ph.D., GSAS ’75 and ’79, a patent attorney at Jones Day and chair of the firm’s life sciences practices. “She was a scientist before women were even in that space. There weren’t many Ruth Witkuses out there.
“She was such an amazing woman.” A faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences from 1944 to 1989, Witkus was the chair of the department from 1966 to 1978 and professor emerita from 1989 to 2008.