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August 17, 2006

UAlbany Mourns the Loss of Meg Stewart, Renowned Biologist

Meg Stewart
 

Margaret "Meg" Stewart

Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences Margaret "Meg" Stewart passed away on Aug. 2 after battling pancreatic cancer. Stewart was known for a lifetime of dedication to science, to the University, and to biological conservation. An outstanding teacher who lectured in many different courses, she was particularly interested in mentoring female students. Her graduate trainees are themselves a distinguished group of scientists and academics. Despite her advancing illness, she continued to attend student seminars and thesis defenses until very recently.

Known internationally for her studies of amphibians and reptiles, Stewart joined the biology faculty of the University at Albany in 1956. While she officially retired in 1997, Stewart remained an active presence on campus as founding director of the Graduate Program in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Policy.

Associate Professor George Robinson of the Department of Biological Sciences said, "She spent a lifetime doing the difficult things that others shirked, and her fierce Scots integrity stands out in all her accomplishments."

Stewart was honored in June 2004 with a proclamation honoring her 12 years of service as a member of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission. She played a leading role in the Eastern New York Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and was awarded the Oak Leaf Award in 1997. Stewart was the recipient of the University at Albany's Citizen Laureate Award in 1987. In June, the Epsilon chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at UNC-Greensboro (her undergraduate alma mater) elected her as an alumna member in honor of her extraordinary career as a scientist and University professor.

Stewart wrote the landmark text Amphibians of Malawi. One African frog, which she first collected, was later named for her (Phrynobatrachus stewartae) and is known as Stewart's puddle frog. She also studied the mink frog of the Adirondacks, the frogs of Jamaica, and the coqui frog of Puerto Rico. Her distinguished work on the coqui resulted in an honorary doctorate from the University of Mayaguez in 1996. In 1979, Stewart became the first female elected president of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH). The ASIH awarded her its Robert K. Johnson Award in 2005 for excellence in service to the society. The same year, she received the society's highest award, the Henry S. Fitch Award, for long-term excellence in the study of amphibians and/or reptile biology.

Survivors include her husband, George E. Martin, mathematics professor emeritus at the University at Albany; and her brother, John M. Stewart, a renowned peptide chemist at the University of Colorado Medical School in Denver; as well as two nieces and two nephews.

A memorial service will be announced in the fall. Gifts in Stewart's memory may be made to The University at Albany Foundation with notation for the Margaret Stewart Biodiversity Fund and sent to Sorrell Chesin at the foundation, UAB-201, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany, N.Y. 12222.

 

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