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David Wellington Borst Jr. ’69

A picture of David Borst Jr.

David Wellington Borst Jr. ’69, September 27, 2010, in Winter Springs, Florida. Dave spent five years pursuing an undergraduate degree. Arriving at Reed in 1964, he was split between a love of classical string bass and his interest in biology. He also took an interest in radio. “He loved being the manager of KRRC,” wrote his son Douglas T. Borst ’07, who provided the details for this memorial. Records for the management of the radio station were found mixed among Dave's notes for Biology 110. After two years at Reed, Dave moved to Vienna, Austria, to study string bass. After another two years of study there, political tensions and changing interests brought him back to Reed to major in biology. There he rejoined the company of biology professors Bert Brehm [1962-93], Frank Gwilliam [1957-96], and Laurens Ruben [1955-92]. Brehm recalled: “I remember David for his fine work in my class, but mostly from conversations about music or science as a future career.” After returning from Vienna, Dave told Brehm that music would always be an important part of his life, though not a career focus. Said Brehm, “I remember numerous similar conversations: science, graduate school, medical school, on the one hand; music, art, dance, theatre, on the other. What better evidence of a lifelong liberal education?” Dave went on to attain an MA in zoology and a PhD in biology from UCLA. His postdoctoral work was with Howard Bern at UC Berkeley, “a very distinguished endocrinologist and one of my professors and a good friend,” Gwilliam noted. Dave was assistant professor at the University of Connecticut, and, in 1985, he accepted a position as a professor of biology at Illinois State University. Near the end of his tenure at Illinois, he was named Distinguished Professor, the highest honor the university bestows. He was actively involved in research focused on growth and development in insects and crustaceans, and maintained a lab at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Gwilliam said, “Our paths crossed at the Marine Biological Laboratory a couple of times and I heard about him through my membership in the American Society of Zoologists. He was a good scientist and a good guy. I'll miss him.” In 2005, having sent a son to Reed and a daughter to Oberlin, Dave accepted a position as chair of the biology department at the University of Central Florida and moved to Winter Springs. He was actively involved in teaching there until shortly before his death. During his career, he was appointed a Fogarty International Fellow at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, and was a member of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, the Entomological Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He loved his family and science, and was a devoted teacher. He remembered Reed fondly and regaled friends with stories of library stairwell haircuts, the Doyle Owl, and studying for humanities while skiing on Mount Hood. Survivors include his wife, Susan True Wardwell Borst;daughters Allison and Stacy; son Doug, two grandchildren; and two sisters.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2011

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