Ruth Patrick, a Pioneer in Science and Pollution Control Efforts, Is Dead at 105

Ruth Patrick, a pioneer in studying the health of freshwater streams and rivers who laid the scientific groundwork for modern pollution control efforts, died on Monday in Lafayette Hill, Pa. She was 105...

Dr. Patrick, an adviser to presidents and the recipient of distinguished science awards, was one of the country’s leading experts in the study of freshwater ecosystems, or limnology. She achieved that renown after entering science in the 1930s, when few women were able to do so, and working for the academy for eight years without pay.
“She was worried about and addressing water pollution before the rest of us even thought of focusing on it,” James Gustave Speth, a former dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, said in an e-mail message.
Dr. Patrick built her career around research on thousands of species of single-cell algae called diatoms, which float at the bottom of the food chain. She showed that measuring the kinds and numbers of diatoms revealed the type and extent of pollution in a body of water. Her method of measurement has been used around the world to help determine water quality...


Margaret Badore, Design / Green Architecture, September 3, 2013
This article is the first of a series examining the risks associated with spray polyurethane foam.