Dr. Mark Patterson (1956-2006) died Oct. 19 in his home in Corvallis after a four-year battle with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer.
Mark joined the Department in 1996 and almost immediately became an essential member of our teaching mission. Mark was extremely committed to the department, always willing to teach yet another course if the need arose. The diversity of courses he participated in both for the Biology Program and BPP over the past 10 years was truly amazing and include: BI 488/588 (Environmental Physiology of Plants), BI 306 (Environmental Ecology), BI 370 (General Ecology and a Distance Education component), BI 211 and BI 212 (Principles of Biology), BI 101 (General Biology); BOT 416/516 (Aquatic Botany), BOT 341 (Plant Ecology), and BOT 101 (Botany: A Human Concern). Mark was an exceptional educator. His special talents provided an active environment that challenged students to excel in the subject matter. He had a way about him that students couldn't resist; they had no choice but to engage in the learning process. I had the pleasure to observe Mark in the classroom perhaps more than most over the past 10 years. No matter how many times I sat in on one of his classes I always found myself smiling as I looked around the room and saw all the fresh young faces completely absorbed in his lecture. This big, burly man, with a booming voice easily commanded the attention of a 500 seat auditorium. As he walked around the room, he would stop for a moment, bend over and directly interact with one individual and then move on to the next student. Mark excelled in the art of providing a positive and stimulating learning environment for the students. His excitement and enthusiasm for the biological sciences was recognized and appreciated by his students; it was contagious. Mark was nominated, by his students, many times for the Loyd Carter Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching ( College of Science ) and was the recipient of this award in 2006.
Mark studied aspects of the ecophysiology of lichens, locally in Oregon as well as in Southeast Asia . He involved multiple undergraduates and one Masters student in his research program. He was interested in fire tolerance in lichens in the Willamette Valley and performed experiments measuring recovery of photosynthetic performance in a variety of lichen species after heating in the laboratory. In addition, he examined the combined effects of relative humidity and temperature on both photosynthetic performance and rehydration respiration. Mark traveled to Southeast Asia three times during his time at OSU, where he collaborated with Dr. Kansri Boonpragob from Ramkhamhaeng University in Bankok, and Dr. Phil Rundel from UCLA. They performed work both in Thailand , in Khao Yai National Park and in Cambodia . They were interested in differential photosynthetic performance of lichens as a function of their location in the tree canopy of diptocarp forests.
Mark earned his BS in Botany from California State Polytechnic University at Pomona and his PhD from UCLA. While at UCLA he met Virginia Weis, a fellow graduate student in biology. Mark and Virginia were married in 1992. In 1993 they moved to Aptos , CA and Mark began a postdoctoral fellowship at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View . Their daughter Elizabeth and son Will were born in nearby Santa Cruz . They moved to Corvallis in 1996 when both Mark and Virginia began positions at OSU. Virginia is a member of the Zoology Department. Mark was a devoted husband to Virginia and a loving father to Elizabeth and Will. He served as the primary caregiver to the children after school and during the summer and instilled in them a love of nature, photography, and spectator sports.
We miss Mark's wonderful smile, his warm hugs, his booming voice, and our discussion with him on pedagogy.
The Mark T. Patterson Fund has been established to support field biology instruction.