From the Archvies: The Influence of Great Teachers

By Doug McGinnis

WM asked Wabash archivists Johanna Herring and Beth Swift to identify some of the College’s best-known scientists of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Andrew Jackson Moyer ’22

Named to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Moyer was a microbiologist and mycologist whose discoveries provided the foundation for the industrial production of penicillin, saving thousands of lives during World War II, arriving just in time for the D-Day invasion.

David Cushman ’61
Cushman was co-winner of the prestigious Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award, one of the most coveted awards in medical science. Cushman and co-winner Michael Ondetti discovered captopril, the first drug designed to cure hypertension and now used by millions to treat hypertension and congestive heart failure.

John Merle Coulter (professor of botany, 1879-1891)
In 1872, Coulter joined the Hayden Expedition to Yellowstone as assistant geologist and became one of America’s leading botanists (see “The Last Adventurer-Naturalist”, page kk). He left Wabash to become President of Indiana University and ended his career as head of the Department of Botany at University of Chicago.

Joseph Nelson Rose, 1885
Internationally known botanist and meticulous researcher who made botanical explorations to throughout the Western U.S. and Latin America, Rose’s work set the standard in cacti botany. He became the first, full-time, professional botanist associated with the Smithsonian Institution and his book, The Cactacaea, helped make popular the little cactus plants now available for home decoration. As a tribute, three botanists named plants after him.
(visit http://www.nybg.org/bsci/herb/cactaceae1.html#Rose)

Mason Blanchard Thomas (professor of botany, 1891-1912)
Cornell University can thank Wabash for establishing its botany department! Thomas, a Cornell graduate, was widely known for his contributions in several fields of botany, but his deeper gift was his ability to inspire students. A succession of first-rate students went from Thomas’s classrooms at Wabash to Cornell for graduate study, and ten of those students eventually became the core of the faculty during the early years of the budding department.

Horace Hovey, 1853
A Presbyterian minister and the “father of American cave exploration,” Hovey was the first person to map Wyandotte Cave and was sent by Scribner’s, Scientific American, and Encyclopedia Brittanica to write about the newly discovered natural wonders of Mammoth Cave and Luray Caverns. His most famous book, Celebrated American Caverns is a “classic in Americana as well as in speleology,” and was an “unmatched popularizer of American caves.”

Edgar William Olive, 1893
The oldest living Wabash alumnus at the time of his death in 1971, Olive exemplified the liberal arts scholar, with a Ph.D. from Harvard and careers in science, teaching, accounting, real estate and citrus farming! Regarded as a pioneer scientist in research on the morphology of fungi, he became curator of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens in New York.

John Lyle Campbell, 1848
The Wabash professor with the longest span of continuous teaching in the history of the College, Campbell taught mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, and physics. He was the originator and secretary of the United States Centennial Commission from 1872 to 1876. The Centennial Exhibition he envisioned took place in Philadelphia in 1876—“a coming-out party for the United States of America; for the first time, the country’s industrial progress was put on display for the world to see.”

Edmund O. Hovey, professor and College co-founder
An ordained minister and co-founder of Wabash College, Hovey taught the first science classes at Wabash. It is mainly due to his persistence that the College developed its science departments to their present state of excellence. He used his own specimens to form the nucleus for the Hovey Museum of Natural Sciences, which he curated.