|Her graduate students and the Botany Department
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Honored by her graduate students
Lois Hattery Tiffany was born to Emma Blanche (Brown) and Charles Raymond Hattery on March 8, 1924. Her childhood years were spent on a farm in central Iowa near the small town of Collins. Her parents lovingly supported and encouraged her scholarly ways and independent spirit. At a time when college degrees were not pursued by women, she entered Iowa State University. After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in 1945, she entered an advanced degree program at Iowa State in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology. Under the tutelage of Dr. J. C. Gilman she majored in mycology and received an M.S. in 1947 followed by a Ph.D. in 1950.
In May 1945, she married Fremont Henry "Hank” Tiffany. They were to have three children-Jean, Ray, and David. Determined to continue her academic pursuits, she had to face the challenge of balancing a career and being a wife and mother. The early years in academics were difficult ones. She now can look back on the dark ages of unabashed sexism on the part of some of the university faculty and staff that blighted the first 20 years of her career. One faculty member gave her a "B" grade in a graduate course. He told her she had earned an "A" by having the highest score in the class but it was not appropriate for a woman to receive an "A” in his course. This was symptomatic of the many instances when she had to work harder, be brighter, wait longer for promotion, teach a heavier load, and do it all without letting the continuing injustice break her spirit.
Dr. Lois Tiffany is a tenacious and wise person. She understood that the price of being able to teach students, serve students, and continue her research was thick skinned patience. The results are both monumental and obvious. During her tenure at Iowa State, beginning in 1950 as an instructor and culminating as chair of the Department of Botany from which she may retire in 1996, she inspired thousands of students, embarked on a career of service that has touched all of Iowa and the world in many ways, and initiated a broad range of research efforts launching 34 graduate students and bringing national and international recognition to her efforts.
Among her honors are many firsts including being the first woman board member of the Iowa Academy of Sciences, the first woman president of the Iowa Academy of Sciences, the first woman member (with Charlotte Roderuck) of the Osborne Club, the first person to win the Iowa Governor’s Science Medal for Teaching, the first person to win the Mycological Society of America William Weston Award for Teaching, and first Distinguished Veishea Professor. In 1991, she was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame and in 1993 was voted Iowa Woman Faculty member of the year by the Iowa Chapter of the American Association of University Women. In 1994, she became the first woman scientist in the college of Liberal Arts and Sciences to be named Distinguished Professor.
Dr. Tiffany's many teaching awards and medals reflect her dedication to students. Her vast knowledge of mycology and botany has been enthusiastically and expertly presented to students at all levels of academic training from grade school children to university graduate students. She also has included the citizens of Iowa on her field trips, mushroom walks, prairie walks, and spring wildflower trips. Her rigorous graduate level mycology course is her national trademark and the best graduate level mycology course in the nation. Over the years, her favorite course probably was field botany, an elective for non botany majors. Before she began teaching it, the bedraggled field course struggled for survival and was scheduled to be dropped. When Dr. Tiffany learned of this, she volunteered to teach it although she already had the heaviest teaching load in the department. Today this popular course often has more than 20 sections and is filled to overflowing each academic year.
Dr. Tiffany’s record of service is as magnificent as her teaching. Most significant and most important to the university is her more than 50 years of leadership in bringing women into full acceptance in the field of science. She swallowed hard when she witnessed the actions of unknowing or uncaring members of the university and then went back to work doubly motivated. She began as a novelty in the eyes of many faculty members and grew to become one of the most respected and most recognized faculty members of Iowa State University. All of this without stridency and without the availability of grievance committees, affirmative action, or diversity emphasis. Now almost half of Iowa State University botany graduate students are women.
Dr. Tiffany’s research career began auspiciously in graduate school. In her work with the fungus Colletotrichum truncatum she discovered that there was delayed sporulation, a phenomenon previously unreported. Dr. Gilman, her major professor, saw the significance and insisted she be sole author of a paper published in 1950. In 1983, Dr. E.S. Luttrell, an eminent mycologist, reminded the American Mycological Society of the significance of this foundation paper, published by a young but very insightful graduate student 33 years earlier. Since that first paper, her research efforts have culminated in the authorship or coauthorship of more than 80 journal articles on a variety of mycological topics. Her work on diseases of corn and soybeans has been of vital importance to the people of Iowa and the nation, as well as to the study of mycology. Her wide range of mycological interests has led her to examine and to document diseases of prairie plants; to survey the fungi of Big Bend National Park; and in association with Dr. Donald Huffman and Dr. George knaphus, both to conduct a 10-year study on morels and false morels in Iowa and to publish the book Mushrooms and Other Fungi of the Midcontinental United States.
In summary, Dr. Tiffany is the “Renaissance woman” of mycological research. She has made scholarly contributions in each of the major groups in the fungus kingdom. With her selfless attitude, she senses the real need in the field of mycology and the needs of Iowa and of the nation. A lifetime of responsible scholarship dating back to her first trip to the “Brain Derby” in 1938 has developed a remarkable thought machine. Iowa State University is unlikely to again see any scholar who has mastered an entire kingdom of living organisms and who has shared her knowledge so generously.
It is particularly significant that 21 of Dr. Tiffany’s 34 graduate students have been women. Many of us now in the middle of our own research careers appreciate the time she took to train us and to instill in us an understanding of the importance of conducting quality research. Unlike most professors at major universities who demand or expect students to work on topics that interest the professor, Dr. Tiffany allows her students the latitude to choose topics of interest to them.
It is with gratitude and admiration that her former graduate students listed below dedicate this paver for the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics Plaza of Heroines to honor our firend and mentor, Dr. Lois Hattery Tiffany.
Ms. Floris Dawson
Dr. Audrey Wacha Gabel
Ms. Susan Jones Grant
Dr. James D. Haynes
Ms. Ellen Joyce Henry
Dr. Maren Klich
Ms. Judy Levings
Ms. Judith Ann Helin Mathre
Dr. Michael R. McGinnis
Dr. Dacid F. Millie
Dr. Kayleen A. Niyo
Dr. Christine Pinello
Ms. Jean Potter
Dr. John L. Richard
Dr. Judy F. Shearer
Dr. Karen Snetselaar
Submitted on 12/13/94
"Lois Hattery Tiffany, PhD
Distinguished Professor, Chair
ISU Department of Botany
BS 1945 MS 1947 PhD 1950 ISU
Eminent Mycologist, mentor, friend,
her graduate students honor a pioneer whose dedication, tenacity, warmth, and independent spirit have inspired her many students, fellow mycologists, and academic peers"
Honored by the Botany Department
Fifty-seven years ago, a freshman high school girl from Collins, Iowa, the daughter of Charles Hattery and Blanche Brown Hattery, made her first trip to participate in the "Brain Derby" at the University of Iowa, Iowa City. She hadn't been that far east before. But that trip was the beginning of a remarkable career of scholarship which was to carry her to Iowa City for three more top-level competitions in the "Brain Derby" and then to a 54-year association of scholarship with Iowa State University. Included in her accomplishments were three degrees (B.S.-1945, M.S.-1947, Ph.D.-1950) and becoming the first woman scientist in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to be awarded the title Distinguished Professor. Now the senior member of the entire Iowa State University faculty, she can look back on a career which has inspired thousands of students on a career of service which has touched all of Iowa in many ways and a broad range of research efforts which have launched 36 graduate students and brought national recognition to her efforts. She can also look back on the dark ages of unashamed sexism on the part of some of the University and faculty which blighted the first 20 years of her career. She had to work harder, be brighter, wait longer for promotion, teach a heavier load, and do it all without letting the continuing injustice break her spirit.
Dr. Lois Tiffany is a tenacious and wise person. The wisdom clearly indicated that the price of being able to teach students, serve students, and continue her research was thick-skinned patience. The results are both monumental and obvious. She became the:
1. First woman president of the Iowa Academy of Science (1977)
2. First woman president of the Osborne Club (1984)
3. First person to win the Governor’s Science Medal for Teaching (1982)
4.First person to win the Mycological Society of America William Weston award for teaching (1980)
5. First Distinguished Veishea Professor (1993)
6. First woman scientist in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to be awarded the title Distinguished Professor (1994)
Her research has spanned the entire range of the fungus kingdom. The research projects which have received special attention include Midwestern mushrooms, aflatoxin studies of both corn and soybeans, the morel survey, prairie plant diseases and her first love--the developmental morphology of the ascomycetes. She is the continuing heart and soul of Botany Club, which inspired open house displays and produced gourmet meals over open campfires for forty years.
Her determined, quiet competency convinced many that women had a well-deserved place in the halls of science. Her legacy to women scientists is a clearer path through the academic forest and assurance that a woman can be a first-class scientist and will be recognized for it.
Submitted on 7/1/96
Lois H. Tiffany