Campus News

William L. Steinhart, First Linnean Professor of Biology

Story posted March 15, 1999


March 4, 1999, BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Professor William L. Steinhart has been appointed the first Linnean Professor of Biology at Bowdoin College.

The new position honors and supports the research of a biology faculty member, particularly one involved in the teaching of botany. Since joining the Bowdoin faculty in 1975, Steinhart has received numerous grants to support his research of human and plant viruses and has been instrumental in modernizing laboratories at the College.

"Bill is one of the founders of molecular biology at Bowdoin and in his time here has been a model of the engaged and productive Bowdoin scientist--he has been continuously active in his laboratory, often involving students in his research; he has been a force for rigorous academic standards; and he has been a steady advocate for curricular improvement," said Charles R. Beitz, Dean for Academic Affairs. "Bill has also been an effective leader in the Biochemistry Program, to which he's given great energy and imagination. He deserves this honor in every way."

Recently Steinhart has concentrated on plant physiology and tissue culture, specifically pertaining to orchids, which Steinhart has raised since he was a child. He has earned grants from the American Orchid Society and the Gloechner Foundation to study the use of genetic engineering to combat cymbidium mosaic virus in orchids.

He is also using DNA technology to identify historic strains of hopps, a topic that could be of interest to the brewing industry. Steinhart has served for several years on the Medical Advisory Committee for the State Board of Pesticide Control.

Steinhart believes that teaching and research should not be separate endeavors. He received a grant from the National Science Foundation that led to the modernization of the biochemistry and molecular biology laboratories in order to help undergraduates pursue research in these areas. Steinhart also coauthored a grant awarded by NSF's College Science Instrumentation program. Those funds went toward the purchase of a new scanning electron microscope for classroom and research use.

Steinhart's past research includes study of herpes simplex virus, which has been known to produce cancerous tumors in certain laboratory conditions. The Maine Division of the American Cancer Society several times has awarded Steinhart grants to support his research in this area. His inaugural lecture will be in the fall.

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