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Maria Davis Obituary

Maria Ragland Davis (AP Photo)
HUNTSVILLE, AL -- Dr. Maria Ragland Davis was an associate professor of biology at UAH. She joined the university in 2000 when Research Genetics, her previous employer, was sold.

Davis, 52, had a doctorate from North Carolina State University and studied molecular biology and plant genetics, according to Dr. Jack Fix, dean of the UAH College of Science.

In her faculty biography, Davis said, "My research has been to initially identify novel factors, proteinacious or chemical, which contribute to the fitness of the plant pathogenic fungus, Botrytis cinerea. ... The hypothesis that we are proposing is that the mechanism of pathogen attacks on host plants may be initially defined with the secretion of key proteins and chemicals that breach the plant cell wall. ..."

"Lately, she had been very excited about her research," Fix said. "She had a couple of very nice grants that had been funded, and she had tons of ideas."

"When (Research Genetics) got bought out, we had the opportunity to hire her," then-UAH provost Dr. Lewis Radonovich remembered Saturday. "Maria has just flourished in the last couple of years. She's had numerous research grants, a great publication record, numerous graduate students, and just done very well."

Radonovich called Davis "one of our most promising" faculty members and researchers.

"She was a fine, hard-working person," Radonovich said, "and she complimented (Biology Department Chairman Dr. Gopi Podila's) work quite well."

Carissa Alderton of Union Hill took Introduction to Biology from Davis last fall along with more than 100 classmates.

"It was a very challenging class," the 19-year-old pre-nursing student said Saturday night, "but I enjoyed the course.

"She was always on time," Alderton said of Davis, "and she was always prepared."

When Davis' death was confirmed Friday night, Alderton said she cried for her professor and her family.

Funeral arrangements:
Visitation: The family will receive friends at Progressive Union Missionary Baptist Church at 1919 Brandon Town Road N.W., from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
Funeral: Services will be held at noon Saturday at the church.
Burial: Valhalla Memory Gardens.

The family requests donations in Davis' memory to one or more university scholarships.

Donations to the University of Michigan's Multicultural Engineering Program can be sent to the attention of Ms. Lin Rockwell Cargo at the Executive Director Office of Advancement, University of Michigan College of Engineering, Robert H. Lurie Engineering Center, 1221 Beal Ave., Ann Arbor, Mich. 48109-2102.

Checks should be made out to the University of Michigan.

For credit card donations, contact Cargo at 734-647-7032 or by e-mail at lincargo@umich.edu.

Donations to North Carolina State University's A.M. Witherspoon Graduate Scholarship/Memory of Maria R. Davis can be sent to the attention of Jason Gipe, North Carolina State University Alumni Affairs, Campus Box 7503, Raleigh, N.C. 27695-7503.

Checks should be payable to North Carolina State University.

Gipe can be contacted at 919-515-0519 or at jason_gipe@ncsu.edu.

Credit card gifts can be made through the "giving" link at www.ncsu.edu. Select "other" for gift and specify the A.M. Witherspoon Graduate Scholarship. There is a space to note that the gift is in the memory of Maria Ragland Davis.

Information about donations to UAH will be announced.

Editorial obituary by The Huntsville Times staff, published in The Huntsville Times on February 15, 2010, and reprinted with permission.

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