Ursula Moser Cowgill

Obituary
11 entries
  • "Dear Dr. Cowgill, You are an inspiration to all who knew..."
    - nancy whitfield
  • "My dear sweet beautiful friend Ursulla. You know how much i..."
  • "Even though I did not know you personally, Ursula, I know..."
    - Ellen
  • "I will miss you Ursula. You were a very kind friend, who..."
    - Kathleen White
  • "I'm glad you were born, Ursula. Love, Kendall"
    - Kendall Paul
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1927 - 2015
Ursula Moser Cowgill, 89, died November 27, 2015. She was a biologist and anthropologist who worked for Yale University, Dow Chemical Company and the University of Colorado during the mid-late 20th century. Included in her work are studies of agricultural practices in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, seasons of birth in human beings, the relationship between cultural gender bias and infant mortality, and the possible role of selenium in reducing mortality from AIDS. She also studied four pottos for many years publishing many observations on their behavior.

In 1956 Cowgill earned a PhD from Iowa State University. She subsequently worked as an analytical chemist for the limnologist G. Evelyn Hutchinson of Yale University. In the 1960s her first journal articles appeared, some published jointly with Hutchinson.

While working at Yale's Osborn Zoological Laboratory Cowgill and Hutchinson received three pairs of pottos from West Africa. Initially they lived in the laboratory with a number of other nocturnal prosimians that Cowgill and Hutchinson were studying. Eventually, in 1964, Cowgill took two pairs to live with her at her residence. One male, a sole survivor, was given to a male colleague in 1981.

Cowgill published a number of journal articles while they were with her detailing their anatomy, diet, reproduction, illnesses, recovery, and social behavior. These publications represent one of the few long-term studies of pottos in captivity.

Cowgill lived in Carbondale, Colorado until her death in 2015. In addition to her scientific research she was an activist with the American Civil Liberties Union and has been listed in Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities.

In addition to her extraordinary accomplishments, she was a humanitarian, egalitarian, and philanthropist. Let us continue to celebrate the remarkable life of Ursula Moser Cowgill.
Published on NYTimes.com on Feb. 29, 2016
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