Margaret Meg Stewart

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  • "As a Biology undergraduate in the mid-1960s, I took Dr...."
    - Michi Vonnegut
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    - Tammy Weingarten
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    - William Herrnkind
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    - Ann Winn (Mueller)
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Obituary

NEW SCOTLAND Dr. Margaret Meg Stewart, distinguished teaching professor Emerita at the University at Albany, passed away peacefully at her home on Beaver Dam Road on August 2, 2006, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Margaret McBride Stewart was born on the family farm in Guilford County, N.C., on February 6, 1927 to Mary Ellen (Morrow) and David Henry Stewart. Her parents, as well as her sister, Josephine Starbuck of Newton, Mass., predeceased her. Survivors include her husband, George E. Martin, mathematics professor emeritus at the University at Albany; and her brother, John M. Stewart, a renowned peptide chemist at the University of Colorado Medical School in Denver; as well as two nieces and two nephews. Meg graduated from Woman's College of the University of North Carolina (now UNC-Greensboro). After a master's degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she came north to work on a doctorate at Cornell University. In the fall of 1956, with a Cornell Ph. D. in hand, Dr. Stewart joined the biology faculty at the New York State College for Teachers at Albany (later called SUNY at Albany and now UAlbany). She officially retired in 1997 but was quickly reappointed to help develop the capstone of her university work, the emerging program in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Policy. A June 2004 proclamation recognized Meg's 12-year service as a citizen member of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission. For many years, she has played a leading role in the Eastern New York Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, which awarded her its Oak Leaf Award in 1997. The University at Albany gave her its Citizen Laureate award in 1987. This June, the Epsilon chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at UNC-Greensboro elected her as an alumna member in recognition of an extraordinary career as a scientist and university professor. In the scientific world, Meg was best known as a herpetologist, one who studies amphibians and reptiles. Among her many scientific publications is her landmark book Amphibians of Malawi. One African frog, which she first collected, was subsequently named for her (Phrynobatrachus stewartae) and has the delightful common name Stewart's puddle frog. She studied the mink frog of the Adirondacks, the frogs of Jamaica, and especially the endemic coqui frog of Puerto Rico. Her distinguished work on the coqui resulted in an honorary doctorate from the University of Mayaquez in 1996. In 1979, Meg became the first female elected president of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH). For excellence in service to the society, ASIH awarded Meg its Robert K. Johnson Award in 2005. In the same year, the society awarded Meg its highest acclaim, the Henry S. Fitch Award, for long-term excellence in the study of amphibians and/or reptile biology. In spite of all her honors, Meg felt her greatest achievement were her students. She had been a major influence in the lives of a great many students. In particular, she was an early role model for young female students. Her influence will be long lasting. Sincere thanks to Dr. Garbo and his nurses and to the Hospice people, especially Scheila and Antoinette. A memorial service will be announced in the fall. Gifts in Meg's memory may be made to The University at Albany Foundation with notation for the Margaret Stewart Biodiversity Fund and sent to Dr. Sorrell Chesin at the Foundation, UAB-201, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222.
Published in Albany Times Union from Aug. 8 to Aug. 11, 2006
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