Ruth Patrick was born in Topeka, Kansas and grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She received her Masters degree and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. She is presently Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and she is occupant of the Francis Boyer Chair of Limnology. She founded the Limnology Department (now known as the Environmental Research Division) at the Academy of Natural Sciences in 1947 and remained its Chair until 1973. She is Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Patrick has held many positions in connection with her scientific work; for example, she was President of the Phycological Society of America, 1954-57 and President of the American Society of Naturalists, 1975-77. She has also received many awards, among the best known are the Merit Award of the Botanical Society of America, 1971; the Eminent Ecologist Award of the Ecological Society of America, 1972; the Philadelphia Award which she received in 1973; the John and Alice Tyler Ecology Award in 1975; the Gold Medal of the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, Belgium, 1978; and the Governor of Pennsylvania Science Award, 1988. She also received the Award of Excellence of the North American Benthological Society, 1992; the Benjamin Franklin Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement from the American Philosophical Society, 1993; induction into the South Carolina Hall of Science 1996; and the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. Most recently she was recipient of the National Medal of Science from President Bill Clinton in 1996 and the Governor of South Carolina Award in 1999.
Dr. Patrick has received 25 honorary degrees. Among these are Doctor of Science degree from Princeton University, 1980; from Lehigh University, 1983; from the University of Pennsylvania, 1984; Temple University, 1985; University of South Carolina, 1989; and Glassboro College of New Jersey, 1992.
Dr. Patrick has served on a great many state and national committees. Among these she was a member of President Johnson's Science Advisory Committee on Algal Blooms, 1966; Chair of the Panel on Pollution Control of the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., 1966; a member of the Committee of Science and Public Policy of the National Academy of Sciences, 1973-75; Chairman of the Section on Population Biology, Evolution and Ecology, National Academy of Science, 1980-83; a member of President Reagan's Peer Review Committee on Acid Rain. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences together with many other scientific organizations.
Dr. Patrick has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of many institutions including the Academy of Natural Sciences where she was chairman of the Board and CEO. She has served on the Board of Trustees of E.I. DuPont Company and of Pennsylvania Power and Light Company. At present she is a member of the National Council of the World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.; the National Council of the World Wildlife Fund/Conservation Foundation, Washington, D.C.; and the Board of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Washington, D.C. Her field of research is focused on biodiversity of rivers and how these ecosystems function under various natural and polluted conditions and on the ecology and systematics of diatoms.
Dr. Patrick is the author of numerous books and over 180 scientific journal publications.
Mendel Medal Presentation Program, January 19, 2002. Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania.