Milton H. Stetson died on June 27, 2002, while on a sabbatical leave at the University of Hawaii. Dr. Stetson served as a professor at the University of Delaware, where he led a vigorous program of comparative endocrinology research from 1973 to 2002. His death followed a prolonged and courageous fight with illness, leaving his family and literally hundreds of friends, colleagues, and former students with a deep and profound sense of loss. He also leaves behind a significant legacy of scientific accomplishment and a distinct imprint on the 13 graduate students who had the honor to study with him. In his youth, Milton Stetson’s interests were drawn to biology both as a student and as a recreational breeder of birds and guinea pigs. He matured as a scholar in the course of graduate study at the University of Washington, culminating with his 1970 doctoral dissertation, Control Mechanisms in the Avian Hypothalamo-hypophysio-gonadal Axis . These studies were carried out as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Predoctoral Fellow and conducted under the mentorship of Professor Donald S. Farner. Dr. Stetson frequently spoke of the lifelong influence that Professor Farner’s thinking had on him, and he dedicated the 1988 Springer-Verlag text Processing of Environmental Information in Vertebrates to Professor Farner in honor of his birthday. Dr. Stetson’s doctoral work was followed by a NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship with Professor Michael Menaker at the University of Texas from 1971 to 1973. During this highly productive period, Dr. Stetson developed radioimmunoassays for hamster and mouse LH and FSH, which he used in the study of environmental regulation of reproduction and the onset of puberty. In addition, he continued to study avian photoperiodism and reproductive endocrinology, branching into a new line of investigations on extraretinal photoreception. Dr. Stetson wrote in the early 1980s that “I have maintained throughout the years an interest in the comparative physiology of hormone action.” Indeed, his students at the University of Delaware studied endocrine mechanisms in animals ranging from Petromyzon marinus to Mesocricetus auratus . His most recent summary statement of interests at the University of Delaware specified fish reproductive endocrinology, which he pursued both at the Newark campus and as an affiliate faculty member at the University of Hawaii. Milton Stetson was a man of some considerable paradoxes. He was always approachable, but sometimes having an exit route in mind was not such a bad idea. Undergraduate students found him to be a most unique and imposing professor, with an uncompromising academic standard. His examinations were notorious—certain multiple-choice questions with possible answers A to N come to mind, and scores in the negative numbers were no less likely than scores above the mid-80s. His pedagogy was brilliant and humorous, laced with clever wordplay and occasionally a bit of burlesque. Behind his showmanship and bluster was a warm and caring man who took an abiding interest in nurturing students, in the classroom and especially in the laboratory. Professor Stetson was a dedicated father, who enjoyed British history, golf, and the Philadelphia Eagles, and he could not resist a proper New England boiled dinner. He loved our science of comparative endocrinology, and felt at ease anywhere that he could interact with and encourage students. He participated avidly in every aspect of the research operation, from field work to cage-washing. His prolific love of science left us with a great deal to read—approximately 200 publications in reproduction, circadian biology, and pineal physiology among other topics. Over the years his contributions included experimental work with birds, mammals, and fish. Perhaps with a little more time, he would have gotten around to the amphibians and reptiles.</P>
General and Comparative Endocrinology – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2003
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