Stanislaus State’s Earth Day 2022 celebration moves indoors as the University honors the late Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences Pamela Roe, a tiny woman who made an enormous impact on colleagues and students alike and was a leading advocate for a sustainable campus.
The naming of Room 101 in Naraghi Hall of Science as the Dr. Pamela Roe Lecture Hall will be celebrated in Main Dining from noon-2 p.m. Friday, April 22.
With additional activities sponsored by The Council for Sustainable Futures and Associated Students, Inc. taking place April 26, 27 and 28, the room naming is the highlighted campus event for Earth Day. Friends and colleagues will share stories of the diminutive dynamo, who created a concentration in marine biology by teaching courses at Moss Landing Marine Lab and worked to launch a master’s in ecology and sustainability during her 40 years as a professor.
Both programs are concluded, but those who benefitted from her teaching carry on her legacy.
“What I think of is how she created change agents and leaders like herself to make a difference in the world,” said Stan State Sustainability Coordinator Wendy Olmstead. “Graduates of the ecology and sustainability program are working throughout California. You can see her influence on all of us and how she instilled her passion in each one of us.
“She was amongst a group of people on campus who lobbied for a position like mine. She never saw that come to fruition. This is my way of paying homage to her, because she had the vision for our campus to be moving toward sustainability. It brings this full circle.”
Ironically, Roe began at Stan State in 1971 with a focus on marine biology.
“She was an authority on obscure marine worms,” recalled colleague Patrick Kelly, who will speak during Friday’s event. “She was a scientist and a marine biologist first and foremost, a professor and instructor. The preservation of the environment was a theme all through her life.”
The Texas native earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology at the University of Texas and Ph.D. at the University of Washington, where she worked at the school’s marine lab at Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound. She focused on the natural history and the feeding and reproductive biology of Paranemertes peregrina, the Purple Ribbon Worm, and continued to study ribbon worms (nemerteans) throughout her career.
She taught invertebrate zoology, marine biology and general parasitology at Stan State and helped establish the concentration in marine biology at Moss Landing Marine Lab where she served on the board of directors.
“She went to grad school at the University of Washington and got to develop her professional skills and love of the ocean,” said Kelly, who joined the staff in 1993 as director of the endangered species recovery program and became a professor in 2002. “She came to Turlock and wasn’t going to be kept away from the ocean.”
Stanislaus State joined a consortium of other California State University campuses utilizing the Moss Landing Marine Lab, Kelly said.
“She was a very driven person when it came to science and education,” Kelly said. “She wasn’t a very tall person, but she made up for her physical stature with her professional and academic stature and commitment to students and education.”
Olmstead had similar memories of her “faculty, mentor and friend.”
“She was a force of nature,” Olmstead said. “She was tiny little woman, passionate about ecology. She loved her students and would do anything for them. She mentored a lot of students, not just in biology and ecology but in an interdisciplinary master’s program. She was a champion for students who had challenges, students with life and family and financial hardships. In particular, she had a soft spot for students who had children.
“I wanted to be like her when I grew up.”
Olmstead worked with retiring Professor of Biology Ann Kohlhaas and Political Science Professor Dave Colnic to have the lecture hall named in honor of Roe, who taught until 2011 and passed away in 2019. The naming was supported by President Ellen Junn and championed by Vice President for University Advancement Michele Lahti.
“She’d be pleased but a little embarrassed by the fuss about her,” said Kelly, who remained a lifelong friend. “She’d be pleased by the recognition. Her life was her work.”
Other Earth Month Events
Do Look Up! The Climate Crisis Demands Mass Action
2-3:30 p.m. Friday, April 22, on Zoom, panel discussion with Ellen Thompson, Hank Pellessier and Ken Boettcher. Sponsored by extinction rebellion and Climate Action Now! Join on Zoom
Careers in Energy and Technology
2-3:30 p.m. Fri., April 22, on Zoom, join the Career and Professional Development Center to explore careers that support sustainability, efficiency and technology. Connect to understand how a variety of majors can apply for these careers and learn from panelists Jay Harvey, senior account executive at Datapath, and Olivia F. Cramer, utility analyst in the Hydrology Department at TID.
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, in the Quad, sponsored by Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), Eco Warriors and the Council for Sustainable Futures.
Love Your Mother Earth
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, in the Quad, with activities and prizes, including t-shirts and water bottles, sponsored by ASI, Eco Warriors and the Council for Sustainable Futures.
1-4 p.m. Thursday, April 28, sponsored by ASI, Eco Warriors and the Council for Sustainable Futures. Register online.