The Passing of Former Professor of Biology, Richard Hemmes
I am writing with sad news. I have just learned of the death of former professor of biology at Vassar, Richard Hemmes. Professor Emeritus Hemmes joined the Vassar faculty in 1972 and taught for more than 35 years, retiring in 2008. He taught multiple courses in biology as well as environmental and evolutionary biology, and he served on the steering committees for Environmental Studies, STS, and Neuroscience & Behavior. Professor Hemmes was one of the first members of the Biopsychology Program, which later became Neuroscience and Behavior, and taught in the program for his entire career. He was also a regular participant in URSI and helped author and participated in several prestigious grants focused on undergraduate research.
Professor Hemmes’ research focused on behavioral adaptations of small mammals to parasites, specifically how their use of aromatic plants, nest-building behavior, and social interactions affected the numbers of ectoparasites in their nests, as well as chemical analysis of anti-parasite compounds in nesting materials. He also studied effects of diet on the incidence and severity of seizure activity and on the gender of offspring of small mammals.
Professor Hemmes is remembered as an exceptionally kind and wise person; he always injected a dose of sanity and calm in the department, and as is evident from his multidisciplinary work, he had broad and deep intellectual interests. Professor Hemmes is survived by his wife, Ruth. Plans for a memorial await safer times.
Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604