Sunday, September 10, 2017

WOMEN IN STEM: Dian Fossey

Article Written By: Teresa Marotta


Dian Fossey (1932-1985) was an American zoologist and primatologist who is most well known for her study of gorillas in Rwanda. During her youth, Fossey developed an inclination towards animals shown through her passion for horseback riding and her aspiration to be a veterinarian. Years later, after enrolling in pre-veterinary studies at the University of California, Davis, she ended up transferring to San Jose State College for occupational therapy. After spending several months working as a hospital intern in California, serving as director of the Kosair Crippled Children's Hospital's occupational therapy department in 1955 in Louisville, Kentucky; Fossey began longing to see other parts of the world and eventually decided on Africa. In 1963, Fossey went on her first trip to Africa. In 1966,  Fossey was invited by Louis Leakey to go on a long-term study of the endangered gorillas of the Rwandan mountain forest. In 1967, Fossey created the Karisoke Research Foundation in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park and alternated her time between her fieldwork there and obtaining a Ph.D. based on her research at Cambridge University. In 1976, she earned her degree and was offered and accepted a visiting associate professorship at Cornell University. In 1983, Fossey's Gorillas in the Mist, an autobiographical work,went on to become a best-seller. In 1985, Fossey was found dead, presumably by poachers, at her Rwandan forest camp, no assailant has ever been found/prosecuted in her murder.

Quote: “The man who kills the animals today is the man who kills the people who get in his way tomorrow”

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