Inspiration for generations

“Of the professors I’ve had in my graduate studies in geology and biology, two stand out above all the others. One was a paleontologist at the University of New Mexico and the other is Doc Storm,” said zoology alumnus Bill Lovejoy (Ph.D., ’72).

“Doc had a rapport with students both in and out of the classroom that I tried to emulate in my teaching career at Georgia Southern University,” said Lovejoy, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biology. where he influenced generations of students with his teaching and research

Recently Lovejoy established the Robert M. Storm Distinguished Lecture in Integrative Biology, an endowed series to promote excellence, advancement and inspiration in biology, particularly vertebrate biology, to the OSU and Corvallis communities.

Doc Storm arrived in Corvallis in 1939 to pursue his master’s degree in zoology and never left except for service in World War II. The title “Doc” is a term of endearment and respect, not for Storm’s academic degree, but for his service as a medic on the beaches of Normandy. Virtually everyone calls him by that name, including his wife.

After the war, Storm returned to OSU in 1946 to complete his Ph.D. and was hired as an instructor in the Department of Zoology.

Renowned for his pioneering research in herpetology, Doc produced nearly 50 scientific publications. But his most important and cherished contribution is the many students he mentored during his 36 years as an OSU professor. Doc influenced generations of biologists, whose theses and dissertations deal with nearly every group of vertebrates. Famous for his open door policy and always being available to talk with students, Doc advised 71 graduate students, including 37 who completed their Ph.D. Those students produced at least another 50 doctorates, most of them herpetologists who made profound and important contributions to the field.

Doc was also a champion for undergraduate education at OSU winning the College of Science’s Carter Award in 1974 for outstanding and inspirational undergraduate teaching and served as head adviser in the Zoology Department for years. Doc is an Emeritus Professor of Zoology and at 98, still resides in Corvallis.

Lovejoy was one of those students who was inspired and mentored by Doc Storm, describing him as a considerate, thoughtful advisor with strong friendships and connections to many former students and colleagues.

“Doc built a strong community.  He was easy to get to know, easy to work with, and well liked,” recalled Lovejoy.

Lovejoy was born in a small Ohio town with fewer than 1,000 people. He came from four generations of coal miners so by all accounts he should have been a coal miner, but instead he became a first generation college graduate. After serving in the Navy, he attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, where he majored in geology. He married his college sweetheart Martha Johnson, and a month later boarded a bus for Albuquerque, NM, where he earned a master’s degree in geology.

Lovejoy worked as a geologist for Shell Oil Company in Midland Texas, then after six years enrolled at OSU to pursue a Ph.D. in zoology. Lovejoy has had three interesting and satisfying careers:  geologist, biologist, and teacher. He said he did each without being motivated by money, preferring to pursue his passion rather than the dollar sign. His perspective was shaped by shortages during the Great Depression and by rationing during WWII.  

“You learned to ‘use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.’ In other words, you learned to be frugal, as I am to this very day.”

Inspired by his mentors, Lovejoy has established both the Robert M. Storm Distinguished Lecture Series at OSU and the Stuart A. Northrop Distinguished Lecture Series in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of New Mexico.

“By establishing these lecture series at both universities, I hope such inspiration will continue to motivate students for years to come,” said Lovejoy.

The inaugural Storm Distinguished Lecture was held March 11, featuring Edmund D. “Butch” Brodie who spoke on “Arms races and the evolution of tetrodotoxin resistance.” Dr. Brodie is a professor of biology at Utah State University and also a former student of Doc Storm’s.

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