Eco-Evo Evo-Eco: Susan Foster – Reminiscences

Susan Foster of Clark College handed away lately. Right here we collate and compile recollections of some Susan’s contributions to science, training, and collegiality. She will probably be sorely missed. This can be a dwelling doc – please add your personal ideas within the feedback.

1. In Remembrance of Susan Adlai Foster (1953 – 2021), ABS
Fellow and Previous President. Written by Matthew A. Wund
, with enter from John Baker,
Christine Boake, Zuleyma Martinez, and Dale Stevens. This obituary is modified
from textual content that will probably be revealed within the March e-newsletter of the Animal Conduct

Dr. Susan Foster handed away at her residence in Petersham, MA
from problems related to most cancers on January 16, 2021. She was within the
firm of her loving husband, John Baker, and their two kids, Patrick and
Dylan. Susan devoted her profession to the examine of behavioral plasticity and
evolution, and is greatest recognized for her in depth work utilizing threespine
stickleback fish as a mannequin to grasp these processes.

Susan earned her B.S. in Botany and Zoology from the
College of Wisconsin, Madison, and in 1984, earned her Ph.D. in Zoology from
the College of Washington underneath the mentorship of Robert T. Paine. Her
graduate work investigated group foraging habits in coral reef fish of Panama.
She is most well-known for her in depth analysis on the plasticity and
evolution of habits in threespine stickleback fish. She started her stickleback
analysis as a postdoctoral fellow working with Michael A. Bell at Stony Brook
College. From 1990-1995, she continued this work as an Assistant Professor
of Biology on the College of Arkansas. In 1995, she moved together with her husband
and collaborator, Dr. John Baker, to Clark College in Worcester, MA, the place
she spent the rest of her profession till her retirement in 2020. She
continued mentoring her college students and conducting analysis till her last days.
Susan served Clark College with as a lot dedication and enthusiasm as she
served the ABS, together with in her place because the Warren Litsky Endowed Chair in
Biology, and in her management on quite a lot of institution-wide committees and
councils. She was additionally instrumental in establishing Clark College’s very
profitable Environmental Science Program, during which she served in a number of

Susan served the scientific group in lots of capacities
all through her profession. She was exceptionally keen on the Animal Conduct
Society, which spanned her practically 4 many years of membership. The highlights of
her service to the ABS embrace a number of phrases as Secretary (1993-1999), Second President
Elect (08-09), First President Elect (09-10), President (10-11), and
Previous-President (11-12). Susan was elected an ABS Fellow in 2004. Extra lately,
she served as Government Editor of Animal Behaviour, and served for extra
than a decade because the North American Editor of Ethology. Susan additionally
served on quite a few NSF assessment panels, and took part in a number of working
teams sponsored by the Nationwide Evolutionary Synthesis Heart (NEScent).

Susan’s physique of labor is outstanding for its breadth and
depth. In additional than sixty peer reviewed articles and ebook chapters, in addition to
4 edited volumes, her analysis fantastically married pure historical past,
in depth discipline observations, beautiful laboratory experiments, and
evolutionary idea. She didn’t view herself as both a discipline biologist, or
as an animal behaviorist, or as an evolutionary biologist, however reasonably as all of
these items concurrently. She had an exquisite means to grasp the
interaction amongst a number of scales of organic group: appreciating how
the nuances of particular person habits associated to complicated evolutionary processes.
She was fascinated by threespine stickleback fish as a person species,
whereas concurrently leveraging their worth as a mannequin system for learning
normal processes of behavioral evolution and adaptive diversification.

Along with her sensible thoughts, Susan was a loving spouse
and mom, an distinctive cook dinner, an avid gardener, and had an exquisite, dry
humorousness. She additionally had a lifelong curiosity within the conservation of pure
landscapes, and whereas at Clark College taught a course on the subject practically
yearly. She was an unwavering advocate for the various college students and postdocs
she mentored all through her profession, lots of whom got here to know her as not solely a
mentor and good friend, however as a member of their household. Susan was maybe most in
her aspect in her 250-year-old farmhouse in Petersham, MA, the place, together with her
husband John, she would effortlessly transfer between writing analysis papers and
grants, reviewing manuscripts for Animal Behaviour and Ethology, gardening,
cooking, and entertaining friends. Whereas residence was her happiest place, Susan additionally
loved touring, spending many discipline seasons learning stickleback fish
habits in Alaska and British Columbia, and touring to conferences round
the world. Her life was enriched by the various friendships she fashioned in her
travels and thru her analysis; certainly, information of her passing has resulted in
an outpouring of affection and respect from buddies throughout the globe.

To commemorate Susan’s life and legacy, and the impression she
had on her buddies and colleagues, her expensive good friend and fellow ABS Fellow Dr.
Christine Boake shared these sentiments:

“Susan and I first met resulting from our mutual pursuits in
behavioral divergence between animal populations, which we acknowledged might
result in speciation. Her beneficiant hospitality made it simple for us to change into
shut buddies. Our visits all the time mixed our shared pursuits in science,
cooking, and gardening. She had boundless power; even after surgical procedure imposed
bodily limitations, she saved up a strenuous tempo each in analysis and at
residence. Her power and enthusiasm allowed her to have her noteworthy skilled
success in addition to having a multifaceted and rewarding life with household and
buddies. She had a full life.”

Susan’s skilled and private legacy contains
the handfuls of postdocs, graduate college students, and undergraduate pupil
researchers she mentored, in addition to the tons of of undergraduates she taught in
her Evolution and Animal Conduct programs. The scholars and postdocs whose
lives she touched had been helped to be higher scientists, however extra importantly had been
impressed to be higher individuals. She will probably be dearly missed by the various college students
and colleagues who will keep in mind her as not solely an distinctive scientist, however
extra importantly as a real good friend.

2. From David Hibbett, Chair of the Biology Division at Clark College.

Professor Susan Adlai Foster and Analysis Professor John Allen Baker, Biology Division

Memorial Minute

October 27, 2021

Susan Foster handed away in January, 2021, adopted lower than 5 months later by her husband and collaborator, John Baker. Each had been larger-than-life figures on the campus of Clark College, outgoing, participating, and wildly well-liked with college students. Their skilled achievements had been important. Susan was an evolutionary biologist and ethologist. Her pioneering analysis utilizing the threespine stickleback helped set up this diminutive fish as a premier mannequin system for vertebrate biology. Amongst different accomplishments, Susan was President of the Animal Conduct Society, Landry College Professor of Clark College, and a Nationwide Science Basis Presidential School Fellow. She served as Chair of the Biology Division from 2006 to 2016.

John labored intently with Susan on stickleback analysis, together with quite a few discipline journeys to Alaska with their college students and postdoctoral fellows, however he had his personal pursuits in ichthyology, conservation, and biodiversity of streams and rivers. For instance, one in every of his final publications was on inhabitants genetics of the freshwater pearl mussel in New England. John was one in every of Clark’s most beloved lecturers. His hottest courses included BIOL 101 – Introductory Biology and BIOL 084 – Biodiversity. Each routinely enrolled far above their caps. The final time John taught BIOL 101, in Fall 2019, there have been 202 college students. In 2013 John obtained the Trainer of the Yr Award.

Susan and John got here to Clark from the College of Arkansas in 1995. Over the subsequent 25 years, they helped to revitalize the graduate and undergraduate packages in Biology, and so they had been central to the institution and development of the Environmental Science Program. However Susan and John did way over educate courses and run packages; they created a group. The Foster-Baker universe had two facilities, one of their laboratory within the Lasry Bioscience constructing and the opposite of their 250-year-old farmhouse in Petersham, the place Susan died. Each had been gathering locations for college kids, household, buddies, and colleagues, though the boundaries between these teams had been typically imprecise. Susan and John created prospects, for studying, discovery, and second probabilities. They represented the perfect of Clark’s beliefs, impressed fierce loyalty, and will probably be sorely missed

3. From Invoice Cresko to his lab members

Foster handed away yesterday due a quickly progressing most cancers that was solely
recognized early in 2020. She was capable of be at residence in Petersham MA together with her
husband and lifelong analysis companion John Baker, in addition to her kids Dylan
and Patrick. Susan beloved her colonial-era residence and backyard with the snow and the
fire and the after seminar events and the pickling of greens. Susan
was my and Cristin’s Ph.D. advisor. She has been a professor of biology and the
chair of the Biology Division at Clark College for a lot of the previous
decade, and retired in early 2020 on the first analysis. Susan suggested
quite a few postdoctoral students, graduate college students, and undergraduates over the

was a pioneer. After her Ph.D. on Wrasse habits on the College of
Washington with Bob Paine, she did her postdoctoral work with Mike Bell at SUNY
Stony Brook. In truth, I got here to work with Susan after contacting Bob and
telling him about my pursuits and he stated ‘you need to work with Susan as a substitute
on this superb system’. At Stony Brook Susan helped develop the stickleback
programs in British Columbia and Alaska, and thru many publications helped
biologists recognize that habits – like morphological and life historical past
traits – might exhibit important geographic variation that was influenced by
each environmental and genetic variation. Along with her many journal
articles, Susan revealed two books with Mike Bell and John Endler that at the moment are
classics within the discipline.

was a pacesetter and function mannequin within the fields of ethology and habits. She assist
a number of management positions within the Animal Conduct Society, and she or he was half
of an early wave of girls in biology preventing for gender fairness within the life
sciences. Susan was a fierce advocate all through her profession for attaining the
purpose of getting individuals judged by their skills, not their chromosomal
composition, pores and skin shade, or socioeconomic background. She matched
these skilled efforts at fairness and inclusion in her personal life in methods
that had been really inspiring. The impacts that Susan has had on the sector by way of
her college students from these numerous backgrounds (together with me) is deep and broad.

December of 2020 David Hibbett and others from Clark College and I started
planning for a digital convention to honor the work of Susan and John.
Sadly Susan’s most cancers returned rapidly at first of the brand new 12 months.
We are going to proceed our work to focus on Susan’s and John’s life work and
instructional legacy. All of you who’re or have been in my lab engaged on
stickleback have Susan to thank, and I hope that it is possible for you to to attend.

Sincerely, Invoice

4. From Jun Kitano – e mail to Andrew Hendry

unhappy information jogs my memory of my outdated days in Kyoto, once I got here to know a collection of
Susan Foster’s wonderful works on behavioral variation in pure populations
of the threespine stickleback. After I nearly completed my PhD thesis on
molecular neuroscience in mice, I used to be questioning what to do subsequent as a postdoc. I
learn a number of papers and books and at last discovered that I need to examine wild
animals reasonably than laboratory mouse. Sooner or later, I got here throughout a paper by Katie
Peichel, David Kingsley and their colleagues (Peichel et al. 2001 Nature). In
that paper, they investigated the genetic structure underlying morphological
variation within the threespine stickleback. I assumed that I might apply the identical
genetic technique to behavioral variation. 

I began to learn many papers on the behavioral variation in sticklebacks,
together with these by Dr. Susan Foster. She has carried out in depth discipline
observations and characterised behavioral variation in pure populations of
the threespine stickleback. A collection of her papers had been so thrilling that I
maybe spent extra time studying her papers than studying papers instantly associated
to my thesis. Studying her papers, I used to be satisfied that behavioral genetics in
sticklebacks can be an thrilling path of analysis. As I made a decision to work
on Japanese populations in collaboration with Dr. Seiichi Mori (my long-term
collaborator), I had no probability to work with Susan. However, Susan is certainly one
of the individuals who guided me into the stickleback analysis.

met Susan at a stickleback convention in Alaska, and she or he kindly inspired me.
She invited me to her analysis fields in Alaska, though it didn’t occur due
to a number of causes. It’s unhappy that we will not meet her, however her works
will proceed to encourage not solely me but in addition many current and future younger
researchers. This may be timing to understand that our current slicing
edge genomic research are primarily based on the in depth works finished by outdated researchers
who spent plenty of time observing nature like Susan.


5. From Jeff McKinnon – e mail to Andrew Hendry

I bumped into Susan at numerous
instances over time. My fondest reminiscence was visiting her and John at their
stunning outdated home in Mass, most likely within the early 2000’s. I keep in mind their
beneficiant hospitality and full of life conversations about stickleback biology, as
effectively as about hockey. Susan was an incredible fan of Steve Yzerman, if reminiscence serves.

6. From Tom Reimchen – e mail to Andrew Hendry

Gone earlier than her time. In addition to her apparent contributions to behavioural evolution in stickleback,  one other substantial contribution of Susan was her novel observations on coral reef fishes , significantly the significance of  cleansing stations for the restore of wounds in coral reef fish  (Foster 1985,  Copeia 875-880). I’ve used this in my Ichthyology programs for a few years for instance of co-evolution at a group stage and as one of many first examples of self-medication in fishes.

7. #SusanFosterMemories

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