The Perkins Lab -- Neurospora Genetics and Biology
Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University

In Memoriam

David Dexter Perkins 1919-2007

Dorothy Newmeyer Perkins 1922-2007

David Perkins passed away peacefully on January 2, 2007 at 3:45 PM after a short illness. He was exactly four months short of his 88th birthday. David left with all the dignity that he showed in his long life and with his daughter Sue at his bedside.

Dorothy (Dot) Newmeyer Perkins then passed away peacefully only 4 days later on January 6, and joined David in their long journey together through life and beyond. Dot was 84 years old, and ageing had not been kind to her. She had been in poor health for several months, and David passing surely affected her greatly.

The tragedy of David and Dot both passing so close together underscores their devotion for each other. They were truly partners in everything: life, love, work, and now death. David and Dot are survived by their daughter Sue and her husband John.

This came as a shock to all of us: his family and his many friends and colleagues in the department, the university, the Neurospora community, and scientific community at large. David and Dot touched so many people with their kindness, generosity, and devotion to science and these communities. We have all lost great friends and colleagues.

We know that David and Dot would not want anybody to make a big fuss, but there are many of us who would like to celebrate and honor their lives. We have established this web site as a tribute to both of their lives and work.

We began by posting words and a few pictures.  Below, we have selected some excerpts from the many moving messages people have sent.  If you would like to have something posted on this page, especially photos, please send it to Dave Jacobson at the email address below.

With great sadness, but in celebration of life,

N. B. Raju and Dave Jacobson ;

Memorial and Funds dedicated to David and Dorothy Perkins

The celebration of David’s and Dot’s lives will take place on the evening of 20 March 2007 from 7:30-9:30 PM in the Chapel at the Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, CA. The time and location were chosen so that the memorial will take place on the first evening of the 24th Fungal Genetics Meeting. Friends and colleagues are most welcome to attend. Site details and directions can be found on the Asilomar website:

Memorial contributions in David’s and Dot’s name can be made to two funds designed to provide lasting support for Neurospora and fungal genetic research: The Perkins Award Fund and The FGSC Endowment Fund. 

The FGSC Endowment
David Perkins encouraged the Fungal Genetics Stock Center (FGSC) to establish an endowment fund recently to provide a basis for achieving permanent financial sustainability for the FGSC. The endowment money also will be available as emergency funds, but only if necessary. David and Dot both were enthusiastic supporters of the FGSC from its inception through its continuing expansions into this genomic era. Contribution made in the Perkins’ name will help FGSC reach their goal and provide permanent service, support, and outreach to the Fungal Genetics Community.

Rededication of the Perkins Award
The Perkins Award was established in 1995 to honour the enormous contributions made by David Perkins to fungal genetics, Neurospora genetics and to nurturing young scientists in these fields. Since 1997 when the first awards were made, 21 promising graduate students and postdocs have been supported to attend the Neurospora conferences held at Asilomar and, from 2002, also the Fungal Genetics Conferences held at that venue in even numbered years.

The Neurospora Policy Committee has taken this opportunity to rededicate the Perkins Award to honour both David and Dot and to seek additional funds to strengthen the endowment to keep the value and number of Perkins Awards in line with the rising cost of conference attendance and the increasing number of young scientists who should be there. The purpose of the award is otherwise unchanged: to recognize outstanding graduate students and postdoctoral scientists that utilize Neurospora as an experimental system and provide monetary support to attend one of the Asilomar meetings. More....

Both funds are managed by the Genetics Society of America. Checks should be made payable to The Genetics Society of America with the fund name (Perkins Award or the FGSC Endowment) written in the lower left corner of the check, and mailed c/o Elaine Strass, Executive Director, Genetics Society of America 9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20814.

Published Obituaries and Tributes
San Jose California Mercury News, January 21, 2007
Stanford Report, January 24, 2007
San Francisco Chronicle January 28, 2007
Los Angeles Times January 28, 2007
Star-News Wilimington North Carolina January 29, 2007
Gulf News Dubai United Arab Emirates January 29, 2007
The Scientist February 1, 2007
D. P. Kasbekar, Journal of Biosciences 32: 191-195, March, 2007
R. H. Davis, Genetics 175: 1-6, April, 2007

Robert J. Lloyd, Eastern Washington University

So many of these postings mention Dot and David’s contributions to science. I can personally speak to their integrity, generosity, caring, social responsibility and concern for humanity. They not only brought black students from East Palo Alto to the lab for tutoring, they hired a young black civil rights worker with only a high school education to work in the lab from 1968 - 1972. It was the only job I have ever had that never felt like going to work. In the lab I got an education at Stanford without going through the application process and paying the tuition. I learned the scientific method in my lab work, I joined the brown bag seminars around the table, listened to Pacifica Radio as I worked, and my horizons broadened from local to global in this open environment.  I was never made to feel dumb or uneducated and learned that higher education was not up there out of reach but accessible even to me.
I was working and going to Foothill Community College at night, but David suggested I quit work and go to school full time and explained that the economics made more sense that way. I didn’t see how that was possible. “We have this money that is just sitting in the bank doing nothing”, he said. “You can either repay the loan when you finish your education or you can help someone else.”  Because of the model Dot and David set for me, I was able to do both. I became an artist and professor of photography.
David and Dot provided a yardstick – they taught by example. Until my experience in the lab, I did not have the concept that doing what you liked to do and what was important could be life work. They never stopped doing research, assisting others, writing letters to the editor and petitioning politicians. And they never lost their passion for justice.

Marjorie Giles, aka Marge Reaume, Inkwell, Dobbins, CA
Such a shock it was, finding Dave and Dottie on the SF Chronicle Obit page. I see there are many many others feeling as saddened as I, recalling such poised and elegant friends. Dottie arrived at the Botany Lab at Yale at the same time as my notorious late husband, Sheldon Reaume. He shared a lab with Dottie and Josh Lederberg, who was exactly my age, 20, and already an M.D. I moonlighted there after my breadwinner work as welder in a birdcage factory, washing dishes, and Josh helped me explore the illegitimate diploidization of Saccharomyces cerevisae. Goodness, such a long time since recalling those names. About Neurospora, I only just learned that it was Dave who sparked the origin of this major genetic tool. After the birdcage factory learned of my pregnancy and released me, I worked as Neurospora spore-picker for Ed Tatum. Much later I realized the genetic importance. More....

Bob Metzenberg, California State University Northridge
It was a shock to us all to find we had lost two of our greatest friends, David and Dot, only four days apart.  Though  Dot was often ill, she always seemed to just "keep going", and as for David, I always thought of him as ageless and, at some level, he seemed immortal. I always thought of him as midway between a slightly older brother and a father, and indeed, he was both to me -- advising me on how to get through high school in one piece, and then teaching me how to live after that.  I will never forget David and Dot.   

Alice Schroeder, Washington State University
When my first graduate project failed, I was excited to join the Perkins lab to do classical genetics in Neurospora.  Little did I know that I had found, not only a lifetime scientific home, but a second set of parents.  As with so many people, David and Dot not only welcomed me into the lab, but into their home and their hearts.  Dot soon became a mentor and colleague.  She showed me that you could be a mother and homemaker—late summer jam making sessions with Dot and Sue were a joyful time--also be active in civic affairs, play the cello and still be an excellent scientist.  Even after her health forced her to leave the lab, was there a better editor than Dot, finding the unacknowledged assumptions, inconsistencies and ambiguous sentences in any manuscript?  David was my scientific father—pulling, pushing and, yes, nagging me to be better than I thought I could be.  He was also a great source for good murder mysteries, travel tips and stories.  Both valued family and again set an excellent example of what life should be as they cared for David’s aging mother, were happy for me when I married and delighted in my children.  Did you know that among David’s many talents was the ability to teach kids how to make a deafening grass whistle?  More....

Peter Margolis
It's very sad (and yet touching that they went together)--Dave definitely seemed frailer each time I saw him over the past few years, but whenever I did see him he was still so...Dave, passionate and measured at the same time. I kind of expected him to just keep going and going, like some Neurospora-orange-colored Energizer bunny.

Lee B. Kass, Cornell University
I offer my deepest sympathy to you and all geneticists who knew and respected this wonderful man. I first met Dave Perkins at Stanford in 1997 when I began my research for an intellectual Biography of Barbara McClintock. He had many insights to offer and we corresponded occasionally over the years. I had not contacted him for a while and was stunned when I learned on 12 February that he was gone. I am sorry I will not be able to attend the memorial service that you have planned for March 2007. I took some photos (slides) of Dave when I was at Stanford and I attach copies here. One is of Dave in his laboratory at Stanford and the other is on the balcony outside his office with Bob Metsenberg, who was collaborating with Dave at the time. I took the photos on 3 February 1997. I again offer my condolences for your loss.

George Bistis, Drew University
Both David and I graduated from Columbia University, he a student of F. J. Ryan in the Zoology Department, me a student of L. S. Olive in Botany. From there we went our separate ways till my sabbatical at Stanford in the 1970's. I have only one memory of David from the Columbia era. He had just come back from the army and was still wearing his army uniform. He cut a most impressive figure -- ram rod straight and tall in the Army Kakhis. Didn't see him again for twenty years.

David Catcheside, Flinders University
I was greatly saddened by the news of David's death. The Neurospora community have lost a key champion and you a staunch mentor and friend. David was to me, as to many, an irreplaceable counsellor and generous friend. He will be sorely missed by so many people.

Hirokazu Inoue, Saitama, Japan
I was shocked to learn of the passing of Dr. David Perkins and, only a few days later, his wife Dr. Dorothy (Dot) Newmeyer.  Since receiving the sad news, I have been reflecting on my association with him through the years. In the spring of 1976, I met David at a Neurospora Information Conference held in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  People were standing in line to enter the cafeteria for lunch.  The man standing in front of me, with a dark-blue sweater over his shoulder, looked around with a quiet smile.  I noticed his nameplate and immediately recognized his name:  Dr. David Perkins.  I was working in North Carolina at the time as a Visiting Fellow of the NIEHS/NIH in Research Triangle Park.  To my surprise, David remembered my name from my having been a coauthor with Dr. Tatsuo Ishikawa on my first paper, which had appeared in the Japanese Journal of Genetics.  Several years later, in 1984, I met him again at a Neurospora meeting in Asilomar.  To my surprise, he recognized me at dinner and came over from his seat on the far side of the room to say welcome and shake hands.  I was very impressed that he, a senior scientist, would always show special hospitality to young scientists and visitors.  More....

John Paietta, Wright State University
I was very saddened to hear about David and Dot. I first met David at a Neurospora conference when I was a graduate student in Malcolm Sargent’s lab. It turned out that I roomed with David at that meeting. What a great introduction to the Neurospora community for me! Over the years since that time David was always friendly, approachable and helpful. I recall a number of great scientific discussions. He always offered insightful advice mixed with an unhesitating desire to help move the field and research forward. They will be greatly missed.

Nick Read, University of Edinburgh
It is now over two months since David died which has given me time to reflect on how significant he was to me. Hardly more than a couple of days have gone since the 2nd January when I haven’t thought about David. I first met him at a meeting I organized on ascomycete development in Oxford 20 years ago. That encounter with David was one of the most memorable moments of my career! We spent many hours talking about sexual development in Neurospora, and to meet someone who personally knew and worked amongst the founders of the field of Neurospora genetics was extraordinarily exciting. David subsequently invited me go to Stanford on sabbatical in 1989. I was all prepared to go but had to cancel at the last minute, frustratingly, for financial reasons. That was one of the biggest regrets of life. However, over the last 6 years I have made the pilgrimage, along with many others, to meet David each year just prior to the Asilomar meetings. David was a wonderful inspiration in so many different ways, and I feel deeply saddened that he is no longer amongst us. What David gave to me and so many others, and the legacy he has left for fungal biology in general, will remain with us for the rest of our lives.

Eric Selker, University of Oregon
As many have already pointed out, David Perkins and Dot Newmeyer were of a rare “breed” of humans. They successfully dedicated themselves to solving scientific and societal problems and routinely exhibited unusual kindness, generosity and humility in the process.  Moreover, they did not let normal time constraints defer them from relentless rigor.  Although their hard work is legendary, and can partially account for their impressive productivity, it can not account for their incredible attention to detail.  I was reminded of this while reviewing some of nearly 200 correspondences with David over the last approximately quarter century.  More....

Chuck Staben, University of Kentucky
My postdoctoral years at Stanford were the most intellectually engaging of my scientific career, for which I thank everyone at Stanford-from my labmates to Charley to David and Dot. David taught an informal (though as one might expect, very organized) course that covered fungal genetics while I was there. I probably have forgotten more than I retain, but I remember clearly David opening the course with a description of butterfly metamorphosis and his wonder at that process. When I think about doing science, I remember best the driving curiousity that people like David have and I admire most their ability to turn that curiousity into organized thought and knowledge.
The other memory that I would like to share is one that I can literally see from my desk-the cheap plastic beads that David gave me one day when I had come back to Stanford for a visit. He asked me what I was doing at Kentucky, and we talked about my teaching Genetics here. We talked about recombination, and he showed me his demo with the "pop beads" of several colors representing chromatids in meiosis. Though I still think that multicolored strands of rope and a blindfolded student with scissors makes a more dramatic demo, I would agree with David that the pop beads are great when little kids come to the office. I know that my kids and others enjoyed playing with them, and they continue to have a place on my shelf.

Marc Orbach, University of Arizona
I was very sad to hear of David and Dot's passing away. I was so fortunate to be part of the group in Charley's lab that brought Neurospora back in the lab, and have David and Dot down the hall for ideas, advice and assistance. Both exemplified the ideal of scientists, being generous and helpful in taking the time to answer my naive questions. David's Neurospora genetics lab course gave all of us the skills to start exploring the fungal world. Over the past several years, David and I talked as much about politics as about fungi, and we shared a great concern about the future of the planet, both its environment and its citizens. I was fortunate to visit with David last August at Stanford. He explained to me that he was no longer arriving at the lab at 5:00 am because he took care of Dot until a day nurse arrived. When I told him that he deserved to take some time off, he told me that there were still so many things that interested him and that he wanted to do with Neurospora. His enthusiasm for Neurospora, and fungi in general was a real inspiration to me, and a standard to try to live up to.

Tony Griffiths, University of British Columbia
Since David's passing, I have realized something that was not clear to me before, which is that he forms a large part of my "conscience", both scientific and personal. I realize that in my mind I often run a "Perkins reality check", wondering what David will think about some Neurospora result I have obtained, or some other piece of news. Unexpectedly, even in his death, this still continues, and I suspect will never stop.
I have tried unsuccessfully to write some heavy prose or a poem about David, but the thing that kept popping up in my head is a limerick. When I was on sabbatical in David's lab, we spent some spare time making up limericks for a contest that was being run by CBC radio at the time. There were quite a few entries, including one from Dot, and I wish I had kept them all. However, the one I do remember was about David's passion for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which he ate every single day for lunch. The limerick,
which was a group effort, and which David seemed to quite like (or generously tolerate) went something like this:

A fungal geneticist, Perkins,
Was given a large jar of gherkins.
He was then heard to mutter
"I prefer peanut butter,
It lubricates my internal workings".

Obviously the passing of David and Dot will leave huge gaps in the lives of all who knew them, but they are still with us in so many ways.

Joe Campbell, NIH
I was lucky enough to work in David’s lab while I was in college. It was a wonderful place to have one’s first lab experience. I felt privileged to be in a place where the history of biology was so valued and evident from the pictures of great scientists on the wall. David was a wonderful role model and mentor. After I left the lab, I would come back to visit him often. It was always great to see him. He always was excited to tell me about a recent finding from his lab or someone else’s lab. In addition, he showed great interest in what I was doing. He did all these things with a wry smile and a twinkle in his eye that I will greatly miss. Dot was also wonderful to me. She was very smart and kind. I appreciated the fact that when you went to visit her, she would ask you how are you doing and then really listen to your answer. For these and other reasons it was always wonderful to visit her. I am glad I had a chance to visit them this past summer while I was in California and enjoy their company again.

Charley Yanofsky, Stanford University
David was my exceptional friend, colleague, and fellow scientist, for many years. I will never forget him! He was unassuming, and was determined to do what interested him most, using the approaches he felt were best. He was totally focused on his scientific activities, and was dedicated to encouraging other scientists to contribute at their very best. Events in the nation and around the world always troubled him - he was rarely satisfied with the piecemeal solutions that were adopted. He often spoke out with his own excellent suggestions. He loved to tell me about his latest research – I can still picture the fuzzy cultures he held in his hands, daily, as he performed his experiments. His contributions to maintaining Neurospora as a leading experimental organism were outstanding. Beadle and Tatum initiated research using this organism, but it was David who made certain that this interest would continue. Active Neurospora researchers often would drop by his lab just to be with him, and to receive his encouragement. Dave was a hard worker; every Saturday and Sunday, when I went to my lab - to feed my fish - Dave was in his office or lab, either writing at his computer, or performing experiments at his workbench. I will miss not having him just down the hall, to talk with daily.

Marta Tanrikulu
You've been in my thoughts. David Perkins was a very special person: one of the kindest, most gracious, and most knowledgeable that I've had the good fortune to know. His encouragement and support of so many researchers, young and old (myself included), is of course legendary. It's hard to even think of the Neurospora community without him. He probably singlehandedly put half of its members in contact with each other or their work. He contributed much and touched many careers, lives, and hearts. I admired him very much.

Ross Beever, Landcare Research, Auckland  (New Zealand)
I was much saddened to learn of David’s  mortality. I first visited the Perkins lab in 1969, as a fresh young student en route to John Fincham’s lab in Leeds, and  still remember his friendly low-key welcome.  In correspondence over the years, he was always free with stimulating ideas and offers of cultures. I have fond memories of a Neurospora collecting trip with him around northern New Zealand in 1983. An inspiring scientist and true gentleman. “Ka hinga te totara o te wao nui a Tane” (“the falling of the totara tree in the great forest of Tane”, a Maori proverb on the death of a great leader).

Paola Ballario University La Sapienza Rome
In memory of David Perkins. I feel sad, a real Gentleman of the research world has passed away. The best tribute to him is to keep the Spirit of the Neurospora community collaborative and open as he was.

Denise Zickler , Université Paris-Sud
Warm thanks for your is sad news but probably better for Dot. It would have been too hard for her: she lost David and would have been dependant on either her daughter or in a retirement house. My grandmother died also one week after her husband: she just vanished away! It was hard for my father and us but again she wrote after my grandfather's death that her wish was not to survive too long and it was what happened. For us it is hard too because some pages are more difficult to turn than others, but we should just remember how lucky we were to have known both of them.
David and Dot were both outstanding investigators and their genetic experiments were exemplary in design and execution but the absorption in their work has never prevented them from maintaining their intense interest in literature, arts and music. Their house was a wonderful source of books and music for all who spent some time in David's lab. David set also a high standard on his duties as a teacher: when he came to Paris on his way to Africa, by courtesy for the students who would not know English, he took several hours of French lessons to refresh his knowledge from school. All those aspects should remain an inspiration for all of us.

Noreen E Murray, University of Edinburgh
After reading the tributes online, including those from long-time colleagues like Charles Yanofsky, I feel that I can only endorse what has been written and add a very personal note to indicate how my time in the Perkins’ lab. influenced my life.
When I told my Ph.D. supervisor (David G. Catcheside, father of the current David C.) that I planned to get married, he was very concerned about my future, since “my career would now be second to that of my husband”.  Fortunately, David G. wrote to David Perkins to see if he could provide space for me to continue my experiments.  My husband and I completed our PhDs in 1959; my husband came to Murray Luck in the Chemistry Department, and I came to David Perkins’ lab.   How lucky we were.  I spent nearly 5 rewarding years in the wonderful interactive environment provided by David and Dot, where I was encouraged to follow up my ideas and interests.  David and Dot were intellectually exceptional, but of great significance was their concern for people as well as for science.  During my special time in the Perkins’ lab. I also had the privilege of going to Charley Yanofsky’s journal clubs.  
My eventual switch from Neurospora to lambda and E. coli reflected, in part, my thought that polarized gene conversion might indicate a sequence-specific endonuclease. Also, my move to Edinburgh in 1968 was to a Department focussed on bacterial genetics, but within which my husband was concerned with the determination of nucleotide sequences at the ends of DNA molecules.  For these reasons in 1968 I turned to the topic of restriction systems, but I always maintained contact with Dave and Dot.

Frank-Roman Lauter, Arcensus AG
I was very sad when I had learn that David has passed away. As you know better than everybody else, David had such an impressive personality that he always will be in our hearts and stories. I do feel very priviledged that I had the opportunity to spend time with him. Whenever I visited Stanford over the last years, climing the steps of Herrin Labs, my heart was filled with joy just because of the perspective of seeing him. I do not want to mention his achievements as a researcher and teacher. Equally impressive or I should say, even more impressive were his achievements as a private human being. In his presense you had to be a 'good guy' and even better; people tried to stay 'good guys' long after they had interacted with Dave. I do already miss him.

Beatrice and Jonathan Wittenberg, Harvard University
David Perkins, Colin Pittendrigh and Jonathan B. Wittenberg first met as graduate students, learning population genetics from the great Theodozius Dobzhanski at The Department of Zoology, Columbia University. Our scientific paths diverged but our friendship never flagged and was enriched by marriages to Dorothy, Margaret and Beatrice. Over the years we have gone canoeing and camping together and, despite geographic isolation, met at each others homes for endless conversation, long talking walks and perhaps too much wine. We have watched each others children grow up. As survivers, the sad duty falls to us to express our sorrow at David and Dorothy's passing. They were magnificent people and their lives enriched ours.


Barbara Turner, Stanford University
Dot was a dear friend of mine for 40 years.  Even as her strength and health failed, it was a joy to visit her, and her passing makes me realize what a unique bond we had in sharing both our careers and our family/community lives.  More....

Virginia Pollard, Stanford University
The outpouring of expressions of esteem, affection, and sadness over the passing of David and Dot is a little overwhelming, though not at all surprising. What a moving testament to the wide-ranging and profound effect a gentle, dedicated spirit can have on friends and colleagues. More....

Matt Springer, UC San Francisco
Thank you for sending out this unfortunate news. I'm really sorry to hear about this; I have not actually seen him for several years, but he will still be missed. My condolences to the family for the passing of both David and Dot.  David was always high on my list of what it means to be a real scientist and a real person as well, and played an integral part of my graduate school experience. He was part of a small cluster of people who shaped my attitudes toward science, research, and dealing with people in a knowledgeable but non-threatening manner. It is a great honor to have known him, to have been influenced by him, and to have been able to call him friend and colleague. 

Karl Esser, Ruhr- Universität Bochum
It is more than half a century ago that I have first met Dave Perkins and his wife Dorothy on the occasion of the International Botanical Congress in Paris in 1954. Georges Rizet had organized a Symposium on Incompatibility. In these days the community of Fungal Geneticists was very small. Thus almost all scholars interested in this field of Fungal Genetics were present. I remember that we have met between the meetings in Rizet´s lab for a drink.   More....

Rowland Davis, UC Irvine
It is hard to imagine what the life of our community will be like without David. We can nevertheless take comfort that his life was so long and that so much of him remains with us. If there are scientific saints, he was surely one of them. His generosity, modesty, and genuine pride in his craft illuminated us all. To the end, he tended Neurospora like a constant gardener, showing us all how to tend gardens of our own. His departure, like his life, was dignified, and all the more poignant because Dot refused to let him go alone.

Maja Bojko, Santaris Pharma A/S
I had the privilege of working in David's lab as a post doc for three years 1985-88 and we have been in contact ever since. Both David and Dot had the rare combination of integrity, kindness, diligence and modesty. They have been an inspiration not only to be a better scientist, but to be a better person. We are all diminished by their death.

Alan Radford, University of Leeds
Dot was a wonderful person, not just a meticulous scientist and a great friend, but also someone who was deeply committed to improving the lot of humanity. Although her deteriorating health stopped her lab work many years ago, her incisive mind was undiminished, and David kept her supplied with manuscripts. Through the house-bound years, she kept working for a better world, with her letters and donations. I've worked at Stanford with Dot and David, co-authored gene compendia with them, and stayed with them at what David used to call the Vine Street caravanserai many times. To me Dot and David were an inseparable partnership in science and in life, and it's not really surprising, I suppose, that they went together at the end.

Namboori B. Raju, Stanford University
I am arguably one of the longest serving inmates of David Perkins laboratory (>32 years), and I write here about my first encounter with David that brought me into his mold, Neurospora. My Ph.D. work was on Coprinus with Benjamin Lu in Canada (1968-72). We published a couple of papers on Coprinus meiotic chromosomes in 1970, and I went back to India within days after defending my thesis, because I did not see or talk to my wife and little daughter for four long years! David was a true scholar and kept up with the new journals weekly as they arrived in the library. In early 1974, I received an unsolicited letter from David Perkins, who was then preparing to visit India for collecting Neurospora. We met for the first time in the Osmania University guesthouse (Hyderabad) and talked about fungal cytology for over an hour. He did not find much Neurospora in the area, instead, he collected and transported me and family to Stanford. This incident served my ego well, but it truly reflects David’s vision and shows how much he cared for new cytological methods and good science. I read many of the messages posted here: how you have known David, his generosity, counsel, eternal smile, and his impact on your work and life etc. He was indeed the giant of a scientist and the saint of a human being. I have known and worked all my professional life with the same great man. Thank you David for bringing me into your fold and mold.

Carmit Ziv, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
I was deeply sorry to hear about Prof. Perkins passing away. I only briefly met Prof. Perkins during a short visit to Stanford, two years ago. Although I didn't have the privilege to talk with him at length, I have been very much inspired by his scientific work and have been always impressed by the many stories about his outstanding personality.  I recently learned that the Neurospora policy committee decided to award me with the honorable "Perkins Award" and I was looking forward and excited to meet Prof. Perkins again at the upcoming Asilomar meeting. I'm very sad that Prof. Perkins is no longer with us, but I am sure his legacy will continuously accompany my work with the orange mold - Neurospora.

Ho Coy Choke, University Malaysia Sabah
Kindly convey my deepest condolence to Susan Perkins for the loss of her both parents. Both Prof. David Perkins and Dr. Dorothy Newmeyer Perkins have touched our hearts (me and my family), personally and scientifically. We shall long remember them.

Barbara Turner, Stanford University In 1950 I took David’s Genetics course.  Even at the start of his career, he cared about “all the good women lost to Science.”  Over the summer he wrote me a letter asking me to stop into his office because I was the best student in the class and he didn’t know which one I was.  I took all the courses he gave after that, though I was a Psychology major.  Every time I saw him before and after I graduated, he talked to me about the latest developments in Genetics, always assuming that I wanted to know (true) and could understand everything he said (not always true).  If his encouragement had not been there to overcome the gender discrimination and cultural conditioning of that era, I never would have formed the resolve to return and do graduate work and start my 30 year career with David in 1966.

Mary Case, University of Georgia
It is with great sadness to learn of the passing of both David Perkins and his wife Dorothy Newmeyer Perkins. I have known them both for years (since 1950) and have respected their research. Their contributions to the Neusropora community have been fundamental and outstanding. This is a passing of an era on to the next generation of Neurospora researchers.

Mary Anne Nelson, University of New Mexico
David touched me in so many ways throughout the years. He was especially kind when I was a new assistant professor. He often sent me papers he wanted to be sure that I had read, saying things like "Perhaps you missed this paper." When I was quite nervous about teaching Introductory Genetics for the first time, David wrote: "I remember well being in your situation when I came to Stanford and taught Introductory Genetics for the first time. I inherited the tradition from Beadle that it was given at 8 AM 4 days a week, and it was given twice that first year. Somehow one survives, and if so, it is a learning experience." Later, checking up on me, David wrote: "I hope your teaching is now finished for the 1st year, leaving the summer gloriously free for research!" Just as I have saved David's letters all these years, so I hope his tradition of open and collaborative science will remain with us. This is perhaps the best way we can honor his memory.

Jason Stajich, UC Berkeley
I'm very sad to hear of David and Dot's passing, but I wanted to express my condolences to you in losing a mentor and friend. I'm sad that I never got to meet the man himself and only will know him by his legend. It has been really amazing to read all the great words on the perkins lab site -- it further emphasizes how close-knit a community this can be. It also makes me wish we could give people the gift of these kind words while they are still with us.

Nawin & Purnima Mishra, The University of South Carolina
We are Very Sorry to learn the passing away of David and Dot. We were very fortunate to enjoy their friendship since 1969 when I first met David at the Rockefeller University. We reconize this big loss to Genetics and we believe that this void can only be filled by following David' s Silent leadership in the field. Please convey our sincere condolences to Sue Perkins and her husband John in this hour of grief.

D. P. Kasbekar, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad
When I read your mail earlier this morning all words were stunned out of me. But as I slowly come back to my senses, the way you put it, "(Dot).... joined David in their long journey together through life and beyond", made it somewhat easier to come to terms with the passing of Dot. Maybe they themselves chose to go this way, if indeed such things are chosen. I never met Dot, but I'm aware of some of her contributions (tol, mei-3, Ban, alcoy, bubble asci, ...). The whole Neurospora community shares your grief.

Doug Turner, Stanford University
About 7 years after my mother (Barbara Turner) met David, she had me. I therefore grew up with David's lab in my life. I remember when the lab was in the basement of Jordan Hall and I used to look for the little bush rabbits where Herrin Labs now stands. After Herrin was built, I helped move items across the street into the "new lab", I must have been 7 or 8 years old at that time. I used to go to the Perkins' Lab with my mother, and as she worked I would pull some creature from my preserved collection, open my dissection book and be fully occupied. Little did I know at that time that in 1984 I would find employment two floors up in the same building. I have, therefore, from birth through high school and then from 1984 until this last Christmas break, seen David on a regular basis. Often I'd see him in the lobby or between Gilbert and Herrin walking along in his bicycle helmet either coming or going. He would always ask how my mother and family were doing. For me, the Department of Biological Sciences and the name David Perkins have always been linked. Now he is gone and I will miss him. But in my head, his name and memory will always be part of this place I work.

Allan Campbell, Stanford Biology
Both the world genetics community and Stanford Biology have lost one of their finest. Dave's career was exemplary. He set a high standard at every stage, including the pursuit of research after "retirement." He was a true scholar, whose knowledge of the genetics literature, both current and classical, was a resource I frequently drew upon.

Robin Holliday
I have just received the very sad new of David Perkins death. I had been corresponding with him in the last couple of years, particularly about John Fincham's obituary and related topics. Also, he retained his interest in Ustilago, which as you may know, he worked on for several years, and this overlapped with my own research. He sent me early reprints and part of his stock collection. I only met David once, and that was way back in 1963. He was one of the most dedicated scientists I was privileged to meet and correspond with.  A true scholar who valued research and science, and became a world leader in his chosen field of study.There is one incident which you will not know about. When I wrote up my proposal for the mechanism of gene conversion and crossing over, I submitted it to David who was Editor of Genetics at the time. Surprisingly, he responded by saying that the journal did not publish theoretical papers. However, he communicated my ideas to Max Delbruck, who at that time was involved in launching Molecular and General Genetics as an international journal. Delbruck then wrote to me with an invitation to submit my paper to MGG, but it was already in press in Genetical Research. I think this episode is of historical interest.

Robert Sapolsky, Stanford University
I, too, am immensely saddened by the loss of Dave. I am not a fungal person, so I didn't get to experience the professional mentoring that he was clearly legendary for. Instead, being in his department, I got to experience his warmth and dignity, and his spectacular commitment to doing and enjoying science. I'll admit to a situation, though, where I'd scuttle out of sight, in fear of being seen by Dave. This would be on days where I, in my 40's, would be waiting to take the elevator up to my lab, while he was about to ascend the stairs. As so many people have said, Dave was an inspiration, even when it came to aerobic exercise; I will miss him.

Kevin McCluskey, Fungal Genetics Stock Center
In a world of celebrity and fleeting fame, David Perkins was my enduring hero.

Oded Yarden, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
I recall seeing Dot before the last meeting and was also aware the difficulties she has suffered over that past years. I am sure David's passing away had an strong impact. Maybe its an indication of how strong they were bound. I know they were not young, but its still very sad. I just wish that we will be able to maintain at least some of the better attributes of that generation (I am fully aware that it will never be all of them).

Jonathan Arnold, University of Georgia
David and Dorothy will be missed. He (with her support) has contributed to so many ways to genetics. I am grateful for the opportunity to have known David over the years and his generosity and kindness. I appreciate all of the contributions he made to my own work.

Michael Freitag, Oregon State University
I am stunned by your sad news and I don't really know what to say. Please convey my condolences to Dot and David's family. The Neurospora community has lost an incredible scholar, mentor and spokesperson, but the world has lost a scientist of conscience with much drive to change things for the better.

Kwangwon Lee, Cornell University
I am very sad to lose David. He was a true gentleman as well as an excellent scientist. Thank you so much David for your kind advices, encouragements, old reprints and a privilege to have known you.

Michael J. Hynes, University of Melbourne
This is just to express my sadness at David's death. I really enjoyed all my interactions with him - particularly as I am old enough to appreciate just how much he and others of his generation have contributed to science. Please add my name to any appropriate list of people extending their condolences to his family.

Ursula Kües, Georg-Augus-Universität Göttingen
With great sadness I received the news about David, the kind and modest gentleman who had to give so much to everybody being priviledged to have known him and who did that with so much modesty on his own person. Whilst I was reading your note, my student Monica was in my office and noticed at once by my reaction that something major has happened - I feel much grief and will miss the warm smile on David´s face that was always there when he talked to me in Asimolar. I told Monica then about the times I met David and how much his work and thinking also influences our genetic research on Coprinus and what his loss will mean to everbody in the fungal community. David was special.

Bob Brambl, University of Minnesota
David was one of those people who made science seem an amazingly attractive and important and human activity. He was generous with his time and his interests in others' work, and he seemingly never lost an enthusiasm and excitement for the work in his own laboratory. Nora and I have had his death and the meaning of his life on our minds this week, while discussing our happy interactions with him, Dorothy, you, and others. With sadness, I offer you my condolence and best wishes.

Carl T. Yamashiro, Molecular Profiling Institute
I was deeply saddened upon hearing of the passing of David Perkins recently.  As you know, I spent quite a bit of time in the Perklab learning about and how to do classical genetics with Neurospora while doing my postdoc with Charley.  I have many fond memories sitting in the lab sipping tea and chatting with David about Neurospora, science and life, not necessarily in that order.  These wonderful conversations, including his patient guidance as I plodded through many genetic experiments, have provided me a role model for mentoring young scientists, as well as my own children.   David will be sorely missed, but more importantly he will be fondly remembered by everyone as being wonderful mentor, colleague, friend, family man and human being who has left an indelible mark on this world.  

Gloria Turner, UCLA
The sudden death of our esteemed colleague and friend David Perkins has evoked a flood of memories. David was everything a man should be. His life was devoted to what was meaningful and important to him, his family and his scientific community. He brought a message of reason and selflessness. His devotion was not out of self-interest but a genuine caring and love for all of us. He understood, in the most profound way, the importance of being part of the solution not the problem in life. His sudden departure will leave a void that may never be filled in our scientific community. I am thankful at having the opportunity to learn from him and share a mutual passion in understanding the biology of a most exquisite organism, Neursopora crassa

Deborah Bell-Pedersen, Texas A&M University
I am so saddened by the news of the loss of David. I will deeply miss our discussions at Asilomar, and our almost weekly emails regarding the Neurospora Methods Manual. He was the driving force behind the manual that is online and is now being used by so many researchers. It was his goal to provide this manual as a way to help the careers of young scientists. One consolation is that he was able to see this come to fruition before he left us. My condolences to his family, both of you, and the scientific community. There really are no words to express how deeply his passing is felt by all of us.

Eric Selker, University of Oregon
I was shocked and greatly saddened by the news of the loss of David! David was an amazing person who we should all feel very privileged to have known and worked with. I can't think of another scientist with his combination of enthusiasm, dedication and altruism.

Matthew Sachs, Oregon Health and Sciences University
I'm thinking about many moments, but the ones that are sharpest are sitting around the table together and talking with the sun streaming in, and those of him working at the bench with the photos overhead.

Benjamin Lu, University of Guelph
It is with great sadness I received the news of David's passing. Somehow I felt that yesterday. I remember after the Neurospora meeting last year, he said to me in the car, "see you next year". I cannot believe that I will not see him again. David has been a great mentor and colleague. Because of his kindness and generosity, I was invited to Stanford many times. I am indebted to him for encouraging me to work on spreading the synaptonemal complex of Neurospora crassa. I am indebted to him and honored to be his associate.

Dorothy Shaw, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Queensland, Australia
I was most grieved to hear the news and realise what a shock it must have been to Dorothy and Sue, and to all his colleagues and friends at the Department and the University, as well as to many people overseas.

Andrzej Paszewski, Polish Academy of Sciences
We have received the news about the death of David Perkins with great sadness since he was one of the best friends of our fungal genetics community in the University of Warsaw and the Instiute of Biochemistry and Biophysis we have ever had. He helped us much in many ways during the dark years of communism in this country: providing journals, reagents and strains and organizing visits to the States for several members of our groups. We were always moved by his kindness and deep understanding of our problems. He also took care of wwiting obituaries of our seniors - professors Waclaw Gajewski and Alexandra Putrament -  in the 2003 isssue of the Fungal Genetics Newsletter.

Patrick Hickey, Lux Biotech
I am really sorry to hear this sad news. He was a wonderful person and a great inspiration.
I have attached some photographs from past conferences in Asilomar (2003, 2004). The poster that David presented in 2003 was excellent; discussing the mutant phenotypes with him is something I will always remember.


Alan Radford, University of Leeds
He leaves us with an enormous void, but also with a shining example to follow. Deepest sympathy to Dot, Sue, friends and colleagues. 

Patrick Shiu, University of Missouri
I am very sorry to hear about David's passing.  David was the perfect gentleman and I have nothing but the utmost respect for him.  I only have the privilege to know him personally for a few short years, and yet he has already touched and changed my life in so many ways. I know it is not an easy task, but instead of mourning his passing, I would try to celebrate his life and his legacy. I will certainly keep David and his family in my thought. 

John Taylor, UC Bekeley
It is the end of an era, and one that I assumed never would end.  He was a giant in the practice of science and the nurturing of scientists and all of us were fortunate to have received his care. Perkins managed to be both a stellar scientist and a supremely effective leader without being a careerist; there aren't many like him.  I am focusing on David's way of flashing a sly smile and a sparkling eye when he made a point that was going to force you to rethink you own research plans.  Please tell David's family that I am thinking of them and of David. 

Phil Hanawalt, Stanford University
Dave Perkins was a wonderful professional role model for me, as he exemplified the highest standards of integrity, generosity and human dignity. I have enjoyed our short conversations at the lab right up until recent weeks as he continued to come to work and clearly thrived on his ongoing scientific career with no let-up until his health ultimately failed.  And that is perhaps the way it should be, as we are all mortal and it is never a matter of "if" but rather one of "when" our fragile lives will terminate.  Knowing Dave,  of course, as you say, he  "would not want anybody to make a big fuss.." but we will indeed wish to join in a group of his friends and colleagues to celebrate the wonderful human being we have had the good fortune to know for these many years.  

Bill Burkholder, Stanford University
 will never forget the kindness, curiosity, and warm support that David and all of you extended to me and members of my lab since we first became your neighbors across the hall. David set an inspiring example, with his infectious excitement and love of experimental inquiry together with his energy, steadfastness, and warm heart. Please extend my regrets and appreciation to Dorothy.

Nilce and Antonio Rossi
Please, let the family of Professor David Perkins know that we are joining the Neurospora community in the condolence for their pain.

Liz Turner, UC Berkeley
His passing is indeed a terrible loss to the greater community of researchers. I am acutely aware that my own work would have been impossible without David. I am grateful that I was able visit Stanford and meet with him at the lab. From what I knew of him, and yet even more from all I heard about him, he was  a truly wonderful mixture of intelligence, energy, and decency.

Chris and Sonya Gillies, University of Sydney
David was a gentleman scholar and I will be forever thankful for the help and advice he gave me.  The Gillies family were welcomed to Stanford for the visits to his lab and home.  We were also honoured and happy to be able to welcome him on his visits here in Sydney.

Dave Geiser, Penn State University
A sad day indeed.  He was a true gentleman and scholar.  I, like legions of others, benefited from his warmth, kindness and intellectual generosity.

Peter Ray, Stanford University
All of us, both at Stanford and in biology much more broadly, have lost a prince of a scientist and person.  I am sure that he will be long remembered by everyone involved in the biology of Neurospora and related organisms. He will also be fondly remembered by everyone in our department and in his field elsewhere for his graciousness, wonderful memory, broad interests, wisdom, and sterling character.

Kathy Borkovich, UC Riverside
I am very sad to hear that David Perkins has passed away.  There are really no words to describe what he has meant to all of us.  We were blessed that he was able to keep doing research and be such an active participant in science as long as he did.  Most other people his age would have been long retired and away from their profession.

Ramesh and Manjuli Maheswari, IISc, Bangalore
I am shocked to learn of the demise of David Perkins who was a mentor to all of us. I and Manjuli share in the grief.

Robert Debuchy, Université Paris-Sud
David has lent much attention to the french community working on Podospora anserina. He prompted us to publish a Podospora bibliography in the 50th Fungal Genetics Newsletter, he made commentary papers on Podospora articles, reviewed funding demands, he encouraged us for the Podospora Genome Project and, recently, he gave me advices for the construction of a website on fungal mating types. David also made the link between the french and american fungal communities and his disparition is a great loss for the french community as well, but he will remain a model of courage, honesty and modesty for us all, and notably for me.

Louise Glass, UC Berkeley
My sincere condolences about David Perkins.  He was a great and generous man and I will sorely miss him.

Flora Banuett, California State University Long Beach
I am really saddened with the news of David's death. I have known him for long, since I started my studies of Ustilago maydis and he invited me to his lab to get his remaining Ustilago strains.  I still have them as well as his last grant proposal on Ustilago and the paper he wrote.  We always chatted during the Asilomar meetings. I shall miss him a lot.  So kind and generous and so very sharp.

Heinz Osiewacz, Goethe University
I had a strong sympathy for him. I very much remember how easy it was to come into contact with him also as a person that only was rather loosely connected to him and his lab. The Neurospora- no, the fungal community- will miss him personally and all his experience very much. It was always an event to see him and talk to him at the Fungal Genetics Conference and knowing that before or after the conference there was a place to step in- his laboratory in Stanford. Please, give my (and my wives) best wishes to his family.

Luis Corrochano, University of Seville
All I can say is that I feel very sad and that I will miss him, as I'm sure a lot of people will do. David was very supportive and helpful in my career and I will never forget all the efforts that he put to help me during all the years that I knew him. He was a great friend and colleague. Please, send my best wishes to his family and to the Department, his scientific family, and let us honor him by doing first-class science, the only one that he knew and practiced.

D. P. Kasbekar, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad
The news has filled me with a sadness that I can hardly express in words.  I had hoped to see David on my forthcoming trip to the States this year.  Whenever I came up with what I thought was a "good experiment" or my students got an interesting result, I felt a child-like need to hear his approval.  He knew this and his response was never unkind.  I have not really adequately acknowledged David's many critical contributions to my articles (once, re-writing the entire abstract). According to Sharat, David was among the last of the great geneticists and we were privileged to have known him.

Marie-José Daboussi, Université Paris-Sud
I was greatly saddened to learn of the passing of David. For me he was an outstanding researcher , very kind, "un grand Homme "

Tatiana Belozerskaya, and Prof. Mikhail S.Kritsky, A.N. Bach Inst. Biochem., Moscow
It was with deep sorrow that we learned of the death of Professor David Perkins. Please accept on behalf of our laboratory our condolences over a loss of a man whose work and personality have contributed so much to the national science. Please also konvey my simpathy to his family.

Claudio Scazzocchio, Université Paris-Sud
I knew David from his work and from meetings. This was for me more than enough to appreciate that the first class scientist was also a wonderful person. To all his close colleagues and family my deep sympathy and solidarity.

Helmut Bertrand, Michigan State University
The news of David Perkin's death has elicited a deep feeling of loss in me: his generosity as a person and scientist was enormous and flowed unconditionally to us all.  While tears well up in my eyes because of his departure, they flow because I shall always remember his spirit as it was when he was alive!

Barbara Howlett , University of Melbourne
I am very sad about David's passing; he was such a wonderful person and an inspiration to us all.

In glowing memory of David and Dorothy Perkins
(N. B. Raju and David Jacobson)
Back to Top | Department Home | University Home | Contact Us | ©2004 David D. Perkins