Pioneering Philadelphia environmental scientist Ruth Patrick dies at 105

     Ruth Patrick is shown in 1975 at the age of 67 talking about her selection as that year's winner of the John and Alice Tyler Ecology Prize. With her is smog expert A.J. Haagen-Smit, one of the year's co-winners. She was chairman of Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences at the time. (AP Photo/George Brich, file)

    Ruth Patrick is shown in 1975 at the age of 67 talking about her selection as that year's winner of the John and Alice Tyler Ecology Prize. With her is smog expert A.J. Haagen-Smit, one of the year's co-winners. She was chairman of Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences at the time. (AP Photo/George Brich, file)

    Dr. Ruth Patrick, a pioneering scientist with a lifelong devotion to the environment died on Monday in Lafayette Hill, Pa., at the age of 105. Patrick worked as an ecologist at the Academy of Natural Sciences here in Philadelphia for nearly eight decades.

    She gained international recognition for her breakthroughs in freshwater studies both inside and outside the United States, and for her advancements long before the environment became a household topic in America.

    Patrick began her career in the 1930s when few women worked in science. Her work led her to become adviser to President Ronald Reagan on acid rain and to draft legislation on the Clean Water Act in the 1960s. 

    Among countless accolades, Patrick had received 25 honorary degrees as well as the National Medal of Science from former President Bill Clinton.

    Robert Peck, aenior fellow at the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University worked alongside Patrick for nearly four decades and says she’ll be remembered for more than her scientific achievements.

    “She always took time out of her schedule to ask about personal matters,” Peck said. “She was fun, had a great sense of humor, took great interest in everyone with whom she worked.”

    Patrick continued to work at her museum office well past the age of 100. WHYY-TV profiled Patrick in 2004. Watch videos of her talking about her life’s work.

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