N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: October 26, 1985
Discipline / contribution: parasitology ; northern research
Citation / biographical information:
Robert L. Rausch was born and educated in Ohio, graduating in Veterinary Medicine in 1945; with post graduate studies in Parasitology and Wildlife to follow at Michigan and Wisconsin. He began his career as a parasitologist in the north in 1949 at the Arctic Health Research Centre and rose to become Chief of the Infectious Disease Section before the unit closed in 1974. On his way to the University of Washington Medical School, where he now holds five positions, including Professor of Animal Medicine, he paused in Saskatoon for three memorable years at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. When the Rausch's left Saskatoon in 1978, the University of Saskatchewan established the Robert L. and Virginia R. Rausch Visiting Professorship in the W.C.V.M. in recognition of his contribution to northern biology and to this University. He was the model professor, the kind for which we constantly search and rarely find; a distinguished scientist, excellent teacher, without salary. The Visiting Professorship was endowed by the funds budgeted for him, but which he never accepted.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Dr. Rausch has contributed well over 200 publications to the scientific literature, holds the rank of "fellow" in five prestigious scientific organizations and has been the recipient of many honors. He was President of the American Society of Parasitology, received the Distinguished Service Award of the Wildlife Disease Association and is the first recipient of the new Arctic Science Prize which is to be awarded biennially to a scientist "who contributes significantly to understanding the natural processes of the Arctic."
Dr. Rausch ranks as one of the great scholars of nature and natural history of the North. His work in mammology and parasitology has taken him to many countries of the Pacific Rim and few, if any, North Americans are as well travelled in eastern Siberia. His research has focused on the biology of parasites of mammals of the North and he has contributed greatly to the understanding of parasitic diseases of the Alaskan Inuit and native peoples of Siberia. He has a remarkable command of the scientific literature, is knowledgeable in several languages and has probably the best and most comprehensive personal library collection of its kind in existence.
Although a student of the culture of the Nunamuit Eskimos, living with them and learning their language, only he could surprise them by baking voles for dinner.
Labelled as a classical parasitologist, he may have taken his quest for knowledge to the extreme when he consumed and found "somewhat salty" the bot larvae from caribou. His prowess as a field biologist is beyond question, but his data collecting techniques, although original and accurate, may not appeal to everyone. To study the physiology of hibernation, he entered the den of a sleeping black bear to record the rectal temperature; to search for parasites, he entered the body cavity of a bowhead whale.
As an outdoorsman, there is none finer. He came to know Alaska before statehood and travelled its remote reaches by dogsled and aircraft; he has been known to shoot a goose in flight with a .22 rifle and facilitate the landing of a gigantic northern pike with a shot between the eyes.
Surely these selected accomplishments lend an aura of the superhuman to this man, but one finds in Bob Rausch a warm, compassionate person of extraordinary integrity who treats his students with sensitivity, respect and consideration.
Whether described as a "scientist's scientist", distinguished scholar, veterinarian, biologist, naturalist or humanitarian, he is a man of extraordinary accomplishment and, to those who know him, the dearest of friends.
Degree presented by: Gavin Hamilton
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