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Entomology expert James Slater dies

by Sherry Fisher - November 17, 2008


James Slater, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology, died Nov. 2. He was 88.

Slater, who lived in Rockford, Ill., joined the UConn faculty in 1953 and retired in 1988. An expert in entomology, Slater was a world authority on heteropteran insects. Heteroptera are also known as ‘true bugs’ or, more precisely, ‘typical bugs.’

During his tenure at UConn, he served as department head in several areas of biological sciences. He collected insects in Africa, Australia, Central America, and the West Indies.

Slater earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. from Iowa State University.

Jane O’Donnell, manager of scientific collections and a former graduate student of Slater’s, praised his teaching.

“He was a very good teacher and role model in terms of how science should be conducted,” she says. “He was well respected and world renowned in his specialty.”

Carl Schaefer, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, says Slater had “very high scholarly standards,” and “enjoyed good conversation.”

Slater also applied his keen scientific eye to the study of gravestones and milk glass.

He served as president of the Society of Systematic Zoology, the Connecticut Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, the National Milk Glass Collectors Society, and the Connecticut Entomological Society, and vice president of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Association for Gravestone Studies.

He was a member of many worldwide entomological societies and served as Connecticut state ornithologist. He was the author of A Catalogue of the Lygaeidae of the World published in 1964, as well as books on milk glass and colonial gravestones.

He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Arc of Winnebago, Boone, and Ogle Counties, http://www.arcwbo.org/

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