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Mission Course of Douglass Residential College

This guide is for students in the mission course of Douglass Residential College.

Evelyn M. Witkin, Department of Biological Sciences


Evelyn M. Witkin (1921-2023) was a pioneer woman in STEM fields and a recipient of the prestigious Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 2015. Her career at Rutgers started at Douglass College and continued later at the Waksman Institute until her retirement in 1991. Her research "underpins our understanding of DNA damage and DNA repair in all living organisms, from bacteria to humans, and for understanding how DNA damage and DNA repair affect cancer and aging.” said Richard Ebright, a Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and laboratory director at the Waksman Institute.

Professor Witkin was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She also received the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences and the Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal of the Genetics Society of America. She received her PhD was from Columbia University.

Jewell Plummer Cobb, the sixth Dean of Douglass College


A noted cancer researcher, and dean and professor of zoology at Connecticut College, Jewell  Plummer Cobb (1924-2017) was appointed as the sixth dean of Douglass in 1976. As the first African American to serve as dean of Douglass, Cobb had first-hand experience of the challenges that confront women and minorities who enter STEM fields. She had a PhD from New York University.

Mary I. Bunting, the third Dean of Douglass College

Mary Ingraham Bunting (1910-1998) came to Douglass in 1955 as the third dean of Douglass College. A microbiologist with a PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, she was also a widow with four children. As a professor of bacteriology, she continued her research on Serratia bacteria  while serving as the college dean. In 1960 Bunting left Douglass to become the dean of Radcliffe College, Harvard University.

Jessie Gladys Fiske, Department of Biological Sciences

Jessie Gladys Fiske (1895-1966), was a graduate student at Rutgers in 1918 when she was hired at NJC as a laboratory assistant in Botany Department. Fiske became a full professor and served as the chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at the time of her retirement in 1960. She established a teaching herbarium on campus with emphasis on local plants. She published on seeds, poisonous plants and weeds, including marijuana. In this photo from the 1920s,she is standing in the back.


On non-academic side, Professor Fiske was an accomplished equestrian. She contributed in establishing the “Crop and Spur” a riding student organization at the college with its riding track where Hickman Hall now stands.

Hazel B. Gillespie, Chair of Douglass Bacteriology Department (1956-1968)


Hazel B. Gillespie received her PhD from Yale University in 1937. Her dissertation was titled Bacterial variation and inquiry into its nature and significance. She served as chair of the Bacteriology Department at Douglass from 1956 to 1968.

Elizabeth Cook served as acting chair of the Bacteriology Department from 1969-1972. During her last year leading the department,, Cook co-chaired with Hilda Christine Reilly, DC '1941. Reilly was the first alumnae to be appointed a departmental chair. Prior to returning to Douglass College, her alma mater, Reilly had been a faculty member of the Sloan-Kettering Division of the Graduate School of Medical Sciences at Cornell University.

Image from Quair, 1958


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