July 24, 2014

Arthur L. Colwin

With sadness the MBL announces the passing of Arthur Lentz Colwin, a long-time member of the Corporation, summer investigator, and Trustee Emeritus, who passed away at his home in Key Biscayne on November 1st. He was 92.

Arthur Colwin and his wife Laura have had a long association with the Marine Biological Laboratory. Both first came to the MBL in the 1930s to conduct independent research. Laura was a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania when she first arrived in Woods Hole. Arthur was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University when he spent his first summer at the MBL a few years later. Laura and Arthur met here, and later married.

Arthur was a native of Sydney, Australia. He moved to Canada with his family as a child and later received his B.S. and Ph.D. from McGill University. After becoming a U.S. citizen in 1942 he served with the U.S. Air Force from 1943 to 1946, and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. Except during the war and a few sabbatical years, the Colwins returned to the MBL nearly every summer thereafter, conducting ground-breaking research in embryology and fertilization. They became members of the Corporation, served terms on the Board of Trustees, and later became Trustees Emeriti. In the 1950s, the Colwins used the nascent technology of electron microscopy to describe morphologically what happens when a sperm first encounters an egg during fertilization. When not in Woods Hole, the couple continued their research and taught generations of undergraduates at Queens College of the City University of New York.

In 2002 the Colwins made an extraordinary gift of $2.3 million to the Marine Biological Laboratory to establish the Laura and Arthur Colwin Endowed Summer Research Fellowship Fund.

Dr. Colwin is survived by his wife Laura and his sisters Sally Werfel of Seattle and Ruth Rogers of Las Vegas.