October 31, 2014

Laura Hunter Colwin

With sadness the MBL announces the passing of Laura Hunter Colwin, a long-time member of the Corporation, summer investigator, Trustee Emerita, and donor who passed away in Miami, Florida, on December 6. She was 95.

Laura was born on July 5, 1911, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She received her AB from Bryn Mawr College in 1932 and her MA and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Laura Colwin and her late husband Arthur 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 Penn 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.

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. Arthur passed a year later, in November 2003, at the age of 92.