Bert M. Zuckerman


Bert M. Zuckerman passed away on March 5, 2011 at his home in Yarmouth, Maine, USA at the age of 86.

Born on March 26, 1924 in New York City, he attended George Washington High School while helping his parents in the family grocery store on weekends.  At age 17 he joined the Merchant Marines, and while out at sea, he saw the early stirrings of World War II.  Upon return, he attended the Forestry School at North Carolina State University, where he received his B.S.  He subsequently studied for M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at Syracuse University and the University of Illinois, respectively, focusing on the field of plant pathology.   His graduate work was interrupted by the draft. He served on a medic team in the Army while stationed in Germany, France and Switzerland during World War II.

After completion of his doctorate, Bert joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts in 1955 and advanced to full professor within 8 years. His early research centered on general plant pathology, but soon he directed his energies to the study of nematodes.  

Dr. Zuckerman became an international authority on the biology of nematodes; the scope of his research ranged from investigations of crop damage and population dynamics to the biology of aging.  He was one of the pioneers in using nematodes as models for understanding basic biological processes, a strategy still being used in developmental biology and neuroscience to this day.  His research is detailed in more than 150 papers. He was a prolific scientific writer and editor. He is credited with seven books, several laboratory manuals, three patents for novel biopesticides, and numerous appointments to editorial boards for journals in nematology and plant pathology. 

Bert enjoyed visiting professorships with the Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw; Rothamsted Research, England; Volcani Institute, Technion, Weizmann Institute and Hebrew University/Hadassah Hospital, Israel; Aegean University, Turkey; McGill University, Canada; and the University of Chapingo, Mexico. He also served as Agricultural Consultant to the government of Malawi through the United States Agency for International Development.  He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Nematologists in 1983.

Beyond his nematological work, Dr. Zuckerman had a wide variety of interests. He was an avid birder who catalogued his observations over many years during travels around the world.  He also took great pride in a magnificent collection of stereoscopic views of Palestine—once estimated to be the second largest in the world.  During his retirement, articles he penned for Stereo World garnered him two writing awards from the National Stereoscopic Association.  Other interests included fishing, hiking, bike riding, Nordic skiing, SCUBA diving and listening to classical music. He also loved being out at sea or on the flats digging clams and quahogs with his children and grandchildren.

Bert Zuckerman is fondly remembered for his eccentric comb-over hairstyle, quirky sense of humor, and flair for telling animated and imaginative adventure stories.

Bert is survived by Hannah Zuckerman, to whom he was married for 55 years; his three children, Myra Zuckerman, Linda Gliedman, and Jonathan Zuckerman; and five grandchildren, Shoshanah Zuckerman, Micah Zuckerman, Nathan Gliedman, Jonah Zuckerman, and David Zuckerman.

(Slightly modified from an obituary written by Jonathan Zuckerman, MD)

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