WILLIAM H. STICKEL

Photo of Bill Stickel

Bill, a pioneer environmental contaminants research scientist, was born November 8, 1912, in Terre Haute, Indiana. Bill attended Indiana State University for two years before entering the University of Michigan, from which he graduated with bachelor of science (1934) and master of science (1935) degrees in zoology/botany. He continued research at Michigan for several years, while serving as a teaching assistant and fellow in zoology.

In 1940, Bill was employed by the U.S. Civil Service Commission, where he developed selective criteria and classification standards for wildlife biologists. From 1941 until 1981, he was a wildlife research biologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center near Laurel, Maryland. Bill served in the U.S. Army's malaria survey unit in the Pacific Theater during World War II from June 1943 to December 1945. While in New Guinea and the Philippines, he found time to pursue his biological interests. He collected a variety of specimens, several of which were later found to be new to science. A species of lizard (Sphenomorphus stickeli) from New Guinea and a frog (Kaloula stickeli) from the Philippines were named in his honor.

From 1951 to 1959, Bill was editor of Wildlife Review, a periodic compilation of current literature on wildlife biology, ecology, and management, published and disseminated widely by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Under his editorship, the range of topics and scope of coverage increased as this publication became an invaluable reference for wildlife professionals throughout the world. He also established and maintained an extensive reprint library of publications on the effects of pollution on wildlife and their habitats. These files represented a key reference collection for scientists working on contaminant problems.

Throughout a productive career as a Federal government scientist, Bill's research encompassed broad ecological studies. He became an authority on the natural history and cultural resources of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. He served as the Patuxent's ecological research coordinator and developed conservation and management plans that were used to maintain a diversity of wildlife habitats to support a variety of research programs. In this role, Bill also fostered and facilitated the work of outside investigators thereby enhancing the value of the Center as a site for all kinds of ecological research.

Bill enjoyed conducting tours of the Center's facilities and habitats to visiting scientists and dignitaries, which afforded him an opportunity to interpret the significance of Patuxent's scientific research programs and valuable natural resources. He was an effective advocate for wildlife and habitat management based on research conducted by government scientists. When he retired, the final tour by this great guide was recorded and the transcript was later used by many others leading tours of Patuxent.

From 1959 to 1981, his research focused on effects of pesticides on wildlife and resulted in numerous publications in scientific journals. He was widely respected for his innovative experimental studies, his objectivity in the interpretation of research results, and his development of practical management applications of research findings. This work provided the basis for present approaches to evaluation of biological and ecological effects of environmental contaminants on wildlife species and habitats. He also served as a mentor to younger members of the scientific staff.

Bill was an official representative on a number of national and international panels addressing pollution issues. He received several awards for distinguished service, including a Superior Performance Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1959 for editorship of Wildlife Review, an Outstanding Publication Award from the Southeastern Section of The Wildlife Society in 1965 for his paper on the effects of heptachlor on the woodcock, and a Special Achievement Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1971 for excellence in scientific publications.

 

Photo of Bill Stickel
Photo of Lucille and Bill Stickel

In 1982, Bill and his wife, Lucille Farrier Stickel, whom he married in 1941, retired to Macon County, North Carolina. There he renewed a life-long interest in botany and provided specimens and information on large numbers of plant species not previously recorded in Macon County, as well as participated in local botanical studies. He was a member of The Nature Conservancy, The Wildlife Society, the American Society of Mammalogists, and the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. On the 50th Anniversary of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in 1989, a major research building was renamed Stickel Laboratory in recognition of outstanding scientific achievements that Bill and Lucille obtained.

Bill was elected to membership in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1946 and terminated membership in 1977.

Following a long series of illnesses, Bill died of congestive heart failure on February 11, 1996, at the age of 83 in Franklin, North Carolina.