The University Record, April 10, 1995



Stanley A. Cain

Stanley A. Cain, former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and a leading figure in the development of science ecology from the 1940s through the 1970s, died of pneumonia April 1 in Santa Cruz, Calif. He was 92 and had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for more than a dozen years.

Cain joined the U-M in 1950 as the Charles Lathrop Pack Professor of Conservation and Botany and founded the Department of Conservation–the first academic unit in the United States devoted to the study of the interrelationship between man and his environment. He chaired the department for 11 years, and was head of the U-M’s Institute for Environmental Quality from 1970 until mandatory retirement in 1972.

Jonathan Bulkley noted that Cain “was one of the leaders in the field of conservation and ecology and was a vital contributor to the development of knowledge in this whole area. He made an outstanding contribution in helping to develop an integrated perspective on the interaction between human and natural systems,” added Bulkley, who is professor of civil and environmental engineering and of resource policy.

Cain was called “one of the foremost thinkers in the field of plant ecology” by William B. Stapp, professor emeritus of resource planning and conservation.

“What was most significant to me and many students who worked under him was that he approached his work from ecological, economic, political and social perspectives,” Stapp said. “Everything he did had a very interdisciplinary perspective–and that was really new thinking in the 1950s.”

Cain served as chair for Stapp’s doctoral dissertation. “I saw him as a very talented, inspirational person,” Stapp said. “I gained a lot from watching the way he did his research. He also was a great writer–very clear–and he benefited all his students by his skills in this area.

“Another interesting thing was that he always made himself available to students twice a day at morning and afternoon coffee hours. Students could come and talk about anything. He was always there to share his thoughts and ideas, and he brought other faculty around. The students learned from other students, from the faculty–from the environment that he created.”

He held a bachelor’s degree from Butler University and a master’s and doctorate from the University of Chicago.

Cain was a member of the Michigan Conservation Commission in 1959-65 and served for two years as chair of the body that oversaw what is now the Department of Natural Resources and Environment. At the Interior Department in 1965-68, he was assistant secretary for sport and commercial fisheries, wildlife and the national park system.

In addition to the U-M and, most recently, at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Cain taught at Butler, Indiana University and the University of Tennessee, and was chief of the Science Section of the American Army University in Biarritz at the end of World War II.

He conducted research at Indiana University’s Waterman Institute, Cold Spring Harbor Biological Laboratory, Wyoming Field Science School and the Cranbrook Institute of Science, and spent a year in Brazil as an ecologist on a technical assistance mission with UNESCO.

Among his many professional associations were service as president of the Sociological Society of America and the first National Botanical Congress of America, as vice president of the ninth Congress and as chair of the organizing committee of the International Union of Biological Sciences.

He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, served on the National Research Council and was a section vice president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

His honors include being named a Benjamin Franklin Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London, and receipt of the Wildlife Society’s Aldo Leopold Medal and four honorary doctorates.

Cain was the author of two books, Foundations of Plant Geography and Manual of Vegetation Analysis, and published more than 100 articles in scientific journals.

Following his retirement from the U-M, he was appointed to head the three-member committee that established the Santa Cruz’s College VIII, focused on environmental studies, and taught there for the balance of the decade.

He was born June 19, 1902, in Jefferson County, Indiana. His wife, Louise Gilbert Cain, died in October 1993. He is survived by one son, Stephen, and seven grandchildren.

Family members will host an informal remembrance in Santa Cruz in several weeks.

Margaret J. Hunter

Margaret J. Hunter, professor emeritus of biological chemistry, died March 31 of heart failure at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. She was 72.

Hunter joined the U-M in 1962 as associate professor and research scientist in the Biophysics Research Division. She was named professor of biological chemistry in 1979 and was assistant dean of admissions for the Medical School from 1982 until her retirement in 1988.

In 1974, she received the Elizabeth C. Crosby Award for inspirational teaching of medical students.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, she received her undergraduate degree from the University of Glasgow and her Ph.D. in chemistry from the Royal Technical College in Glasgow. She pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University in 1948.

In lieu of flowers, Hunter requested that contributions be made to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens or the Nature Conservancy.


Leave a comment

Commenting is closed for this article. Please read our comment guidelines for more information.