Our Legacy in the Sciences

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Robert Yerkes, 1897
Robert M. Yerkes was a pioneering psychologist and developer of comparative animal psychology. After graduating from Ursinus College in 1897, Yerkes earned his Ph. D. from Harvard and taught there. He became interested in the psychological testing of humans, and he contributed to the development of multiple-choice testing When Yerkes moved to the Yale faculty in 1924, he renewed earlier studies of chimpanzees and other higher primates and was considered the world’s foremost authority on “great apes,” writing The Great Apes (1929; cowritten with his wife, Ada Watterson Yerkes). In 1929 he realized a longtime ambition by establishing the Yale Laboratories of Primate Biology, Orange Park, Fla., later renamed Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology, and now owned by Emory University and expanded in 1999 to accommodate the Emory Vaccine Center. This became the first home for the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience. In 2002, the National Institutes for Health named Yerkes and seven other primate research centers as National Primate Research Centers to improve the health and well-being of human and nonhuman primates.

John Mauchly, Professor 1932-1941
John Mauchly, credited with the development of the world’s first computer, did his early work on it in Pfahler Hall at Ursinus College. As a member of the Ursinus Physics faculty from 1932 to 1941, he explored the notion of electrical circuits to do arithmetic, developing a digital electronic computing machine to test the theory that solar fluctuations affect the weather. He is remembered by alumni of that era for his entertaining skateboard and roller skating lectures which demonstrated the laws of physics. He went on, with business partner J. Presper Eckert, to create the 30-ton ENIAC (Electrical Numerical Integrator and Computer) at University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering in 1946, and later the UNIVAC, a commercial electronic computer. Although a series of event resulted in their company losing the legal rights, his obituary in The Philadelphia Inquirer calls him “the co-inventor of the world’s first computer.”


Gerald Edelman, 1950
Dr. Gerald Edelman is a physician and cell biologist who shared the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for work on the immune system, and the discovery of the structure of antibody molecules. He graduated magna cum laude from Ursinus, received an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and earned his Ph. D. from The Rockefeller Institute where he was a professor. In 1992 he joined The Scripps Research Institute in California, where he chairs the Neurobiology Department. He is also director of The Neurosciences Institute and President of Neurosciences Research Foundation. Dr. Edelman has made significant research contributions in biophysics, protein chemistry, immunology, cell biology and neurobiology, notably in the area of how consciousness develops.


Aakash Shah, 2010
Aakash graduated in May 2010 with distinguished honors research in sociology and honors research in biology and neuroscience. He received bachelor’s degrees in Biology, Neuroscience and Inequality Studies, with minors in Chemistry and Sociology. He was a Goldwater Scholar, Summer Fellow, Rhodes Scholar finalist in 2009, Zacharias Scholar, Bonner Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa.

When Aakash was working at a rural medical clinic India, he was able to connect to the material he read in his Common Intellectual Experience coursework, and as a biology and neuroscience major, became interested in the applications of medicine and public health, part of the study he is pursuing in his first year at Harvard.

In November 2010, Aakash became Ursinus' first-ever Rhodes Scholar. 

He joins 32 American men and women chosen as Rhodes Scholars representing the U. S. Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England. This group will enter Oxford in Oct. 2011. Shah plans to pursue the MSc. degree in Comparative Social Policy at Oxford.

Possibly the most celebrated academic award, the Rhodes scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes. Aakash was selected from 209 finalists from 88 different colleges and universities by Committees of Selection in each of 16 U.S. districts.