Scientist’s Death Ends Her Unique Research

Ann McClure's picture

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is shutting down a prominent laboratory after the death of the high-profile scientist who oversaw the research.

In most fields, that would be the end of the story: An employee passes away, she is replaced, and, professionally speaking, everyone moves on.

But in academia, things are rarely so simple. And Lynn Margulis’s death last year at 73, from a stroke, has presented UMass with a dilemma: What to do with the colleagues and equipment, not to mention unfinished work, she left behind?

The death of a working scientist is something every research university can eventually face. But there is no standard protocol for how to cope with it, and the circumstances of Margulis’s career and death provide a window on just how difficult that task can be.

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