Mary Estill Caldwell, Class of 1914
Pioneer Professor, Medical Researcher
Graduated as Valedictorian of the THS Class of 1914 and has continued her pursuit of excellence during her multi-faceted academic careers as a devoted teacher and administrator and as a distinguished scientist in basic anti-tumor research and publication. Along with her husband she contributed immeasurably to the establishment of the University of Arizona as an outstanding center for higher scientific education and research.
Expanding her scientific interests she obtained her MS and BS degrees in Bacteriology at the University of Arizona where she was a Phi Beta Kappa and a member of Mortar Board. In the hallowed halls of the Zoology Department she met and married in 1925, George Thornhill Caldwell, her lifelong colleague and partner “in work and play”. Except for a brief sojourn at the University of Chicago while achieving their Doctoral Degrees their academic home has been the University of Arizona. Mary taught bacteriology for fifteen years and in addition to teaching served as Head of the Department of Microbiology for the next twenty years. Under the Caldwell’s tutelage many THS graduates were prepared for outstanding careers especially in Medicine and Dentistry. She inspired excellence in students and colleagues alike.
Following her husband’s death in 1956, Mary concentrated on basic research. After finding anti-bacterial substances in plant extracts she resigned from the Dept. of Microbiology and joined the College of Pharmacy. Its superb facilities and a series of grants from the National Cancer Institute permitted the ongoing investigation of anti-tumor properties of many plant extracts. In the course of fifteen years approximately 5000 plants were selected and classified and are on display at the University.
Now, as Professor Emeritus, College of Pharmacy at the University of Arizona, she continues to publish her findings. She is active in and has been recognized by many Professional and Voluntary entities. A few are Arizona Public Health Association, American Lung Association, American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Arizona Board of Examiners in the Basic Sciences.