Why They Give

Linda West Little ’59

Science lab—the phrase will likely bring about images of beakers, microscopes, scalpels, and multicolored solutions swirled in test tubes. In all honesty, what is a laboratory without the equipment?

Undergraduates of UNC Greensboro’s Department of Biology are fortunate not to have this concern. In addition to the resources at their disposal, these students also benefit from the Linda West Little Research Endowment—a donation from alumna Linda West Little ’59 that provides supplies to those working in faculty research labs.

Sixty years ago, Linda graduated with a degree in biology from Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (now UNCG); afterward, she began breaking down barriers for female scientists. Linda relocated to UNC Chapel Hill and became the second female to earn her master’s, first female to earn her PhD, and first female faculty member in their environmental sciences and engineering department.

She went on to serve as an administrative judge with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board before becoming the executive director of the N.C. Governor’s Waste Management Board. Then, in 1990, she was appointed as the first director of the N.C. Office of Environmental Education.

As a strong supporter of environmental research and ecology, Linda opted to donate to UNCG so students at her alma mater could continue to be involved in scientific inquiry.

Speaking on the importance of Linda’s gift, Department of Biology Head Dr. Matina Kalcounis-Rüppell stated, “We know that experiential learning for scientists is a key outcome for student success, and one of the things we do in the biology department is afford the opportunity for students to work, one on one, with our research faculty…In many cases, the research simply could not be done without the supplies purchased by these funds; so, they not only offer opportunities for experiential training, but they allow the students to have the materials needed to do the research.”

Dr.  Kalcounis-Rüppell highlighted that undergraduates’ research is no different than that of professors, noting, “There are many kinds of projects the students work on that range from understanding how genes influence cancer to how toxins in the environment influence cardiovascular health.”

She added that undergraduate research is also used to generate preliminary data for federal and state research grants, and without Linda’s funding, some of this data could not be generated.

“We are so grateful to Linda West Little! We all thank her for her foresight and contributions,” said Dr. Kalcounis-Rüppell. “She is welcome any time to come and see firsthand what the impact of these funds are on our students.”

Story by Brittany Cameron, Donor Relations


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P. Kevin Williamson

Associate Vice Chancellor