Dr. Lucille F. Stickel


In 1944, Lucille Stickel began a study of free-ranging box turtles at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service near Laurel, Maryland. Stickel continued the study until her retirement. Her major contribution to our knowledge of Terrapene is a monographic study published in 1950 which forms the basis of our understanding of T. carolina ecology in eastern deciduous woodlands (Stickel. L.F. 1950. Ecol. Monogr. 20:351-78). This paper remains an excellent source of basic natural history. Dr. Stickel later published papers on morphology, growth, home range, and population trends after thirty years of data collection.

Dr. Stickel was also one of the early pioneers in the fledgling field of wildlife toxicology. Her imprint on the field, and especially on contaminants research at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, continues today. She published her first contaminant paper, a study with the new pesticide DDT, in 1946. At this early date, virtually nothing was known about the harmful effects of pesticides on wildlife. This early work by Dr. Stickel and some of her colleagues helped form much of the basis of Rachel Carson's famous book, Silent Spring. She published 44 scientific papers on the effects of contaminants on wildlife.

Dr. Stickel’s interest in the plants and animals of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center led to research on black rat snakes and the population biology of small mammals.

In 1968, Dr. Stickel was awarded the Federal Woman's Award. She also received the Interior Department's Distinguished Service Award (1973) and the Wildlife Society's Aldo Leopold Award (1974). She was the first woman to direct a major Federal laboratory, serving as Patuxent’s Director from 1973 until her retirement in March 1982. In 1998, more than 50 years after her first publication on contaminants, the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, presented its prestigious Rachel Carson Award to her.


Sources: www.pwrc.usgs.gov/whatsnew/events/stickel/

Dodd, K. 2001. North American Box Turtles, A Natural History. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman