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Pioneering Women in UAB Biology: Nancy Love

  • March 22, 2019

On June 5, 1971, Nancy Love became the first woman to receive a master’s degree from the Department of Biology.

First Woman to Graduate with a Master’s Degree

Nancy Love, a Gadsden, Ala. native, arrived at UAB in spring 1968. She had completed a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, at Vanderbilt University and was eager to delve deeper into biology. Under Dr. Patrick Dagg’s mentorship, Nancy joined the UAB Department of Biology graduate program and began research on early developmental events of mouse embryos. The program had just been established, and she was one of only a few female students. Even so, she recalls UAB feeling like a breath of fresh air after spending four years in Vanderbilt’s high-pressure environment. She enjoyed the opportunities UAB offered, particularly the graduate classes she took in UAB’s medical school and serving as a teaching assistant for the undergraduate introductory biology course. One special opportunity was provided by Dr. Dagg who arranged for Nancy to spend the summer of 1969 doing research at Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. On June 5, 1971, Nancy became the first woman to receive a master’s degree from the Department of Biology.

Nancy went on to obtain a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas and later joined the faculty at the University of Maryland’s Zoology Department. She spent thirteen years at the University of Maryland, eventually transitioning into an administrative role where she served as the Assistant Provost of Behavioral and Social Sciences and later as the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies. After relocation to Charlottesville, Virginia, and marriage to a University of Virginia faculty member, Nancy joined the faculty of the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine, where she spent 10 years in research administration before retiring in 2000. Nancy and her husband Tom currently enjoy a calm life in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. In her spare time, she works away at a fiction book she’s writing – a murder mystery at a medical school – using all her experiences during graduate school to describe faculty and graduate students and their misadventures.

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