Wise Charge

Phyllis Wise, you are a renowned researcher of the relationship of hormones to health, a remarkable model for all teachers and scientists, and a legendary academic administrator.

You graduated from Swarthmore with a B.A. in Biology in 1967, earned your Ph.D. in Zoology at the University of Michigan in 1972, and following a Ford Foundation post-doctoral fellowship, taught for 16 years in the Department of Physiology at the University of Maryland's Medical School. From there you went on to chair the Physiology Department at the Medical School of the University of Kentucky and then to serve as Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences, and Distinguished Professor of Physiology and Membrane Biology, at UC-Davis.

In 2005 you moved to your current position as Provost and Executive Vice President at the University of Washington in Seattle, and are the first Chinese American to hold either of these posts. At the University of Washington you also continue, with great energy and international distinction, your scientific work, as Professor of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences and as Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, Obstetrics, and Gynecology in the School of Medicine.

Your ground-breaking research has added importantly to understanding how estrogen and other hormones affect the brain and the immune system and has advanced significantly the field of women's health. You have shown how the unique physiology of women makes them more susceptible to cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease and have helped explain why estrogen is a powerful protector against conditions such as stroke and cardiovascular disease in some women but not in others, enabling physicians to treat their patients more effectively and propelling women's health issues to the prominence they deserve.

Your work has been recognized by, among others, the Nathan W. Shock Award for outstanding research in aging, the Solomon Berson Award of the American Physiological Society, the Roy O. Greep Award for Excellence in Endocrine Research and the Women in Endocrinology Mentor Award. In 2004 Parade Magazine named you one of America's "quiet heroes." You have served on the editorial boards of numerous leading journals and on important advisory panels including those of the NIH and the National Institute on Aging.

And as a crowning achievement you have twice received the MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health for innovative research and outstanding productivity. These ten-year, fiercely competitive awards are reserved for research of the most exceptional quality.

You are also a celebrated and deeply appreciated teacher and mentor and a stellar and widely respected administrator. Your alma mater takes particular pride in your efforts to integrate into the rich opportunities offered by a large research university intellectually transformative small group learning environments like those you experienced at Swarthmore.

\And you have sustained your close ties to your alma mater in other splendid ways as well. Your son, Andrew, is a graduate of the Class of 1992; you have spoken on your research here inspiring students to pursue work in your field; and you have collaborated with Kathleen Siwicki, Professor of Biology on our faculty in research on the role of particular proteins that act like gears in mammalian circadian clocks.

Phyllis Wise, your scientific work has made historic contribution to basic biological understanding and to therapeutic approaches to women's health. You serve as a model to all scientists who do careful, critical work, and your administrative genius has empowered your students and your faculty colleagues themselves to advance a more knowledgeable and humane world. This community is deeply proud that you honed your talents, and began to shape the directions of your life's work, here.

Upon the recommendation of the faculty, and by the power vested in me by the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I have the honor to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Science.

Read Phyllis Wise's address.