Virginia Rogers Ferris, an internationally renowned researcher of nematodes, graduated from Wellesley in 1949 with a degree in botany. She received her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1954, where she met her husband, John Ferris, a plant pathologist.
Professor Ferris moved to Illinois in 1957 and started a private consulting business, working with the U.S. Regional Soybean Laboratory. After ten years of consulting, she and her husband moved to Purdue University in Indiana where she has served in a number of roles, mainly as a professor in the department of entomology and as assistant provost. Professor Ferris’s main area of research deals with nematodes – small, transparent organisms that live in topsoil and fresh water. She has studied these destructive plant parasites, and she has discovered and developed genes in soybean plans that are resistant to the soybean cyst nematode.
Over the years, Professor Ferris has received several awards and recognitions for her work. These achievements include being named in Who’s Who in America, serving as the president of the Society of Nematologists, a curator of Purdue’s Nematode College, and a consultant for the National Science Foundation.
Professor Virginia Ferris has encouraged generations of women to pursue their passions and explore non-traditional paths of work and study.
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