MDI Biological Laboratory

Visiting Scientist Emeritus Jim Stidham Passes

  • June 8, 2023

He was an ambassador for the “magic discipline” of science

Jim Stidham, Ph.D., died last month at the age of 87. He spent decades as a professor at Presbyterian College in South Carolina; he was also a visiting scientist at MDI Biological Laboratory in the 1990s and later, a dedicated campus guide.

Stidham was a close colleague of MDI Bio Lab scientists Karl Karnaky, Ph.D., and David Evans, Ph.D.

“We had public tours one day a week, and Jim would meet the tourists in Maren auditorium, tell them about the history of the lab and some major findings in the past and present, then lead them on a tour of the campus,” Evans said. “We always wondered what the group thought of his very deep southern accent. But, he was so engaging that everybody seemed to enjoy his style. He was a very humble and charming guy—always slightly amazed that he was surrounded by world-class scientists, despite being from a small, very southern, private college. Everybody liked him.”

Presbyterian College colleagues recalled Stidham’s love of scuba-diving and classic cars. But most of all, they said, he loved doing science, whether in the lab or in the field.

“I never met anyone who was more in love with science,” said longtime biology colleague Jim Wetzel, Ph.D., who met Stidham as a graduate student doing research at MDI Bio Lab. “Jim sparkled when he talked about science in all areas and he had a way of talking about it that made science seem like it was a magic discipline.”

For more about Jim Stidham, you can read Presbyterian College’s memorial here.

Jim Stidham is survived by his two sons, Bart and Thad, and five grandchildren.