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Many women were involved in science education, including Arabella Buckley, Ana Botsford Comstock (more about her in a future diary), Mary Treat, and Ann Haven Morgan, among others.  Alice Gray was certainly one of these and in her almost 80 years she touched many young and potential entomologists, include myself.

Alice Gray developed an interest in insects as a young girl growing up on a New York state farm.  She eventually wrote to the American Museum of Natural History to ask how she might be employed there.  As a terribly shy person she said that she was very unlikely to marry and would thus be a steady employee.  She was advised to go to Cornell, which she did.  Frank Lutz, the Chairman of the Insect and Spider Department at the museum, also advised her to take public speaking and scientific illustration, as well as entomology courses.  After she graduated from Cornell, she was duly employed as a scientific assistant at the museum (1937).  She kept her promise, retiring only in 1981.  During that time she rose to become one of the main public outreach people at the museum.  She had to overcome her shyness in this venue, even being interviewed on television, but she still never married. As a developer of insect models and other display materials, she soon became heavily involved in origami and her work in that area is perhaps better known than her science education activities.

I wrote to Alice Gray (rather cheekily I think now) about 1960 (has it been over 50 years ago!) when I was trying to develop correspondence with other insect enthusiasts, and she very kindly responded with a possible name and address (I still have off and on conversations with the person over the phone and now and again e-mails) and also put me in touch with the arachnid curator at the American Museum of Natural History, Willis Gertsch. Back then I had sent for her series of seven free booklets on "Making an Insect Collection."   Over the years I lost them, but about 20 years ago I heard that she was still alive (although in her 70s) and sent her a letter asking if she still had copies.  She responded by sending me copies of all the material she still had. I still have them in my library!   Alice Gray was one of the people who influenced me to follow a career in biological science and for that reason I personally owe her a great debt!

Internet Reference:

Alice Gray - Entomologist and Paperfolder http://www.britishorigami.info/...

Originally posted to Desert Scientist on Thu Aug 02, 2012 at 03:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Backyard Science, SciTech, J Town, and Community Spotlight.

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