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John George Severson Jr., Ph.D.: 1940-2024


John George Severson Jr., Ph.D., professor emeritus in the Department of Biology, died Saturday, March 23, 2024. He was 83.

Severson was a professor at Saint Louis University from 1971 until his retirement in 2011.

John George Severson Jr., Ph.D.: 1940-2024
John George Severson Jr., Ph.D. SLU File Photo..

Severson was born on Dec. 14, 1940, in Wenatchee, Washington. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in his home state in 1964. He majored in biology with a minor in chemistry at Washington State University. 

In 1968, Severson earned his master's in teaching from Washington State. In 1971, he achieved his doctorate in botany from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. His dissertation was titled “Studies with naphthenic acid in the bush bean, Phaseolus vulgaris L.”

Severson began his career in education while an undergraduate student at Washington State. He worked as a research technician in the Department of Botany from 1962-64. Upon earning his teaching certification, Severson took a job with the Kiona-Benton City School District in Benton City, Washington. While there, he worked as a junior high science teacher, high school biology teacher and more.

In 1971, he moved onto higher education and took a job at SLU as an assistant professor in biology. At SLU, he became an associate professor of biology and and associate dean at the College of Arts and Sciences. Severson also served as Coordinator of Undergraduate Programs for the Department of Biology. 

During his lengthy tenure at SLU, Severson served on a number of committees. He was involved in University searches for department chairs, deans, and a registrar. 

He also received a number of grants and wrote numerous articles and multiple books. He retired in 2011 and was given emeritus status. 

His research interest at SLU was in plant growth stimulation by petroleum-derived naphthenic acids.