Ruth E. Schmitter
Emerita Professor of Biology
B.S., Michigan State University, 1964
M.Sc., University of Edinburgh, 1966
Ph.D., Harvard University, 1973
Dr. Schmitter is a cell biologist who was initially drawn to a career in biology by a strong and persistent interest in natural history and nature study. Her research interests are centered around the fine structure and physiology of dinoflagellate algae. First, intracellular digestion is uncommon in actively photosynthetic organisms, yet she has discovered by light and electron microscope studies that several dinoflagellate species possess enzyme activity typical of animal cell lysosomes. Undergraduates have carried out publishable work on this topic. Second, certain freshwater dinoflagellates have recently been shown by others to be acidophilic, and Dr. Schmitter is beginning studies on dinoflagellate algae as potential acid rain indicators in Michigan waters. Finally, she has extensive experience with some of the more exotic properties of marine dinoflagellates — bioluminescence, circadian rhythms, and the formation of toxic blooms called red tides.