Remembering Stephen Fowler: 1944-2020

Remembering Stephen Fowler: 1944-2020

Drew Rosdahl

On June 15, 2020, longtime Life Span Institute investigator Stephen Fowler died from complications of Parkinson’s Disease.

Stephen FowlerStephen Fowler was internationally known for his work in behavioral pharmacology. During his tremendously productive career at University of Kansas, he was a Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Life, and then in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, as well as Senior Scientist at the Life Span Institute. He co-directed the Biobehavioral Measurement Core of the Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center.

Stephen was recruited to the University of Kansas in 1994 from the University of Mississippi where he served as chair of the Psychology department and was also F.A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology.

Stephen FowlerHe received his undergraduate education in Mathematics and Physics from University of Alabama in 1966 and PhD in Experimental Psychology from Princeton University in 1970. “He possessed a tremendous intellect, and an encyclopedic knowledge of his own field and I’d estimate several dozen other fields, as well.” John Colombo, director of Life Span Institute recalled of him. His wide array of research interests included psychopharmacology, behavioral neuroscience, and computer-controlled behavioral measurement instrumentation.

Stephen touched many lives at the Life Span Institute among both colleagues and students.  One student of Fowler, who worked as a research technician, graduate student in his lab and eventual collaborator, John Stanford, Associate Dean for Research and the Kansas University Medical Center recalled, "Steve was the ideal mentor. His encyclopedic knowledge is well-known, not only for science but also for history and culture. Steve’s legacy as a scientist is that of a thoughtful and curious empiricist. He was very interested in behavior and he would figure out a way to measure it. As a mentor, he was an excellent example, both of hard work and curiosity, but also of generosity and kindness."

His many accomplishments and recognitions include Burlington Northern Foundation Faculty Achievement Award for teaching and scholarship at the University of Mississippi, and being named Fellow at the Psychopharmacology Division and President of the Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse Division.

John Colombo remembered Stephen Fowler, “He was understated in manner, generous and gracious with his time and energy, honest and open, and immensely kind. I was lucky to work with him closely on a number of projects during our years together at LSI, and I was enormously privileged to have him as a mentor and a friend.”

In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution in honor of Stephen Fowler to the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

Stephen Fowler Obituary Lawrence Journal World

Fowler Was Here by Karen Henry, 2004 Life Span Institute Annual Report