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Contact: John Scarffe, KU Endowment Association, (785) 832-7336.

Gift creates biodiversity research scholarship

LAWRENCE -- A KU alumnus and his wife have established a scholarship fund of $50,000 for graduate students conducting biodiversity research, Leonard Krishtalka, director of the KU Natural History Museum, announced today.

Mr. Leaman D. Harris and his wife, Dr. Judith L. Harris, of Edmond, Okla., created the Leaman D. Harris Biodiversity Scholarship at the Kansas University Endowment Association. In addition to providing scholarships to graduate students, the endowed fund also memorializes Mr. Harris' parents, Albert Ion Harris and Carmen Angeline Waters Harris, whom he credits with nurturing his interest in the natural world.

"Leaman and Judith Harris' gift will support graduate student research across multiple environmental disciplines at KU," Krishtalka said. "The scholarship represents a pioneering vision for preparing the biodiversity scientists of the future to investigate and understand the complex environmental systems on which all of life depends and how to sustain them."

Mr. Harris said that additional research in many fields -- among them biology, genetics, engineering and geology -- is needed to discover how to best manage humanity's involvement with the Earth's ecosystems. Finding ways to sustain or increase biodiversity is vital to human survival, he said.

Mr. Harris graduated from KU with a bachelor's degree in geological engineering in 1960 and a master's degree in geology in 1963. As a student, he was a member of the Geology Club, Sigma Gamma Epsilon and Sigma Xi. After serving as a U.S. Air Force navigator and bombardier during the Vietnam era, and later as a geophysicist in the petroleum exploration industry, Mr. Harris became involved in environmental work. This work involved protection of marine habitats with the U.S. Geological Survey and cleanup of Superfund sites with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He is currently manager of hazardous waste disposal and recycling activity at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.

Dr. Harris earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Minnesota, a master's degree in nursing from the University of California-Los Angeles and a doctorate in adult education from Oklahoma State University. She is an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center where she coordinates an outreach education program for hospitals in the state that provide maternity care. She and Leaman have three children, Samuel, Sarah and Douglas, and three grandchildren.

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