Longtime Biology Professor Funds Student Research

For the late Dr. Joseph Kapler (’48), teaching extended well beyond his biology classroom and labs at Loras College.

Kapler, who taught at Loras for 37 years before retiring in 1989, volunteered in many wildlife and conservation efforts. He participated in the national research effort to stop Dutch elm disease and worked for years trying to save the elms along Dubuque’s Rhomberg Avenue. For decades, his woodlands in Jones County served as a living laboratory for tree and habitat restoration,
home to large family gardens, and as a recreational getaway appreciated and enjoyed by generations of family and friends.

The late Dr. Joseph Kapler (’48) enjoyed spending time at his favorite summer research lab, the woodlands he and his wife Helen bought in the
1960s in Jones County.

A $10,000 gift made by his estate after his death on April 18, 2019, has been used to establish the Kapler Summer Research Fund. It will help finance faculty research and student internships and research projects, enabling the education of Duhawks to extend beyond classrooms and labs on campus for generations to come.

“We need more support for research conducted by students,” said Dr. Tom Davis, who succeeded Kapler on the Loras faculty. “Biology majors need to have a research project or a review project. This will go specifically for projects done by students or it will go to a faculty member to use in a way that will help a student with a project.”

“Up to 20 students annually should benefit from the fund,” Davis said. “They will design their projects with faculty help. They collect and analyze the data and explain the results in their senior talk. This is going to enhance what they’re able to do in the future beyond Loras College.”

Kapler, who received a Loras College Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005, would be pleased to know a fund established in his memory will help educate students for years to come, according to his four children – all of whom graduated from Loras.

“Our father was the consummate lifelong learner who saw the physical world around him as an opportunity to learn new things great and small,” said Joseph Kapler Jr. (’93) “He would be very pleased to know that this fund has been established to enable biology students to continue their learning in the field or the lab. He was proud of his work not only as an instructor but also as
someone who inspired his students to put their knowledge to the test, and projects outside the classroom are a great way to do so.”