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Ralph Troll

Professor of biology, 1959-1999

Ralph Troll, right, and Levi Wood use a stuffed owl in the classroom.
Ralph Troll, right, and Levi Wood use a stuffed owl in the classroom.

(This series of Notable Faculty profiles was written in celebration Augustana's sesquicentennial in 2009.)

Ralph Troll is a native of Reinheim, Germany. In 1938, when he was 6 years old, Troll's family moved from Darmstadt, Germany, to a small, isolated farm, hoping to escape Nazi persecution. Since his mother was Jewish, Troll was not allowed to continue his schooling. In February 1945, the Gestapo took Troll's mother away. After the war ended, his mother was liberated from Theresienstadt and rejoined her family; they immigrated to the United States in 1947.

Troll married Loret Glaser, and they had two children. He served as a paratrooper in the United States military for three years, including two years in Japan. Troll received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Illinois and his doctorate in zoology from the University of Minnesota in 1966.

He came to Augustana College in 1959 after one year as a teaching fellow at the University of Arizona. In 1968 he became chair of the biology department. Troll's research interests varied greatly; he published on topics ranging from the symbiotic relationship between certain types of algae and bacteria to the scientific pursuits of the German poet Goethe.

Troll received the Senior Recognition Day Speaker Award in 1970 by a vote of the senior class. The award, which considered a professor's teaching, contribution to college life, scholarship, and helpfulness, referred particularly to Troll's ability to clarify difficult points when teaching. Troll retired from Augustana in 1999.

(Troll tells the story of his childhood in Germany in a newspaper interview.)