A gifted educator and mentor who has had a significant impact on the careers of hundreds of health science careers throughout Iowa and the nations, Dr. Rulon is an emeritus faculty at the Luther College where he served for more than 40 years.
As a fifth grader, Russell Rulon, professor emeritus of biology at Luther College, began working at Gurney’s Seed and Nursery Farm in Yankton, SD, during his summer break. He learned plant propagation and fruit tree grafting, and continued working there each summer. In his free time he enjoyed other activities, hunting, fishing, and taxidermy, all of which fueled his growing interest in biology. With excellent teachers in chemistry, biology, and physical sciences along the way, Rulon found his life’s work.
For 37 years, he diligently taught biology and physiology as a faculty member at Luther College, influencing hundreds of students through his dedication as a teacher and researcher. “I’ve stayed at Luther because I’ve been fortunate to have students who were very interested in the biomedical areas, were highly motivated, and enjoyed their laboratory work,” said Rulon. “My colleagues were dedicated team members who created the very best learning experience and environment for students. It’s been a thrill to see students learn and help them meet their long-term goals.”
Rulon served as chief health careers advisor from 1965-2000, mentoring many students on their decisions concerning health sciences professions. He consistently found himself advising students to spend time shadowing a professional, find a summer research opportunity, or work in a health care facility.
“I’ve had the privilege of advising and teaching 511 undergraduates who chose to go to medical school. Of this group, 215 went to the University of Iowa,” said Rulon. “I tell students pursuing a faculty position that it is a continuation of their education, not the end of their student life. A good teacher or professor must continue to be a student if they are to be good in the classroom and laboratory.”
As a testament to Rulon’s extraordinary contribution and commitment to Luther and his students, more than 900 alumni and friends pledged over $1 million dollars to establish the Russell R. Rulon Endowed Chair in Biology in 2000. “I feel it is a strong endorsement of the educational experience of former students,” said Rulon. “Perhaps they sensed that I really enjoyed my work.”
The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor that the UI Carver College of Medicine bestows upon its outstanding graduates. Established in 1998, this awards program recognizes our former students and colleagues who have transcended their fundamental roles as health care providers, scientists and educators to become influential participants in the advancement of the art and science of medicine. Excellence in these areas brings pride and distinction to The University of Iowa and our Carver College of Medicine.
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