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Robert Zanes Brown, 77, biology professor, scientific researcher


Robert Zanes Brown of Annapolis, a retired biology professor and scientist, died Thursday of multiple myeloma at Anne Arundel Medical Center. He was 77.

In a lengthy career, Dr. Brown, who studied rodent-borne diseases and rodent behavior, held positions at several research and educational institutions. He published papers on army-ant behavior, mouse biology, rodent control, water supplies and rain forest ecology.

He moved to Annapolis in 1993 when he retired from Dowling College in Oakdale, N.Y., where he had been a biology professor for nearly three decades. He held the title of professor emeritus at the college upon his death.

Born in Jackson, Mich., he earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Swarthmore College. He received a doctor of science degree from the Johns Hopkins University in 1951.

From 1951 to 1953, he served as an officer and senior scientist with the Public Health Service in what was then the Communicable Disease Center (now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in Atlanta.

He taught zoology from 1954 to 1963 at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

During those years, he also received National Science Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation grants to pursue research.

In 1963 and 1964, he was a National Science Foundation faculty fellow at the University of Texas Institute of Marine Science at Corpus Christi Bay, where he studied fish behavior.

In 1964, he became a professor of biology at Dowling College. In addition to teaching, he held administrative posts, serving as acting vice president for faculty affairs, director of the Marine Sciences Program and coordinator of the National Sciences and Mathematics Division. He served on several college committees, including those on academic standards and long-range planning.

On leave from Dowling College from 1968 to 1970, he worked for the Rockefeller Foundation to develop rodent-control research programs for developing countries, a position that included extensive travel in Asia, the South Pacific and other regions.

After he returned to Dowling College, he became a consultant to the Agency for International Development on rodent research in Southeast Asia and to the Food and Drug Administration on rodent food contamination.

Over the years, he built five boats, including a 38-foot Colvin ketch.

"He was always an avid sailor," said his wife, Barbara Dwyer Brown. The couple married in 1971.

He also enjoyed gourmet cooking, drawing and painting, she said.

In retirement he designed and built traditional-style furniture for their home, and he gardened extensively. He was also an avid reader, especially of histories.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. today at the John M. Taylor Funeral Home, 147 Duke of Gloucester St., Annapolis.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, Raymond Z. Brown of Tucson, Ariz.; three daughters, Simore Dan of University Place, Wash., Deborah Grady of Blue Point, N.Y., and Christine Campbell of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; two brothers, David R. Brown of Bel Air and Deane W. Brown of Excelsior Springs, Mo.; four grandsons and one granddaughter. A marriage to Frances Carey Brown of Middle Island, N.Y., ended in divorce.

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