ASU loses talented professors
Memorial: Dedicated professors, friends, co-workers and students remember
Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Updated: Monday, January 14, 2013 18:01
Dr. David Marsh
Professor of Biology Dr. David Marsh died June 25, 2012.
Marsh taught at ASU for 29 years, Professor and Head of Biology, Dr. Russell Wilke said. “I knew him first when I was a student in the ‘80s, then as a colleague for 15 years,” he said.
He said Marsh was blunt, but honest.
"He always told students what they needed to hear rather than what they wanted to hear,”
“He would sometimes catch you by surprise when he said it,” he said.
Marsh would help anyone who asked for it, Wilke said.
“He cared a lot about his students and his colleagues,” he said. “He tried everything possible to help them succeed.”
Marsh’s lifestyle was very organized, Wilke said.
“He was very neat and meticulous,” he said. He was always thorough and Burt said the classes were always straightforward.
“I would go in for one of his lectures, and he would have written an exact outline of what he was going to talk about that day,” he said. “It was always very clear what we were going to be doing.”
Marsh always knew what he was talking about both inside and outside of class, Professor of Biology Dr. Ned Strenth said.
“He always knew everything off the top of his head,” he said. “There was nothing I asked that he didn’t know.”
Marsh believed a person made their own luck, Wilke said.
“He was known for saying ‘There’s no such thing as good luck. Luck is the residue of design. So I will offer you good intelligence on your exam,’” he said.
Burt said Marsh always challenged his students.
“He never held your hand,” Burt said. “He expected you to do the work and expected a lot out of his students.”
Though tough at times, it was better for the students in the end, he said.
“During the process I remember feeling like he was just throwing me to the wolves,” he said. “But in reality he was providing support that wasn’t as transparent as it could have been.”
Marsh used his natural creativeness and interest in tools to his advantage, Wilke said.
“Instead of purchasing equipment that would cost tens of thousands of dollars, he’d build it for under a thousand with items from places like Radio Shack and Lowe’s,” he said.
Marsh was who many might call a “gentle giant,” Wilke said.
“He was about six feet tall and 250 pounds,” he said. “People were intimidated by him but he was kind of a teddy bear.”
Marsh had a “quirky sense of humor,” he said.
“He was very good at creating biological Christmas gifts,” he said. “He would take a dried up frog and put a Santa hat and beard on it.”
Though quirky, his sense of humor was good, Strenth said.
Marsh published several papers throughout his lifetime, but didn’t view them as his biggest achievements, Wilke said.
“His biggest accomplishment was his students,” he said. “If his students went on to pursue a doctorate or master’s., that was what he cared about. Marsh always said that it was his job to make his students look good.”
The classes were worth taking, Burt said.
“In his classes I learned so much from him,” he said. “I didn’t just learn content but I learned how to challenge students without making them want to quit.”
Marsh took a very difficult job and did it superbly, Strenth said.
“He had it all figured out,” he said.
Marsh will be missed, he said.
“He was down to earth and an incredibly good friend,” he said. “He’s irreplacable.”
Marsh taught general physiology, physiological ecology, plant and animal physiology, and human physiology, he said.
According to ASU’s website, Marsh earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and zoology at Duke University and a doctorate’s in Zoology (Neurology) from the University of Texas at Austin.
He was also involved in professional organizations such as the Texas Academy of Science, the Texas Association of Mammalogists, and the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society.