Three Former Moundbuilders to Enter Southwestern College Natural Science Hall of Fame

Three Southwestern College graduates will be inducted into the Southwestern College Natural Science Hall of Fame on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 5:30 p.m., in Deets Library on the campus of Southwestern College.  

The new members are Nathan Eckert, Stoddard, Wis.; Harold Miller, Medicine Lake, Minn..; and Esther Winkleman Overstreet (deceased). The plaques will be on display prior to the 5:30 p.m. dinner in the Deets Library.  The induction ceremony will begin at the conclusion of the meal, at approximately 6:15 p.m.  

The hall of fame honors Southwestern College alumni who have made significant contributions in the natural sciences.

“Southwestern College is known for having an impressive science program,” says Susan Lowe, director of alumni programs at Southwestern.  “The 2015 Natural Science Hall of Fame inductees bear witness to that fact, as evidenced by their impressive accomplishments. We are proud to recognize these outstanding individuals and their work.”  

Inductees include:

  • Nathan L. Eckert '01 is one of the nation’s foremost authorities in the propagation and culture of freshwater mussels. After earning his master’s degree from Missouri State University, he was hired by the Virginia Department of Game and Freshwater Fisheries to run their Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Center for the purpose of freshwater mussel restoration. In 2010 he took a position raising freshwater mussels for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Genoa (Wis.) National Fish Hatchery.  Over the first decade of his career he was responsible for the production of over 20 million juvenile mussels of 38 species, 14 of which are federally endangered.  In 2014 he received the Rachel Carson Award for Scientific Excellence in recognition of his creativity and tenacity in developing new techniques for culturing freshwater mussels.
  • Harold E. “Gene” Miller ’62 was a senior principle scientist for General Mills Research Center from 1968 to 2002. During his research and development there, he was heavily involved in development of one of the company’s most popular products, Cheerios. His research resolved details of the chemical activity during processing that provides stability to oxidative rancidity in cereals.  He led research that gained important cost reduction regarding vitamin and mineral use and won FDA approval to label high purity limestone as calcium. The team documented phytochemicals and micronutrients in whole grain products, providing new information to help explain positive health benefits of whole grains besides their fiber content, and he was principal researcher on a paper that compared the antioxidant activity of whole grain, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals to that of fruits and vegetables.
  • Esther Winkelman Overstreet ’28 was one of the earliest women physicians in America and was a family physician in Kansas City for 51 years until retiring in 1987.  She was on staff at Research Medical Center and Baptist Medical Center, and in 1965 she was the first woman awarded Family Physician of the Year by the Kansas City Academy of General Practice.  In 1992 Winkelman was recognized as one of 12 outstanding persons in the 25th anniversary edition of “MD Magazine,” and she received the Award of Merit from the Metropolitan Medical Society of Kansas City.  Following her retirement she was considered to be the 10th most traveled person in the United States.  She died in 1993 after a car accident on her way to the airport.

Pat Ross, chair of the division of natural sciences and mathematics at Southwestern, will serve as the master of ceremonies.  Prior to the hall of fame inductions, there will be introductions of the science advisory council scholars, biology activity grant scholars, internship participants, and the Tri-Beta officers.

For more information about the Natural Science Hall of Fame, contact Susan Lowe, director of alumni programs at Southwestern College, at (620) 229-6334.


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