UCSD pharmacology researcher dies unexpectedly-Gary Robbins, San Diego UT
Marion B. Sewer, a widely respected pharmacology professor at UC San Diego, died of a pulmonary embolism on January 28th while walking in the Detroit airport, university officials said. She was 43.
Sewer studied lipids and the nature of steroid hormones, which are involved in everything from sexual characteristics to the body's ability to cope with illness and injury.
Marion B. SewerUCSD
She joined the faculty of UCSD's Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2009 and became known for both teaching and research.
"Even though I have only been here for a little over a year, Marion Sewer helped me get settled and learn about UCSD from the moment I arrived," said James McKerrow, the dean of Skaggs. "She was one of those people who was never flustered, the steady rock you could always count on and who was never one to hold back an opinion. I think that was also why she was revered by so many students. She was honest about their aspirations and always willing to help them meet their career goals.
"She was one of the few top flight scientists in the country who was also an African-American woman. This meant that students who might have come from disadvantaged backgrounds felt comfortable approaching her. It was also why everyone in the country, from UCSD to the National Science Foundation, wanted her on their committees. She never said no."
Sewer was on the editorial board of the journal Steroids and Molecular Endocrinology, and was associate director of the Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA) program, which aids underrepresented minority postdoctoral fellows.
She earned a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Spelman College and a doctorate in pharmacology from Emory University. She went on to serve on the faculty of the Georgia Institute of Technology before moving to UC San Diego.
Sewer was known for her candor, especially when it involved academia. She told an interviewer from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: "There have been numerous times during my scientific career that I have not achieved the goals that I have set for myself. Being a professor means that your performance is continually being evaluated -- by students in the courses you teach, grant review panels, journal editorial boards, or the chair of your department.
"I try to always remind myself not to take comments personally or let setbacks deter me from achieving my goals. This can be hard at times, but since there is no other career path that I have ever wanted to pursue, I work to improve and find constructive ways to improve my performance, while working towards my goals.
UC San Diego officials said that Sewer is survived by her mother, Madeline Harris Sewer, and her sister, Gwen Sewer.