Science and Medicine

Entries - Entry Category: Science and Medicine

Speckled Pocketbook

aka: Lampsilis streckeri
The speckled pocketbook is a bivalve mollusk belonging to the family Unionidae, commonly referred to as freshwater mussels, naiads, or clams. Each freshwater mussel is composed to two halves (valves) of a hard outer shell with the living animal (soft tissues) residing securely inside. The speckled pocketbook, scientific name Lampsilis streckeri, was described as a species new to science in 1927 by Lorraine Screven Frierson, a naturalist and landowner/merchant/planter residing south of Shreveport in the company town of Frierson, Louisiana. Frierson named the species in honor of his friend, colleague, and fellow naturalist John K. Strecker of Waco, Texas. Adults may reach a length of slightly more than 3.5 inches (or more than 90 millimeters), with a maximum life expectancy …

Sponges

The phylum Porifera, which contains the sponges, is a highly successful group of metazoan animals that includes about 8,600 living species of marine and freshwater forms as well as some that inhabit brackish waters. The majority are marine, but there are about 150 species of freshwater sponges, including twenty-seven to thirty species found in North America north of Mexico. The family Spongillidae is the most speciose and widespread group of freshwater sponges and includes twenty-two genera and more than 130 species from a wide variety of habitats. Seven species of freshwater sponges have been documented in Arkansas. Sponges are an ancient group of asymmetrical invertebrates with a fossil record preceding the early Cambrian period (541 million years ago), and even …

St. Anthony’s Hospital

With a view of the Arkansas River to the south and mountains to the southwest, St. Anthony’s Hospital in Morrilton (Conway County) is an imposing three-story Art Deco–inspired structure made of brick and stone. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 28, 1986. The Benedictine sisters at St. Scholastica Monastery established St. Anthony’s Hospital as a fourteen-bed facility on December 4, 1925, initially using a private home belonging to the Burrows family of Morrilton. During the following twelve years, they moved twice, first to a Harding College dormitory (when that school, now Harding University, was located in Morrilton), then to the Jones Hospital building on N. West Street. (Jones Hospital had opened in 1920.) The …

St. Bernards Healthcare

St. Bernards Healthcare, based in Jonesboro (Craighead County), was founded by the Olivetan Benedictine sisters at Holy Angels Convent and is the largest employer in northeast Arkansas, with more than 2,200 employees. Its mission remains: “To provide Christ-like care to the community through education, treatment and health services.” Like many contemporary healthcare institutions, St. Bernards was begun in response to a crisis—a malaria fever epidemic that raged throughout northeast Arkansas in 1899. Civic leaders realized that the events of the 1890s had highlighted the need for a hospital, and as the twentieth century dawned, the idea was gaining momentum. A first challenge, and one that would be ongoing throughout the century, was to raise money necessary for a hospital. The …

St. Joseph’s Home

aka: St. Joseph Center
St. Joseph’s Home sits on a summit overlooking North Little Rock (Pulaski County) and offers picturesque views of the Arkansas River and Pinnacle Mountain. Since 1910, the home has been a source of refuge for many Arkansans, children and elderly, as well as U.S. Army officers of World War I. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 4, 1976. Now called St. Joseph Center, it is home to a non-profit organization that offers urban farming opportunities. The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, under the directive of Bishop John Baptist Morris, built St. Joseph’s Home. On July 1, 1907, Morris purchased a 720-acre farm, which at the time, was about four miles north of what is now …

St. Vincent Hot Springs

aka: St. Joseph's Mercy Health Center
aka: Mercy Hot Springs
aka: CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs
Founded as St. Joseph’s Infirmary, St. Vincent Hot Springs is the second-oldest hospital in Arkansas, serving the medical needs of Hot Springs (Garland County) and its surrounding communities since 1888. St. Vincent Hot Springs is a 282-bed, acute-care hospital located on Werner Street in Hot Springs. In the 1880s, the Reverend Patrick McGowan, who settled in Hot Springs after retiring, asked Hot Springs physician Dr. J. M. Keller to buy a suitable building and its surrounding property for a hospital. In 1888, Mother Aloysius Burke and Sister Mary Clare, two Sisters of Mercy, came to Hot Springs from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to prepare the thirty-bed hospital, St. Joseph’s Infirmary, for its grand opening. The hospital opened to Hot Spring residents …

St. Vincent Infirmary

aka: CHI St. Vincent
The Charity Hospital, founded in 1888, evolved into today’s St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Charity Hospital was Arkansas’s first Catholic hospital, and St. Vincent remains the state’s oldest continuously operating hospital. What became known as CHI St. Vincent Health System, an affiliate of Catholic Health Initiatives, continues to emphasize the healing mission of the Catholic Church through its focus on the values of reverence, integrity, compassion, and excellence. The 1882 will of Alexander Hager, a wealthy Little Rock resident, promised to provide funding for hospital service in Little Rock if God spared the city from the yellow fever outbreak that was tearing through the South. When the outbreak passed over Little Rock, Hager’s will …

Stern’s Medlar

aka: Crataegus × Canescens
aka: Mespilus canescens
Stern’s medlar (Mespilus canescens or Crataegus × canescens) is a rare shrub in the rose family known in the wild from about twenty-five individual plants at a single site near Slovak (Prairie County). It was first discovered in 1969 by Jane Stern but was not named until 1990, when it was formally described (as Mespilus canescens) by Dr. James Phipps of the University of Western Ontario. Its origin, taxonomic placement, and proper scientific name are a matter of debate among botanists and represent one of the most curious and persistent mysteries in North American botany. Stern’s medlar is a showy species with a number of desirable ornamental properties including dense groupings of quarter-sized white flowers, multiple trunks, arching branches, patchy …

Stobaugh, Robert Blair

Robert Blair Stobaugh was an authority on energy, international business, and corporate governance who served as a professor in the Harvard Business School. His 1979 book Energy Future: The Report of the Energy Project led to significant initiatives in energy policy by the Carter administration and became a New York Times bestseller. His article “The Bent Measuring Stick of the Multinational Enterprise” was voted one of the twenty best articles ever published on international business. A federal judge once referred to him as “one of the nation’s foremost experts on corporate governance,” and was quoted on the front page of the Wall Street Journal several times. Robert Stobaugh was born on October 15, 1927, in McGehee (Desha County) to Robert …

Stoneflies

Stoneflies (Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, Order Plecoptera) are a group of aquatic insects well known to fishermen and biologists worldwide. The name Plecoptera means “braided-wings” from the Ancient Greek plekein and pteryx, which refers to “wing.” The name refers to the complex venation of their two pairs of wings, which are membranous and fold flat over their body. Generally, stoneflies are not strong fliers, and several species are entirely wingless. Stoneflies are called “indicator species” because finding them in freshwater environments generally indicates relatively good water quality, as they are quite intolerant of aquatic pollution. They are also prized and imitated by anglers as artificial tied-flies in trout fishing, particularly on Arkansas rivers such as the Eleven Point, Spring, and …

Strepsiptera

aka: Twisted Wing Parasites
aka: The Stylops
The order Strepsiptera, or twisted wing parasites, belongs to the class Insecta, phylum Arthropoda. It is a very small, cosmopolitan order of bizarre parasitoids containing about 624 named species of minute endopterygote insects with nine extant families. They parasitize thirty-four families and several orders of Insecta, including Blattodea (cockroaches), Diptera (flies), Homoptera (leafhoppers), Mantodea (mantises), Hemiptera (true bugs), Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets), Zygentoma (silverfish and firebrats), and Hymenoptera (ants, bees, and wasps). Three species of strepsiptera (halictophagids) have been reported from Arkansas hosts (all leafhoppers, Cicadellidae). Strepsiptera have two major groups: the Stylopidia and Mengenillidia. The former, which has endoparasitic females with multiple genital openings, includes seven families: the Bohartillidae (one extant and two fossil species), Corioxenidae (forty-six extant and …

Striped Bark Scorpions

aka: Centruroides vittatus
The striped bark scorpion, Centruroides vittatus, is the only scorpion species recorded from Arkansas, where it is most abundant in the western part of the state. It is the most widely distributed scorpion species in the United States, having been recorded from Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana west to eastern Colorado and New Mexico and south to northeastern Mexico. The front body region, which bears the yellowish-brown pedipalps (pincers) and legs below, has a somewhat triangular median dark spot on top pointing backward and extending beyond the eyes. The wide body region that follows has a distinctive pair of broad, dark, longitudinal bands on top. The slender tail-like postabdomen is uniformly yellowish brown, except for the tip of the stinger, which …

Sturgeons

Sturgeons (primitive Acipenseriform) are an ancient group of fishes dating back to the Triassic Period some 245 to 208 million years ago. True sturgeons appear in the fossil record during the Upper Cretaceous (101 to 66 million years ago). There are about twenty-five species of sturgeons, and all belong to the Family Acipenseridae, Order Acipenseriformes. Sturgeons can be found in subtropical, temperate, and sub-Arctic rivers, lakes, and coastlines of North America, with the greatest diversity in Eurasia. In North America, there are eight species that range along the Atlantic Coast from the Gulf of Mexico to Newfoundland, as well as along the West Coast in major rivers from California and Idaho to British Columbia, Canada. The family contains four genera …

Suckers

aka: Catostomid Fishes
Suckers belong to the Family Catostomidae, Order Cypriniformes, and Class Actinopterygii. There are about seventy-two species and thirteen extant genera of these benthic (bottom-dwelling) freshwater fishes. In Arkansas, there are eighteen species in eight genera. Suckers are Holarctic in distribution and primarily native to North America north of Mexico, but the longnose sucker (Catostomus catostomus) occurs in both North America and northeastern Siberia from Alaska, and the Asiatic Sucker (Myxocyprinus asiaticus) is found in the Yangtze River basin in China. Sucker-like fossils are known from Eocene epoch (56 to 33.9 million years ago) deposits from central Asia, and the fossil genus Amyzon, with Ictiobus and Myxocyprinus affinities, occurs in middle Eocene and Oligocene Epoch (33.9 to 23 million years ago) …

Supreme Royal Circle of Friends of the World

aka: Royal Circle of Friends
The Supreme Royal Circle of Friends of the World, also known as the Royal Circle of Friends (RCF), was an African-American fraternal organization founded in 1909 in Helena (Phillips County). The organization was founded to supply insurance to the African-American population but was also dedicated to the moral, physical, social, and economic welfare of its members. Men and women were equal members. From the beginning, the RCF grew rapidly across the Southern states and soon spread across the nation. In 1944, the membership was quoted by a Chicago, Illinois, newspaper as being in excess of 100,000. Dr. Richard A. Williams was the founding Supreme President and held that position until his death in 1944. Williams was born in Forrest City …

Symphylans

aka: Glasshouse Symphylans
aka: Garden Centipedes
aka: Pseudocentipedes
Symphylans belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, Subphylum Labiata, Superclass Myriapoda, and Class Symphyla. About 200 species of symphylans are known worldwide, predominantly in the tropics. There are two families: Scutigerellidae with five genera and about 128 species, and Scolopendrellidae containing nine genera and approximately seventy-three species. There are few reports of symphylans in Arkansas, aside from a new endemic scutigerellid species described in 1992 in Polk County. Many taxa are yet to be discovered and described in the state. The fossil record of symphylans is poorly known; only five species have been recorded, all placed within living genera. They are ancestral arthropods dating back to the early Silurian approximately 430 million years ago, although the only fossil symphylans are known …

Tarantulas

Tarantulas are the largest spiders in Arkansas and are among the most recognizable. Tarantulas are relative newcomers to Arkansas, having arrived in the state about 8,000 years ago. At that time, the climate of North America was much warmer and drier than it is today. Because of higher temperatures and lower amounts of rainfall, habitats more typical of the southwestern United States and the Great Plains expanded eastward into Arkansas and Missouri. Along with drier habitats came many of the animals associated with them, such as tarantulas and scorpions. As the climate became cooler and wetter about 4,000 years ago, these species did not retreat west. Instead, they became isolated within suitable patches of open, dry habitat surrounded by increasing …

Temperate Basses

aka: Moronids
The temperate basses are freshwater, brackish water, and marine species belonging to the Order Perciformes and Family Moronidae. They are represented by two genera and six species—the North American and northern African Morone (four species) and European Dicentrarchus (two species). In North America, two popular freshwater game fish species, white bass (Morone chrysops) and yellow bass (M. mississippiensis), are native, whereas two others, the anadromous striped bass (M. saxatilis) and brackish water white perch (M. americana), have been successfully introduced into several U.S. states. In Arkansas, M. chrysops, M. mississippiensis, M. saxatilis and, rarely, M. americana are found in various watersheds. In addition, hybrid M. saxatilis × M. chrysops have been cultured and stocked in several Arkansas reservoirs. Morphologically, in …

Thomas C. McRae Memorial Sanatorium

aka: Alexander Human Development Center
The Thomas C. McRae Memorial Sanatorium in Alexander (Pulaski and Saline counties) was established in 1931, in the midst of the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, to treat African-American victims of tuberculosis (often called “consumption” at the time). It was the first facility of its kind in Arkansas. It was opened twenty-two years after the Arkansas State Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Booneville (Logan County), which treated only white patients. In 1968, following the integration of the state’s sanatoriums, the Alexander site became the Alexander Human Development Center. In 2011, the facility was closed. The bill that created the McRae Sanatorium was introduced in the Arkansas General Assembly in 1923. It had strong support from the Arkansas Tuberculosis Association, particularly from …

Thomas, Ruth Harris

Ruth Harris Thomas was a highly regarded amateur ornithologist whose column on birding in Arkansas was published by the Arkansas Gazette for about forty years. Her column not only documented area birds, but it also contributed to a growing appreciation for birds, birding, and habitat conservation. Ruth Harris was born in Kentucky on August 25, 1900, to Charles O. Harris and Columbia B. Cox Harris. She had two brothers. Majoring in English and journalism, Harris graduated from Louisiana State University in 1923, where she also edited the student newspaper. She moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the autumn of 1923 to work as a reporter for the Arkansas Gazette newspaper. In 1927, she married Maine native Stanley Powers Rowland …

Tickborne Diseases

Ticks are a very specific cosmopolitan collection of obligate, haematophagous, ectoparasitic arthropods of vertebrates (mostly on reptiles, birds, and mammals). They are important as vectors of bacterial (mainly rickettsial and spirochaetal), protistal, and viral disease agents of domestic animals and humans, as well as other mammals. By 2016, sixteen tickborne diseases of humans were known, which includes four emerging diseases discovered since 2013. In 2017, state and local health departments around the country reported a record number (totaling 59,349) of cases of tickborne diseases to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, up from 48,610 in 2016. Tickborne diseases can range from producing mild symptoms that are treatable at home to causing symptoms including fever and …

Ticks

Ticks belong to the phylum Arthropoda, class Arachnida, subclass Acari, suborder Parasitiformes, and order Ixodida (Metastigmata), which includes almost 900 recognized species. There are three families: Ixodidae, or the “hard” ticks (approximately 700 species); Argasidae, or the “soft” ticks (approximately 200 species); and Nuttalliellidae, containing only a single species, Nuttalliella namaqua, a tick found only in southern Africa. In Arkansas, nine genera and a total of nineteen species (three argasids and sixteen ixodids) are known. Another species, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) annulatus, has been extirpated from Arkansas. Ticks are a highly specialized group of obligate, bloodsucking, nonpermanent ectoparasitic arthropods of vertebrates (mostly on reptiles, birds, and mammals) and are distributed throughout the world. In addition to being irritating to hosts and causing …

Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000

After the establishment of the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 between several major U.S. tobacco companies and four state governments (Texas, Florida, Minnesota, and Mississippi), the remaining forty-six states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories not party to the original legal action were allowed to join into benefits conferred by the agreement. The tobacco companies were mandated to pay damages approaching the sum of $10 billion over an indefinite time period to the states joining the agreement, as well as acknowledge publicly that tobacco companies targeted youth in marketing and sales of products. In addition, the companies were subjected to sponsorship, marketing, and sales restrictions on their product. The State of Arkansas, agreeing not to file further litigation …

Topminnows

aka: Fundulids
aka: Killifishes
Topminnows belong to the Family Fundulidae, Order Cypriniformes, and Class Actinopterygii. This family also includes some North American killifishes. There are approximately forty-four to forty-six species that are found in the lowlands of North and Central America from southeastern Canada to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, including the Mississippi River drainage, and the islands of Bermuda and Cuba. Most (forty species) of topminnows belong to the genus Fundulus, and others are included in the genera Lucania (three species) and Leptolucania (a single species). The Family Fundulidae is a paraphyletic grouping of members of genera Fundulus and Lucania. There are six species of topminnows found in Arkansas. Topminnows occur in both freshwater and marine waters as well as brackish environments. They …

Tornado Outbreak of 1952

The tornado season of 1952 was a particularly eventful one throughout the state. Twenty-six tornadoes were reported to have touched down in Arkansas from January to November that year. While twenty-six is well below the modern average of about thirty-nine tornadoes per year in Arkansas, an unusually large number of these storms in 1952 were EF-3 and stronger on the Enhanced Fujita Scale used to rate the strength of tornadoes (the ratings go from EF-0 to EF-5). Of the twenty-six tornadoes in this outbreak, at least five were rated EF-4. Among these tornadoes, the most deadly and most widely reported was the March 21, 1952, EF-4 tornado that struck White County on March 21. Over the course of the year, …

Tornado Outbreak of March 1, 1997

The tornado outbreak of March 1, 1997, was one of the deadliest in the history of the state of Arkansas. Sixteen tornadoes tracked across the state, killing twenty-five Arkansans. Several of the tornadoes had unusually long tracks, traveling between fifty and seventy-five miles. There was also a higher than statistically expected number of tornadoes of F3 strength or higher—that is, tornadoes with wind speeds in excess of 158 miles per hour. Of the sixteen tornadoes, four were responsible for all fatalities in the state, as well as much of the property damage. All sixteen tornadoes were produced by four supercell thunderstorms, with the four killer tornadoes being spawned from two such storms that formed ahead of a cold front. The …

Tornadoes

Tornadoes—destructive, violently spinning vortices of air extending from high within severe thunderstorms to the surface of the earth—are more common in the United States than anywhere else on the planet. They are particularly prevalent in the area known as “Tornado Alley,” where the proper ingredients come together: a combination of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico pulled northward by storm systems dragging strong continental cold air from Canada. While Arkansas is not normally included on maps of the infamous Tornado Alley, which is usually considered to stretch from north Texas northward through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, the state has suffered many devastating tornado outbreaks. In January 1999, Arkansas recorded the most tornadoes on any individual January day in …

Towbin, Eugene Jonas

Eugene Jonas Towbin moved to Arkansas in 1955 to work at the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital. He was a pioneer in the field of geriatric medicine, and his influence brought the first Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) in the country to Arkansas. He was instrumental in obtaining funding for the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and was one of the founders of the geriatrics program at what is now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). He also supported cultural events and organizations in the Little Rock area. Eugene Towbin was born in New York City on September 18, 1918, to Russian Jewish immigrants Morris and Elena Towbin. He attended public …

Trees

When European explorers first came to Arkansas in the sixteenth century, they found the vast majority of the state covered by some type of forest or woodland. In general, the upland areas of the state were covered by short-leaf pine/oak/hickory forests in areas underlain by acidic rocks (primarily sandstone and chert) and by oak/hickory forests in areas underlain by neutral to calcareous rocks (primarily limestone and dolomite). Lowland areas of eastern and southern Arkansas were covered primarily by bottomland hardwood forests, with bald-cypress/water-tupelo swamps in the wettest areas. The Gulf Coastal Plain of southern Arkansas was covered by a mix of forest types, with loblolly and/or short-leaf pine dominant in many areas. Within these general forest types were hundreds of …

Trematodes

aka: Flatworms
aka: Flukes
Trematodes (flukes) include parasitic flatworms belonging to the phylum Platyhelminthes, class Trematoda, and subclasses Aspidogastrea (two orders, four families) and Digenea (ten orders, more than seventy-two families). The class numbers between 18,000 and 24,000 species; they are found primarily in a variety of animals, including humans and other vertebrates. Modern phylogenetic analysis reveals that the worms of class Monogenoidea (monogenetic flukes) are no longer included within the Trematoda and are more closely related to tapeworms. The modern mobility of human beings, combined with the international transportation of animals and foodstuffs that can be infected, means that diagnoses can occur well outside the areas where trematode species are endemic. However, while trematodes do occur in Arkansas, they do not pose a …

Trinity Hospital

Opened in 1924, Trinity Hospital of Little Rock (Pulaski County) operated as a fee-for-service institution until 1931. That year, the physicians of Trinity implemented one of the early health maintenance organizations (HMOs)—a form of insurance in which member physicians provide medical care to voluntary subscribers for a fixed fee—in the United States. The former Trinity Hospital building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 18, 1998. Trinity’s five founding physicians—Mahlon Dickerson Ogden Sr., Orange King Judd, Augustine Mathias Zell, James Isaac Scarborough, and Robert Booth Moore—began practicing medicine together before establishing the hospital. By 1916, Ogden, Judd, and Zell, who were also faculty members at the Arkansas Medical School—now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences …

Tropical Cyclones

aka: Tropical Storms and Depressions
As defined by the National Hurricane Center, a tropical cyclone is a “rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has a closed low-level circulation.” Types of tropical cyclones are classified in terms of wind speed: A tropical depression is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 38 miles per hour (mph) or lower. A tropical storm is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher. A major hurricane is tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 111 mph or higher. Given the landlocked, central location of the state of Arkansas, it may …

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (also known as consumption) is a contagious, potentially fatal bacterial infection that mainly affects the lungs. It is caused by the tubercle bacillus (Mycobacterium tuberculosis), which was discovered by Robert Koch in 1882. By 1900, the disease was the second-leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by pneumonia. More than eighty percent of the U.S. population had been infected with the disease, although most people showed no symptoms. By the time a person showed symptoms, the disease was usually well advanced and had been spread to many others. The mortality rate for those with active infections was around eighty percent. In Arkansas, tuberculosis once affected one in sixty people and accounted for one out of every …

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge near Eureka Springs (Carroll County) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing lifetime homes for abandoned, abused, and neglected big cats and other endangered wildlife. With over 450 acres and more than 120 exotic cats, the refuge is one of the largest big cat sanctuaries in North America licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The sanctuary is rated a “Must See” attraction by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and is one of the most popular destinations in the Eureka Springs area. Don Jackson, a former employee of the Dallas Zoo, along with his wife, Hilda, and their daughter, Tanya Smith, founded the refuge in 1992. After a friend acquired a lion cub and realized …

Typhoid

Typhoid is among the earliest diseases reported in Arkansas and was a significant public health problem up through the early twentieth century. Though it became less common in the modern era, typhoid had a significant impact upon state health in times and places where poor sanitation was the norm. Typhoid, like cholera, is transmitted through the ingestion of food or water that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected individual; the spread of the disease is therefore greatly linked with a lack of proper sanitation. Victims experience high fevers, sweating, inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, and diarrhea. In most cases, the disease is not fatal, though fevers can last well over a month. Some individuals may become asymptomatic …

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District

Although technically a part of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has played a vital role in the development of civilian transportation infrastructure and water resources since Congress passed the first river and harbors bill in 1824 and charged the corps with maintaining navigational channels. Work on the Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi rivers received first priority, but as settlers moved farther west, attention soon focused on other navigable streams. Until 1916, Congress authorized only navigational improvements on rivers. Flood control only entered the corps’ mandate indirectly, as levees were considered navigational aids. However, as agricultural and transportation needs grew and the national economic importance of the lower Mississippi River Valley became evident, politicians found it easier …

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS)

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is Arkansas’s premier research hospital. UAMS provides the state with a solid foundation of higher learning and financial support. It has a long history of serving the public by providing the indigent with quality healthcare and is one of the largest employers in Arkansas, providing almost 9,000 jobs, many of them professional. To some extent, the history of UAMS is the history of medicine in Arkansas. The Arkansas State Medical Association, formed in 1870, pressed the legislature to allow the legal dissection of cadavers—a major milestone in medical research and education. After the legislature’s approval in 1873, the state’s first dissection, performed by Drs. Lenow and Vickery, …

University of Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center

The University of Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center (RREC), one of five research and extension centers in the University of Arkansas System’s statewide Division of Agriculture, is one of the best known and oldest rice research centers in the world. Arkansas produces almost half the rice grown in the United States, and the center has played a vital role in the success of the Arkansas rice industry. RREC is located nine miles east of Stuttgart (Arkansas County) on Highway 130. Originally called the Rice Branch Station, it was authorized by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1923, and work commenced on it in December 1926. The University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) made an earlier attempt at establishing a …

Vaccination

Vaccination artificially increases immunity to disease and contributes to the development of herd immunity, which is achieved when a sufficiently large percentage of immunized individuals  reduces the likelihood of disease transmission. Beginning in the nineteenth century, vaccination became an essential part of American public health policy. In Arkansas, starting with the introduction of school smallpox vaccination requirements in the late nineteenth century, vaccination became a vital feature of modern public health policy. The smallpox vaccine, discovered by British physician Edward Jenner in 1796, was the world’s first vaccine and remained the only human vaccine available until 1885. Following the introduction of the smallpox vaccine into the United States in 1800, Massachusetts became the first state to mandate smallpox vaccinations, requiring …

Venomous Snakes

Arkansas hosts about forty-five species and subspecies of snakes, and six (thirteen percent) are species that use venom to obtain food and to defend themselves. There are two families of venomous snakes in the state: Elapidae (a single elapid species, the Texas coral snake) and Viperidae (five species of pitvipers). All of Arkansas’s venomous snakes inject venom through fangs via muscular contraction of paired venom glands. Texas Coral Snake The Texas coral snake, Micrurus tener tener (formerly Micrurus fulvius tenere) is a tricolored, medium-sized (maximum length = 122 centimeters), secretive elapid snake that primarily occurs in the southern and southwestern part of the state. Verified records are available for only five counties of the state in the Gulf Coastal Plain, …

Vines

In 2016, a total of 436 kinds of woody plants were known to occur in the wild in Arkansas, comprising 419 species plus another seventeen varieties and subspecies. Of these, 185 can be considered trees, 189 are best described as shrubs, and sixty-two are woody vines. In some cases, it is difficult to draw a hard line between these categories, and various reference works differ in their criteria for each. For the purposes of this entry, however, each category is defined as follows: Trees are defined as perennial, often single- or relatively few–stemmed woody plants typically greater than five meters (sixteen feet) in height at maturity. Shrubs are defined as perennial, often multi-stemmed woody or semi-woody plants usually less than …

Watkins, Claibourne

Claibourne Watkins was one of three native Arkansan founders of the Medical Department of the Arkansas Industrial University, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Watkins was born on March 3, 1844, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the second son of George Claibourne Watkins and Mary Crease Watkins. His father was state attorney general and chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. He had two brothers: Colonel Anderson Watkins, who was killed at Atlanta during the Civil War, and Captain Walton Watkins. Watkins was educated in a number of institutions, both private and public. The Civil War broke out just prior to his completing his undergraduate degree at St. Timothy’s Hall in Cantonsville, Maryland. A Southerner by birth and …

Weather in the Civil War

Drought, flooding, bone-chilling winters, and intense summer heat all had an impact on the civilian and military populations of Arkansas during the Civil War, affecting military campaigns, access to food and supplies, and health conditions throughout the state. The Civil War was fought just after the end of a meteorological period that climate historians often call the Little Ice Age. This era, lasting roughly from 1300 to 1850, featured frequent climatic shifts, with bitterly cold winters switching to periods of heavy spring flooding, often followed by mild winters and subsequent droughts. While the trend toward cooling that characterized the Little Ice Age had moved toward warming by the 1860s, Civil War Arkansas would be plagued by temperature fluctuations that could …

Welch, William Blackwell

In the late nineteenth century, William Blackwell Welch, a physician, was a leader in the movement to modernize medicine in Arkansas. A cofounder and first president of the Arkansas Medical Society (AMS), he later led the effort to establish a city hospital in Fayetteville (Washington County). W. B. Welch was born on December 9, 1828, in Scottsville, Kentucky, to Christopher A. Welch, who was a farmer, and his wife, Elizabeth Lyles Welch. In 1829, his family, which eventually included two brothers and three sisters, moved to Somerville, Alabama. He attended schools in Huntsville, Alabama, and studied medicine under his older brother. After graduating from Tennessee’s University of Nashville medical department (later merged with the Vanderbilt University Medical School) in 1849, …

Western Mosquitofish

aka: Gambusia
The western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) belongs to the order Cyprinodontiformes and family Poeciliidae. The name “mosquitofish” is appropriate for this fish because its diet sometimes consists of large numbers of mosquito larvae. The family contains about twenty-one genera and 160 species. There are eight other freshwater species of Gambusia similar in appearance in North America north of Mexico, including the eastern mosquitofish (G. holbrooki), Amistad gambusia (G. amistadensis), Big Bend gambusia (G. gaigei), largespring gambusia (G. geiseri), San Marcos gambusia (G. georgei), Clear Creek gambusia (G. heterochir), Pecos gambusia (G. nobilis), and blotched gambusia (G. senilis). Many of these Gambusia spp. are endemic and afforded protection, as populations are either listed as threatened or endangered. The similar western mosquitofish ranges …

White Nose Syndrome

White nose syndrome (WNS) is an emerging disease caused by an exotic fungus of the Phylum Ascomycota, Class Dothideomycetes, and Family Pseudeurotiaceae. This fungus is native to Europe and perhaps portions of Asia and is specifically termed Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd). Pd was unknown to science and undescribed until it was identified in 2008. Initially named Geomyces destructans, it was reclassified as P. destructans in 2013. The fungus was first found in Asia and Europe, where scientists believe it had existed for some time, as host bats do not appear to get as ill from the disease it causes. The strain of Pd that made it to North America is thought to have originated from some locality in Europe. There is …

Wildflowers

The varied ecosystems in Arkansas enable a large variety of wildflowers to grow within the state. From the river deltas to the mountaintops, Arkansas boasts an abundant array of over 600 native wildflowers. The majority of wildflowers in Arkansas are along rural roads and secluded areas. Due to the growing population and changes in the environment, the areas in which wildflowers grow are in constant fluctuation. Although highways and the development of land have eliminated a majority of the state’s native wildflowers, programs are under way to preserve these flowers and bring them back to the roadways. Common WildflowersThe most common wildflowers on Arkansas highways today are as follows: An in-depth list with descriptions of Arkansas wildflowers was written by …

Williams, Robert Lee, II

Robert Lee Williams II is a leading figure in American psychology known for his work in the education of African-American children and in studying the cultural biases present in standard testing measures, especially IQ tests. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2011. Robert Lee Williams was born on February 20, 1930, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). His father, Robert L. Williams, worked as a millwright and died in 1935; his mother cleaned houses. He had one sister. He graduated from Dunbar High School at age sixteen and attended Dunbar Junior College for a year before dropping out, discouraged by his low score on an IQ test. He married Ava L. Kemp in 1948. They have …

Williams, Sterling B.

Dr. Sterling Williams was a groundbreaking leader in the field of obstetrics and gynecology (OB-GYN) who served in several important roles in national organizations dedicated to medicine and medical education. In addition, he was a gifted vocalist who performed with numerous choral groups. Sterling B. Williams was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on April 3, 1941. He grew up in Little Rock and graduated from Horace Mann High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, followed by a master’s degree in physiology from Northern Illinois University in 1966 and an MD from what is now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in 1973. He also completed work toward his …

Williams, Virginia Anne Rice

Biochemist Virginia Anne Rice Williams helped develop more nutritious grains through her pioneering studies of rice, a major Arkansas crop. She conducted important research on the B-vitamin content of rice, on ways to keep rice from turning rancid in storage, and on the vitamin fortification of rice. Virginia Rice was born in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Roderic J. Rice, a banker, and Mattie Thurman. Her high school teachers urged her to pursue music as a career, as she was a gifted musician. Fearing that she would not succeed as a concert musician, however, she opted for science, a field in which she also excelled. In 1940, Rice graduated from Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) with a BA …