Before he arrived in Ithaca as a penniless prospective Cornell student in 1948, Ronald Gatty MS ’52, PhD ’57 had already worked as a shark catcher in the South Seas and a soda jerk on 57th Street in New York. His dream, however, was to study botany at Cornell.

Australian by birth, he’d spent most of his youth in Fiji, living closely with natives whose health and livelihood depended largely on the island’s plants.

Denied admittance as an undergraduate, Gatty went to work as a volunteer in horticulturalist Liberty Hyde Bailey’s laboratory and was eventually admitted to the graduate school. He earned a master’s in agricultural economics, served in the Korean War, and returned to earn a doctorate.

Although he built a career as a professor of agricultural economics, his heart has always been in anthropology and ethnobiology, Gatty admits. He is the author of the world’s only Fijian dictionary.

Read a longer story about Ron Gatty and his and his wife’s gift to Cornell.