November 3, 2008

Foote, Pioneer Animal Science Researcher, Dies

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When Robert Foote joined the 442nd regimental combat team in early 1944, he planned to return to work on his family’s farm in Connecticut after the war. But the explosion of a German mortar shell left him badly injured and forced him to reevaluate his plans. After recovering, Foote eventually made his way to Cornell, where he would earn his doctorate and eventually conduct groundbreaking research in animal reproduction. Last Monday, Foote passed away from lung failure in Ithaca. He was 86.
Foote, a professor emeritus in animal science, first became an assistant professor in 1950. Prior to enlisting in the army, Foote attended the University of Connecticut and graduated with a degree in animal husbandry.
In 1958, Foote began his study of DNA in rabbits that would eventually help pave the way for in vitro fertilization and serve as a major steppingstone for animal cloning. Over the past 40 years, he worked on about 500 scientific papers, which have contributed to the field of animal science. Foote is also credited with playing a pivotal role in the study of mammal eggs. Among other things, his research identified the fetal ovary as the location where oocytes are formed.
Yesterday, a celebration of his life was held at Kendal at Ithaca, and on Nov. 9, a memorial service will be held at the First Congregational Church on Highland Road in Ithaca.