Great NebraskaNaturalists and Scientists
Leva B. Walker
Leva Belle Walker focused her academic career on the study of fungi and spores. She taught classes on botany and mycology at the University of Nebraska beginning in 1908. She retired in 1946 and in 1953 became professor emeritus.
Walker came to the University of Nebraska in 1907 to work towards a masters degree. While a student at the university, Leva participated in the Botanical Seminar, also known as the “Sem Bot,” a scientific club comprised of students. The club held examinations that allowed for degrees or ranks. During her participation in the Sem Bot, Leva received the degree of “no vitius” in February 1907 and took the seminar examination to achieve a higher club rank of “ordinarious” in October of the same year. The examination for her M.A. degree took place under the supervision of professors Charles E. Bessey and F. D. Heald. Initially, Leva supervised labs, library, and storeroom of the Botany Department. In 1911, having previously served as an instructor she gained the rank of adjunct professor.
Leva’s obituary, which appeared in several Lincoln, Nebraska, papers noted that she held membership in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of University Women, the American Botanical Society, the American Forestry Association, the American Microscopical Society, and the American Phytopathological Society. As a member of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, she served on their executive board in 1924. Leva participated in several honorary societies, including Phi Sigma, the biological sciences honor society, and Sigma Xi, the scientific research honorary society. As a graduate student she held membership in Sigma Delta Epsilon, for women in the sciences, and the Torrey Botanical Club. Both Leva and her sister, Elda, were recognized by Sigma Delta Epsilon, for their work in the sciences.
Walker received her A.B. in 1901 from Pacific University, her M.A. in 1908 from the University of Nebraska, and her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1927. Leva is the sister of Elda R. Walker. Their parents were Belle Putnam Walker and Levi Chamberlain Walker. Leva was born on December 2, 1878, in Forest Grove, Oregon. The 1880 census shows the two sisters living a home in Oregon with their parents and a niece named Mary O. Karr. Although living and working in Nebraska, both Elda and Leva were listed as living with their mother Belle, head of household, in the 1920 census. In the 1930 census, Elda is listed as the head of the household with their mother now living in Lincoln with both sisters. Leva Belle Walker passed away on July 29, 1970 in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she made her home at 1750 South 20th Street.