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Kenneth L. Diem* -- 2002 -- Outstanding Former Faculty
Zoology and Physiology Department
Professor Emeritus Kenneth L. Diem was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and grew up in nearby Racine. After serving four years as an officer in the United States Navy, he received a B.S. degree in biology from Lawrence College in 1948. Diem developed his lifelong interest in birds and their habitat due to Professor Walter Roger's ornithology classes and field trips at Lawrence College. Diem also credits Professor Alden Miller at the University of California, Berkeley, for getting Diem a federal bird banding permit, which led to 27 years of Diem's studies of the White Pelicans on Yellowstone Lake.
Diem's first exposure to western environments and their wildlife began in 1942 when he served on a fire crew of the Coeur d'Alene National Forest. In 1947, Diem enrolled as a graduate student in the Wildlife Department of Utah State University and earned his M.S. degree with his research on a Utah/Idaho migrating deer herd. In 1948, he was a Yellowstone National Park seasonal Ranger Naturalist.
Continuing his deer studies, Diem was employed for three years by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, studying the population's dynamics and evaluating the forage utilization by the famous North Kaibab mule deer herd. In the mid-1950s, Diem earned a Ph.D. in wildlife at Utah State. His job as a biologist for the United States Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife gave him an opportunity to conduct his Ph.D. research on waterfowl ecology and behavior in Alberta, Canada.
In 1957, Diem joined the University of Wyoming Department of Zoology and Game Management. He was attracted to the rich and diverse wildlife resources in Wyoming and the strong zoology and physiology courses, which he knew would help strengthen the department's developing wildlife program. During the late 1960's, it was not unusual for Diem to have more than 60 undergraduate wildlife advisees. Over the course of his career, he also advised and supervised 25 M.S. and Ph.D. graduate students.
Diem's research ranged from birds to big game. He spent 36 years studying the life and habits of 12,000 banded California Gulls. Also, in the 1960s, Diem studied the distribution of radioactive radium in plants and animals living on geological formations containing volcanic rhyolite and obsidian. In addition, he authored more than 25 papers concerning wildlife biology and management, served as instructor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, consulted with industry on wildlife planning, and directed and participated in numerous workshops addressing wildlife management issues.
A leader in departmental efforts to continually modernize the wildlife curriculum and to strengthen relationships with Wyoming Game and Fish and other state and federal agencies, Diem played a strong role in efforts to establish the United States Fish-Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit on campus, and he worked hard to obtain the congressional delegation's support for this endeavor. Serving as director of the University of Wyoming-National Park Research Center (UW/NPS) between 1977 and 1989, Diem developed policies for a new complex relationship between UW and the National Park Service. The research Center sought to provide unbiased scientific expertise and perspective in the evaluation and solution of natural and cultural resource management problems in 31 national parks and monuments in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and North and South Dakota. In addition, Diem was acting administrative archivist for the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center (AHC) between 1982 and 1983.
In recognition of his expertise, Diem served on the 1973 Wyoming Conservation land Use Study Commission and he became a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1964. He received the United States Forest Service 75th Anniversary Award for significant contributions to forestry and conservation in 1981. Diem also was elected president of the Eisenhower Consortium for Western Forestry research in 1984. He led this cooperative program, involving nine universities and the United States Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, for three years.
Diem participated in several UW committees, including the College of Arts and Sciences Central Committee (1964-1967), the UW Library Committee (1965-1971), and the UW Course Committee (1979-1981). In 1986, Diem, his wife Lenore, and William Lawrence wrote A Tale of Dough Gods, Bear Grease, Cantaloupe and Sucker Oil, an historical account of the complex history of the property on which the UW/NPS Research Station is now located. Diem and Lenore also researched and wrote A Community of Scalawags, Renegades, Discharged Soldiers and Predestined Stinkers? A history of Northern Jackson Hole and Yellowstone's Influence 1872-1920 in 1998.
*In loving memory.