Sohns, Ernest R. (Deceased)
Ernest was born October 3, 1917, in Flemingsburg, Kentucky. His early years were spent in southern Ohio near Cincinnati. He graduated from Miami University in 1940 with an AB degree, and from Iowa State College in 1941 with an MS degree. From 1941 to 1946, he served in the United States Army and, after discharge from active duty, he enrolled in Indiana University. Ernest received a PhD degree in botany in 1949 (taxonomy and morphology of the Gramineae). He was employed as an assistant professor of biology at the College of William and Mary from 1949 to 1951. In 1951, he joined the Department of Botany, Smithsonian Institution, as an associate curator of grasses. During the years from 1951 to 1956, he conducted field explorations in various parts of Mexico collecting, cataloging, and describing new species of grasses. The results of this work were published in the Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences and the New York Botanical Garden Memoirs. The highlight of his Smithsonian years was having the rare Mexican grass genus (Sohnsia) named for him by Airy Shaw of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. His agrostological work ceased in 1956, and, thereafter, he served in the following government agencies: Department of the Army in biological and chemical warfare, 1956-63; National Science Foundation in science information and international scientific programs, 1963-73; and Department of State, Scientific Attache, U.S. Embassy, Stockholm, Sweden, 1973-79. He retired in 1979. He continued his life-long interest in biology by applying best management practices to his tree farm near Charlottesville, Virginia. Ernest has two children, Gregory and Sandra. He has three grandchildren, Olivia, Antonia, and Juliet Sohns. His wife passed away some years ago. He is still working on a number of projects, remains very active on his farm in Troy, in his American Legion's Post, and in his church community. Ernest was elected to membership in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1952.