Ruth Patrick is an American botanist who helped develop the field of limnology.Patrick was born in Kansas City in 1907. She developed an interest in the microscopic organisms in water from trips to the countryside as a young girl. She
attended Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina, where she majored in botany; she then earned a doctoral degree from the University of Virginia. In her later life, she has received honorary degrees from other institutions, including Princeton University.
Patrick was one of the founders of limnology: the study of biological, physical, and chemical conditions of freshwater. She herself worked in this field, studying diatoms, food of
freshwater organisms. Patrick developed the diameter, which measures the levels of such organisms in water and can determine the amount of pollution present. She also wrote the book Diatoms of the United States.
Patrick became involved in environmental politics and helped develop the United States government's environmental policy. She also worked for the Department of the Interior and was a member of many committees. In her tough stance toward water pollution, she has often been compared to Ralph Nader.
Patrick was the first woman chairperson of the board of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. She is a member of numerous organizations, and she has received many awards, including the $150,000 Alice Tyler Ecology Award. She remains a strong advocate of conservation and continues
to look for solutions to biospheric pollution.