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Nadine Jacobsen


Nadine K. Jacobsen

Associate Professor of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, Emeritus

UC Davis



Nadine K. Jacobsen died on November 21, 2009, at age 67, after a short, courageous battle with cancer. She is survived by her much-loved husband and partner, Fred. She is remembered and missed by her family, colleagues, and students.


Dr. Jacobsen was born on December 13, 1941, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and graduated from high school in Port Wing, WI. Nadine attended Northland College in Ashland, WI, before earning her bachelor’s degree from Drake University in Illinois. Nadine received a Masters degree in Biological Science at Oregon State University (Corvallis), and she accepted a teaching position at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, OR. Nadine and Fred were married in 1967, and in 1968, they moved to Ithaca, New York, where they both earned their doctorate degrees in Biological Sciences.


Dr. Jacobsen joined the UC Davis faculty as an Assistant Professor of Wildlife Biology in 1974. She worked tirelessly to build her research program on the physiological ecology of wild mammal species. Because her research efforts focused on deer (family Cervidae), she raised the necessary grant funds to build a deer facility at the Experimental Ecosystem of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Biology (as WFCB was known in the 1970s and 1980s), on the western edge of our Campus. The deer facility was very useful in the successful reproduction and rearing of black-tailed deer for her studies on the juveniles. Several students were exposed to deer behavior and physiology through this facility. Nadine’s research produced scholarly publications on black-tailed deer physiology (e.g., plasma and blood volumes, heart rate), behavior (e.g., time and activity patterns), and ecology (e.g., field energetic estimates). In addition, Dr. Jacobsen, along with colleague J.L. Stuart, developed microprocessor-controlled telemetry systems for physiological monitoring of unrestrained wildlife. These systems were very advanced for the early to mid-1980s period and they aided researchers in gathering important data on mammals in field settings. Her publications appeared in scholarly journals such as the Journal of Wildlife Management, Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, the Journal of Mammalogy, the Journal of Interdisciplinary Cycle Research, Growth, the Journal of Thermal Biology, and Biotelemetry and Patient Monitoring. Unfortunately, an injury sustained from a kick from one of her experimental animals minimized her subsequent hands-on studies of these deer.


Dr. Jacobsen was active in several professional societies. She often served as a reviewer of manuscripts submitted to professional journals (including the Journal of Mammalogy, the Journal of Wildlife Management, the Journal of Thermal Biology, the American Naturalist, and Physiological Zoology) in her field. In addition, she reviewed grant proposals for the National Science Foundation and books for science book publishers. Finally, Dr. Jacobsen provided professional service to professional societies and foundations.


During the 1974-1997 period, Dr. Jacobsen taught popular courses such as Wildlife Ecology, Physiological Ecology of Wildlife, Biology and Management of Cervidae, and Field Studies in Wildlife Biology to UC Davis undergraduates. Many UC Davis students, including many non-WFCB majors, were exposed to the principles of wildlife ecology, energetics, nutrition, and conservation through these courses. Nadine was a member of the Graduate Group in Ecology, and she taught and lectured in graduate seminars and classes. Some of her graduate students achieved important positions of influence in California and US natural resource agencies.


For many years, Nadine served a vital role in WFCB as the Departmental Master Adviser. Literally hundreds of students benefited from her patient guidance through the various courses and options to optimize the students’ undergraduate experiences at UC Davis. Today, these students are scientific leaders in natural resources agencies, natural resource consulting firms, and wildlife research programs across the country.


Dr. Jacobsen was also generous in her time in outreach efforts regarding deer and their populations in California. She presented lectures at professional meetings and workshops. She also provided advice to the US Forest Service on deer behavior and seedling depredation; to regional and state offices of the California Department of Fish and Game regarding deer growth, antlerogenesis, and energetics; and to private sector consulting companies regarding telemetry of physiological correlates of behavior, deer mortality, and deer population dynamics.


After twenty-three years of service to UC Davis, Nadine took an early retirement. From 1997 to her death in 2009, she pursued her other passions, including the raising and training of Airedale Terriers, gardening, and wildlife habitat preservation.


She was a special scientist, teacher, and adviser who is missed by her colleagues and students. Although she was taken from us too soon, we will remember her optimistic spirit as well as her many contributions to WFCB.


Joe Cech

Dan Anderson

Doug Kelt

Peter Moyle