John R. Raper, chairman of the Biology Department and professor of Botany, died suddenly Tuesday night at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. He was 62 years old.
A world authority on the reproduction of fungi, Raper came to Harvard in 1954 to instruct a wide range of graduate and undergraduate courses.
He has taught Biology 2, "Cellular, Developmental and Functional Biology"; Biology 14, "Genetics"; and Biology 301, "Mycology and Fungal Genetics". His book, "Genetics of Sexuality in Higher Fungi," summarized 20 years of research on the physiology and reproduction of Schizophyllum, a mushroom-like fungus.
Memorial services will be held at 4:30 p.m. next Thursday at Memorial Church.
Raper, born in rural Davidson County, N.C., studied at the University of North Carolina under John Couch, a leading mycologist, and began his own exploration into the sexual development of higher fungi.
He came to Harvard to receive his M.A. and Ph.D degrees in 1939, left to teach at Indiana University and the University of Chicago and then returned to Cambridge to assume a position in the Biology Department.
Raper was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, serving as Secretary from 1962 to 1964. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1964. Raper also served as president of the Mycological Society of America in 1956.
During World War II, Raper participated in the Manhattan project to study the biological effects of atomic radiation.
His work with fungi took him to Cologne, Germany in 1960 where he studied as both a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fulbright Scholar. In 1967 he was visiting professor of Genetics at Hebrew University in Israel.
At the time of his death, Raper was planning to spend a semester's sabbatical in the Netherlands to develop new techniques in cell culture and to further his botanical research.
Raper was a resident of Lexington, and is survived by his wife, Carlene Allen; their children, Jonathan and Linda and a son, William, from a previous marriage; and four brothers and a sister.