Biology professor leaves lasting legacy


Steve Upton, professor in biology, spent his time researching and learning topics most people are not even aware of. His study of parasites and how to control them in both human and animal health led to more than 220 publications and more than 4,000 citations from other scientists.

Upton died this summer after battling cancer. Although he will no longer be at K-State, his colleagues said his impact on the university will not be forgotten.

“At the local level he had a strong impact on the students in biology, and beyond that in parasitology, both nationally and internationally, he had a huge impact on his field,” said Bryan Spooner, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Spooner said Upton’s parasitology courses had high enrollment numbers, and he was an extremely popular professor with the students.

“We are very sorry to see Steve pass,” Spooner said. “He was a terrific guy and a superb scientist.”


Steve J. Upton, age 57, died Thursday, July 29, 2010, in Manhattan, where he had lived for the past 24 years, after a courageous battle with cancer.

Steve was born June 14, 1953, in Portland, Ore., the son of Edward J. and Helen C. (Karle) Upton. He lived his childhood in Forest Grove, Ore., and spent his summers at Olallie Lake Resort working in the summer family business. He graduated from Forest Grove High School, Forest Grove, Ore., in 1971. He worked several seasons for the Forest Service in fire suppression, including as a member of the hot shot helitack crew. He earned his bachelor’s from Oregon State University in 1975, his master’s in parasitology from the University of New Mexico in 1981 and his doctorate in parasitology from Auburn University in 1983. He spent two years as a visiting professor at the University of Texas in El Paso, Texas, before accepting a faculty position at K-State in 1986, where he worked until he died. During that time, Steve developed an international reputation as an expert in the biology of parasitic organisms.

Survivors include his daughter, Sierra Upton, of Manhattan; a sister, Susan Upton Lovro and her husband David, of Santa Fe, N.M.; 2 nephews, Benjamin and Luke Lovro, both of Santa Fe, N.M. He is also survived by other family members and many friends, colleagues and former students. A “Celebration of Life” gathering will be held later in Manhattan.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Kansas State University Foundation for the Division of Biology Excellence Fund, F17900, and left in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Ave., Manhattan, Kansas 66502.

Online condolences may be left for the family at by clicking on upcoming services.

Memorial Funds: KSU Foundation Division of Biology

-Prepared by the Upton family