Peter Nute, In Memoriam

Professor Emeritus Peter E. Nute (1938-2011) died April 14, 2011 at the age of 74. He served the University of Washington first as a post-doctoral fellow in Professor Arno Moltulsky’s medical genetics laboratory and then was hired by the Department of Anthropology. His undergraduate degree was from Yale University (1960) and his graduate training was at Duke University in physical anthropology under the geneticist John Buettner-Janusch. Most of his publications were in non-human primate genetics in the era when DNA was inferred from polypeptide chains of proteins. His main collaborators were Professor Motulsky and Professor George Stamatoyannopoulos.

Professor Nute taught the department’s course on Human Population Genetics for many years and also developed the course in Human Genetics, Disease and Culture for the biocultural program. He played a major role in establishing the biocultural program in the Department of Anthropology, which was approved by the faculty in 1991. This marked the switch from the then non-human focus of the former physical anthropology program to the new biocultural focus on humans.

Professor Nute was a warm and supportive professor and colleague. He always had a full coffee pot to share and welcomed staff, colleagues, and students to sit and discuss issues of the day. In fact, it was these sessions that became the fruitful ground for the development of the biocultural program. His classes provided an oasis of clarity and graduate students were impressed with his fairness and support. He was a constant resource as a skillful editor as well.

His passions included travel, especially to Egypt and India, as well as hiking in the woods and walking all over the city. His family was central to his life. He is survived by his wife, daughter, and son-in-law.