George W. Nace (1920-1987) was an innovative developmental biologist at Duke University and the University of Michigan. The son of a missionary, he spent much of his childhood in Japan where he became fluent in Japanese. During WWII, Nace used his talents in the Japanese language and received a certificate from the US Navy Japanese Language School in at the University of Colorado in 1943. He served as a translator during World War II and worked closely throughout his career with scientists in Japan. The collection contains his research notes, publications academic, personal, and military correspondence, photographs and records relating to George W. Nace’s academic career and his attendance at the US Navy Japanese/Oriental Language School and service in World War II.
His son-in-law, Steven Johnson, and wife, Susan Nace, told us that as a professor at the University of Michigan, George Nace was one of the first to grow frogs through their entire growth cycle and realized that frogs needed different foods for each stage of growth, as well as a variety of foods during the adult stages. He developed a caged ramp upon which he could put live crickets, mosquitoes, refrigerated flies, and even Japanese quail in order to “deliver” foods to the frogs. During this time, there was some construction in the building and few of these crickets and warmed-up flies escaped into the rest of the building. After that, whenever insects appeared in other parts of the building, Professor Nace was blamed. This accusation even occurred during an infestation of wolf spiders, which were never raised in his lab. So George Nace became something of a legend on the campus, though, on the matter of insects, not an entirely favorable legend. A version of his caged ramp is still being used at UM, the Detroit Zoo, and by other breeders of frogs.
The University of Colorado Boulder Libraries will celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Archives on June 6, 2018. This is story #94 in our series: 100 Stories for 100 Years from the Archives!