Julian Kenneth Shull, Jr., Ph.D.



Dr. Richard D. Howe, “Julian Kenneth Shull, Jr., Ph.D.,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed April 22, 2024, https://omeka.library.appstate.edu/items/show/48114.

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Julian Kenneth Shull, Jr., Ph.D.


Appalachian State University
Universities and colleges--Faculty


Dr. Richard D. Howe




Biographical sketches


Boone (N.C.)

Spatial Coverage


Temporal Coverage



Professor Emeritus

Biographical Text

Professor Emeritus of Biology Ken Shull (October 15,1941-) was born in Anniston, Alabama, the only child of J. Kenneth, Sr. and Ruth C. Shull. His parents were well known in the community where they owned and operated Cook Furniture Co. Ken worked many summers and holidays in the furniture store. Ken's roots are in Arkansas (maternal grandfather), Lexington County, South Carolina (paternal grandfather), and Anniston (both grandmothers). Always interested in science, Ken was finally told by an elementary school teacher that he could not check out any more science books to read until he had read something else. The love of science and nature came from his father and paternal grandfather. He attended the public schools of Anniston, graduating from Anniston High School in 1959. From there he earned a B.S. in chemistry at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. While an undergraduate he took a non-majors heredity course and became hooked on genetics, which led him to earn an M.S. in biology under Dr. Roger Sayers. From there he went to The Florida State University to earn a Ph.D. degree in cytogenetics under Dr. Margaret Menzel, in 1973. His work there on the chromosomes of the genus Lilium continued throughout his professional career. In addition, he has published papers on the chromosomes of fish, one on a hyperparasite and a bioethics paper in a theology journal. Ken was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army reserves and spent his time at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas in 1972. Counting that time in Texas, Ken and his wife have lived in five southern states and one summer in a sixth. He was infamous for talking very fast, so he told his students that he had a "fast drawl." Carolyn Saxon became his wife in 1967 and they have two children, J. Kenneth Shull III who, with his wife Krissy, lives in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Gwyndolen Ridenhour who lives in Bismarck, North Dakota with her husband Jamie and their two children, Ian (June, 2000) and Eva (May, 2003). Both Kenneth and Gwyn received their degrees from Appalachian State University. Kenneth took a P.E. class in SCUBA at Appalachian and talked Ken into taking the class, as well. They now dive the coral reefs off of St. Croix whenever Ken and Carolyn are there for a visit. Kenneth has a dive-service business on the island. Gwyn's husband is an assistant professor of English at Mary University in Bismarck. After receiving his Ph.D. degree, Ken became an electron microscopist for Dr. Robert Short at Florida State until he left eight months later to become an assistant professor at Loyola University in New Orleans. At Loyola, he found remarkably bright students who were almost all pre-health profession students. He was promoted to associate professor and in 1983 became the chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Loyola. New Orleans is not Ken's type of town, so in 1984, he accepted a faculty position at Appalachian State University (ASU). From the first time he and Carolyn visited the campus they knew that they had found the place they had been looking for. Ken was promoted to Professor in 1988. Teaching responsibilities at the two institutions included Concepts of Biology (ASU), General Botany, General Zoology (Loyola), Genetics, Graduate Genetics and Biotechnology and Society, a bioethics course. He introduced the graduate genetics and bioethics course at both institutions, genetics laboratory at ASU and, along with Dr. Jeff Butts, Concepts of Biology at ASU. His love of teaching can be traced all the way back to when he was in the second grade and was asked by the second grade teacher and the third grade teacher to talk to their classes about honeybees. Ken was named the Association of Southeastern Biologists Meritorious Teacher and was also made a member of the Arts and Sciences Academy of Outstanding Teachers at ASU. Advising students was one of his greatest joys. He was the chair of the Pre-Health Advisory Committee for several years at Appalachian, and under his leadership the acceptance rate of those applying to medical, dental, veterinary and other health related schools greatly improved, even reaching 100 percent in several years. He was named the Arts and Sciences Outstanding Adviser the second year the award was given. Students whom he taught over 30 years ago continue to stay in contact with him. Being active in the Association of Southeastern Biologists since 1969, he has served on many committees of the association as well as serving as editor of The ASB Bulletin (now named Southeastern Biology), Vice President and President. In addition, Ken organized four Boone Chromosome Conferences in the late '80s and early '90s which drew participants from around the world. In 2006, he invited the International Chromosome Conference (ICC) to meet in Boone in 2009. That meeting will be held at the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center and is expected to draw 400 to 450 of the leading cytogeneticists from around the world. It will be the 17th ICC and the first held outside of Europe. Ken has served on the board of directors of the Walter McNeil Foundation in New Orleans and currently serves on the boards of the Southern Appalachian Historical Society as well as the local Torch club. In New Orleans he was asked to serve on the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects at Xavier University, spoke on bio-ethics at the LSU Medical School's Grand Rounds and at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Three things define Ken Shull. First, his devotion to God. He has taught adult Sunday School classes for over 25 years and thoroughly enjoys Bible study and tries to apply the lessons of the Bible in his daily life. He is very active in the First Baptist Church of Boone. Being a biologist he has fought for an understanding among Christians that evolution was not antithetical to Christianity and has spoken to many groups on this subject. Second, is his devotion to Carolyn. He is absolutely convinced that they have the best relationship of any married couple that he knows. He is equally convinced that Carolyn is the best wife in the world! Third, is his devotion to his children and grandchildren. He is very proud of all of them and his daughter-in-law and son-in-law. After retirement many people move to a different location - a warmer climate or back to their hometowns. Ken and Carolyn decided to stay in Boone where the climate is ideal for them, they have made their friends and where they make their home on five acres of woodland. Life is good! Source: Personal correspondence. -Dr. Richard D. Howe

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