I've been slow sending this out—Glenn and I collaborated with Bob for years and years, and his death brings may regrets.

Obituary for Robert "Bob" L. Hammersmith

Dr. Robert L. “Bob” Hammersmith, 71, of New Castle passed away Wednesday, May 30, 2018 in his home. He was born January 27, 1947 to the late Rodney and Reba (Smith) Hammersmith.

Born in Salem, Indiana, Bob had fond memories of being raised by his mother and grandfather. He enjoyed a childhood of freedom and adventure, often following the railroad or a creek into the countryside to explore nature where he found himself fascinated by the natural world. It was here that his love of nature developed and he came to know that he would study biology.

Bob attended Indiana University in Bloomington, eventually earning a PhD in biology with a focus in ciliate genetics in the lab of Tracy Sonneborn. Dr. Hammersmith secured a professorship with Ball State University where he taught for 40 years. He took pleasure in teaching the next generation of minds so much that he had not yet retired. Bob always enjoyed his research with the protozoa Oxtricha fallax and trifallax (Bob isolated the trifallax lines now used  in many important studies) and continued to collaborate on related projects, while also publishing numerous editions of his lab manual, Genetics Laboratory Investigations, with the late Dr. Thomas Mertens. 

Bob enjoyed epic motorcycle adventures, long canoe trips, and traveling. Above all else, he loved the natural world, watching plants and grandchildren grow, and laughter with good friends. Deeply sentimental and with an amazing memory, he could recall details and specifics from nearly all of his years. His curiosity and generous nature will be deeply missed by his friends and family.

He is survived by his two daughters, Emily (Gregg) Kuehl of Onalaska, WI and Marla (Adam) Clarkson of Kokomo; grandchildren, Evan, Laura and Oliver.

Services will be at 4:00 p.m. Saturday, June 2, 2018 at Hinsey-Brown Funeral Service in New Castle. Visitation will be from 2 – 4p.m. prior to the service. Memorial contributions may be sent to The Nature Conservancy of Indiana, 620 E. Ohio St, Indianapolis, IN 46202. You may express condolences or share memories of Bob at

Thomas G. Doak
Assoc. Research Sci., Department of Biology 

Domain Science Liaison
National Center for Genome Analysis Support (NCGAS)
Research Technologies/UITS/Pervasive Technology Institute

Indiana University
1001 East Third Street
Bloomington, IN 47405