Richard M. McCourt ‘74
February 01, 2005
Richard M. McCourt is an associate curator of botany at the Academy of Natural Sciences. His research on green algae helped answer a longstanding question about the evolution of land plants from aquatic ancestors. McCourt also spearheaded a project to renovate the storage conditions of the Lewis and Clark Herbarium, a collection of more than 200 dried plant specimens collected by Meriwether Lewis. He has coauthored several articles on the history and scientific uses of the collection, and coordinated presentations of the specimens at venues around the country.
After graduating from Lewis & Clark College with a bachelor’s degree in biology, McCourt went on to earn an M.A. and a Ph.D. at the University of Arizona. While still a graduate student, he received an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellowship to work at WGBH in Boston as a staff reporter. McCourt became a regular freelancer for National Public Radio following his postdoctoral work, reporting on topics ranging from the search for new planets and solar systems to the medicinal uses of leeches. In 1985 McCourt won the AAAS Westinghouse Science Journalism Award for a series on aquaculture broadcast by NPR’s All Things Considered.
McCourt is married to Becky Simmons and they have a son, Cole. The family resides in Philadelphia.