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About Norma J. Lang

Professor Lang was passionate about her students and the research process. Those twin passions guided her family and library personnel as, together, they decided that the best way to honor her was to use her unrestricted estate gift to the UC Davis Library to support students and foster a love of learning.

From that gift, the Lang Prize was born. (Professor Lang’s bequest also established the library’s Archives and Institutional Assets Endowment, which increases the impact of UC Davis research.)

“We wanted the funds to be the right balance between supporting students and supporting research – that felt true to who she was and what she valued,” said Andy Lang, Professor Lang’s nephew and trustee, who worked closely with library leadership to determine how Professor Lang’s gift would be allocated.

Called “a giant in our field” by the Phycological Society of America, Lang was known for the quality of her research, including being among the first to use the the transmission electron microscope to study algae and cyanobacteria. She was awarded the Darbaker Prize by the Botanical Society of America in 1969 for the best paper on microscopic algae published worldwide in the previous two years.

Lang spent nearly 30 years educating UC Davis students. A faculty member from 1963 to 1991, she loved connecting with and mentoring students who shared her passion for plants, especially algae. Even after her retirement from UC Davis, she continued to work with students, volunteering her time through the adult literacy program of the Woodland Public Library.

Lang’s nephew said that he hopes that students who receive the Lang Prize share his aunt’s love of learning “because that’s what research is all about – expanding our base of knowledge.”