Deceased August 17, 2020

View alumni profile (log in required)
Read obituary

In Memory

Ted Jones died Aug. 17, 2020, in Rockville, Md. He was a member of Kappa Theta and an editor of the Olio. Art Landy ’61 recalls an incident when Ted dozed off in physics class and Professor Townes threw a piece of chalk or an eraser at Ted, who snapped awake, saying, “You got me.” Townes kept on lecturing, and Ted went on to do well in physics. After Amherst, Ted graduated with a doctorate of philosophy at the University of Washington in 1967.

Ted taught at Amherst and Mount Holyoke College from 1972 to 1979, and from 1980 to 2020 he was a biologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Ted did his Ph.D. thesis research in the laboratory of John Gallant at the University of Washington, on a class of enzymes that remove phosphate from nucleic acids and proteins. These enzymes (called phosphatases) perform many critical functions in all life forms and are involved in many human diseases. Ted showed that phosphatase gene expression in the model organism E. coli was determined by a number of different, as yet undiscovered, genes—an insight that foreshadowed our present understanding of the complexity of gene regulation. 

Ted did his postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Bill Dove ’58 at the University of Wisconsin, where he developed and characterized a method for inhibiting transcription from DNA into RNA. The drug he used (BrdUrd) was one of the earliest anti-tumor drugs, and his work generated an important new tool for molecular biology. 

Ted is survived by his wife, Olga Spears Jones; daughter Emily Powell; son-in-law Terry Powell; son Steven Jones; and many stepchildren and step-grandchildren.

Ted Ells ’61 and Art Landy ’61