Navigating Botany Led by W.G. Solheim I

Wilhelm G. Solheim was born in Stoughton, Wisconsin, in 1898. He earned his M.A. degree in 1926, followed by his Doctorate in 1928, from the University of Illinois. He came to UW that next year and worked as professor emeritus for over fifty years (Laramie Daily Boomerang, 1978). He headed the Botany department and later he became the dean of Arts and Sciences for a year.

He was known “as the foremost authority on the fungi of the Rocky Mountain region” (Laramie Daily Boomerang, 1978). He retired from UW in 1963 where he then traveled to Afghanistan. He passed away on May 18, 1978, just after his eightieth birthday.

newspaper with text -- transcribed in text
University of Wyoming Associated Students. “Solheim to Serve in Afghanistan Program,” Branding Iron (August 9, 1963) Accessed May 14, 2019:

Transcription of Branding Iron Article:

Solheim to Serve in Afghanistan Program

W. G. Solheim, UW professor, left Laramie Saturday for Afghanistan where he will serve as chief administrator of the UW Afghanistan contract program at Kabul.

The program is being carried out by a 15-member team of professors under a contract between UW and the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), an agency of the U.S. Department of State. UW has been involved in various phases of the Afghan program over the past 11 years.

Solheim’s appointment became effective Aug. 1, following federal confirmation. His wife will accompany him during the two-year stint.

Enroute to Afghanistan via a western route, Solheim and his wife will stop in Bangkock, Thailand, to visit briefly with their son, W.G. Solheim, II, a 1947 graduate who holds a doctorate in anthropology and who is conducting field research there. They will also spend three days in New Delhi, India, where Solheim will address a meeting of the Indian Phytopathological Society.

Solheim was born in Stoughton, Wis., graduated from Augustana College and Normal School in 1920, received his bachelor’s degree in 1924 from Iowa State Teachers College and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Illionois in 1926 and 1928, respectively.

He has served UW as professor of botany and as acting dean of the college of arts and sciences.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa and numerous other honoraries, including Sigma Xi, Phi Sigma Phi Eta and Kappa Delta Pi, he has also served on the executive committee of the Colorado-Wyoming Academy Research Foundation.

He was a field agent for the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the summers of 1923-25 and taught at North Dakota Agricultural College before joining the UW faculty in 1929.

During World War I he served in Englad and France with the Army and has since traveled extensively in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Solheim has published actively in the field of botany since 1927 and has conducted numerous research projects including those on vitamins and the growth of fungi in pure culture, the effect of natural gases on the growth of plants and rust fungi of North Dakota. His hobbies include hunting, fishing, photography and stamp collecting.

person sitting at desk; person standing looking at person at desk
University of Wyoming Associated Students. “Wyo Senior class of 1950,” University of Wyoming (1950) Accessed May 14, 2019:

Some little known facts about W. G. Solheim include that he served in World War I.

He earned an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree in 1978.

man sitting in graduation regalia with diploma and woman looking on
Newspaper photo of W.G. Solheim and his wife. W.G. Solheim I, AHC Bio File, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

To learn more about W.G. Solheim I and his work in mycology, see the W.G. Solheim I papers at the American Heritage Center.

Blog contribution by MaKayla Garnica, William D. Carlson Endowment Intern


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