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October 25, 2021

Ernest Couch Was a Researcher and Professor

For more than 40 years the biologist taught popular classes and mentored students.

A portrait of Ernest Couch

Courtesy of Keiko Couch

October 25, 2021

Ernest Couch Was a Researcher and Professor

For more than 40 years the biologist taught popular classes and mentored students.

Ernest Couch, a professor of biology at TCU for more than 40 years, died February 19, 2021.

In 1967, the same year he earned a PhD from Tulane University, the Dallas native started teaching at TCU. His courses were popular, and he was passionate about his research involving electron microscopy, said Ray Drenner, a fellow professor of biology.

Clark Jones ’89 (MS ’92) was Couch’s teaching assistant, and the professor served on his graduate thesis committee. After Couch’s death, Jones wrote to Couch’s daughter.

“I spent way too many hours on the electron microscope and enjoyed every minute of learning with him,” wrote Jones, now a senior instructor of biology.

Many of Couch’s more than two dozen published articles focus on lobsters and the study of their glands, tissues and nervous system.

Couch served as treasurer and president of the Texas Society for Microscopy. He spent a yearlong sabbatical at the Institute of Endocrinology at Gunma University in Maebashi, Japan, supported by the US-Japan Cooperative Science Program of the National Science Foundation. He returned to Japan numerous times as a visiting scientist at Saitama University.

Couch spent most of his summers in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where he did research at the Marine Biological Laboratory. His son said the professor enjoyed driving instead of flying, classical music, Mexican food and Japanese culture. A lifelong competitive athlete, Couch was in his 60s when he competed in his first triathlon.

“Ernest was the gentleman’s gentleman,” said Wayne Barcellona, emeritus associate professor of nurse anesthesia. “He was a completely positive individual, always ready to help and lend a helping hand to those who were in need or required self-assurance. A true friend to all, and he was much appreciated.”

With Keiko, his wife of 57 years, Couch raised John S. Couch ’88 and Izumi Couch Levy ’96.

Memorials: Donations may be made in memory of Ernest Couch to TCU at www.makeagift.tcu.edu or Feeding America at www.feedingamerica.org.