(Gazette, Jan. 23, 1997)
Dr. Cowan was born in Victoria, B.C. in 1940 and received a B.Sc. (honors), an M.Sc. and a PhD at the University of British Columbia. He arrived at Memorial as an assistant professor in 1968 at age 27. Eric Baggs, a laboratory instructor in the Department of Biology, remembers meeting Dr. Cowan that year at a party. The two quickly struck up a friendship.
"We were very close friends, even though I took several courses from him. He also supervised my master's degree. He was very popular, very friendly and open. Back in the 1960s, everyone knew everyone anyway, and most of the people that were here were around the same age."
In 1976 Dr. Cowan was promoted to associate professor, and from 1972-88 he held a joint appointment at the Marine Sciences Research Laboratory in Logy Bay (now part of the Ocean Sciences Centre). His area of interest was marine biology, whether he was studying the cephalic musculature of the sculpin or observing the spawning habits of the brook charr. He and Mr. Baggs often collaborated on research, due to a shared interest in ecology and wildlife management.
"His students and research were his life at the university," Mr. Baggs recalled. "Even when he was ill he would still come to work. He was a real trooper -- just an incredible person. Of course his family meant everything to him, and so did his garden."
Dr. Cowan is survived by his wife, Judy Cantwell; children, Robert and Mariana; sister, Ann Schau and her husband Mikkel Schau; parents Ian and Joyce McTaggart-Cowan; and by many friends at Memorial and beyond.