LSU Boyd Professor Arthur J. Riopelle Passes Away at 91

02/20/2012 02:46 PM

BATON ROUGE – Arthur J. Riopelle, Boyd Professor of Psychology and Professor Emeritus at LSU, passed away on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the home of his daughter in Houston. He was 91 years old.


A native of Thorp, Wis., Riopelle graduated from the University of Wisconsin and then joined the U.S. Army in 1942. Following his tour, he returned to Wisconsin and earned his Ph.D. in experimental psychology. From there he taught at Emory University, and in the late 1950s became director of the Psychology Division of the Army Medical Research Laboratory in Fort Knox, Ky, and worked with the Army and Air Force in the project that sent the first monkeys into space and return them safely to Earth. He also conducted research on the effects of radiation to help protect future astronauts. In 1959 he became director of the Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology in Orange Park, Fla., where he conducted psychological and biomedical research. Riopelle subsequently became the first director of the Delta Regional Primate Research Center in Covington, La., and later joined the faculty at LSU in 1972.


He was respected internationally for his work on primate learning and nutrition and spent the final portion of his career guiding Ph.D. candidates as professor of experimental psychology at LSU.


He was named as one of the university’s Boyd Professors in 1977, the highest distinction an LSU faculty member can achieve for national and international distinction for outstanding teaching, research or other creative achievement. He retired from the university in 1988.


During his career, Riopelle authored more than 150 scientific publications and book chapters, in addition to articles in National Geographic Magazine about the first-ever-described albino gorilla that his research team found in Rio Muni, Africa, and transported to enjoy a long and happy life at the Zoological Garden of Barcelona, Spain. An amateur violinist, Riopelle was an avid supporter of the performing arts at the university and also donated an endowment to be used to purchase materials in his field of psychology to LSU Libraries in the 1990s.


Information regarding services was unknown as of Feb. 20, but Riopelle’s family has requested that in lieu of flowers, friends make contributions in his memory to the LSU Library. Checks may be made payable to the LSU Foundation and mailed to LSU Libraries, Attention Elaine Smyth, Rm. 295 Middleton Library, Baton Rouge, La. 70803.

Billy  Gomila 
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Monday, February 20, 2012