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William Thomas Northey Jr., emeritus professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, passed away peacefully Dec. 27 in Scottsdale, Ariz., surrounded by his family. A private memorial service will take place.
Northey was born in 1928 to Mary Ellen Riley Northey and William Thomas Northey in Duluth, Minn. The third child and only son, he grew up in the small farming community of Meadowlands, Minn.
After joining the Naval Reserves, he studied at the University of Minnesota Duluth Branch and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in June 1950. This was followed by civilian employment at Great Lakes Naval Station before entering a doctoral program at the University of Kansas.
Shortly after receiving his doctorate, Northey was hired as a professor at ASU in the Microbiology and Botany Department.
Northey taught microbiology and immunology at ASU for the next 25 years. He played a crucial role in obtaining grant funding and secured the university’s first electron microscope. Northey’s notable research contributions include the development of the first diagnostic skin test for valley fever called Coccidioidin. He also created scorpion anti-venom and distributed the serum to local hospitals at no charge.
Northey went on to found Bioproducts Research Laboratories and create a new way to test for allergies, which replaced the “scratch” test and involved only a simple blood draw. During retirement, Northey continued to work in his field as a consultant.