Steve & Linda Berg
Dr. Steven Berg and his wife Linda Quistad-Berg endowed a Biology Department Scholarship to help students who demonstrate clear academic ability and who share Dr. Berg's passionate interest in the cellular and molecular aspects of the life process. In particular, this scholarship is intended to help students interested in pursuing an MD degree or a PhD degree in some aspect of Cell or Molecular Biology (including Biochemistry).
Dr. Berg was a faculty member in the Biology Department at Winona State University from the fall of 1986 through the spring of 2010 when he retired and joined the ranks of emeritus faculty. Linda Quistad-Berg was a registered nurse who held positions in numerous health settings including hospital, public health and school nursing. She also did some adjunct teaching for the Nursing Department at WSU in various clinical settings.
Steve Berg was born in Bayport, MN but grew up on the west coast in Auburn, WA and Hillsboro, OR. He graduated from high school in 1966 and enrolled in Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA where in earned a BS degree in Biology in May of 1970. As an undergraduate student he was also keenly interested in chemistry and when he graduated he was only one course shy of a chemistry major as well. His undergraduate research was a biochemical problem focused on chlorpromazine inhibition of human red cell membrane ATPase.
While an undergraduate student, Steve Berg enlisted in the Washington State National Guard and shortly after graduating he went to basic training at Fort Campbell, KY and then on to advanced individual training at Fort Eustis, VA where he was became certified as a helicopter mechanic on the Hughes 500 helicopter. This military training took most of a year and delayed his entry into graduate school.
Once his active military duty was satisfied he continued his interest in biochemistry when he went to graduate school in the Biochemistry Department at Purdue University. He earned his PhD degree 4 years later in August of 1975 studying various aspects of photosynthetic electron transport, thylakoid membrane structure and function and protein biochemistry.
After completing his studies at Purdue, Steve Berg did a two year post-doc in the Biology Department of Wayne State University in Detroit, MI studying light driven, thylakoid mediated ATP synthesis. During this time, he also developed an interest in using nitroxide radicals (spin labels) to study various physical properties of biological membranes. Using spin labels made it possible to measure the internal fluidity of the hydrocarbon phase of spinach thylakoid membranes under physiologically relevant conditions.
In 1977, Dr. Berg joined the biology faculty at the University of Denver (DU) where one of his first tasks was to chair the committee that designed and implemented the PhD program for the Department of Biological Sciences at DU. With the new PhD program in place, Dr. Berg directed a number of graduate students and post docs as well as numerous undergraduate researchers all studying some aspect of thylakoid membrane biology. In the spring of 1984, Dr. Berg was elected chairperson of the Department of Biological Sciences at DU.
In the fall of 1986, Dr Berg left DU and came to Winona State University to serve as chairperson of the Biology Department. He continued in this capacity until the spring of 1995 when he began serving as Interim Dean of the College of Science and Engineering. He continued as
￼Interim Dean through June of 1998 after which he returned to the faculty of the Biology Department for the rest of his tenure at WSU.
As a faculty member in the Biology Department, Dr. Berg had an active research program using monoclonal antibodies to study the topology of the spinach thylakoid membrane. This research program was well supported by several research grants totaling about $750,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation.
Dr. Berg was interested in teaching courses that dealt with biological phenomena in molecular terms. He had special affection for teaching first year biology majors about cells and molecules. At WSU this course was called Principles of Biology 241 and later, Basics of Life 241. He also enjoyed teaching cell biology to more advanced students who had a more robust chemistry background. At WSU this course was called Cell Biology 308.
Dr. Berg truly enjoyed his student advising responsibilities. Most of his advisees were students majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology. About half were premeds and most of the other half were interested in some other type of graduate school. Over his 33 year academic career at two institutions, Dr. Berg estimates that he advised about 100 students who went on to medical school and another 150 students who went on for some other graduate experience.
Linda Quistad-Berg lived much of her life in Minnesota. After graduating from nursing school in 1970, she spent a year in the deep south working as a VISTA volunteer. She primarily worked with poor black and Hispanic people during a time of great racial tension. Although she worked in various health settings throughout her career, she continued to have a heart for people who were presented with difficult life situations to overcome.
She became interested in prevention which led her to work in public health and school nursing as well as in the hospital setting. In public health, she worked as a maternal-child health nurse, dealing with teen mothers and their babies. She taught LaMaze childbirth classes in both the hospital and public health setting. She also taught prevention classes and conducted support groups for teens both in the school setting and state-wide workshops. Chemical abuse prevention was an important focus and she was a consultant for the Minnesota Prevention Resource Center which sponsored her presentations throughout the state. She continues to focus on prevention and supports the direction medicine is taking as it encourages personal self-responsibility to stay healthy in addition to treating persons after they become ill.