It was evident that David Gottlieb was interested
in plant pathology when he built a laboratory in his parents’ basement during high school.
He followed his interest to a Ph.D. in plant pathology, and four years later joined the
faculty in the Department of Horticulture at Illinois. Gottlieb soon achieved a breakthrough
in his research. He isolated a soil bacterium referred to as a streptomycete that helped
produce the antibiotic chloramphenicol, which is still used today.
In 1955, Gottlieb helped form the Department of Plant Pathology, where he worked until
his death in 1982. e He whHhhdf Throughout his career, Gottlieb
was known for his devotion to academia and learning. He served the U.S. Foreign Advising
Office as an advisor to Chile on plant pathology research. He chaired both the national and
international committees on the Taxonomy of Actinomycetes, which led to the first systematic
classification of that family of bacteria. In addition, Gottlieb was aware of student
needs. He frequently advocated for their benefit in educational policies. He encouraged his
students to take advantage of the rich cultural opportunities at Illinois. He opened his home
for “evening seminars,” discussing philosophy, history, music, philology, or politics.
Although he encouraged students to explore, he was nicknamed “T.C.” for “Triplicate
Control”, referring to his standard of perfection. Gottlieb’s standards reflected his scientific
approach to solving problems, as well as the precision in academic writing he demanded
from himself and others.