THIBODAUX — A Nicholls State University microbiology lab has been named for retired biology department head Dr. Marilyn Kilgen. The lab was dedicated in a ceremony Friday, Nov. 2 at Gouaux Hall.
“We dedicate labs in honor of the achievements made in those labs,” said Dr. John Doucet, dean of the Nicholls College of Arts and Sciences. “It’s a place to learn and create science, and hopefully achieve things that have never been done before. Today we have the honor of naming our lab after Dr. Marilyn Kilgen.”
Kilgen, who retired last December, began her career at Nicholls as a student, earning a biology degree in 1966. After leaving to pursue her doctorate in microbiology from Auburn University, she returned home to Thibodaux to teach as a member of the Nicholls biology faculty.
In her 45 years at Nicholls, Kilgen taught and advised thousands of students. A nationally renowned microbiologist and seafood safety scientist, Kilgen has received more than $7.5 million in research funding. During her 12 years as the head of the Department of Biological Sciences, she recruited and mentored 16 new faculty members, helped the department win one of only 17 Departmental Excellence through Faculty Enhancement awards and led the push to develop the university’s Master of Science in Marine and Environmental Biology degree program. Though retired from teaching and administration, Kilgen will continue her scientific research at Nicholls.
Kilgen, a native of Lafourche Parish, said she never anticipated her career bringing her back to Nicholls, but her achievements in teaching and building the department assured her it was where she was meant to be.
“I was back here with my family, and a whole new family I built here at Nicholls,” she said. “This is my home.”
PHOTO: Professor Emeritus Dr. Marilyn Kilgen (far right), reacts to the unveiling of the new plaque outside the microbiology lab in Gouaux Hall dedicated in her honor. Dr. Gary LaFleur Jr. (far left), associate professor of biological sciences, stood on an ice chest and read aloud from a scroll a list of achievements and great qualities of Kilgen prior to the unveiling.