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Dr.Thomas Rambo

Dr. Thomas Rambo at NKU's 2003 Commencement


Tom and Elinor Rambo

Drs. Tom and Elinor Rambo on a field course in Costa Rica.


NKU Costa Rica faculty

(L-R) Guillermo Miranda, Elinor Rambo, Ileana Miranda, Miriam Kannan, Tom Rambo and Dick Durtsche. The Mirandas operated the Punta Karenco
Lodge on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, a key base of operations for
the NKU field courses.


Tom and Elinor Rambo

Drs. Tom and Elinor Rambo take field notes while helping NKU students study the ecology of Costa Rica's forests.

The Department of Biological Sciences lost one of its founding faculty members, Dr. Thomas Rambo, May 1, 2020. Dr. Rambo joined the NKU faculty in 1972 and received numerous awards for his teaching and mentoring. He mentored many award-winning undergraduate students and pioneered teaching and research opportunities in Costa Rica.

"Our department was blessed to have Tom Rambo as one of our faculty members, said Dr. Miriam Kannan. "He was a wonderful human being, colleague and teacher!

"Tom loved to be in the field working with students, whether that was teaching lessons in animal behavior, ornithology, or showing them the paradise of Costa Rica," remembered Dr. Richard Durtsche, a frequent companion on the Costa Rica trips. "Tom’s compassion for people was unprecedented."

Dr. Greg Dahlem learned about Dr. Rambo's kindness six years before he joined the NKU biology faculty. "In 1984, my wife and I were waiting for our flight back to the U.S. after our honeymoon in Costa Rica when we found out there was a departure tax that had to be paid in cash.  We were young, naïve, absolutely broke. Before we could even ask for help, Tom (who I had just met minutes before) pulled out his wallet and lent us the money so that we could come home."

Diana McGill, Dean of Arts and Sciences, remembered Dr. Rambo from her time as an NKU student and as a welcoming faculty colleague. "Tom was my teacher and my biology advisor when I was a student here and later a mentor when I joined the faculty ranks. I am forever grateful (along with probably thousands of other alumni) for the lifelong gift of birding he gave me in our ornithology class."

"Dr. Rambo shaped me and educated me on things far beyond biology.  Such a gentle spirit and loving heart. I am thankful for his influence and impact and I am a better human because I was his student, wrote former student Dr. Kimberly Vance in an online tribute.

"He was a warm, caring, and committed teacher whose qualities of character reflected the very best in humankind, added former NKU President Jim Votruba. "If someone were to ask me who I would point to as reflecting the very finest qualities of the academy, I would point to Tom and respond, look no further!"

Dr. Rambo is survived by his wife Elinor, another long-time member of the NKU biology faculty, his son, daughter and five grandchildren.