Thorne, Marlowe Driggs (1918-2011) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Thorne, Marlowe Driggs (1918-2011)

Historical Note:

Marlowe Driggs Thorne (1918-2011) was professor of Agronomy (1963-83), head of the Department of Agronomy (1963-70), and professor emeritus (1984-2011) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He was known for his research contributions to soil management and irrigation as well as for his leadership on international agriculture programs.

Marlowe Driggs Thorne was born on November 4, 1918, in Perry, Utah, to parents Ida Vilate Young Thorne and Milton Jefferson Thorne. He earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Utah State University in 1940; a master's degree in soils and chemistry from Iowa State University in 1941; and a doctorate in soils, chemistry, and physics from Cornell University in 1948. He was soil physicist and head of the Soils and Agronomy Department at the Pineapple Research Institute of Hawaii, 1947-54; work project leader at the Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, 1954-56; and professor and head of the Agronomy Department at Oklahoma State University, 1956-63. In 1963, Thorne joined the faculty at UIUC as professor and head of the Department of Agronomy. His tenure at UIUC included USAID deployments to work on the development of university agricultural programs abroad, including G. B. Pant Agricultural University in Pant Nagar, India (1970-72), and the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Sciences in Rampur, Nepal, 1982-84. He also held consultancies for international agricultural programs such as USAID, including in Sierra Leone, Malawi, Niger, and Brazil, among others. Thorne was a member and fellow of the Soil Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy; he served as president of the American Society of Agronomy in 1975.

Thorne was married on June 24, 1941, to Edna Merle Carter, and together, they had four children: Terry, Judy, Melvin, and Elaine. He died in Savoy, Illinois, on February 17, 2011.


"Marlowe Thorne," February 23, 2011, accessed March 11, 2021,

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