Robert Kyle Burns
Robert Kyle Burns was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia, in 1896. After the death of his father, he finished high school in Culpepper, Virginia, and attended Bridgewater College. During a class taught by Dr. Frank J. Wright Burns developed an interest in biology, and after a brief period in the U.S. Marine Corps, attended graduate school at Yale University and earned his Ph.D.
Burns focused on developmental biology, specifically the influence of hormones on sex determination, and on freemartins, a genetically female organism with intersexual organs that is sterile. He worked with amphibians at first, and later mammals. In addition to his talent for experimental biology, Burns also practiced observational biology and taught at several institutions, including the University of Rochester and Bridgewater College after his retirement.
Burns spent his summers at Mountain Lake Biological station, where he lived in a cottage now named after him. He planted a wildflower garden around the cottage, and helped finance the building of the Mountain Lake pond. He also took an interest in maintaining the trails that surround the station. Burns died in his home in Bridgewater in 1982.