Though her research focused on what she could analyze under a microscope, Dr. Carol Litchfield ’69 set her sights on the bigger picture when it came to her impact on the world. Beyond dedicating her career and research to improving the environment, Litchfield also created a planned gift to support graduate students studying oceanography or microbiology at Texas A&M University.
Litchfield’s gift has assisted students financially since her passing in 2012. Ronnakrit Rattanasriampaipong ’22, a Ph.D. student in oceanography and a current recipient of Litchfield’s scholarship, credits his personal and academic success to her generosity. “Before starting my doctorate program in fall 2018, I had never lived outside of Thailand,” he said. “My time in College Station has transformed me into a better version of myself.
“In addition to supporting my research, this scholarship has allowed me to explore the United States and learn about the culture here,” he continued. “I am so humbled by all the opportunities that Aggieland has offered me so far.” Rattanasriampaipong plans to use his studies to enrich human understanding of the Earth’s climate and advocate for environmental concerns, a passion shared by Litchfield.
Pursuing Her Passion
Throughout her research, Litchfield studied halophiles, or microorganisms that thrive in salty environments, which eventually spurred her passion for all things related to the mineral. She traveled the world visiting historic salt mines and salt processing centers while collecting anything that had to do with salt, from crystals and containers to vintage photos and advertising memorabilia.
Her collection, which is housed at the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware, also includes preserved animal hides, her personal papers and more than 1,000 books and pamphlets on salt spanning 18 different languages. Today, scholars from across the country visit to view Litchfield’s work and further their own studies concerning the mineral.
Litchfield’s fascination with salt guided her career and led her to research the multiple roles salt plays in society and the environment. In addition to its role in the human diet, salt is an essential mineral when it comes to preserving items, maintaining infrastructure, softening water, producing detergents, caring for livestock and manufacturing various chemicals.
Gift of a Lifetime
Through a bequest in her will, Litchfield designated the Texas A&M Foundation as beneficiary of her estate to establish two scholarships named in honor of her parents, Melba and Donald Ross. Bequests, which are extremely simple to create, allow individuals to retain assets during their lifetimes, lessen the burden of taxes on family, and support Texas A&M programs, departments, faculty or students in an extremely transformational way.
Today, Litchfield’s legacy lives on in the work of the students her scholarships support. “We are honored that Dr. Litchfield chose the Department of Oceanography as a benefactor of this incredibly generous gift,” said Dr. Debbie Thomas, professor and dean in the College of Geosciences. “Her gift is empowering a new generation of scientists to innovate, explore and advance the understanding of our environment—this is a truly fitting way to honor her own legacy of discovery.”
To learn more about how you can support students in the College of Geosciences, contact Gary Reynolds ’88 at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 862-4944. To learn how you can support Texas A&M through a planned gift, contact Angela Throne ’03 at email@example.com or 979-845-5638 or request a free estate and gift planning kit.