Robert W. Hougas, an emeritus professor of genetics and horticulture and associate dean of CALS who twice served as acting dean, died Feb. 13 at the age of 90. Hougas was internationally known for his research in hybridizing wild and cultivated potatoes. Before his administrative appointment, he was leader of the National Potato Germplasm Program, a cooperative effort of USDA and Agricultural Experiment Stations in all 50 states. He did much of his research at the college’s Sturgeon Bay research station, where the potato germplasm program is based.
Hougas did his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Wisconsin (now UW-Madison), earned his Ph.D. in genetics in 1949 and was appointed as assistant professor the same year. In 1966 he was named associate dean and director for experiment station research. He served as acting dean first in 1977, when Dean Glenn Pound was serving as acting chancellor, and again in 1979 during the interim between Pound’s retirement and the appointment of Dean Leo Walsh.
Hougas was born in Missouri and raised in Bayfield County, Wis., where his family had a dairy farm. In 1943 he married Janet Anthony, who preceded him in death in 2003.