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James Youngblom, a Cal State teacher, was found dead in Yosemite


James Jerome Youngblom, a Cal State Stanislaus biology professor admired for his research in molecular genetics, died while hiking alone in Yosemite National Park. He was 64 years old.

Youngblom walked from White Wolf to the Glen Aulin trailhead, according to park officials. His body was discovered in LeConte Falls on June 25.

The genetics professor taught at the university for nearly 31 years and served as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. He has taught genetic biotechnology courses and led undergraduate student research programs.

Youngblom was “a great department chair” and “one of the kindest people I knew,” David Evans, dean of the Stanislaus College of Science at Cal State, said in a statement. “He loved his job and worked incredibly hard. His focus was always on the students. Our hearts go out to all [his] friends and family at this difficult time. “

Students and classmates described Youngblom as a kind, passionate educator whose dedication to teaching and his zest for being outside could be replaced only by his love for baseball San Francisco Giants.

“I believe her passion for biology and genetics has been infected,” Cassandra Morden, a former student said in an email. “It inspired and strengthened my love for genetics and helped me define my career path.”

As a teacher, Youngblom was enthusiastic about genetics and the youth editing tool known as CRISPR, alumnus Ethan Dawson said. He would often invite students to participate in his genetic research lab, giving exposure to real-world cutting-edge technology.

He also often advocated for students who don’t have enough color, Livier Camarena-Sanchez said. Before she became a student, she was looking for research programs to join the university. Because he is in the country illegally, he was prevented from joining federal funding programs.

Youngblom invited Camarena-Sanchez to join his program, which eventually landed him a position in his research lab during his senior year.

From 2011-15, Youngblom led the Central Valley Math and Science Alliance, a five-year, federally funded club at the university aimed at providing resources and assistance to disadvantaged STEM students such as Camarena-Sanchez.

Before arriving at Cal State Stanislaus in 1990, Youngblom graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Winona State University and attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota, where he received his doctorate in cell biology.

Youngblom is survived by his wife and two children.

Anyone who may have seen Youngblom in the area of ​​White Wolf, Pate Valley or Grand Canyon in the Tuolumne from 22-25 June is asked to contact the National Park Service Investigation Branch at (888) 653-0009 or submit a online tip on its website.



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