A Portland, Ore., biochemist known for her discoveries on how elephants communicate, Lois Elizabeth “Bets” Little-Rasmussen, ’60, died in a Seattle hospital on September 17 of a bone marrow disorder. She was 67.
A research professor at Oregon Health and Science University, Little-Rasmussen collected elephant urine and found the sex pheromone that females secrete to let bulls know they’re ready to mate. She determined that other secretions were associated with the animals’ sexual activity and conflict resolution. She also pioneered a technique for collecting and analyzing the breath of aquatic animals, so that it could be used to monitor their health.
She earned her doctorate in neurochemistry at Washington U. in St. Louis, in 1964. In 1994, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship for her work.
Survivors include her husband of 45 years, Rei Rasmussen; two sons, Erik and Rob; two brothers; and three sisters.