Longtime NDSU professor Berdell R. Funke is set to be recognized with an honorary doctorate during winter commencement ceremonies on Friday, Dec. 20, at 2 p.m. in NDSU’s Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
Funke is most known as one of three co-authors of the textbook, “Microbiology, An Introduction.” The book has been translated into 12 languages and used by more than one million undergraduate students of microbiology. Funke wrote 16 of the book’s 28 chapters. Originally published in 1982, the textbook is now in its 13th edition.
Funke served on the NDSU faculty from 1964 to 1997, first in the Department of Bacteriology and then in the Department of Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences. He was awarded Professor Emeritus status in 1997.
He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in bacteriology at Kansas State University before joining the NDSU faculty.
Funke spent his childhood in Blue Hill, Nebraska and Topeka, Kansas. His father was terminally ill during his teenage years and he basically supported himself at age 16. He worked at the local Post Office, sold shoes and was a ticket-taking doorman for a movie theater. He later became a manager of Fox Midwest Amusement Corp. theaters in Joplin, Missouri, and Marysville, Kansas.
As he approached his 30th birthday, Funke sought a new career and enrolled at Kansas State University.
During his career at NDSU, Funke taught introductory microbiology, including laboratory sections; general microbiology; food microbiology; soil microbiology; clinical parasitology; and pathogenic microbiology. As a research scientist in the Agricultural Experiment Station, he also published numerous papers on soil microbiology and food microbiology.
In his honor, the NDSU Department of Microbiological Sciences awards the Berdell Funke Microbiology Scholarship and the Dr. Berdell Funke Medal of Excellence in Microbiology, which is presented to an outstanding graduate.
Funke and his wife, Patricia, have three children – James, Douglas and Susan. All his children are NDSU alumni.
As a student-focused, land grant, research university, we serve our citizens.