In Memory: Dr. Linda Spear

Dr. Linda Spear

We are saddened by the death of Dr. Linda Spear, a past keynote speaker at our Annual Symposium in 2015. Her impact on science and as a mentor will be sorely missed.

See the Research Society on Alcoholism’s statement:


“It is with heavy heart that we write to inform you of the passing of Dr. Linda Patia Spear, on October 13, 2020. She was a Distinguished Professor Emerita in the Department of Psychology, at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Linda served as director of the Developmental Exposure Alcohol Research Center (DEARC) and was a major force in the Neurobiology of Adolescent Drinking in Adulthood (NADIA) consortium. Linda’s exceptional service to the NIH included serving on the NIAAA Steering Committee for Underage Drinking Prevention, NIAAA’s Extramural Advisory Board and on the National Advisory Council. Linda was a long-time member of the Research Society on Alcoholism, and made important contributions to the RSA as a Program Co-Chair and on the Nomination committee.

“Linda’s pioneering program of basic research focused on using a rodent model to examine the behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacological of development, with a particular emphasis on neurobehavioral function during adolescence and the acute and lasting effects of adolescent alcohol/drug use. Since 1976, Linda had over 40 continuous years of NIH funding, the last 25 years of which were from the NIAAA. Linda was a prolific writer, with over 300+ empirical articles, reviews and book chapters. Linda mentored numerous undergraduates, graduate students and other trainees over the past several decades, including 30+ students who completed Master’s degrees and 20+ students who completed Doctoral degrees under her supervision. Her contributions to the field are significant and renowned, driven by a ceaseless passion for science. She continued working until two months before her death, having 6 publications already in 2020, and including a critical review published in April 2020, in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, entitled Timing Eclipses Amount: The Critical Importance of Intermittency in Alcohol Exposure Effects– undoubtedly her swan song.

“Linda’s commitment to and excellence in alcohol research are well recognized. Among many awards, Linda was the 2005 recipient of the Mark Keller Award, an award given annually by NIAAA to “an outstanding alcohol researcher who has made significant and long-term contributions” to the study of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Linda was the 2012 recipient of RSA’s Begleiter Excellence in Research Award, and in 2017, was the recipient of the FLUX Huttenlocher Award from the Society for Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. In 2018, Linda received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the RSA in recognition of her long, balanced career of making significant contributions to alcohol research, training, service and advocacy that have had (and will have) a lasting impact on the alcohol research field.

“Linda was a multi-tasker extraordinaire, juggling several tasks at once with seamless ease. In addition to her research, Linda enjoyed and mastered many hobbies- knitting, reading, birding, tennis, cooking, and dog training, with the same level of aplomb that she applied to her successful scientific career. Together with devoted husband of 45 years, Norman “Skip” Spear, they built a beautiful cabin, a cherished retreat full of wonderful memories with her family members, daughters, Jennifer (Spear) Smith (Marcus) and Amanda “Mandy” (Spear) Hartley (Larry); her beloved grandchildren Kyra, Nathan, Calvin, Reed, and Justice; her brother Larry Patia (Patty), niece Kaitlyn (Matt) and nephew Alex (Sierra). Linda loved to laugh, eat good food, drink delicious wine, and celebrate life. While Linda will be sorely missed by many and her loss will reverberate throughout the research field- her legacy will live on through the memories of her unbounding intellect, infectious collegial interactions and her wide-spread accomplishments.”