Professor James Youngblom, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences and Stan State faculty member of 31 years, was found dead on June 25 after going on a backpacking trip at Yosemite National Park.
According to the Yosemite National Park Service, the 64-year-old Youngblom had been hiking alone from White Wolf up the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River to the Glen Aulin trailhead.
Investigators have not yet determined a cause of death and are asking anybody who may have seen Youngblom hiking in those areas between June 22 and 25 to contact the Yosemite National Park Services. Youngblom is described as 5-feet-8 and 160 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes.
Youngblom and his wife Janey, who is a retired professor of genetics, began their careers at Stanislaus State in 1990. Youngblom was promoted to professor in 2008 and was appointed department chair in 2017. He was set to begin a faculty early retirement program in fall 2021 and planned to transition to serve as department chair part-time.
College of Science Dean David Evans expressed his condolences in an email to the Stan State campus community.
“Jim was a hardworking and dedicated member of the faculty who cared deeply about students and their success. As chair of Biological Sciences, he was a dedicated advocate for his department, colleagues and their students,” Evans said. “He loved his job and was eager to share his passion and enthusiasm for science and discovery with young scholars.”
Youngblom is also described as being an avid outdoorsmen who loved to ski, hike and fish.
Many of Youngblom’s current and former students shared similar sentiments.
“He was a great professor who had a genuine passion for biology and teaching all students. Always a pleasure taking his classes,” said Claudia Valadez on Instagram.
“I cannot believe Professor Youngblom is gone,” Jacquelline Herrera said in a Facebook post. “He was a great FMP mentor and knowledgeable professor. My deep and heartfelt condolences go to his family and friends.”
"I'm so sorry to hear this terrible news," Janie Soto wrote in a separate Facebook post. "20 years ago, I took one class from Dr. Youngblom and found him to be so knowledgeable and thoughtful in his presentations. Such a great loss to the community and of course his family. My condolences to all."
Students who are affected by this loss can contact Psychological Counseling Services on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 209-667-3381 to schedule an appointment for counseling and other related services. Faculty and staff members can also access the employee assistance program (EAP), administered by LifeMatters, for counseling assistance.
Anyone with information about Youngblom's last days in Yosemite are asked to call (888)-653-0009 or visit www.nps.gov/ISB.