Laura Marschall, 44, associate professor of biological sciences at Menlo College in Atherton, was killed Saturday in a head-on collision on Highway 92, just west of the state Highway 35 divide.
Ms. Marschall, a resident of Half Moon Bay, was a passenger in a 1994 Subaru traveling east on Hwy. 92 at around 3 p.m. when a 2006 Honda traveling west swerved into the eastbound lane and struck the Subaru head on, the California Highway Patrol reported.
The drivers and Ms. Marschall where taken to Stanford University Medical Center, where Ms. Marschall died, according to a Santa Clara County medical examiner investigator. The driver of the Honda, an Antioch woman, received moderate injuries, according to the CHP.
Ms. Marschall's daughter, Sarah, 16, the driver of the Subaru, sustained a serious ankle fracture and is recovering from injuries at the hospital, according to Robert Nagler Miller, a spokesperson for Menlo College.
"The tragedy has left the Menlo College community, as well as Dr. Marschall's family and many friends, in a state of shock and grief," Mr. Miller said. "Although Dr. Marschall was just completing her first semester as a faculty member at Menlo College, she had already made a significant impact on her students."
At Menlo College, Dr. Marschall taught biology and genetics. Previously, she was a faculty member with California State University, East Bay, from 1998 to 2005. She also served as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University from 1994 to 1998.
In a statement, Menlo College President Dr. G. Timothy Haight said: "Dr. Marschall was an outstanding researcher and a dedicated teacher, and she clearly was beloved by her students at Menlo. They, along with everyone else on campus, are trying to fathom the unfathomable."
A close friend of Dr. Marschall, fellow microbiologist Dr. Traci Yerby, said: "Laura was passionate about biology and genetics, and she was very successful in passing along her love of her field to her students. After classes, she would spend a lot of time with those students who wanted extra instruction."
Ms. Marschall grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she received bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology. Her area of expertise was yeast genetics, about which she had published a number of papers, Mr. Miller said.
She is survived by her husband, Joe; daughter Sarah; son Evan, 10; her mother and father; and three sisters.
Funeral services are pending.
The Redwood CHP is investigating the cause of the accident and reported that the three people involved appeared to be wearing seatbelts.