Stella Botelho

Stella Y. Botelho, Penn alumna and professor emerita of physiology, died of renal failure on March 11 at her home in Normandy Farms Estates in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. She was 96 years old.

Dr. Botelho graduated from Penn with an undergraduate degree in chemistry in 1940. Upon earning a medical degree from Woman’s Medical College, she became an instructor at Penn’s School of Medicine in 1949. She was promoted to professor in 1969 and retired with the title of professor emerita of physiology in 1981.

Dr. Botelho taught courses in applied and medical physiology. In her research lab, she studied respiratory physiology, neuromuscular physiology, the spinal cord and secretions of exocrine glands. She was the principal investigator on many scientific grants, and her research was funded by the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the National Council to Combat Blindness. She also mentored many pre- and postdoctoral Penn students.

Dr. Botelho authored and coauthored 80 papers and abstracts in scientific journals and sat on scientific review panels for the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council and the National Institutes of Health. She was a member of the medical honor society Alpha Omega Alpha, the scientific honor society Sigma Xim, the American Academy of Neurology, the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. She received the Alumnae Award of Merit from Penn in 1968.

Donations may be made in Dr. Botelho’s memory to the Philadelphia Zoo, where she served as a docent from 1981 until her death, at