The birth was just five months before the great depression started in October, 1929. The extensive silver and gold mines in Tonopah also declined during the next few years, so the county became too poor to pay employees in cash. The script they offered was accepted at banks at just 50% value. This caused Rufus to resign his position in 1932 and accept a job as superintendent of the Lincoln County Schools in Panaca, Nevada where they still paid cash.
Panaca was a town of 500 people, nearly100% Mormon, located about 170 miles Northeast of Las Vegas near the Utah border. Students in the sparsely settled county were bussed to the High School in Panaca. The six years that Antone spent in Tonopah and Panaca imprinted him on desert and mountains.
When Antone turned six, the family moved to their farm and ranch located between the Southern edge of Provo Utah and the North edge of Provo Bay of Utah Lake. After three years, the family moved to Kaysville Utah where the Davis County High School was and Rufus was teaching advanced biology. Summers were spent on the ranch at Provo, and during the war years, Antone and his brother stayed year round at the ranch and kept it going as well as going to school. For his high school years, Antone was reunited with the family in Bountiful, Utah.
Upon completion of high school at the head of his class, Antone was awarded a Harvard National Scholarship and admitted to Harvard College. His field of concentration was Biology, and he graduated with honors in 1951.
He joined the laboratory of Victor C. Twitty at Stanford for his Ph.D. work in experimental embryology, which was completed in 1955. He was supported, in part, at Stanford by a Henry Newell Honors Scholarship. His dissertation concerned the roles of neural and non-neural tissues in lens induction. As he finished his Ph.D. work, he was drafted into the army.
After basic training at Fort Ord, Antone was assigned to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Washington, D.C. He worked with Robert Brent, M.D., Ph.D., a teratologist and pediatrician. Antone was co-author on two publications from his 18 months at WRAIR, one on uptake of radioiodine by the fetal mouse thyroid, and the other, that required solubilizing rats, on radioiodine-tagged Rose Bengal. Antone considered his army time to be a weird post-doc.
In 1957, Antone joined the faculty of the Department of Zoology of the University of Texas at Austin. During his first months at the university, Antone renewed acquaintance with a Radcliffe person who had sat next to him in a botany lab at Harvard. Jane Gray (Ph.D. Berkeley) was a palynologist and a member of the faculty of geology. After getting assurances from senior members of both departments that nepotism would not be a problem, they married in December of 1957. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Gray was notified that her appointment at Texas was terminated due to nepotism. She immediately got a new position at the Desert Research Institute, University of Arizona, in Tucson, then a few years later moved to the Museum of Natural History, University of Oregon, at Eugene. Despite efforts to find positions together somewhere, the marriage ended in divorce in 1962. Dr. Gray subsequently joined the faculty of Biology at the University of Oregon and was a Professor there. She became the leading expert on colonization of the land by plants and her one-page obituary appeared in the December 4, 2000 issue of Nature.
In 1962, Antone married Jacqueline James, a widow with a two-year-old daughter, Lauren. Jacqueline was a Vassar graduate and had a botany M.S. from the University of Iowa. They had met at Stanford where they were both Ph.D. students. Jacqueline is an environmental activist with a special interest in toxic substances. In 1963, Antone and Jacqueline had a son, Eric. Lauren graduated from Vassar College, and received a Ph.D. in stress physiology at UCSF. She did post-doctoral work at Stanford, at Montreal and at Harvard Medical School, then joined the faculty of Albany Medical College where she is a professor. Eric graduated from Harvard College and received a Master's degree in computer sciences at Northeastern University, and has since then worked in the computer world. Two grandchildren, Natasha and Thomas, were born to Eric and his wife Alice.
At the University of Texas at Austin, Antone was promoted to Associate Professor in 1961, and to Professor in 1968. He became Professor Emeritus in 1997. Antone supervised eleven Post-Doctoral Fellows, thirteen Ph.D. degrees, and nine Masters degrees. He taught seven graduate courses and seven undergraduate courses. In his 40 years of teaching, Antone taught a total of 8,586 undergraduates, or an average of more than 268 per year. He also served on numerous Departmental and University committees, some as chair, and was a member of a number of NIH study groups and visiting groups, some as chairman. His research was supported for 38 years by NIH, and for several years he was the second largest recipient of grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Antone taught in the embryology course at the Marine Biology Lab in Woods Hole, Massachusetts for two years, 1969 and 1970. Five of the students in that course came later to his lab as postdoctoral students.
Antone's research in experimental embryology focused on embryonic induction, neurulation, and segmentation of the paraxial mesoderm (somites and somitomeres). In addition, there were over 20 papers on other assorted topics.
The organisms used in these studies included salamander and frog embryos, chick embryos, mouse and rat embryos, fish embryos, Drosophila embryos, and others, even crabs.
Antone and his laboratory group defined tissue interactions that induce or suppress formation of a number of organs, including lens, nasal epithelium, inner ear, neural plate, neural crest, mesonephric kidney, somites, blood, heart, pronephric duct, and forelimb. Studies with nose, lens and ear were among the first that determined how organs are positioned.
Jacobson studied neurulation in salamander, chick, and mouse embryos. Extensive time-lapse movies, electron and light microscopy helped understand how the neural plate and tube formed, and hypotheses were tested experimentally and with computer simulations.
Two postdoctoral students, Lipton and Packard, initiated studies in Jacobson's lab on paraxial mesoderm formation in the chick embryo. They found that somites are induced by neural plate and stabilized in position by notochord. Their studies also indicated that segmentation was already present in the presomitic mesoderm. A new faculty member, Stephen Meier, then announced the discovery of somitomeres in chick embryos. Using stereo scanning electron microscopy, Meier found the presomitic mesoderm to be already formed into structures he named somitomeres. The Jacobson and Meier labs then collaborated in an extensive study of somitomeres in chick, quail, newt, frog, turtle, lizard, fish and mouse. One aspect of these studies was the discovery that somitomeres occupy the full extent of the head craniad to the position of the first somite. Cranial somitomeres continue to expand rather than condensing into somites. Heads are initially segmented like the rest of the body.
Other studies in the Jacobson lab included early Drosophila development, what caused lethality in a Drosophila hybrid, defining normal stages in the axolotl, the role of fluid pressure within the embryonic chick brain in enlarging the brain, how cephalic flexure occurs, and Rathke's pouch formation: also growth, sexual maturity, and reproductive cycling in a ghost crab, and some other topics and reviews.