University of Alabama colleague Dick Reeves remembers Bishop as someone dedicated to saving lives, researching cures for diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimers. Reaves, the executive director of the Huntsville Angel Network, called Bishop "a very passionate person about everything she did."
Reeves says Bishop became frustrated with how quickly cell samples grown in traditional plastic Petri dishes would die.
"Every time she took the lid off she risked contamination," said Reeves, noting that Petri dishes were invented in 1877 and that samples grown in them rarely live more than 48 hours.
Reeves said Bishop developed a better system for incubating expensive brain and nerve tissue samples, hoping to make them live longer, save researchers money, and allow for more efficient testing and observation of diseased tissue samples. The system was patented by the University of Alabama.
"Right now things are very hectic up here trying to sort out what is going on," said Bishop's father-in-law, Jim E. Anderson Sr., who lives three hours away in Prattsville, Ala.
"In the academic world when you are dealing with PhDs and grants and tenure and all that -- it's in it's own world," he told ABCNews.com. "I suspect somebody in that meeting room was probably an antagonist and I would like to know who that was."
Bishop and her husband, an Alabama native who was raised in New England, met when they were undergraduates at Northeastern University.
They settled in the suburban seaside town of Ipswich, while Bishop worked at Harvard's Children's Hospital in the 1990s.
Sylvia Fluckiger, a lab technician who worked with Bishop then, described her as "an oddball" and "socially a little awkward," according to the Boston Globe. But Dick Reeves, who worked with Bishop in developing her cell incubator research, said there was no clue she might one day be violent.
Many of her current students have praised her.
"Dr. Bishop is brilliant," said one who gave Bishop high marks on RateMyTeacher.com. "Her research is fascinating. She will surely get the Nobel Prize. She is the best teacher I have ever had."
But among former neighbors, Bishop was cantankerous and not well liked.
Ipswich police logged two calls for neighborhood disputes from Bishop, and in 2002, she reported receiving harassing calls, according to local reports.
Once, neighbors organized a block party and didn't tell Bishop because of conflicts she had with people.
"We never had any issue with them directly," said the grandmother who knew the family. "But it was very uncomfortable with the other neighbors. Amy was not friendly. The high school kids at the time were very in to sports and they'd come out and play from 8:30 to 10 at night. The noise was bothersome to her."
Their father worked from home and did most of the child rearing, according to the source. Bishop, she said, had mentioned an interest in homeschooling the children.
"He was quite pleasant," she said. "But I think she was the leading force in the family."
The children, then aged 1 to about 6, were "kind of meek," but well-behaved, she said. But Bishop's social skills were "suspect."
Her family denies there were any signs of mental illness, but her father-in-law said Bishop was "different."
Anderson Sr. said that in the past Bishop had "voiced concerns" over her safety on campus.