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William Francis Thompson (1888–1965): a Preeminent Fishery Biologist of the Early and Mid Twentieth Century

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  • Education
  • Fisheries
  • Education


William Francis Thompson (1888–1965) was a preeminent fishery scientist of the early to mid twentieth century. Educated at Stanford University in California (B.A. 1911, Ph.D. 1930), Thompson conducted pioneering research on the Pacific halibut, Hippoglossus stenolepis, from 1914 to 1917 for the British Columbia Provincial Fisheries Department. He then directed marine fisheries research for the State of California from 1917 to 1924, was Director of Investigations for the International Fisheries Commission from 1924 to 1939, and Director of the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission from 1937 to 1942. He was also Director of the School of Fisheries, University of Washing-ton, Seattle, from 1930 to 1947. Thompson was the founding director in 1947 of the Fisheries Research Institute at the University of Washington and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1958. He was a dominant figure in fisheries research of the Pacific Northwest and influenced a succession of fishery scientists with his yield-based analysis of fishery stocks, as opposed to studying the fishes’environment. Will Thompson was also a major figure in education, and many of his former students attained leadership positions in fisheries research and administration.

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