Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 17 Issue 02

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Volume 17, No. 2
Pages 106 - 112


Sverdrup's Biology

By John A. McGowan  
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In the mid-1930s there was much internal controversy and dissension at Scripps Institution of Oceanography about the goals of the institution and how they were to be carried out. Further, there was trouble with the administration at the parent institution, the University of California at Berkeley. The graduate council there found that “Scripps students were inadequately prepared” (Rainger, 2003). Some staff at Scripps felt that the director, T. Wayland Vaughan, emphasized laboratory over field work and had “shifted Scripps’s mission from outdoors to indoors” and that the institution was becoming a “desk institution.” It was said that, “Vaughan by de-emphasizing fieldwork had created personnel problems and raised questions about the status of fieldwork at Scripps.” Vaughan, for his part, criticized the fieldwork at Scripps for not being “experimental” and he stressed the importance of what was then “the new methodology.” He said, “As scientific research advances, emphasis changes. This is as true of Marine Biology as of any other field of investigation. In order to understand the relation of marine organisms to their environment the shift has been through the medium of experiment and physiology.”


McGowan, J.A. 2004. Sverdrup’s biology. Oceanography 17(2):106–112, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2004.54.

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