This abridged version of our School’s history highlights important events in SAFS leadership, curriculum, and evolution. The timeline begins with former Director Robert R. Stickney’s account of SAFS—from its inception in 1919 through 1985—in his 1989 book, “Flagship: A History of Fisheries at the University of Washington” (Kendall-Hunt Publishing Company). The historic timeline continues with significant SAFS activities and events from 1985 to today.

The Beginning

1919 Thirteen students enroll in first US College of Fisheries (COF)—established on UW campus under direction of John N. Cobb.


1921 First five students graduate from COF.
Cobb evaluates effectiveness of Yakima River fishways and recommends changes.
1929 Enrollment exceeds 100 students.


1930 Dean Cobb dies; COF temporarily ceases to exist.
WF Thompson becomes director of UW Department of Fisheries.
International Fisheries Commission (now International Pacific Halibut Commission) housed in UW Department of Fisheries.
1932 Lauren Donaldson begins trout mass selection program.
1935 UW Board of Regents approves School of Fisheries (SOF) under acting director WF Thompson.
1937 International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission founded and housed in SOF.
WF Thompson appointed part-time research director.
1938 First SOF research vessel, the cabin cruiser Kokanee, constructed.


 1943 Only six enrollees because of WWII.
Lauren Donaldson asked by US Government to study effects of x-rays on Columbia River salmon; leads to creation of Applied Fisheries Laboratory (AFL).
 1944 SOF takes over goldfish research when Allies discontinue business with Japan.
 1945 Bristol Bay, Alaska, canners ask to have research needs evaluated; precursor to Fisheries Research Institute (FRI).
AFL establishes lab at Hanford near plutonium plants.
 1946 Milo Bell’s Hells Gate fishway completed on Fraser River.
AFL personnel witness detonations of atomic bombs at Bikini Atoll; conduct research into effects of radiation. Southeast Alaska canners request evaluation of research needs.
 1947 UW Board of Regents authorizes establishment of FRI directed by WF Thompson. Bristol Bay research begins.
Wilbert Chapman becomes SOF director.
R/V Oncorhynchus, a Navy surplus personnel carrier, replaces Kokanee.
 1948 Richard Van Cleve appointed director of SOF.
Kodiak, AK salmon research begins.
 1949 Douglas Chapman teaches first statistics course at SOF.


 1950 Enrollment skyrockets to 150 students, mostly veterans.
Twenty-three thousand chinook fingerlings released in Portage Bay; first UW salmon run.
Fisheries Center building completed, located along the Montlake cut.
 1952 AFL personnel witness detonation of hydrogen bomb at Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, and conduct research, which continues into the 1970s.
 1953 Twenty-three adult chinook return to Fisheries raceway.
 1955 High Seas Salmon project begins.
AFL personnel cruise Pacific to monitor extent of radioactive contamination in soil and plants.
The R/V Commando, a halibut boat, replaces Oncorhynchus.
 1957 Fern Lake research project initiated to study mineral cycling in a watershed, lasting until 1971.
First six Fisheries “for Graduates Only” courses are offered.
1958 SOF becomes College of Fisheries again with Van Cleve as dean.
William Royce replaces retiring Thompson as director of FRI.
 1959 Fisheries portion of Project Plowshare evaluates baseline levels of radionuclides in organisms in Arctic.
First edition of Research in Fisheries is published.
FRI begins forecasting sockeye salmon run to western Alaska.


 1960 Laboratory of Radiation Biology (old AFL) examines effects of gamma radiation on successive generations of salmon.
Fisheries curriculum under scrutiny in UW-wide re-examination of education objectives and techniques.
 1961 Salmon return pond is constructed.
Graduate course in water pollution is offered for first time.
 1962 Fisheries hires first female faculty members: Rita Colwell (director of National Science Foundation 1998–2004; now, professor, University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins) and Frieda Taub (appointed assistant research professor; now, professor emerita).
Computer application in fisheries science begins.
 1963 Construction of the R/V Malka for Alaska field work.
Eighty-three graduate students register in Fisheries.
 1965 UW purchases 270 acres bordering Big Beef Creek and harbor.
 1967 Laboratory and bathroom added to cabin at Big Beef Creek.
US Fish & Wildlife Service Cooperative Fishery Research Unit (Coop) is established.
 1968 Center for Quantitative Science and Biomathematics graduate program founded under Douglas Chapman.
William Royce appointed associate dean of COF & Robert Burgner director of FRI. FRI wing of Fish Center built.
Research barge Kumtuks is acquired.
 1969 Institute for Food Science and Technology (IFST) is founded under John Liston.
Graduate students Pennell and Whitemore die in plane crash at Iliamna Lake, Alaska.


 1970 Record enrollment: 168 undergraduates and 130 graduate students register.
NORFISH Program established at CQS.
Fisheries segment of Western Coniferous Biome Studies is funded.
 1971 Douglas Chapman appointed dean, replacing retiring Van Cleve.
 1972 IFST’s Food Engineering Laboratory completed.
 1974 First women’s locker room installed in Fisheries Center.
 1975 FRI administers NMFS observer programs for foreign fishing vessels.
SOF conducts sewage outfall studies for METRO. Study of effects of pier construction, dredging, and lighting at Trident submarine base on out-migrating salmon.
 1976 NORFISH II initiated to develop models relating to Alaska fisheries.
Fisheries water quality analysis facility established.
 1977 Fisheries investigates Satsop Nuclear Power Plant blowdown effect on salmonid reproduction.
 1978 Lease agreement for Seward Park Hatchery signed with City of Seattle.
 1979 The first “Gutshop” workshop conducted.
Laboratory of State Chemistestablished in IFST.


 1980 Douglas Chapman resigns as dean; replaced by Don Bevan.
R/V Alaska acquired from NMFS.
Effect of Mount St. Helen’s ash on salmon migration patterns studied.
 1981 College of Ocean & Fishery Sciences (COFS) formed by UW Board of Regents. COF becomes a School within COFS; Don Bevan appointed director.
 1982 Number of SOF-trained observers on foreign fishing and research vessels totals 156.
 1983 Cooperative high-seas salmon tagging program  initiated with Soviet Union.
Marine Studies building, the new home of IFST,  completed.
Jim Anderson appointed assistant professor (now research professor).
focus: biomathematics, biodemography, ecosystem modeling, ecohydrology, fisheries, animal and human behavior, decision making
 1984 Van Cleve Memorial Scholarship established.
 1985 Robert Stickney appointed director of SOF when Bevan retires.
David Ford appointed director of CQS.
Bruce Miller appointed acting director of FRI upon  retirement of Robert Burgner.
 1986 Robert Francis appointed FRI director. Observer program initiated with Alaska fishing industry. Center for Streamside Studies created under direction of Ernest Salo.
H. Mason Keeler Endowed Professorship and Fund for Excellence established.
Tom Quinn appointed assistant professor (now professor).
focus: Behavior, ecology, and evolution of fishes, with emphasis on migrations, life history patterns, reproduction, habitat requirements and diversification of Pacific salmon
 1987 Western Regional Aquaculture Consortium (WRAC)  housed in Fisheries under the direction of Ken Chew.
Ray Hilborn appointed professor.
focus: Alaska salmon, status of world fisheries, Serengeti ecosystem, environmental impacts of food production, impacts of trawling
 1988 Triploid (all season) “sexless” oyster developed for commercial use by SOF personnel at Manchester.
Washington Fisheries Coop expands to include wildlife research component.
 1989 Biomathematics program becomes QERM program in CQS.
Effects of Exxon Valdez oil spill evaluated by SOF personnel.


1990 Fisheries Teaching and Research Building opens.
1991 Marsha Landolt appointed director of SOF.
 1992 Ellen Pikitch takes over as director of FRI.
1993 SOF Fish Collection rated 4th in N. America among regional collections. Molecular Biology Lab initiated with Oceanography.
John Skalski becomes director of CQS.
Washington Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit becomes part of National Biological Survey.
1994 SOF celebrates 75 years of colorful history.
1996 Ray Hilborn appointed director of FRI.
1997 Ken Chew assumes role as interim director.
1999 David Armstrong appointed director of SOF.
New Fishery Sciences building opens.


2000 School changes name to Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS) to better reflect expanding breadth and scope of programs.
John Horne appointed research assistant professor (now professor).
focus: fisheries acoustics, aquatic organism distributions, spatial bioenergetics
Bevan Series for Sustainable Fisheries initiated. Made possible through the Donald E. Bevan Endowed Fund in Fisheries, established in his memory and funded by his wife Tanya and niece.
2001 Undergraduate curriculum broadened to include conservation habitat protection and restoration, biodiversity, and user conflicts.
New undergraduate courses: Conservation Genetics, Bioenergetics Modeling, Hydroacoustics, Marine Biology, Marine Conservation & Sustainable Fisheries, “Aquatic ecological research in Alaska” summer field course
Freshwater Initiative formed, offering students linked courses across three colleges, exploring freshwater ecosystems.
Dave Beauchamp appointed assistant professor and assistant unit leader, Washington Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit (now, affiliate faculty and chief, Ecology Section, US Geological Survey).
focus: aquatic community ecology, food-web modeling, native-nonnative interactions, population assessment, bioenergetics modeling, hydoacoustics
Carolyn Friedman appointed assistant professor (now professor).
focus: invertebrate ecology
Kerry Naish appointed assistant professor (now professor).
focus: quantitative genetics, focusing on conservation and aquaculture
Julia Parrish appointed assistant professor (now professor and associate dean, College of the Environment).
focus: animal aggregation, predator-prey interactions, marine conservation
Andre Punt appointed research associate professor (now professor and director, SAFS).
focus: biomathematics, harvest theory, multispecies modeling, population dynamics, stock assessment
Charles “Si” Simenstad appointed associate research professor (now professor emeritus).
focus: estuarine and coastal ecology, food web structure, juvenile salmon ecology
2002 Lorenz Hauser appointed assistant professor (now professor).
focus: genetics and morphology of native and introduced populations of the Lake Tanganyika sardine
UW Fish Collection acquires a Pacific giant squid.
2003 Tim Essington appointed assistant professor (now professor and associate director, SAFS).
2004 Graham Young appointed professor and executive director of the Western Regional Aquaculture Center (WRAC)
focus: marine fish ecology and biology, food web interactions, marine fisheries—estuarine and coastal
2005 Claire Horner-Devine appointed research assistant professor.
focus: patterns of diversity and community composition (ecology of diverse communities)
George Hunt appointed research professor.
focus: effects of climate variability on polar marine ecosystems, polar marine ecology, ecology and behavior of marine birds
2007 SAFS ranked first in “fisheries science & management” for faculty scholarly productivity by the Nation Research council, reported in Chronicle of Higher Education.
Nate Mantua appointed associate research professor (now affiliate faculty and leader of the Landscape Ecology Team at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center).
focus: large-scale climate change and climate impacts on human activities and ecosystems
Julian Olden appointed assistant professor (now professor).
focus: conservation biogeography, fish community ecology, and large-scale implication of flow alterations, invasive species, and climate change
Steven Roberts appointed assistant professor (now associate professor).
focus: comparative physiology and functional genomics applied to conservation and aquaculture-related issues
Jim Seeb appointed professor.
focus: fishery genetics, genetic-based techniques that can be applied to ecological problems
Lisa Seeb appointed professor.
focus: fishery genetics, genetic-based techniques that can be applied to ecological problems
Professors Jim and Lisa Seeb set up Marine Molecular Biotechnology Laboratory (MMBL), run jointly by SAFS and Oceanography.


2010 SAFS joins the newly formed College of the Environment.
Trevor Branch appointed assistant professor (now associate professor).
focus: quantitative science, ecological modeling and statistics, marine conservation, marine food webs, catch share fisheries, large cetaceans
Kenneth Sebens appointed professor.
focus: rocky tidal zones, coral reef ecology, theoretical ecology, marine benthic ecology
2011 “Fishes of the Salish Sea,” a mural by artist Ray Troll, installed in SAFS lobby.
2012 Kristin Laidre appointed assistant professor (now associate professor).
focus: Arctic whales, ecology
Chris Anderson appointed associate professor.
focus: quantitative science
2013 Gordon Holtgrieve appointed assistant professor.
focus: freshwater sciences
 2016 Jacqueline Padillo-Gamiño appointed assistant professor.
focus: marine invertebrate ecology, fundamental questions for predicting the magnitude of organismal, population, and ecosystem-live response to glob environmental change
Luke Tornabene appointed assistant professor and curator of fisheries, UW Fish Collection, Burke Museum.
focus: biodiversity and cutting-edge 3D resources, taxonomic and ecological diversification
Chelsea Wood appointed assistant professor.
focus: marine invertebrate ecology, ecology of parasites and pathogens and how they impact biodiversity and fisheries
 2017 Sarah Converse appointed associate professor of SAFS and School of Environmental and Forest Sciences and unit leader, Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.
focus: conservation, ecology, resource management, statistics and modeling
 2018 Marine Biology Major program established—begins Autumn 2018
Andrew Berdahl appointed assistant professor.
focus: ecological systems, particularly problems at the interface of collective behavior and movement ecology
 2019  SAFS will celebrate its centennial year.



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