View our School’s historic timeline, which shows former director Dr. Robert R. Stickney’s account of SAFS from its inception in 1919, through 1985, and additional events occurring after 1985. Dr. Stickney’s 1989 book, “Flagship: A History of Fisheries at the University of Washington” (Kendall-Hunt Publishing Company), forms the basis for the earlier timeline content. This abridged version of our History highlights important changes in SAFS leadership and evolution.

The Beginning

1919 Thirteen students enroll in first US College of Fisheries (COF) which is 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) is 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 is founded and housed in SOF.
WF Thompson is appointed part-time research director.
1938 First SOF research vessel, the cabin cruiser Kokanee, is constructed.


 1943 Only six enrollees because of WWII.
Lauren Donaldson is 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 is 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 is 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.
 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 is initiated to study mineral cycling in a watershed, lasting until 1971.
First six Fisheries “for Graduates Only” courses are offered.
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 and Frieda Taub.
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 is founded under Douglas Chapman.
William Royce is appointed associate dean of COF & Robert Burgner director of FRI. FRI wing of Fish Center is 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 is established at CQS.
Fisheries segment of Western Coniferous Biome Studies is funded.
 1971 Douglas Chapman is appointed dean, replacing retiring Van Cleve.
 1972 IFST’s Food Engineering Laboratory is 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 is initiated to develop models relating to Alaska fisheries.
Fisheries water quality analysis facility is established.
 1977 Fisheries investigates Satsop Nuclear Power Plant blowdown effect on salmonid reproduction.
 1978 Lease agreement for Seward Park Hatchery is signed with City of Seattle.
 1979 The first “Gutshop” workshop is conducted.
Laboratory of State Chemist is established in IFST.


 1980 Douglas Chapman resigns as dean and is replaced by Don Bevan.
R/V Alaska is acquired from NMFS.
Effect of Mount St. Helen’s ash on salmon migration patterns is studied.
 1981 College of Ocean & Fishery Sciences (COFS) is formed by UW Board of Regents. COF becomes a School within COFS and Don Bevan is appointed director.
 1982 Number of SOF-trained observers on foreign fishing and research vessels totals 156.
 1983 Cooperative high-seas salmon tagging program is initiated with Soviet Union.
Marine Studies building, the new home of IFST, is completed.
 1984 Van Cleve Memorial Scholarship is established.
 1985 Robert Stickney is appointed Director of SOF when Bevan retires.
David Ford is appointed director of CQS.
Bruce Miller is appointed acting director of FRI upon the retirement of Robert Burgner.
 1986 Robert Francis is appointed FRI director. Observer program is initiated with Alaska fishing industry. Center for Streamside Studies is created under direction of Ernest Salo.
H. Mason Keeler Endowed Professorship and Fund for Excellence is established.
 1987 Western Regional Aquaculture Consortium (WRAC) is housed in Fisheries under the direction of Ken Chew.
 1988 Triploid (all season) “sexless” oyster is 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 are evaluated by SOF personnel.


1990 Fisheries Teaching and Research Building opens.
1991 Marsha Landolt is appointed director of SOF.
 1992 Ellen Pikitch takes over as director of FRI.
1993 SOF Fish Collection is rated 4th in N. America among regional collections. Molecular Biology Lab is 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 assume role as interim director.
1999 David Armstrong is 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.
2013 Andre Punt becomes director of SAFS.
2014 Graham Young appointed director of WRAC after Ken Chew retires.
2017 Sarah Converse is appointed as leader of the Washington Coop





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