Theodore W. Pietsch

  • Professor Emeritus, SAFS

Research areas

I am interested primarily in marine ichthyology, especially the biosystematics, zoogeography, reproductive biology, and behavior of deep-sea fishes. As curator of the Fish Collection of the UW Burke Museum, I am also interested in natural history collections and collection building, and in biotic survey and inventory, the latter best exemplified by a decade-long series of expeditions to collect plants and animals on the islands of the Kuril Archipelago in the Russian Far East. My current effort is directed toward a book on The Fishes of the Salish Sea: Puget Sound and the Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca.

I have published extensively on the history of science, especially the history of ichthyology. Among the latter are works on the French comparative anatomist Georges Cuvier (1769−1832) and his 22-volume Histoire Naturelle des Poissons (1828-1849); bookdealer, publisher, and secret agent Louis Renard (1678/79−1746) and his Fishes, Crayfishes, and Crabs; the unpublished manuscripts of the seventeenth-century explorer-naturalist Charles Plumier (1646−1704); and on the history of natural history collection building. In this area, my current efforts are directed toward an annotated, illustrated, English translation of Cuvier’s five-volume Histoire des Sciences Naturelles, depuis leur Origine jusqu’a nos Jours (1841−1845), of which volumes one and two have now been published.

I am not accepting new students at this time.


 Courses


 Areas of Expertise

  • Marine ichthyology
  • Biosystematics
  • Zoogeography
  • Reproductive biology
  • Behavior
  • Natural history collections
  • History of science

Community Engagement and Awards

Awards

  • 2012 The Best History Books of 2012, Brain Pickings honors Trees of Life.
  • 2012 The Best Science Books of 2012, Brain Pickings honors Trees of Life.
  • 2012 Honorable mention, the 2012 Prose Awards, the American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence.
  • 2005 Robert H. Gibbs, Jr. Memorial Award for an Outstanding Body of Published Work in Systematic Ichthyology, presented by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

Selected publications

  • 2015. T.W. Pietsch. Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences: Nineteen Lessons from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries [the second of Georges Cuvier’s five-volume Histoire des Sciences Naturelles, depuis leur Origine jusqu’a nos Jours, originally published in French from 1841 to 1845]. Edited and annotated by T. W. Pietsch, translated by B. D. Marx. Publications Scientifiques du Muséum, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, 851 pp.

  • 2014. T.W. Pietsch and H. Aili. Jacob Theodor Klein (1685−1759) and his Petri Artedi operum brevis recensio: a previously unknown critique of Peter Artedi’s (1705−1735) Ichthyologia sive opera omnia de piscibus, Wishoff, Leiden, 1738. Svenska Linné-sällskapets Årsskrift, Uppsala, 2014:39–84.

  • 2012. T.W. Pietsch. Trees of Life: A Visual History of Evolution. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, xi + 358 pp.

  • 2012. T.W. Pietsch. Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences: Twenty-four Lessons from Antiquity to the Renaissance [the first of Georges Cuvier’s five-volume Histoire des Sciences Naturelles, depuis leur Origine jusqu’a nos Jours, originally published in French from 1841 to 1845]. Edited and annotated by T. W. Pietsch, translated by A. J. Simpson.       Publications Scientifiques du Muséum, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, 734 pp.

  • 2010. T.W. Pietsch. The Curious Death of Peter Artedi: A Mystery in the History of Science. Scott & Nix, New York, x + 222 pp.

  • 2009. T.W. Pietsch. Oceanic Anglerfishes: Extraordinary Diversity in the Deep-sea. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, xii + 557 pp., 310 figs.

  • 2015. T.W. Pietsch and J.W. Orr. Fishes of the Salish Sea: A Compilation and Distributional Analysis. NOAA Professional Paper NMFS 18, U.S. Department of Commerce, 106 pp., 2 figs., 8 color pls.