Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Griggs, Robert Fiske (United States 1881-1962)
botany, ecology

Photo courtesy of the Torrey Botanical Society.
Robert Griggs is remembered above all for his discovery of the "Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes" in 1916, and his subsequent book and other writings on the phenomenon. The volcano Katmai in southcentral Alaska blew itself apart in 1912--the largest such eruption of the twentieth century--and formed a caldera; associated with the event was the development of a large field of fumaroles that vented smoke and steam. One of the dominant remaining mountains in the area was named Mt. Griggs in the naturalist's honor. Griggs started out as a botanist of rather catholic interests ranging from the cytology of nuclear structures to the systematics of kelp and other forms, but several years of expeditions to Alaska in the 1910s turned him into an ecologist with a special interest in colonization dynamics and the characteristics of edge and marginal environments. Griggs was very active in the professionalization of the field of ecology, belonging to many organizations and serving as a chief officer in several; he also took a central role in having the Katmai region made a national monument.

Life Chronology

--born in Brooklyn, Connecticut, on 22 August 1881.
--1901: leaves Ohio State University to join the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.; subsequent expeditions to Puerto Rico and Guatemala
--1903: B.S., Ohio State University
--1903-1905: assistant professor of biology, Fargo College, North Dakota
--1906: M.A., University of Minnesota
--1906-1921: assistant professor of botany, Ohio State University
--1911: Ph.D. in botany, Harvard University
--1913: expedition to Alaska with University of Washington group
--1915: early member of the Ecological Society of America, organized in Columbus, Ohio
--1915-1919: field expeditions to Alaska
--1918: publishes a long account of the Katmai region in National Geographic Magazine
--1921-1947: professor, George Washington University
--1922: publishes his The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes
--1927: president, Washington Botanical Society
--1932: president, Washington Academy of Sciences
--1940: publishes "The Ecology of Rare Plants" in Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club
--1940-1947: chairman, Division of Biology and Agriculture of the National Research Council
--1943: president, Ecological Society of America
--1947-1952: professor of biology in charge of field biology, University of Pittsburgh
--1952: made professor emeritus of botany at the University of Pittsburgh
--1953: works as field investigator for the National Park Service, Colorado
--dies on 10 June 1962.

For Additional Information, See:

--Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, Vol. 90(6) (1963): 413-416.
--We Two Together (1961).
--Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, Vol. 45(1) (1964): 33-35.

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Copyright 2007 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.

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