Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Murray, Sir John (Canada-Scotland 1841-1914)

Murray may justly be considered the founder of modern oceanographic studies. As a somewhat lackadaisical but talented student he came to the attention of some influential people (including Lord Kelvin) who recommended him to Charles Wyville Thomson. Thomson was in charge of scientific preparations for the H. M. S. Challenger oceanic expedition, and as it turned out Murray was the right man at the right time: for the next three years plus he was in charge of on-board mapping and bottom sediment analysis operations. On returning to England Murray spent years going over collected materials, and when Thomson died in 1882 he inherited the job of getting all the dozens of resulting analyses published (this was not finished until 1895). Murray was involved in significant projects after the Challenger one ended, but it was during the years of the latter that his offices and labs first became a world center for oceanic research, especially on subjects related to the deep ocean. Before dying in an accident in 1914 he was able to get his two most important all-audience books published in 1912 and 1913, and these permanently solidified his status as the first great worker within this realm.

Life Chronology

--born in Cobourg, Ontario, on 3 March 1841.
--1864-1865, 1868-1872: studies medicine at the University of Edinburgh, but does not graduate
--1868: naturalist on a whaling ship in the Arctic
--1872-1876: naturalist on the H.M.S. Challenger expedition
--1876-1882: first assistant, publication of the scientific results of the Challenger mission
--1882: appointed editor of publications for the Challenger mission
--1883: sets up the Edinburgh Marine Laboratory at Granton
--1883-1894: carries out marine research off the west coast of Scotland
--1885: publishes his Narrative of the Cruise of the H.M.S. Challenger, with T. H. Tizard, H. N. Moseley, and J. Y. Buchanan
--1891: publishes his Deep-sea Deposits
--1895: publishes his A Summary of the Scientific Results Obtained at the Sounding, Dredging and Trawling Stations of H.M.S. Challenger
--1896: made a fellow of the Royal Society of London
--1896-1898: member of the fishery board for Scotland
--1897: begins bathymetric survey of Scotland's lochs
--1897: forms company with G. Clunies Ross to develop the mineral resources of Christmas Island
--1897-1898: first expedition to Christmas Island
--1898: knighted
--1899: British delegate to the International Hydrographic Conference, Stockholm
--1908: second expedition to Christmas Island
--1910: pays for and participates in expedition to the North Atlantic on the Michael Sars
--1912: publishes his The Depths of the Ocean, with J. Hjort
--1913: publishes his The Ocean; A General Account of the Science of the Sea
--dies at Kirkliston, Scotland, on 16 March 1914.

For Additional Information, See:

--Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 39 (2004).
--A to Z of Marine Scientists (2003).
--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 9 (1974).
--Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Vol. 35 (1914-1915): 305-317.
--Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 52(13) (1917): 853-859.
--Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Ser. A, Vol. 91(633) (1914-1915): liv-lxii.
--Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Ser. B, Vol. 89(622) (1915-1917): vi-xv.

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Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.

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