American Oceanography at Mid-Century

American Oceanography at Mid-Century


In 1959 Oregon State University founded its Department of Oceanography. Oceanography originally developed from postwar military interests, but it soon became a broadly interdisciplinary field which combined biological, geological, and physical study of the world’s oceans. In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the OSU department—now the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences—the participants in this conference will look at the development of the field in the crucial early years of the 1950s and 1960s.


This conference is presented by the Horning Endowment in the Humanities and the Department of History, and is co-sponsored by the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences.


Thursday, May 14

4:00–5:00 p.m.
Keynote speech, Naomi Oreskes, UC San Diego
“The Crucial Experiment That Wasn't: Acoustic Tomography of Ocean Climate”
5:00–6:30 p.m.
Public Reception

Friday, May 15

9:00–9:30 a.m.
Introduction and welcome:  Anita Guerrini
Opening remarks:  John Byrne

9:30–10:15 a.m
Craig Biegel, Florida State University
“A Visionary at Work—Wayne V. Burt, the Early Years at Oregon State University”

10:15–11:00 a.m.
Keith R. Benson, University of British Columbia
“The ‘Upwelling’ of Biological Oceanography at Oregon State University”

11:00–11:15 a.m.

11:15 a.m.–noon
Eric L. Mills, Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University
“The Abyss: Resurrecting Deep-Sea Biology in the Mid-Twentieth Century”

noon–12:45 p.m.
Helen M. Rozwadowski, University of Connecticut
“How the Sea Became a Frontier: The Metaphorical Context for Oceanography in the 1960s”

12:45–2:00 p.m.
Lunch break

2:00–2:45 p.m.
Ronald Rainger, Texas Tech University
“Diverging Trajectories: Columbus Iselin, Roger Revelle, and the Impact of World War II on American Oceanography”

2:45–3:30 p.m.
Jacob Darwin Hamblin, Clemson University
“Gaming World War III at Lowestoft: Marine Scientists and Post-Thermonuclear Survival”

3:30–3:45 p.m.

3:45–4:30 p.m.
Peter Neushul and Peter Westwick, UC Santa Barbara
“Is There Surf? Wave Measurement and Wave Riding”

All lectures are free and open to the public. For more information, contact:
OSU Department of History