No institution the size of HMSC thrives without the input, leadership, and dedication of hundreds of people. A few individuals in the institution’s half-century history have been so pivotal as to warrant special attention as HMSC Heroes. Without the contributions of these folks, HMSC would not be what it is today.
Roland Dimick, Head of Yaquina Bay Fisheries Laboratory 1939 - 1963
Roland Dimick was an essential founder of Hatfield Marine Science Center. Without his contribution, the center may never have existed.
Roland Dimick received both a Bachelors of Science in 1926 and a Masters of Science in 1931 from Oregon State College. He served as an Assistant Professor for five years with OSC, then helped establish the Department of Fish, Game, and Fur Animal Management (later known as the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife) and eventually became the department head. In 1966, he earned the title of Professor Emeritus.
In 1939, Dimick established the Yaquina Bay Fisheries Laboratory in Newport, with a focus on water quality, estuarine ecology, and oyster and clam aquaculture. It was this laboratory that first connected Oregon State College to Yaquina Bay, serving as the earliest precursor to the Hatfield Marine Science Center.
A brass plaque at the Science Center honors Professor Dimick “in recognition of his pioneering achievement in the establishing and in fostering the development of the University's original marine biological laboratory on Yaquina Bay, which was located at Yaquina from 1939 until 1965.”
Joel Hedgpeth, Head of Yaquina Bay Biological Laboratory 1965 - 1972
Joel Hedgpeth, a well-known marine ecologist, was the driving force behind the establishment of an instructional program at the Marine Science Center. Hedgpeth earned his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1952. He went on to teach at the University of Texas, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University of the Pacific, and then Oregon State University, where he became the head of the Yaquina Bay Biological Lab at the Marine Science Center in the east wing.
When asked now about Joel Hedgpeth, every single person who knew him says, “He was a character!” He had a reputation as a prolific writer, with works ranging from poems about the sea to collaborations with world-renowned marine biologist, Ed Ricketts, for whom he served as editor on Ricketts’ classic book, Between Pacific Tides. He published poetry under the pseudonym Jerome Tichenor, notably the collection entitled “Poems in Contempt of Progress.” (In a 1970 letter to the Editors of the New York Review of Books, he confessed, “On page 340 of volume 2, Limerick no. 1628 concerns the posterior proportions of a young lady named Alice. I wrote this back in 1935 or 36 about a government clerk in Washington D.C.”) He was also an avid conservationist and spent much of his time protecting Pacific coastal marine environments from California to Oregon. Hedgpeth was known worldwide for his work on sea spiders and for conducting decades of marine research and field studies in a wide variety of environments.
Barry Fisher, Professor of Fisheries, Fisherman, Educator
Two pieces of the HMSC campus are named after this enormously important figure in HMSC history: a meeting room in the Guin Library, and a building owned by NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center. It is not often that a single person is revered by educators, researchers, conservationists, and the fishing industry, but Barry Fisher was a giant in all of these worlds.
An article in the NWFSC newsletter at the time of the Barry Fisher Building’s dedication said: “It’s hard to write about Barry Fisher’s life, because even at a casual glance his resume suggests that Fate shoe-horned into one man’s skin the energy, intelligence, creativity, courage and goodwill of half a dozen ordinary people.” R. Barry Fisher came to Oregon with his wife Carol in 1969 as an OSU associate professor of fisheries, having already earned two Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts in the Korean War, and two degrees from Harvard University. During his years at OSU, he worked on the development of innovative fishing gear and methods and led three small-boat fisheries projects in the South Pacific. He left OSU in 1975 to pursue his interests in open ocean fishing, and eventually established Yankee Fisheries in Newport. He was involved with the design and development of new vessel prototypes as well as new trawls and trawl equipment, and introduced midwater trawling to the Pacific Northwest.
In the late 1970s, Fisher helped create groundbreaking joint ventures with the Soviet fishing industry. He was influential in obtaining funding for the nationally recognized Newport Marine Debris Project conducted by the Port of Newport and the OSU Extension Sea Grant program. In addition, he acted as a leader in the establishment of COMES and chaired the station's advisory board. In 1992, he was named to the OSU Agricultural Hall of Fame. He passed away in 2001.
Vicki Osis, Marine Educator, Oregon Sea Grant
Why do students in Beaverton know that grey whales migrate past our coast twice a year? How did an Albany 5th grader get to touch a sea star? Why do kids from the coast to the Valley to the eastern reaches of our state get excited about marine science? A large piece of the credit goes to Vicki Osis, one of the founders of the marine education program at HSMC.
Osis came to HMSC in 1971 as a marine education specialist, and quickly became one of the biggest advocates in HMSC history for the educational mission of the institution. She developed the K-12 education program for the center and presented many workshops and training programs for K-12 teachers in Marine Science. She developed and managed an OSU Masters of Science program in Education with an emphasis in Marine Science for K-12 teachers. Osis participated in the first meeting of the National Marine Educators Association in Rhode Island. She has received national and state awards for her work in Marine Education.
Osis retired after 31 years with the OSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and now teaches an online climate change workshop for educators. She lives on a small farm on the central Oregon coast with her husband Laimons.
Lavern Weber, first resident Director of Hatfield Marine Science Center, 1977-2002
It is not an exaggeration to say that HMSC would not be what it is today without the extraordinary leadership of Lavern Weber, the center’s first resident director, who took the reins in 1977. With Weber at the head, the disparate factions that inhabited two separate wings of the facility came together, setting the stage for decades of collaborative research.
“My first initiative was to change all the locks,” Weber says with a grin. “The East and West Wings were set up on different lock systems so you had to get permission to go from one to the other. After a couple of months, I made sure all the locks were the same.”
After changing the locks, he tackled the challenge of bringing the center together. “My approach was to walk around every day. Each day I went to somebody’s office, had a cup of coffee, and talked a bit.” Those cups of coffee worked wonders: Weber figured out what everyone needed, and found the resources and the solutions to make it all work. Many at HMSC cite the annual Christmas party, at which Weber himself manned the grill to feed everyone barbecued albacore, as a major factor in bridging gaps.
After Weber received his bachelors from Pacific Lutheran University in 1958, he went on to earn an M.S. in 1962 and then a Ph.D. in 1964, both from the University of Washington. In 1969, he joined Oregon State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and soon became the Assistant Dean of the Graduate School. It was in 1977 that Dr. Weber became the new Director of HMSC. During Dr. Weber’s time as the Director, the Center was greatly expanded on many fronts. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expanded their facilities, and the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies (CIMRS), the National Marine Fisheries Services' Alaska Fisheries Science Center fish behavior group, and Coastal Oregon Productivity Enhancement (COPE) program were all created. He also initiated the Lavern Weber Visiting Scientist Fellowship, which fosters collaboration across universities and agencies by bringing distinguished researchers to the HMSC community. Also during his time as Director, educational programs and student housing were expanded, the Guin library and the US Fish and Wildlife Services buildings were completed, the new OSU Ship Operations building was added, a new seawater system was installed, and the visitor center was remodeled.
Five HMSC Breakthroughs...