THOMAS WAYLAND VAUGHAN

Photo of Thoms Vaughan

Thomas was born in Jonesville, Texas, on September 20, 1870. He endured extensive schooling including a BS degree in 1889 from Tulane University. He then entered Harvard and received an AB degree in 1893, an AM degree in 1894, and a PhD degree in 1903. He also received LLD degrees from the University of British Columbia in 1933 and the University of California in 1936. Tulane University awarded him a doctor of science degree in 1944. He also studied music in Europe. Thomas married Dorothy Q. Upham on March 22, 1909, and had one daughter, Caroline Ely.

He did geologic and paleontologic research with the U.S. Geological Survey from 1894 to 1923. He was the geologist in charge of Coastal Plain investigations, was the senior geologist from 1924 to 1928, and became the principal scientist from 1928 to 1939. He was the custodian of Madreporarian corals, U.S. National Museum, from 1903 to 1923. Thomas was an associate in marine sediments from 1924 to 1942, in paleontology since 1942, and was the director of Scripps Institute of University of California, La Jolla. He was also director emeritus from 1936 until his death.

Thomas became a specialist on tertiary geology, fossil and recent corals, larger Foraminifera, and marine sediments. He received numerous awards including the Decorated Order of Rising Sun Third Class, Japan, in 1940. He was awarded the Agassiz model for research in oceanography for the National Academy of Science in 1935. He received the Mary Clark Thompson medal for geology and paleontology in 1945 and the Penrose Medal from the Geological Society of America in 1946.

He was a member of various clubs and groups. Thomas was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the California Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geological Society of America, the Association of American Geographers, the Paleontological Society, the Washington Academy of Science, and the San Diego Society of Natural History. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Geophysicist Union, the Geological Society of Washington, the Oceanographic Society of the Pacific, and the Philosophical Society of Texas. He was a corresponding member of the Zoological Society of London, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and the Society of Geographers of Cuba. Thomas was a foreign member of the Linnean Society, a foreign fellow of the Geological Society of London, and an honorable member of the Geological Society of Peru. He was a U.S. delegate from 1920 until 1933 for numerous congresses held all over the world. He was a distinguished author, publishing more than 300 papers mostly on oceanography. He belonged to the Cosmos Club in Washington and was a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1932, he took a year long trip around the world to study provisions on oceanographic research for the National Academy of Science. He died January 16, 1952.

Thomas was elected to membership in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1901 and terminated his membership in 1924.