Gordon Arthur Riley: The Complete Oceanographer 1911-1985


  • Donald C. Gordon




Gordon Riley was an outstanding scientist who played a leading international role in the development of oceanography as a field of scientific study in the mid-twentieth century. His multidisciplinary approach, quantitative skills, imagination and intuition advanced our knowledge and understanding of the ocean enormously. Of his many significant scientific contributions to oceanography, he is best known for his pioneering work in developing simple numerical models for improving the understanding of the dynamics of marine ecosystems with a focus on plankton. He helped transform oceanography from a descriptive to a quantitative science. His early career was spent in the United States at the Bingham Oceanographic Laboratory of Yale University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. In 1965, at the peak of his career, he immigrated to Canada to become the director of the Institute of Oceanography at Dalhousie University. Under his leadership, the Institute evolved into the Department of Oceanography, which became an internationally recognized centre for marine research and teaching. During this period, he also played a prominent role in the development of the broader Canadian oceanographic community. He served as a wonderful example of how scientific research, teaching and a life should be carried out.