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David Meredith Seares Watson FRS (18 June 188623 July 1973) was the Jodrell Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at University College, Londonmarker from 1921 to 1951.

Biography

Early life

Watson was born at Higher Broughtonmarker, near Salfordmarker, Lancashiremarker, the only son of David Watson, a pioneering metallurgist. He was educated at Manchester Grammar Schoolmarker and the University of Manchestermarker. He specialised in geology and began to study plant fossils in coal deposits. In 1907, his final year, he published an important paper on coal balls with Marie Stopes (who had an early career as a paleobotanist); after graduating with first class honours he was appointed as a Beyer fellow at Manchester and went on to complete his MSc in 1909.

After his MSc, Watson continued to develop his wide interest in fossils and studied intensively at the British Museum of Natural Historymarker in Londonmarker, and on extended visits to South Africa, Australia, and the United Statesmarker. In 1912 he was appointed as a Lecturer in Vertebrate Palaeontology, at University College London by Professor James Peter Hill.

His academic work was eventually interrupted in 1916 by the Great War when he took a commission in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He was later transferred to the nascent Royal Air Force where he worked on balloon and airship fabric design.

Marriage and children

Watson was married in 1917 to Katharine Margarite Parker, and had two daughters, Katharine Mary and Janet Vida.

Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy

After World War I, Watson returned to academic study and in 1921 he succeeded Hill as the Jodrell Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at UCL. He devoted his energy to the development of the Zoology department there and consolidated his position as a respected academician. In 1922 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, where he gave the Croonian Lecture in 1924. Four years later, he was invited to give the Romanes Lecture at the University of Oxfordmarker; he spoke on "Paleontology and the Evolution of Man".

He was appointed to the British government's Agricultural Research Council in 1931, which involved spending time in the United Statesmarker where he lectured at Yale Universitymarker in 1937. At the outbreak of World War II he returned to Britain to supervise the evacuation of the UCL Zoology department to Bangor, Walesmarker, and then became Secretary of the Scientific Subcommittee of the Food Policy Committee of the War Cabinet.

After the war he continued to teach and to travel widely. He received many awards and academic honours including the Darwin Medal from the Royal Society, the Linnean Medal from the Linnean Society, the Wollaston Medal from the Geological Society of London, and honorary degrees from many universities in Britain and elsewhere. Watson retired from his chair in 1951, but continued to study and publish at UCL until his full retirement in 1965. He was awarded the Linnean Society of London's prestigious Darwin-Wallace Medal in 1958.

His scientific research, besides his early original work on fossil plants, was chiefly concerned with vertebrate palaeontology, especially fossil reptiles. He amassed a large collection of fossils from his wide travels.

Published works



DMS Watson Library

The Science library, known as the DMS Watson library, of University College Londonmarker is named in his honour. It is UCL's second largest library and is in Malet Place adjacent to the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeologymarker.

References



See also






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