Moments in Academy History

Frank Rattray Lillie

1935-1939 NAS President

The next president of the Academy was the Canadian-born scientist Frank Rattray Lillie (1870–1947) who served between 1935 and 1939. He had attended the University of Toronto with the intention of aiming for the ministry but became enchanted with the natural sciences on being exposed to a summer at Woods Hole. As a result he took a temporary teaching period at Clark University and then attended graduate school at the University of Chicago, obtaining a degree in zoology in 1894. This was followed by a position at the University of Michigan (1894–1899) where he was an instructor in zoology and then by a full professorship at Vassar College, which he held for three years. He subsequently accepted a position as assistant professor of embryology at the University of Chicago. He was elevated to a full professorship in 1906 and became chairman of the department of zoology in 1910.

During his term as president of the Academy, Lillie took special interest in the National Research Council fellowships, making certain that the choices placed emphasis on quality. He also stimulated the creation of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, established in 1938. He gave special attention to the latter on the belief that the country needed a number of such institutes and definitely needed one on the East Coast.

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Return to: A Selection of Highlights from the History of the National Academy of Sciences, 1863 - 2005

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