Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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STEPHENSON , THOMAS ALAN ( 1898 - 1961 ), zoologist ;

b. 19 Jan. 1898 at Burnham-on-Sea , Somerset , son of Thomas Stephenson , D.D. , minister (Meth.) and his wife Margaret Ellen (née Fletcher ) . He was educated at Clapham ; Wrexham; and Kingswood School , Bath , 1909-13 . In 1915 he was admitted to the University College of Wales , Aberystwyth (where the family lived 1914-19 ) but was unable to take up his place because of ill-health. Professor Herbert John Fleure (see above) taught him privately, appointed him demonstrator , and obtained for him the sea anemones collected by the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910 which were the subject of his first paper, published in 1916 . Though holding no initial degree he was allowed to submit published papers for the degrees of M.Sc. and D.Sc. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1951 . In 1922 he was appointed lecturer in zoology at University College , London , and he collaborated with his father during 1920-24 in the publication of articles on British orchids in Journ. of Botany . He was in charge of the reef section of the Great Barrier Reef Expedition of 1928-29 ( Reports , vol. 3) and he made a major contribution to the understanding of the growth of reef-building corals . In 1930 he was appointed Professor of zoology at the University of Cape Town , South Africa , where he organised an extended survey of the distribution of marine plants and animals along the 1800-mile coast. In 1941 he became Professor of zoology at Aberystwyth and made pioneer studies of the coast of north America in 1947 , 1948 and 1952 . He was a fine lecturer and his study of design and colour in nature together with his own artistic talent is evident in his illustrations to his two volumes, The British sea anemones ( 1928 , 1935 ), and Seashore life and pattern ( 1944 ).

In 1922 he m. Anne Wood of Somerset and Barry who became a close collaborator in his research. He d. 3 Apr. 1961 .

Sources:

  • Who was who? ;
  • Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society , 8, 1962, 137-46;
  • see ibid. , 147-8 for a bibliography of his published papers.

Author:

Dr Mary Auronwy James, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001