Grace Pickford
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Grace Pickford

Grace Pickford (b. 1902, d. 1986) was born at Bournemouth, England, and educated at Cambridge University. A two-year fellowship in South Africa was followed by graduate work at Yale University, where in 1931 she received her doctorate degree for her dissertation on the oligochaete worms of South Africa. Also in 1931 she joined Yale’s Bingham Oceanographic Laboratory and held various research positions there for 40 years. She also taught at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven from 1934 to 1948, then devoted herself full time to research. In 1951 she participated in the deep sea Galathea expedition, one of her happiest experiences. In 1957 she resumed teaching, at Yale, and was made a full professor of biology in 1969. After her retirement in 1970 she spent 16 more years as Distinguished Scientist in Residence at Hiram College, publishing her final scientific paper in 1984. In 1981 she was awarded Yale’s Wilbur Cross Medal for “outstanding achievement” in professional life.

Pickford is best known for her experimental work on the physiology of fishes, for which she devised ingenious instruments and techniques. Her studies of octopods and vampyromorphs (an intermediate group between octopuses and squid) rank alongside A.E. Verrill’s earlier exhaustive descriptions of other cephalopod species.