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.