Stanford University Names a Lecture Hall After Its First Woman Professor in the Biological Sciences

Stanford University is naming a lecture hall at its Hopkins Marine Station to honor Isabella Ainoa Abbott. Dr. Abbott was the university’s first Native Hawaiian faculty member and first female full professor in the biological sciences.

Hopkins Marine Station is located on the Monterey Bay in Pacific Grove, about 90 miles from Stanford’s main campus. Opened in 1892, Hopkins is the oldest marine laboratory on the West Coast and third oldest in the United States.

Dr. Abbott, whose mother was Native Hawaiian and father was of Chinese descent, was born on Maui, and earned a Ph.D. in 1950 a the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Abbott’s Stanford career began in 1960 when she was hired as a lecturer in biology and taught summer courses at Hopkins. In the early 1970s, she became the first female full professor of biological sciences in Stanford’s history, thanks in part to her contributions to the knowledge of marine algae. She came to be regarded as the foremost authority on the algae of the Pacific Ocean basin, and particularly the California coast and was known for rediscovering and documenting ancient uses of newly named seaweeds.

In her time at Hopkins, Abbott wrote hundreds of scholarly articles and authored to co-authored many books, including Marine Algae of California (Stanford University Press, 1976), which contains comprehensive descriptions of the marine algae of the eastern Pacific. After a 22-year career at Stanford, she returned to Hawaii in 1982 and continued to teach and conduct research on marine algae at the University of Hawaii.


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