Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

VIMS Department/Program

Institute History (VIMS)

Publication Date



Since the 1930s, when William and Mary professor Donald Davis proposed hiring a state-funded biologist to address fisheries issues, Virginia marine scientists have diagnosed shellfish diseases, rejuvenated the oyster and clam fisheries, preserved wetlands and shorelines, restored seaside seagrass, and accurately modeled Chesapeake Bay circulation. This informal history looks back at the lives of the many dedicated marine scientists, advisory personnel, and administrators who led the Commonwealth through difficult times: collapse of the oyster industry, James River toxic pesticide pollution, Chesapeake Bay water quality degradation, crab and striped bass population declines, and the current challenges brought about by climate change and sea level rise. Davis' vision of separation of advisory services from research and education has been carried out at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, enabling the institute to provide unbiased scientific guidance and advice to government, citizens, and industry.


Virginia Institute of Marine Science History