Jean Clark and Katsuma Dan met when they were graduate students of the American physiologist, L.V. Heilbrunn. They studied with him at the University of Pennsylvania and spent their summers at the MBL. Katsuma Dan received his Ph.D. in 1934; Jean Clark received hers in 1936 after which they married and settled in Nagai, a five-mile bike ride to their laboratory in Misaki. They came from vastly different backgrounds: He was the son of a wealthy Japanese baron and she was from Presbyterian Yankee stock, but they shared a love for science, Woods Hole, and the MBL.

Katsuma Dan was one of Japan’s most influential and original biologists, a skillful administrator, and a scientific statesman. He was credited with original studies of marine organisms, their cell division, fertilization, early development, cell differentiation, and lunar-influenced spawning cycles. Katsuma Dan died in 1996 in Osaka, Japan, at the age of 91.

Jean Dan was the progenitor of an international effort to understand the interaction between the sperm and the egg; she discovered the acrosomal reaction that unites sperm to egg cell membrane. Her superb translations of Japanese biological works into English have been instrumental in the export of Japanese discovery to the West. Jean died in 1978, and her ashes were brought back from Japan and scattered on the water near Nobska Point.


Raymond Keller, University of Virginia – 2009
Thomas Lecuit, University of Marseille, France – 2010
Dr. Shinya Inoué, Marine Biological Laboratory -2011
George Q. Daley, M. D., HHMI/Children’s Hospital, Boston – 2012
Nicole King, University of California, Berkeley – 2013
Anthony Hyman, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology & Genetics – 2014
David Grunwald, University of Utah – 2015
Nicole King, University of California, Berkeley; HHMI – 2016
Ruth Lehmann, NYU Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine – 2017
Eric Wieschaus, Princeton University, – 2018

*Alternate years with the Physiology Course

Native Iowan Richard G. Kessel was long fascinated by the ocean, and devoted much of his career to the study of the diversity and development of marine organisms. After receiving his B.S. in Chemistry from Parsons College in 1953, he entered the University of Iowa as a graduate student in Zoology. While a student there, Dr. Kessel studied the fine structure and physiology of insect pericardial and subesophageal body cells. During his graduate training, an invertebrate zoology course stimulated his curiosity about marine organisms.

Dr. Kessel received his Ph.D. in 1959 and accepted a position in the anatomy department at Wake Forest Medical School. In 1961, he returned to the University of Iowa, where he moved through the ranks to Professor. In 1997, after 36 years of teaching, research, and service, Dr. Kessel retired from the University.

Dr. Kessel spent the summer of 1957 in Woods Hole, as a participant in the MBL’s Embryology course. He was a graduate student at the time, and the curriculum and seaside setting dovetailed with his flourishing interests in the ocean and marine organisms. He enjoyed the discussions and interactions that occurred in the course and published the results of his course project in the journal Experimental Cell Research.

Dr. Kessel published more than 120 research and review articles, and is the author of five books on subjects including histology; scanning electron microscopy; and specialized techniques related to cell, tissue, and organ microscopy.


Terry Magnuson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – 2009
Mark Martindale, University of Hawaii – 2010
Robert W. Zeller, San Diego State University – 2011
Bernard Degnan, Univ. of Queensland – 2012
Elaine Seaver, University of Florida, Whitney Marine Laboratory for Bioscience – 2013
Linda Holland, SIO, Univ. of California, San Diego – 2014
Maria Leptin, European Molecular Biology Organization/University of Cologne – 2015
Matthew Ronshaugen, University of Manchester, UK – 2016
Athula H. Wikramanayake, University of Miami – 2017
Billie J. Swalla, Friday Harbor Laboratories – 2018

The Nancy S. Rafferty Lectureship in Embryology has been established to recognize Dr. Rafferty’s long career in eye research. Dr. Rafferty was instrumental in elucidating the ultrastructural relationship between lens accommodation and actin filament arrays in mammals and amphibians.

Dr. Rafferty received her M.S and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois in 1953 and 1958, respectively, under the tutelage of Dr. S. Meryl Rose. Following her dissertation work, Dr. Rafferty completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Johns Hopkins University, where she subsequently served as assistant professor in the department of anatomy in the School of Medicine. In 1970, she and her husband Keen moved to the Chicago area, where she joined the department of anatomy at Northwestern University Medical School. She was promoted to professor in 1976.

During her career, Dr. Rafferty published 55 journal articles and 31 abstracts. She served on study sections of the National Institutes of Health and was a member of the Vision Advisory Research Committee. Dr. Rafferty traveled the world giving invited talks in Great Britain (Guy’s Hospital Medical School, Nottingham University, Oxford University and Edinburgh University), East Germany, Holland, Spain, Canada, Japan, Australia, San Francisco, Finland, and Sweden.

Dr. Rafferty first came to the MBL in 1955 as a student in the Embryology course. She returned periodically to conduct research at the MBL beginning in 1988. Upon retirement from Northwestern in 1994, she moved her laboratory to MBL where she was a Senior Scientist and a member of the Corporation.

Dr. Rafferty and her husband long felt a love for the MBL and Woods Hole. She would have been particularly pleased that a lectureship in embryology has been established in her name.


Sharon Amacher, University of California, Berkeley – 2009
Janet Rossant, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto/University of Toronto – 2010
Jon Henry, University of Illinois – 2011
Michael Shapiro, Univ. of Utah – 2012
Paul Trainor, Stowers Institute for Medical Research – 2013
Geraldine Elke Ober, The Danish Stem Cell Center, Univ. of Copenhagen – 2014
Geraldine Seydoux, Johns Hopkins Medical School/HHMI – 2015
Andrea Streit, King’s College, London – 2016
Tatjana Sauka-Spengler, University of Oxford – 2017
Rachel Smith-Bolton, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – 2018

The S. Meryl Rose Lectureship was established in honor of Dr. Rose’s distinguished career as a research scientist and his dedication to teaching. Dr. Rose conducted innovative zoological research with a major emphasis on the regeneration of limbs of amphibians. He received his M.A. from Amherst College in 1935 and his Ph.D. in Zoology from Columbia in 1940.

During his career, Dr. Rose held professorships at Smith College, the University of Illinois, and Wesleyan University. From 1961 until his retirement, he was professor of experimental embryology and University Professor of Biology at Tulane University Medical School. Dr. Rose mentored 23 Ph.D. candidates and one M.D., encouraging all to develop and defend ideas even when they differed from his own. He authored and co-authored more than 50 published research papers, a number written in collaboration with his wife, Florence Rose, his long-time research co-worker and critic.

Dr. Rose spent many summers in Woods Hole doing research at the MBL He was course director of the Marine Embryology course from 1950 to 1955 and served two terms as a member of the MBL’s Board of Trustees. Dr. Rose was an avid sailor who loved sailing his sloop, Mystic, in Vineyard Sound. He will long be remembered by his students, colleagues, and friends for his great wit, devotion to science, boundless imagination, and unending generosity.


Michael Levin,Tufts University – 2009
Nipam Patel, University of California, Berkeley – 2010
Clare Baker, Cambridge University, UK – 2011
Brigitte Galliot, Univ. of Geneva – 2012
Clare Baker, Univ. of Cambridge, UK – 2013
Marianne Bronner, California Institute of Technology – 2014
Tatjana Piotrowski, Stowers Institute for Medical Research/University of Utah – 2015
Ray Keller, University of Virginia – 2016
John Wallingford, University of Texas at Austin – 2017
Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, Stowers Institute for Medical Research; HHMI – 2018

Dr. John Saunders was a pioneer in the field of developmental biology. Dr. Saunders’ achievements have been nationally and internationally recognized and his studies provided the foundational concepts for current research in developmental biology. Dr. Saunders passed away peacefully on December 26, 2015 at the age of 96.

Dr. Saunders’ research on development of the vertebrate limb has driven our understanding of growth and patterning, and still frames the questions that remain. His studies of the apical ectodermal ridge (AER) helped identify the role of growth factors in the growth and patterning of the developing limb, and his identification and study of the zone of polarizing activity (ZPA) demonstrated how this regionally limited tissue spreads essential information across the limb to dictate different skeletal patterns. His early recognition of the role of cell death in developmental morphogenesis and how developmental fields set up intricate feather patterns are also part of his long legacy to scientific understanding. Dr. Saunders received many awards during his career, including President of the Society of Developmental Biology and the Edwin Grant Conklin Medal awardee in 1996 and the University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007. In 2006, Dr. Saunders was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Saunders was a summer investigator at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, from 1958 to 1972 and a lecturer in the Embryology Course during these early years and from 1995 to 2003, where he continued to inspire many young developmental biologists. In his honor, we have established the John Saunders Fund at the Marine Biological Laboratory.


Dr. Lee Niswander, University of Colorado Boulder – 2018