Richard G. Kessel Lecture

kessel-headshotNative 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