In remembrance - EOAS Emeritus Professor Al Lewis

November 7, 2022
EOAS Emeritus Professor Al Lewis

It is with great sadness that we relay the passing of EOAS Professor Emeritus Dr. Al Lewis.

Growing up in California, Al worked on commercial fish boats during high school when he developed a curiosity about why organisms occur where they do and how they get there. He completed the B.Sc. in Zoology at the University of Miami and went on to complete an M.Sc. in Marine Science with Hilary Moore when he examined the roles of light and temperature in the vertical movement of copepod crustaceans. Al received his Ph.D. degree from the Department of Zoology at the University of Hawaii where he worked on a dissertation entitled “Parasitic Copepods of Acanthurid Fishes (Surgeon Fishes) of the Hawaiian Islands”. Al collected samples with his wife Carolyn by spearfishing, working with a Hawaiian trap fisherman and the curator of a small aquarium in Honolulu. He also completed collections of copepods from elasmobranchs (sharks, rays) and other teleost (bony) fishes in Hawaii and at Enewetak Atoll (Marshall Islands). In working on the life history of one species of copepod with free-living dispersal stages that must ultimately find a host to complete their life cycle, Al became interested in the factors that affect the dispersal (i.e., ocean currents) and subsequent settling of the copepod on its host.

After three years as Assistant Professor at the University of New Hampshire, Al was recruited to UBC by zooplankton biologist Brian Barry. They worked at the UBC Institute of Oceanography with oceanographers from different fields to study factors affecting the distribution of plankton. Twenty-five students worked on their master’s and doctoral theses with Al Lewis. After thirty-five years at UBC, Al retired in July 1999 from the Institute and Department of Oceanography and the Departments of Zoology and Earth and Ocean Sciences.

After his retirement, Al worked as an Emeritus Professor of Oceanography. His interests continue to reflect earlier work on understanding the interactions between oceans and plankton, especially how initial dispersal and survival, water properties, food conditions and predator numbers influence zooplankton. He was especially interested in the functional morphology of copepods, which provides information on the dynamics of copepod populations and their role in food webs when combined with distribution patterns. Al also continued to serve his research field in many ways, for example, by providing great insights into ecological research when he was interviewed in the Old Ways New Waves series by Beaty Biodiversity Museum (
University of British Columbia, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Alumni Newsletter, 1999-2000