Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monterey's famous Seaweed Lady has passed on.
Dr. Isabella "Izzie" Abbott, a trailblazing algae taxonomist who left an indelible mark on Monterey Bay's marine science community, died on Oct. 28 at the age of 91. Abbott is remembered as the world's top expert on central-Pacific algae who, in 1972, became the first female and first minority full professor at Stanford University's biology department. (She was Chinese-Hawaiian.)
"In the 1960s, she was known in the Monterey community as the 'Seaweed Lady' and is the author of Marine Algae of California," says Joe Wible, assistant to Hopkins director Steve Palumbi (who wrote about Abbott in his new book, The Death and Life of Monterey Bay).
Abbott was on the faculty at Hopkins Marine Station until her retirement in 1982. She then moved back to her native Hawaii, where she began a second career as an ethnobotany professor at the University of Hawaii.
"More than 200 algae owe their discovery and scientific names to Professor Abbott," reads a University of Hawaii announcement. "Several species have been named after her, along with an entire genus—Abbottella, which means 'little Abbott.'"