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Silva, Paul C. (1922-2014) | University and Jepson Herbaria Archives, University of California, Berkeley

Name: Silva, Paul C. (1922-2014)
Fuller Form: Silva, Paul Claude

Historical Note:

Paul Claude Silva, world renowned marine biologist, was born on October 31, 1922 in San Diego, California. Silva was an expert on the seaweed genus Codium and the creator of the Index Nominum Algarum. He grew up in San Diego and became interested in botany and natural history at a young age.  He received his undergraduate degree from the University of South California in 1946. He served in the U. S. Navy on the U.S.S. Darby during World War II. After the war he received his M.S. from Stanford University in 1948; he studied the seaweeds of the California Big Sur coast with Gilbert Morgan Smith. He then received his Ph.D. in Botany from UC Berkeley in 1951, where he studied the genus Codium with George F. Papenfuss. At Berkeley, he met his life partner, Lawrence Heckard, a fellow student in the Botany Department. Silva taught at the University of Illinois until 1960 when he returned to UC Berkeley as a research botanist and curator of Algae at the University Herbarium.  At Berkeley he developed a research program dedicated to phycology and botanical nomenclature. He participated in expeditions to the Galapagos Islands, the Gulf of California, and the California Channel Islands and collaborated with phycologists around the world.

He was a founding member of the International Phycological Society and served as the editor of Phycologia from its inception until 1968. He was the author of more than 90 research papers.  He developed the Index Nominum Algarum, the only comprehensive index of scientific names of algae, both living and fossil, at all ranks.

He passed away in Berkeley, California, on June 12, 2014. Prior to his death he left a generous bequest to fund the Silva Center for Phycological Documentation at the University Herbarium, UC Berkeley. The center continues his life’s work on the systematics of algae.

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