Trevor Kincaid

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Kincaid's concept of his function as a professor in a state university is a liberal one. He gives unstintedly of his time to all who seek information and help in biological matters, and his knowledge is so encyclopaedic, his judgment so sound, that he has an abundance of calls upon his acumen. The bathing beach in West Seattle goes foul--Kincaid discovers the remedy. The water filter at a paper mill gives out--Kincaid knows all about the fly larvae that are involved. Can dogs be operated on to enable them to talk! Isn't this butterfly collection worth a small fortune? Bugs in the pantry. And, I was about to add, bats in the belfry are all in the day's work to him. As a lecturer, finally, he is famed throughout the western portion of the state, and he frequently subjects himself to long drives and considerable inconvenience without a dime in recompense.

--From A History of Zoology at the University of Washingtonfootnote 1

"It is an interesting sight to watch the dredges as they come dripping upon the bow of the Munroe, all hung with seaweeds and kelp roots, and gleaming with the color of starfish...," wrote Bernice E. Newell at Camp Doris, Point Orchard, about an expedition of the Young Naturalists to dredge for marine specimens in Puget Sound on the vessel the W. F. Munroe. About Young Naturalist Kincaid, she recalls:

With each dredge come dozens of curious worm cases, and every one on board has learned that these are dainty tid bits set aside for Mr. Kincaid, whose voracity for worms is unequaled by any young robin that ever fell out of his nest trying to eat his share and that of all his brothers and sisters. Such an indefatigable worker as he is, and the smile of satisfaction that spreads over his face when a particularly creepy and detestable looking reptile is presented him is vivifying to behold.Footnote 2
Trevor Kincaid circa 1902 [Trevor Kincaid]

Trevor Kincaid received his Bachelor's degree from the UW in 1899 and his M.A. degree from Harvard in 1901. Shortly thereafter, the UW established individual departments for zoology and botany, and Kincaid joined the faculty as a professor of zoology.

[Trevor Kincaid engaged in field work]
  Trevor Kincaid, left, engaged in field work.

Over the years, Kincaid discovered many new species and played a key role in the development of local natural resources. A history of the UW zoology department prepared by Melville Hatch in 1936 lists some 47 plants and animals named after Kincaid.

Insects were Kincaid's early passion. "He served with such success as entomologist on the Harriman Alaska Expedition in 1899 that he was selected in 1908 and 1909 by L. O. Howard, chief of the Bureau of Entomology, to make trips to Japan and southwestern Russia for parasites of the gipsy-moth," writes Hatch. "The chalcid fly, Schedius kuvanae Howard, which was introduced from Japan as a result of Kincaid's investigation, has proven one of the most valuable parasitic enemies of the gipsy-moth so far established in America," he records.

The minutes of the Young Naturalists' Society of July 26, 1894, written by Society secretary Edmond S. Meany, record some of Kincaid's contributions:

He had discovered many new species including...one new species of Roncus and Ideoroncus (Pseudoscorpions). No representative of these genera has been found in America though they have been found in Chile...He found fifteen new species of Phalangidea (daddy-long-legs). One new genus was found and twelve new species of Thysanura including Japyx... Mr. Kincaid's species is the third...ever found in North America. The genus Japyx is distributed all over the world, but there are but twelve or fifteen species known. He had also found a number of new species of Tenthridinidae (saw flies). Another interesting species was a parasite that clings to the abdomen of a spider. It is named Zaglyptus Kincaidii in honor of Mr. Kincaid. A number of other new species had been named in his honor, showing a great amount of original work.footnote 1

After about 1911, Kincaid became interested in fresh-water plankton and oyster culture. In 1925, he began experimenting with the Japanese oyster. Kincaid "practically established the Japanese oyster industry at Willapa Harbor," notes Hatch.

  1. History of Zoology at the University of Washington, Melville Hatch, 1936.
  2. "Exploration in a Pioneer Land: The Young Naturalists' Society and the Birth of the Museum Idea in the Washington Territory," Keith R. Benson, Landmarks, 4, 28 (1985).

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