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Western Fisheries Science News, July 2017 | Issue 5.7

In Memoriam - Dr. William "Dave" Woodson, 1956-2017

Dr. William "Dave" Woodson, 1956-2017. Photo courtesy of Kate Woodson.

Dr. William “Dave” Woodson, passed away on July 1, 2017.  Dave loved the great outdoors, often spending weekends and vacations hiking.  On June 30, 2017 he set out to hike in the Olympic National Park - sadly his last trip. A tragic accident took his life, leaving his family without a father, and the USGS without an exceptional scientist and leader.

Dave lived by the words of John Muir, “the mountains are calling and I must go.”

Dave was the Deputy Director of the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center (WFRC) for 14 years.  His career in government started with the Air Force as a corpsman— an enlisted member of a military medical unit— in England in the late 70’s. While serving in the military Dave met and married Elizabeth and convinced her to move to College Station, Texas where he would pursue his interest in in entomology.  Dave obtained his Bachelor’s degree (1984) and a Master’s degree (1986) in entomology from Texas A&M University.  “My parents spent weekends collecting bugs and going on road trips with friends late at night to places like Corpus Christi and Galveston,” said Dave’s daughter Kathryn (Kate) Woodson. In 1990, Dave earned his Ph.D. in entomology from Oklahoma State University.

Dave’s interest in insects came from mentoring provided by his neighbor, Mrs. Couch, at the age of 5.  Mrs. Couch would often help Dave with his insect collections.

In 1990, Dave went to work for the USDA-ARS, Northern Grain Insects Research Laboratory where he investigated the biology and ecology of corn and small grain pests to improve integrated pest management.  He worked with growers, consultants and researchers to develop decision support systems and geographic information systems (GIS) for pest management in corn and small grains grown in the Northern Great Plains. 

In 1998, Dave, Elizabeth, their two daughters Kate and Robin and son Ian, moved to New Orleans.  Dave worked at the USDA-ARS, Southern Regional Research Center as a Supervisory Research Entomologist managing the Formosan subterranean termite area-wide control project in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  He investigated the biology and ecology of Formosan subterranean termites in the Gulf coastal region and developed models to predict and explain their dispersion.

During his career Dave authored 52 peer-reviewed publications. The topic in all but one publication – insects!

Dr. Woodson’s dream was to move to the Pacific Northwest, and in 2001 that dream was fulfilled.  He moved his family to Kingston, Washington, and took a position as Staff Biologist with the USGS Office of the Regional Biologist, Western Regional Office. Dave coordinated activities among the Science Centers, Cooperative Research Units, and various USGS cooperators and clients in the Western Region. He was involved in early efforts of the USGS to promote integrated science. In 2003 Dave received an award for his achievements with the USGS Coastal Habitats in Puget Sound (CHIPS) team, an integrated science project with the goal to provide scientific support for ecosystem recovery activities in Puget Sound.

In 2004, Dave accepted the position of the WFRC’s Deputy Center Director. In addition to his day-to-day leadership, which included, program and operations guidance, responses to information needs communicated by partner bureaus, service as the Institutional Officer for the Center’s Animal Care and Use Committee, and supervising senior research scientists, Dave served as a mentor to Center staff and emeritus scientists. A multitasker, Dave also took on the role of Chief of the Ecology Section for a time, reflecting his enthusiasm for ecosystems science and societal impacts. Dave received numerous excellence awards during his career and in 2005 he received the Western Region Innovation in Integrated Science Award.

Dave loved the Pacific Northwest and explored much of it with his children. He and his son put in thousands of miles hiking and camping in the Olympics and beyond.  Kate told this story— one of her brother’s most memorable hikes was in the summer of 2006.  They trekked to the low divide ranger station and looped back on the skyline trail.  While going to Kimta Peak, they noticed the trail was progressively becoming worse.  At one point there was about 3 to 4 feet where there wasn’t a trail but 300 yard drop.  Ian was the first one to cross.  While in the middle of his crossing, holding on to the mountain side for dear life, dad said, “Hey Ian hold still let me take a photo.”

Colleagues and staff of the WFRC are saddened by the death of Dr. Dave Woodson. Dave was both a mentor, and friend, and we feel his loss deeply. He is survived by, Elizabeth, his wife of 37 years, three children, Kathryn (Kate), Robin, and Ian; son-in-law Johan Kim, and grandchildren Jake and Charlotte.

Newsletter Author - Debra Becker



USGS Study Evaluates the Whooshh Fish Transport System at Cle Elum Dam: Biologists at the WFRC recently initiated a study to evaluate the behavior and survival of adult sockeye salmon following passage through the Whooshh fish transport system at Cle Elum Dam, WA.  The WFTS that is being evaluated is 1,700 feet long, and passes adult sockeye salmon from the tailrace to the forebay of Cle Elum Dam.  Previous studies have evaluated the WFTS in controlled settings, this evaluation is the first study to actually assess the performance of the system in a “real-world” setting, at a high-head dam.  A total of 300 adult sockeye salmon will be radio-tagged and released during July-September 2017 and fish will be monitored until spawning is complete, in November 2017.

USGS at Salmon Disease Workshop: On July 26, scientist emeritus Diane Elliott will be presenting a lecture on bacterial kidney disease at the biennial Salmon Disease Workshop organized by the Oregon State University Department of Microbiology and held on the university campus. The 2-week workshop is designed for professionals working in the fish health field and emphasizes recent developments in our understanding of salmonid diseases.