Shosaburo Watase, 1862-1929

Shosaburo Watase had been a zoology student of Mitsukuri (who followed Whitman as professor of zoology at the Imperial University and who founded the Misaki Marine Laboratory) at Tokyo. In 1886 Watase accepted a fellowship at Johns Hopkins to study with William Keith Brooks (also a Penikese alum) where he took his PhD in 1889. Among his fellow students there were T.H.Morgan and E.G. Conklin, who became stalwarts of the MBL staff.

Morse illustrations

The MBL faculty in 1895 including Whitman and Watase. Watase is fifth from the left in the second row. Whitman is fourth from the left in the front row. From the MBL Archive. Photo by Baldwin Coolidge

He then followed Whitman successively to Clark University in Massachusetts and to the University of Chicago to become an instructor of cellular biology. He spent most of his summers in Woods Hole from 1888- 1899, as a student and lecturer at the Marine Biological Laboratory. Whitman stated that “Watase is the broadest and soundest student of cellular biology in America,” even surpassing E. B. Wilson.

Watase was rare in his combination of physiological and morphological work, and of both plant and animal studies. “All advanced students in Cellular Biology, whether in Botany, Zoology, or Anatomy ought to study with Watase,” according to Whitman, speaking as head of the biology department in Chicago. Whitman also believed that Watase gave “honor to the University.” Watase returned to Japan in 1899, and in 1901 succeeded Mitsukuri (and thus Whitman and Morse) as Chair of Zoology at the Imperial University of Tokyo (now the University of Tokyo).