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Tribute to Bill Riedel from Annika Sanfilippo-Howard

In 1962 I arrived at UC Berkeley from Sweden as a pre-medical student, spent my first Christmas abroad with a room-mate and her family in La Jolla and fell in love with Scripps Institution of Oceanography. I acquired a job at SIO and worked as a technician in Marine Biology for 3 years. Having learned how to operate an electron microscope was an advantage when I applied for a job in the Geology department, and had the good fortune to be hired by Bill Riedel to start up a research project on microfossils that were so small that they required the use of an electron microscope to be studied. Bill, my mentor, encouraged me to pursue research on radiolarians. We worked closely together for more than 30 years at sea and on land, publishing research papers. Bill urged me to complete my degree, and inspired me to dig deeper into things that interested me. While working I returned to university studies, and in 1987 I received my Ph.D. in historical geology from the University of Stockholm.

Curiosity and discovery go hand in hand, especially when it comes to science. Bill introduced me to micropaleontology, taught me a lot about geology, doing research and writing scientific papers. We travelled to many different countries attending meetings or going on fieldtrips to collect material. Bill was a great boss, generous, understanding and fair. Whether in the lab or deep in the field it takes a profound sense of wonder and spirit of adventure to methodically seek answers to our vast and mysterious world. Bill’s work on Cenozoic radiolarian stratigraphy and evolution was based first on sediment cores collected on oceanographic expeditions, supplemented by land-based sequences and later on materials collected by DSDP and ODP.

During his career Bill sailed on pioneering expeditions and traversed far-flung locations pursuing Radiolaria. He set up a system for classifying and naming them, followed their evolutionary lineages in sediment cores and formulated a geochronology useful for geologic dating. His analyses of radiolarians in sediments moving away from the East Pacific Rise was cited as one proof of seafloor spreading during the early 1960.

Bill was a brilliant scientist, a very positive and insightful person. He taught us many valuable lessons like attention to detail and perfection. He will be missed by his family, friends and colleagues who have enjoyed his friendship and benefitted from his guidance.

I like the idea suggested by colleagues to dedicate the next INTERRAD meeting to Bill.

Annika Sanfilippo-Howard
Specialist (Retired)
University of California San Diego
Geological Research Division


Photo of Annika and Bill from 1976