Gordon Floyd Ferris

Name and Identifiers
Other/given name(s) : 
Gordon Floyd
Family name: 
Professional information

Essig museum biographyUsinger, R.L., 1959. Gordon Floyd Ferris 1893-1958. The Pan-Pacific Entomologist 35(1): 1-12.

Personal information
Birth Date: 
1893-01-01 to 1893-12-31
Date of Death: 
1958-01-01 to 1958-12-31

Professor of Entomology, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, U.S.A.

"Gordon Floyd Ferris (1893-1958) gave much to the entomological community in the field of"small insect"systematics. He suffered a lifelong compulsion he described thus:"..if an insect is too large to go on a slide I leave it for someone else, and if it is small enough to go on a slide I have an impulse to put it there."Thanks to this motivation, we now enjoy a much greater knowledge and appreciation for a wide variety of insects including scales, lice, parasitic flies and small blood-sucking Hemiptera.

Ferris grew up in the Midwest, eventually being offered an opportunity to attend college by the power company for which he worked. Having been impressed by a copy of Vernon Kellogg's American Insects during previous schooling, he asked to be sent to Stanford University, enrolling in the fall of 1912. Upon earning his M.A. in 1917, Ferris was appointed a teaching assistant in entomology at Stanford thus beginning his long time professional association with the Bay Area entomological community.

Ferris contributed not only a great deal to our systematic knowledge of the insects he studied but also to the practice of biological research itself. Among these contributions include a dedication to and promotion of high quality illustration. This skill is preserved in his journal Microentomology, which was founded in part due to the costs associated with reproducing illustrations by standard printing methods. He viewed illustration as of such importance that it often tended to displace text in his works. His approach to comparative morphology was also simple, though rigorous. He was a strong believer in the graduality and incremental nature of evolutionary change, and as such strove to identify homology of structure and to seek the interconnections among biological forms. He influenced many students at Stanford, as well as at Berkeley and other institutions. He was a dedicated member of the Pacific Coast Entomological Society and Bay Area Biosystematists. Above all, Gordon Ferris always possessed of a strong sense of social responsibility in his work. Combined with his technical competence and a desire to find truth, this produced a large volume of quality work and continues to produce inspiration." Essig Museum

Wiggins, I. L., 1958. Gordon F. Ferris. Microentomology 23(2) Memorial Number, Contribution No. 103:65-92

Associated images: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith