Griggs, Robert F. (Robert Fiske), b. 1881

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Biographical History

Robert Griggs was born August 22, 1881 in Brooklyn, Connecticut. While attending Columbus (Ohio) North High School in 1898 he began his life as a naturalist by conducting a study of Ohio willows. Working as an assistant to Dr. A. W. Kellerman, Griggs was introduced to a number of the country’s top botanists. He attended Ohio State University for two years before moving to Washington, D.C. and accepting an invitation to join the US Department of Agriculture. During his time with the Dept. he made trips to Costa Rica and Guatemala to conduct field work. Griggs completed his degree at Ohio State in 1903 and went to Fargo College, North Dakota, as Professor of Biology until 1905. While teaching, he found time to earn his Master's degree from the University of Minnesota in 1906. Griggs then returned to Ohio State as Assistant Professor of Botany. He then went on to receive his Ph.D. in 1911 from Harvard. In 1913, Griggs made his first of many trips to Alaska as part of an expedition organized by the University of Washington to study kelp beds. During this trip, he encountered volcanic ash from the Katmai volcanic eruption in Southern Alaska, and began to take interest in the effects of the ash on the surrounding land. In 1915, he led the first of six summer expeditions with the National Geographic Society to continue the volcanic study. Dr. Griggs spent 15 years at Ohio State, before returning to Washington to teach at George Washington University where he held a professorship from 1921-1947. Upon retiring from George Washington University in 1947, he became Professor of Biology at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1952 he left Pittsburgh, and the following year he took a position with the National Park Service, Colorado. Griggs died June 8, 1962 and his ashes were deposited atop Mt. Griggs, named in his honor, among the Katmai volcanic region.


Small, John A. (1963). Robert Fiske Griggs. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, 90(6), 413-416. Retrieved from

Related entities

  • George Washington University: He was a professor at George Washington University.
  • Ohio state university: He taught at Ohio State University.

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