Foundation Thirty Nine celebrates the legacy of the first 39 students of what was to become the University of Hull. The idea acknowledges the legacy that the original cohort created for today’s students and the foundations that the current generation is building for the future.
Cyril Edward Lucas was in the first intake of students at Hull’s new University College in 1928. Like many of those pioneering students, Cyril Lucas was from Hull; born in the city in 1909 and educated at Hull Grammar School. Cyril was a keen member of the Hull University College Players, the original Drama Society. He graduated in 1931 with a BSC in Zoology. A year later he returned for the first reunion of Old Students of the College, organised by the original alumni association.
Cyril began his research career at Hull, working with Alister Hardy, the Professor of Zoology and Oceanography, on ground-breaking plankton research. Plankton, tiny creatures which drift in the currents of the sea, can “bloom” and multiply to form dense concentrations which, spread over large areas, support all the life of the sea from the smallest fish to the great whales. Hardy, Lucas and other colleagues recognised the importance of plankton in oceanic productivity and helped to devise the continuous plankton recorder, a torpedo-shaped device which could be lowered into the sea to monitor plankton distribution.
Cyril went on to become a leading marine biologist as Director of the Scottish Home Department Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen for 22 years, and Director of Fisheries Research, Scotland (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland). In those roles he became an authority on fisheries management. He served as Chairman, Advisory Committee on Marine Resources Research, Food and Agriculture Organisation (1966-1971).
Cyril was awarded an Honorary DSc by the University in 1975 and knighted in 1976 for his outstanding contribution to international fisheries. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He died in Aberdeen in 2002. His wife Sallie Rose pre-deceased him in 1974, and they had two sons and one daughter.
Sir Cyril Lucas (second from the left) at his Honorary Degree Ceremony in 1975.