Dr. David Pawson is an expert on echinoderms—sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and sea stars. He grew up in Napier, a city on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, where early on he developed an interest in marine life. He attended Victoria University in Wellington, which had a strong program in marine biology at that time, and stayed to pursue doctoral research under H. Barraclough Fell, an authority on sea urchins and starfish. Pawson came to the United States at the same time as his mentor. When Professor Fell was invited by Harvard University to join their faculty, he recommended Pawson to the Smithsonian Institution, which was then seeking a scientist specializing in invertebrate zoology. Dr. Pawson joined the staff of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) as Associate Curator and Supervisor of Echinoderms in 1964—an exciting time of growth at the Smithsonian.
Watch his interview below and then read the rest of his story.