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Hiroshi Ujiié

1899 - 1975

James C. Ingle, Jr.1 and Jere H. Lipps2

Hiroshi Ujiié, one of Japan’s foremost foraminiferal specialists and former Associate Editor of the Journal of Foraminiferal Research (1974–1984, 1993–2003), passed away on April 26, 2006 in Tokyo, Japan. He was best known for his studies of Recent and Neogene benthic and planktonic foraminifera from the western Pacific Ocean and foraminifera from Cenozoic marine sediments exposed on the Japanese islands. Prof. Ujiié published his first paper in 1956 with his last paper co-authored with his daughter Dr. Yurika Ujiié in 2006, consummating a remarkably productive half-century of foraminiferal research. Prof. Ujiié was a pioneer in the application of quantitative methods of faunal analysis and continually sought to demonstrate the power of statistical analysis in his studies. He relished applying his knowledge of foraminifera to address questions surrounding Earth history and he was equally adept at studying living foraminifera, analyzing biostratigraphic zonations, or interpreting the environment of Neogene benthic assemblages. He was an excellent geologist, stratigrapher and sedimentologist as well as a micropaleontologist. Prof. Ujiié was also an early advocate of applying quantitative analysis of planktonic foraminifera to understand ocean circulation and the spectrum of topics now subsumed under the discipline of paleoceanography.

Prof. Ujiié received the Doctor of Science from the Tokyo University of Education (now the University of Tsukuba) in 1960 based on his study of the Neogene Sagara-Kagegawa sedimentary basin in central Japan. This work was followed by a Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. He subsequently took a position as a Curator and Research Official at the National Science Museum in Tokyo in 1962 allowing full time devotion to his foraminiferal studies. Prof. Ujiié was appointed Chief Research Official at the National Museum in 1974 reflecting his accelerating international recognition and research agenda including work in the Philippine Sea, Borneo and California. His international efforts expanded to include work on Mesozoic foraminifera in Madagascar, and in 1973 he was invited to be foraminiferal specialist on Leg 31 of the Deep Sea Drilling Project in the Philippine Sea and Japan Sea. Prof. Ujiié continued to contribute to this latter international program in subsequent years including its transformation to the Ocean Drilling Program. In 1974, his foraminiferal research gained special recognition when he received the Paleontological Society of Japan Award. He accepted a position as Professor on the Faculty of Science at the University of the Ryukyus on Okinawa Island in 1978 and later became Chairman of the Department of Marine Science. Prof. Ujiié trained many students, an activity he valued highly. He was especially fond of working with undergraduates, for he saw them as the future. His graduate students were well educated in foraminifera and most went on to serve science and education well. He organized research cruises every year to give his students practical experience in oceanographic and marine geologic work. He retired in 1997 as Professor Emeritus—but his publication record demonstrates that retirement simply meant more time for research. Solo and cooperative research endeavors yielded papers on subjects as diverse as turbidites from the Ryukyu Trench, the application of carbon/nitrogen ratios as paleoclimate proxies, and foraminiferal analysis of IMAGES cores to hindcast circulation of surface and intermediate waters of the western Pacific over the past 250,000 years.

Prof. Ujiié’s wide research background and experience in aspects of marine geology, marine stratigraphy and paleoceanography brought an increasing number of assignments to national and international boards and agencies as his career evolved. He served as a Board Member on the Council for Science and Technology in the Ministry of Education of Japan (1973–1977, 1989–1991), the Divisions of Paleontology (1975–1976) and Oceanography (1981– 1985, 1994–1997) of the Science Council of Japan, Council of the Ocean Research Institute of the University of Tokyo (1990–1991), Division of Sedimentology of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (1993–1994), and the international Ocean Drilling Program (1994–1997). Prof. Ujiié’s professional service also included the Chairmanship of the Division of Marine Geology of the Geological Society of Japan and Board Member of the Paleontological Society of Japan.

In 1996, the Geological Society of Japan recognized Prof. Ujiié’s many professional contributions with a special achievement award for “Foraminiferal Research and its Application to Geological and Paleoceanographic Research”. His many papers form an enduring legacy. Prof. Ujiié’s inspiration and encouragement of younger workers and his enthusiastic support and contributions to international paleoceanographic and marine geologic research will be missed.

Prof. Ujiié is greatly missed by his wife Toshiko Ujiié, his daughter Dr. Yurika Ujiié, a micropaleontologist, and his son Dr. Kohtaro Ujiié, a structural geologist. Our special thanks to Dr. Yurika Ujiié for providing us with information on Prof. Ujiié’s career and life.

1 Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University Stanford, California 94305
2 Department of Integrative Biology and Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720


Reproduced From: Journal of Foraminiferal Research, v. 36, no. 4, p. 394-395, October 2006
Memorial to Ujiié (pdf version)





















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