Serge I. Doroshov

Serge I. Doroshov
Serge I. Doroshov

1937 - 2020

Dr. Serge I. Doroshov was born in western Siberia, Russia in 1937. He lost his father and mother at a very young age. His mother passed away from illness, and his father, like so many at the time, fell victim to the Stalin regime. In 1943, he moved to Moscow with his older sister to find shelter with their relatives. Overcoming the challenges he faced, Dr. Doroshov excelled academically. He received his B.S. and M.S degrees in 1959 in Zoology from the University of Moscow and his Ph.D. in Biology from the Institute of Oceanology, Academy of Science, Moscow in 1967. Dr. Doroshov’s commitment to the evolution and innovation of aquaculture has left an everlasting mark on the industry and scientific community.

In 1968, Dr. Doroshov became director of ZNIRO (now the Russian Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography), Laboratory of Marine Aquaculture. While at ZNIRO, he worked with black sea urchin, White Sea cod, polar flounder, and striped bass which he imported into the Soviet Union in collaboration with US aquaculturists. He also supervised research programs on hybrid sturgeon development and salmonid and oyster culture.

In 1975, Dr. Doroshov began work as an Aquaculture Expert for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Even though he was not a member of the Communist Party, Dr. Doroshov was allowed to travel to many countries, including Japan, France, Britain, and Canada. While working in Cuba on marine fish breeding, Dr. Doroshov and his family (wife Julia, son Paul, and daughter Tanya) decided not to return to the USSR. He sought freedom and the right to choose for them all. In particular, he sought scientific freedom for himself. They travelled to Seattle, Washington, and he became a Visiting Professor and taught an aquaculture course at the School of Fisheries, University of Washington in 1977. Dr. Doroshov accepted a faculty position in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis (UCD) in 1978. He taught upper division courses in aquatic animal reproductive physiology and fish production. These two classes were the mainstay for the many aquaculture undergraduate and graduate students he mentored throughout his career.

At UCD, Dr. Doroshov initially studied larval swim bladder physiology of striped bass and tilapia and the reproductive biology of trout. He developed techniques and protocols for induced spawning of channel catfish and channel catfish x blue catfish hybrids. He assisted in the development of spawning protocols and hatchery production of wild striped bass, which led to a long-term program for the annual production of several million yearling striped bass.

Dr. Doroshov is most well-known as the “father of sturgeon aquaculture” in North America. In 1979 with funding from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, he began his work with reproductive physiology and broodstock development of white sturgeon. In 1980, the first spawning of wild white sturgeon broodstock occurred at UCD, and the very next year, the first spawning of wild broodstock by commercial farms in California took place. In 1987, the UCD/Industry Broodstock Development Committee was formed, and the Hatchery Manual for White Sturgeon was published in 1988.

In 1992, Dr. Doroshov received the first year of 22 continuous years of research support from the Western Regional Aquaculture Center (WRAC)/United States Department of Agriculture. He was granted six white sturgeon projects which were instrumental in the development of commercial sturgeon aquaculture worldwide. In 1994, the industry achieved their independence from wild broodstock, and caviar production in the US began. Subsequent research focused on the long-term management of domestic broodstock, efficient caviar production, and improvements to caviar quality. During this time, his research program also expanded to include the development of reproductive and hatchery techniques for threatened green sturgeon and the endangered Delta smelt.

Dr. Doroshov was Director of the Aquaculture and Fisheries Program at UC Davis from 1995 to 1998. He is one of the founding members of the World Sturgeon Conservation Society and North American Sturgeon and Paddlefish Society. He co-chaired the 4th International Symposium on Sturgeons which was held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 2001.

During his career, Dr. Doroshov received several prestigious awards. In 1998, he received the California Aquaculture Association Distinguished Service Award, and in 2000, he received the Honorary Lifetime Membership Award by the World Aquaculture Association. Dr. Doroshov authored over 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers and books.

Dr. Doroshov retired in 2014, after 35 years as a professor in the Department of Animal Science at UCD. He mentored hundreds of students, many of whom continue in aquaculture and academic careers. His accomplishments have influenced and inspired countless scientists and students.

In 2018, Dr. Doroshov travelled with his children to Las Vegas to receive the National Aquaculture Association Joseph P. McCraren Award for Lifetime Contributions to the Aquaculture Industry. When Paul Doroshov, his son, recalled his father’s speech upon receiving the award, he described Dr. Doroshov deferring credit for his scientific achievements over his lifetime to his colleagues. For those of us who worked with Dr. Doroshov, we know we were along for the ride.

Dr. Doroshov taught all of us courage, compassion, respect, and humility. He pushed people to be their best and valued our intelligence. He was generous, gracious, warm, and witty. His zest for life has enriched the lives of so many of us.

Dr. Doroshov passed away peacefully on September 26, 2020 with his children by his side. He will be missed beyond measure by his family, his friends, his colleagues, and his students. His contributions to science are timeless.

Dr. Serge Doroshov with his students attending the 4th International Symposium on Sturgeons in Oshkosh,

Dr. Serge Doroshov with his students attending the 4th International Symposium on Sturgeons in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 2001. From left to right: Javier Linares-Casenave, 1993 MS, 2000 Ph.D.; Frank Chapman, 1989 MS; Kevin Kroll, 1990 MS; Dr. Doroshov, Joel Van Eenennaam, 1984 MS; Molly Webb, 1994 MS; 1999 Ph.D.; Ken Beer, 1980 MS.

Contributers: Joel Van Eenennaam, Ken Beer, Paul Doroshov, Graham Young, Leo Ray, Jim Parsons, and Molly Webb.