Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 136, Issue 3, pp 269–274 | Cite as

William E. Vidaver (1921–2017): an innovator, enthusiastic scientist, inspiring teacher and a wonderful friend

  • A. H. Jay Burr
  • Aaron Vidaver
  • Ulrich Schreiber
  • Doug Bruce
  • Danielle J. Donnelly


William (Bill) E. Vidaver (February 2, 1921–August 31, 2017), who did his Ph.D. with Laurence (Larry) R. Blinks at Stanford (1964) and a postdoc with C. Stacy French (1965), taught and did research at Simon Fraser University (SFU) for almost 30 years. Here he published over 80 papers in photosynthesis-related areas co-authored by his graduate students, postdocs, visiting professors and SFU colleagues. He developed a unique high-pressure cuvette for the study of oxygen exchange and studied high-pressure effects in photosynthesis. Ulrich (Uli) Schreiber, as a postdoctoral fellow from Germany, introduced measurements on chlorophyll (Chl) a fluorescence to Bill’s lab, leading to the discovery of reversible inhibition of excitation energy transfer between photosynthetic pigments and of a pivotal role of O2 in the oxidation of the electron transport chain between Photosystem II (PS II) and PS I. Bill’s and Uli’s work led to a patent of a portable chlorophyll fluorometer, the first available commercially, which was later modified to measure whole plantlets. The latter was used in pioneering measurement of the health of forest and crop plants undergoing in vitro clonal micropropagation. With several other researchers (including Doug Bruce, the late Radovan Popovic, and Sarah Swenson), he localized the quenching site of O2 and showed a dampening effect on measurements of the four-step process of O2 production by endogenous oxygen uptake. Bill is remembered as a hard-working but fun-loving person with a keen mind and strong sense of social justice.


O2 quenching Oxygen electrode Chlorophyll fluorescence induction Kautsky effect High hydrostatic pressure Brown algae Green algae In vitro clonal micropropagation of plants. 



We acknowledge previous tributes and obituaries of Bill Vidaver: One prepared for the Simon Fraser University Retirees Association by Jay Burr with the help of Aaron Vidaver—available at; and others in North Shore News (1 October 2017) and Vancouver Sun (30 September 2017). The authors appreciate editorial suggestions provided by Govindjee, the outgoing editor of “History and Biography” section of Photosynthesis Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. H. Jay Burr
    • 1
  • Aaron Vidaver
    • 2
  • Ulrich Schreiber
    • 3
  • Doug Bruce
    • 4
  • Danielle J. Donnelly
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  2. 2.Inspeximus Archival ServicesVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Julius-von-Sachs Institute of Biological SciencesUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada
  5. 5.Plant Science DepartmentMacdonald Campus, McGill UniversitySainte Anne de BellevueCanada

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