Dr Harry Slack

Biography of Dr Harry Slack

Dr Harry Slack
Dr Harry Slack

Harry Slack (1907-1982) was born in Littleover, Derby. From a young age he was interested in the natural world and read for the University of London Special B.Sc. in Zoology at University College, Nottingham, from 1928-1930 before gaining a PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 1937.

Slack became an assistant lecturer at the University of Glasgow in the same year and embarked upon a lifelong study of Loch Lomond. In 1938 he introduced an undergraduate course on the limnology of the Loch based on research carried out by the Bathymetrical Survey.

Slack’s work was interrupted by the outbreak of war, during which he served in R.E.M.E as a Radar Officer from 1941-1945. He restarted his career soon after demobilisation in 1946. Thanks in part to Slack and his colleagues a Field Station consisting of two rather modest wooden huts was constructed in 1946 within the grounds of Rossdhu House. This became a base for the first major research into controlling biting midges in Scotland as well as for more general studies of the ecology of Loch Lomond.

Before the Rossdhu Field Station was built, scientific instruments had to be transported from the University by Slack and his students. Once the Station was completed, however, more substantial equipment could be stored there. Some of these instruments had been used on the mid-19th-century Challenger oceanography expedition. Other equipment was developed by Slack himself including a handmade temperature gauge to be used in the Loch. Slack’s practical skills were so highly regarded that he was invited by Professor Peter Maitland, expert in freshwater biology, to publish details of a self-designed sieve and garb. In 1967 a more substantial University research station was opened in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. Despite being larger and more permanent, it was still designed to have minimal impact on the surrounding environment. Harry Slack managed the Station, directed aquatic research and continued to teach students here.

Harry Slack’s major legacy was his teaching: even though the majority of his students did not specialise in freshwater biology, many considered his courses a highlight of their studies and those who did were encouraged in their research by Slack. Over many years he taught several hundred students on the shores of Loch Lomond, including Peter Maitland.

Harry Slack retired in 1972 to a cottage at the Yett of Ptarmigan on the shores of Loch Lomond with his wife, Flora where he spent ten happy years of retirement.


Dr Harry Slack
Born 1907.
Died 1982.
University Link: Lecturer
GU Degree:
Occupation categories: ecologists
Record last updated: 28th May 2014

University Connections

University Roles

  • Lecturer

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