Eric Mills

Inglis Professor

Eric  Mills Eric  Mills

BSc(Carleton), MS, PhD(Yale)

Preferred Mailing Address:

Department of Oceanography
Dalhousie University
Halifax, NS, B3H 4J1

Eric Mills teaches topics in the history of Marine and Canadian Sciences in the History of Science and Technology Programme at King’s College. He is also Professor Emeritus in the Dalhousie Department of Oceanography where he has taught biological oceanography and benthic ecology since 1967. Dr. Mills completed his PhD in Biology at Yale in 1964 after receiving his BSc at Carleton and his MS at Yale. In 1994 he began teaching classes in history of science at Dalhousie. In 1999, Dr. Mills became a founding faculty member of the History of Science and Technology Programme at King’s College, of which he was one of the principal architects. In 1999, Dr. Mills was Stillman Drake Lecturer for the Canadian Society for History & Philosophy of Science, and he is the past President of the Commission of the History of Oceanography (a historical commission of the International Union of the History & Philosophy of Science) and editor of its newsletter, “History of Oceanography.”

Current Research Projects

Dr Mills is currently working on several projects dealing with the development of biological and physical oceanography.

Recent Publications

  • The fluid envelope of our planet: how the study of ocean currents became a science. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009.
  • “Creating a global ocean conveyor: George Deacon and The Hydrology of the Southern Ocean”. In Extremes: oceanography’s polar adventures, ed. K.R. Benson and H. Rozwadowski. Sagamore Beach, MA: Science History Publications, 2007, pp. 107-32.
  • “Mathematics in Neptune’s garden: making the physics of the sea quantitative, 1876-1900”. In The machine in Neptune’s garden: historical perspectives on technology and the marine environment, ed. D. Van Keuren and H. Rozwadowski. Sagamore Beach, MA: Science History Publications, 2004, pp. 39-63.
  • “Pacific waters and the P.O.G.: the origin of physical oceanography on the West Coast of Canada”. In Oceanographic history: the Pacific and beyond, ed. K.R. Benson and P.F. Rehbock. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002, pp. 303-15.
  • “‘Problem children of analytical chemistry’: elucidating the seasonal cycle of marine phytoplankton production through nutrient analysis”. In Understanding the oceans: a century of ocean exploration, ed. Margaret Deacon, A.L. Rice and C. Summerhayes. London: UCL Press, 2001, pp. 228-50.
  • “Oceanography”. In Reader’s guide to the history of science, ed. A. Hessenbruch. London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000, pp. 531-2.
  • Biological oceanography: an early history, 1870-1960. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989.
  • 100 years of oceanography: essays commemorating the visit of H.M.S. Challenger to Halifax, N.S., ed. E.L. Mills. Halifax: N.S. Museum and Dalhousie University, Special Publication, 1975.


History of the marine sciences, especially biological and physical oceanography, Nineteenth-Century British natural history, History of science in Canada.