Homer Scott Swingle
Homer Scott Swingle was born July 29, 1902, in Columbus, Ohio. He received his B.S. degree in agriculture from The Ohio State University (OSU) in 1924 and his M.S. degree in entomology from OSU in 1925. He became an assistant entomologist with the U.S. Bureau of Entomology in Fort Valley, Georgia, in 1925 and served there until 1929, where he joined the faculty of Auburn University (then the Alabama Polytechnic Institute) as an assistant entomologist.
An avid fisherman, Swingle arrived in the South to find that pond fishing was not up to par in Alabama despite the state’s rich water resources. In the early 1930s, Swingle and his colleague, Dr. E.V. Smith, recognized the potential of water impoundment on farms both as a means of storing water and for the production of food and for recreation for farm families. The two men became the first people in the world to apply controlled or laboratory-type experiments at the field level to the study of aquatic biology.
In 1934, Swingle became an associate fish culturist with the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station (AAES) at Auburn and was given charge of the AAES’s fisheries research program. Under his leadership, the research program evolved into one of the largest warm-water fishieries research stations in the world.
Swingle’s research resulted in innovations and advances in every facet of farm ponds, and his work is still used today throughout the world. He developed solutions to problems concerning pond construction, fertilization, chemical and biological weed control, fish population dynamics, fish populations of rivers and large impoundments, fish feeds and feeding, production of bait fish and screening of new species of fishes for use in ponds and methods for their culture and management. Swingle’s work led directly to the development of the catfish farming industry.
Swingle was promoted to fish culturist and professor in 1939. As a result of his efforts to institute a fisheries teaching program at Auburn, the first graduate and undergraduate courses in fisheries management were offered at Auburn in 1946. And, Swingle spread his knowledge across the world by bringing foreign students to Auburn to study and by traveling himself to many countries to share his expertise.
In 1958, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of science degree from OSU. In 1967, recognition of Swingle’s work lead the U.S. Agency for International Development to choose Auburn as its primary source of expertise and assistance in promoting the use of aquaculture in developing countries worldwide. In 1968, he became alumni research professor at Auburn and, in 1970, Swingle was named head of Auburn’s Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures and director of the International Center for Aquaculture. He continued to serve the fisheries industry and Auburn University until his death in May 1973.