T. Wayland Vaughan (1870-1952), geologist and oceanographer, was educated at Tulane University, B.S., 1889; and Harvard University, A.B., 1893, A.M., 1894, and Ph.D., 1903. He began collecting fossils when he was an Instructor at Mount Lebanon College, Tennessee, from 1889 to 1892. From 1894 to 1903, he was an Assistant Geologist with the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Between 1901 and 1923, Vaughan participated in several geological investigations of the West Indies and Puerto Rico which were sponsored by the USGS, the Smithsonian Institution, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and the United States Navy. The USGS and the Carnegie Institution also helped to finance his investigations of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states in cooperation with several state geological surveys and his investigations of the corals and coral reefs of the Bahamas. In 1924, Vaughan became Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a position which he held until his retirement in 1936. In addition, he was an Associate in Marine Sediments, 1924-1942, and Associate in Paleontology, 1942-1952, at the United States National Museum.
Vaughan's research focused on three areas of science: the study of corals and coral reefs; the investigation of larger foraminifera; and oceanography. He was an authority on the corals of the United States, eastern Mexico, the West Indies, and Panama. As an oceanographer, Vaughan was interested in sedimentology and physical and chemical oceanography. With his work on oceanography, Vaughan served as Chairman, 1919 to 1923, of the Committee on Sedimentation of the National Research Council's Division of Geology and Geography; Chairman, 1926 to 1935, of the Pacific Science Association's International Committee on the Oceanography of the Pacific; and member of the National Academy of Science's Committee on Oceanography. This last committee was largely responsible for the founding of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Vaughan held membership in numerous scientific and professional societies. In 1897 he was a delegate to the International Geological Congress in Russia, and between 1920 and 1936 he served as a delegate from the United States to six Pan-Pacific Science Congresses.