Darling Marine Center researcher awarded tenure

Dr. Jeremy Rich, a University of Maine professor based at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, was recently promoted to Associate Professor and awarded tenure. Rich lives in Newcastle and is an environmental microbiologist in UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences.

Rich was one of 29 faculty members from the University of Maine to receive tenure or promotion this year. The faculty members were nominated by UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy based on a peer and administrative review of their successful teaching, research and public service, and approved by the University of Maine System Board of Trustees.

Rich joined the University of Maine as a faculty member in 2015, after holding a faculty position at Brown University in Rhode Island. This was a homecoming for Rich who was a graduate student studying microbiology at the DMC in the late 1990s.

He is one of the lead investigators on the Maine-eDNA project, a National Science Foundation funded project co-led by UMaine and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. As a microbiologist, Rich is investigating the role that bottom dwelling microorganisms play in the nutrient cycles of the Damariscotta River estuary and other marine environments.

“Microbes are critically important to marine food webs. We still know fairly little about the diversity of ways that they make a living. This makes it difficult to predict how they will respond to changing environmental conditions.” Rich noted, “I can’t imagine a better place to be unraveling these biological puzzles than the Darling Marine Center.”

“Through the Maine eDNA project, my students and I are able to share our knowledge with scientists statewide,” Rich observed. “We are tackling some of the biggest challenges facing coastal communities – how to sustain marine fisheries and farmed seafood and how to tackle public health challenges similar to the one last week, with the detection of cyanobacteria in Damariscotta Lake.”

While Rich and his students have primarily conducted fieldwork along the coast since his return to Maine, his scientific interests extend well offshore. In collaboration with scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, he has investigated the role of nutrient cycling bacteria in hydrothermal vent ecosystems off the Pacific coast of Mexico, with NSF support. Earlier oceanographic expeditions took him to deep water environments in the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans.

Rich has shared his experiences with local audiences through the DMC summer seminar series and presentations to local schools. He is proud of how he has been able to integrate his research with teaching and mentoring students. He looks forward to many more years of pushing the bounds of scientific knowledge while mentoring the next generation of scientists through courses and internships at the DMC.