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I was born just beyond the shadow of the old Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. Though my family soon moved to the (then) wilds of northern New Jersey, my career choice was largely guided by visits to the City’s American Museum of Natural History. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Biological Science at Rutgers University (1970), where I also ran track, hosted a classical music radio program, and shared duties at football games during my senior year as the Scarlet Knight. I earned both M.S. (1975, under Frederick M. Bayer) and Ph.D. (1979, under Harding Owre Michel) in Biological Oceanography at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. There, I accompanied several deep-sea dredging and coral reef research expeditions, including one that dredged the floor of the Puerto Rico Trench and led to my first research paper, a description of the deepest-dwelling Atlantic crustacean. A Smithsonian post-doctoral research fellowship with David Pawson followed (1980), and I have been at NSU's Oceanographic Center (now, the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography) since 1987.

My first submersible dive, aboard Alvin in 1975 to the floor of a deep-sea canyon in the Bahamas, led to my first public lecture—on deep-sea life—for the Bahamas National Trust. As a mere grad student, I got the gig only when two of my professors declined. When a few hundred people showed up, I subdued a rising panic only by noting that the fellow who was to introduce me was even more nervous. Somehow, speaking before an audience has never since seemed as difficult. I have since led 14 deep-sea submersible expeditions funded by NSF and NOAA, and led or participated in over 30 other research and educational expeditions as far afield as Papua New Guinea and Honduras. I have written or co-authored 69 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and have 50 years experience as a scientific illustrator, and 43 years as a scuba diver.

In addition to Nova Southeastern University, I am a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution and at Scripps Institute of Oceanography and have been a repeated Visiting Scientist at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris.

My research focuses on the ecology and evolution of living crinoids (sea lilies and feather stars) and on deep-sea coral reefs and rocky-bottom habitats. Additional work has included deep-water environmental surveys for proposed fiber optic cables, liquid natural gas pipelines, and hydrokinetic installations. I have developed and taught a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses, and I deliver presentations on life's diversity to audiences from pre-schoolers to retirees.  I have also produced identification guides to South Florida marine life (sponges, octocorals). My recent video credentials include WPBT-TV Miami's "Living Fossils" episode of their long-running program Changing Seas. I am a member of the Explorers Club, and wrote and performed "My Beard Toward Heaven, a Play of Michelangelo.” More at my NSU faculty profile page.

Charles G Messing boarding the submersible Alvin in the Tongue-of-the-Ocean, 1975

About to board DSV Alvin, 29 April 1975, at 24 40'N, 77 34.5'W, to a depth of 1862 m, with pilot Dudley Foster. Dr. Jon Staiger was already aboard.

Illustraton of Neotanais persephone

Neotanais persephone, collected from the floor of the Puerto Rico Trench in ~7,600-8,380 m. I described it as a new species in my first scientific publication and named it after Hades' wife, Persephone, because ocean depths greater than 6,000 m are referred to as the Hadal Zone (and hadalis was already taken). The paper came out in 1977 in the Bulletin of Marine Science vol. 27. This crustacean belongs to a group called Tanaidacea, which is related to isopods (pill bugs and allies).



Ph.D. (1979) Biological Oceanography, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL

M. S. (1975) Biological Oceanography, RSMAS, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL

B. A. (1970) Biological Science, Rutgers: The State University, New Brunswick, NJ

2019-present - Professor Emeritus,   Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Nova Southeastern University, Dania Beach, FL

2012 - present - Research Associate, Dept. Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Research Associate, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA

2000-2019 - Professor, Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Nova Southeastern University, Dania Beach, FL

1994-2000 - Adjunct Associate Professor, Dept. Geological Science, University of  Miami, Coral Gables, FL

1993-2000 - Associate Professor, NSU Oceanographic Center, Dania, FL

1990-1993 - Assistant Professor, Nova University Oceanographic Center, Dania, FL

1987-1993 Adjunct Assistant Professor, Dept. Geological Science, Univ. Miami, Coral Gables, FL

1987-1990 - Research Associate, Nova University Oceanographic Center, Dania, FL

1985-1988 - Independent Consultant: Invertebrate zoology and biological oceanography

1985 - Research Associate, Biology and Living Resources, RSMAS, Univ. Miami

1983-1984 - Acting Coordinator, Undergraduate Marine Sci. Program, Univ. Miami 

1980-1984 - Lecturer in Marine Science, Undergraduate Marine Sci. Program, Univ. Miami

1979-1980 -  Post-doctoral Fellow and Research Collaborator, Divison of  Echinoderms, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

1976-1978 - Graduate Teaching Assistant, RSMAS, University of Miami

1971 - Research Assistant, Div. Echinoderms, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

1970-1975  - Associate Curator, Invertebrate Museum, RSMAS, University of Miami

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