Ambrose Jearld Jr.

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Ambrose Jearld Jr.
Dr. Jearld.jpg
Alma materUniversity of Maryland Eastern Shore
Oklahoma State
AwardsFellow of American Fisheries Society
Annual Ambrose Jearld Jr. lectureship at Woods Hole Diversity Initiative
Scientific career
FieldsMarine Biology
ThesisEthological Study of the Honey Gourami, Colisa Chuna, and Its Congeners (1975)
Academic advisorsRudy Miller

Ambrose Jearld Jr. started his career as one of the first black fisheries biologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and spent his nearly 40-year career as a marine biologist at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.[1] The lecture series named after him in Woods Hole reflects his career-long commitment to increasing diversity in environmental and fisheries sciences.

Early life and education[edit]

Ambrose Jearld Jr. grew up on a family farm in Orrum, North Carolina and became interested in science during high school.  He credits his Biology teacher as well as the boy scouts for engaging his interests in science.[2]

small golden in a tank with plants
Honey Gourami studied by Ambrose Jearld Jr. for his dissertation at Oklahoma State University–Stillwater

In 1965, Jearld earned a BS from what is now called the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, with a major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry.[2] In 1969, he was drafted into the army during the Vietnam war and was posted in Maryland at a Medical Research Laboratory where he was able to conduct biological research. During this time in the military, Jerald also work on his MS research on Channel catfish, earning his degree in 1970 from Oklahoma State University–Stillwater. After completing his military service, Jearld started his PhD studies at Oklahoma State University–Stillwater working with his advisor, Rudy Miller. His zoology dissertation research on the sexual behavior of the Honey gourami earned him his PhD in 1975.[3]

Career and Research[edit]

After earning his PhD Jearld worked as an Assistant Professor of Biology at Lincoln University (Pennsylvania) until 1977 when he took an Assistant Professor position at Howard University.[3]

Jearld worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Northeast Fisheries Science Center from 1978 until his retirement in 2016. At the time of his hiring, Jearld was the first black researcher with a doctorate degree at NEFSC.[1]  He joined a group that was tasked with acquiring biological information to assess the populations and stocks of important fishery resources.[4]  The group collected data on a wide range of metrics including age, which has resulted a robust and well-known data set of age composition for many fish and shellfish species.[4] Jearld contributed to several studies on techniques for age determination including optical Fourier transform analysis of fish scales and definition of growth lines from microstructure of  ocean quahog shells.[4] He also authored the chapter on Age Determination in Fishery Techniques, an oft cited reference for fisheries scientists.

In 1985, Jearld became chief of the Research Planning and Evaluation Section, and in 1997 became chief of the Research Planning and Coordination. in 2004, he became the Director of Academic Programs, the position he eventually retired from in 2016.[5]

In his role as a biologist and administrator, Jearld has provided NOAA with leadership on national and international affairs in South Africa. He was appointed to the US - South African Bi-Lateral Commission's Working Group on Fisheries and he worked with Sea Fisheries, South Africa, on development and implementation of a strategic plan, organizational restructuring, mandates for corrective actions dealing with human resources, and outreach and engagement with Tertiary Higher Education Institutions in South Africa. He has been intricately involved in NOAA science and technical support for six West African countries around the Gulf of Guinea.[6]

Diversity Initiatives[edit]

During his career, Ambrose Jearld Jr. has led an array of efforts to increase diversity in fisheries science and related fields. He was the first chair of the Woods Hole Diversity Advisory Committee, a six-institution collaboration started in 2004 to promote diversity and inclusion across the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, Sea Education Association, United States Geological Survey, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Woods Hole Research Center.[7] Ambrose Jearld Jr. served as the Director of the Partnership Education Program (PEP) from its inception in 2009 until 2016, when he retired.[8] PEP recruits mainly junior and senior undergraduate students from underrepresented groups interested in marine and environmental sciences. Each year about 16 students participate in the 10-to-12 week program which includes a course on global climate change followed by individual research projects. Student participants earn four college credits from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PEP's academic partner.[9] In 2017, the Woods Hole scientific community launched an annual lectureship named in Ambrose Jearld Jr.’s honor.

Honors and Recognition[edit]

Ambrose Jearld Jr has earned numerous honors and awards throughout his career, including:


  1. ^ a b "Envisioning diversity in science with Dr. Ambrose Jearld | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration". Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  2. ^ a b "Dr. Ambrose Jearld, Nat'l Marine Fisheries S'vc | sitesALIVE!". Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  3. ^ a b Kessler, James H.; Morin, Katherine A.; Kidd, J. S.; Kidd, Renee A. (1996). Distinguished African American Scientists of the 20th Century. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-89774-955-8.
  4. ^ a b c "Black History Month Blog Series 2020: Ambrose Jearld Jr. – Broader Impacts Group". Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  5. ^ a b "Study Abroad with SEA Semester | Sea Education Association | SEA Semester". Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  6. ^ "Dr. Ambrose Jearld, Jr" (PDF). August 6, 2020.
  7. ^ "Woods Hole Scientific Community Diversity Initiative" (PDF). woods hole diversity. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  8. ^ "PEP - Woods Hole Diversity". Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  9. ^ Fisheries, NOAA (2018-05-11). "Partnership in Education Program Begins 10th Year | NOAA Fisheries". NOAA. Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  10. ^ "AFS Fellows Program | American Fisheries Society". Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  11. ^ a b c "Lectureship honors Ambrose Jearld, Jr. for promoting diversity". SEA Semester | Sea Education Association. Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  12. ^ "Ambrose Jearld, Jr. Lecture - Woods Hole Diversity". Retrieved 2020-08-06.