About Charles Messing
Charles G. Messing was born just beyond the shadow of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. Though his family soon moved to the (then) wilds of northern New Jersey, his ultimate career choice was largely guided by visits to the City's American Museum of Natural History. He received a bachelor's degree in Biological Science at Rutgers University, where he also ran track, hosted a classical music radio program, and shared duties at football games during his senior year as the Scarlet Knight. After graduating in 1970, he earned both M.S. (1975, under Frederick M. Bayer) and Ph.D. (1979, under Harding Owre Michel) degrees in Biological Oceanography at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. During that time, he accompanied several deep-sea dredging and coral reef research expeditions around the Caribbean and eastern Pacific, including one that successfully dredged the 8300-meter-deep floor of the Puerto Rico Trench. That led to his first research paper, a description of the deepest known Atlantic crustacean, Neotanais persephone, which he named for the ancient Greek goddess of the underworld. A Smithsonian post-doctoral research fellowship with David Pawson followed, and he has been at the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center since 1988. His area of particular expertise is the classification, ecology, distribution and evolution of crinoids (sea lilies and feather stars), and his research on these animals has taken him to the Bahamas, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Micronesia, Australia and Malaysia. He headed teams that were the first to directly record growth rates and crawling in stalked crinoids. Since 1975, he has used research submersibles, including both Alvin and Johnson-Sea-Link, to study the distribution and ecology of deep-water marine life, and he has also held a series of Visiting Scientist appointments at the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris. Some of his recent work also focuses on the ecology, diversity and distribution of deep-sea coral reefs. He is a scientific illustrator, teaches several undergraduate and graduate courses, and is also an actor of some (currently rusty) experience, having written and performed the one-man My Beard Toward Heaven: a Play of Michelangelo.