Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Professor Yarish joined the faculty at the University of Connecticut in 1976. By 1988, he had been promoted to the rank of Professor. While at the University of Connecticut, he developed an internationally known laboratory for seaweed research at the Stamford Campus. He has published extensively including two co-edited books entitled “Economically Important Marine Plants of the Atlantic: Their Biology and Cultivation” and also “Seaweeds-Their Environment, Biogeography and Ecophysiology.” He has also been an adjunct Professor of Marine Sciences at the State University of New York at Stony Brook (1990-1994), a visiting Scientist at the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, Germany, a visiting Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, and most recently, a Guest Professor at Shanghai Fisheries University, PR China. He is a marine scientist with a wealth of research, teaching and service at the University,
Initially, at the University of Texas, Prof. Yarish began developing an understanding of the systematics and taxonomy of benthic marine algae primarily from the Gulf of Mexico. As his career developed, he developed a keen interest into the question why seaweeds do not spread beyond their geographic limits when there are no apparent obstructions to their dispersal. He had experimentally looked at the boundary conditions which limited the spread of estuarine algae spreading into more stenohaline conditions on the open coasts of New Jersey.
Continuing with his interest in systematics and developmental biology, he continued to develop his expertise in algal ecology and physiology, as well as developing an interest in the genetic differentiation of seaweed populations (using cultural and electrophoretic techniques). He began developing a more complete insight into the environmental conditions limiting longitudinal and latitudinal ranges of seaweeds by closely collaborating with Prof. C. van den Hoek, and co-workers W. Stam and A. Breeman at the University of Groningen. He began to explore the literature for experimental data from which ecological limits to the broad scale distribution of seaweeds might be inferred. His work indicated that hypothetical temperature limits, inferred from winter and summer isotherms at the geographic boundaries, were crucial in governing the biogeographic distribution of seaweeds. Furthermore, this avenue of research lead to the development of the field of experimental biogeography of seaweeds.
Following these studies, Prof. Yarish developed a very close working relationship with Prof. K. Lüning at the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland. They worked together in developing a better insight into the environmental conditions that limited seaweed distributions that culminated in the publication of a major edited book on the biogeography and ecophysiology of seaweeds. These studies led to a decade of research on kelp at the University of Connecticut in conjunction with the late Prof. Brinkhuis at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. From these areas of basic and fundamental research, Prof. Yarish developed a more intense interested in the effects of the entire complex of environmental factors on seaweeds and the application of this research for the development of the field of seaweed cultivation.
Since 1995, Prof. Yarish and colleagues, especially T. Chopin (University of New Brunswick at Saint John, New Brunswick) and G. Kraemer (State University of New York at Purchase) have been promoting the development of sustainable aquaculture by integrating seaweeds in polyculture systems for bioremediation and diversification. The development of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture practices appears more and more necessary to remedy the economic and environmental limitations of present monospecific finfish, shrimp and shellfish aquaculture operations, particularly in New England, the Maritime Provinces of Canada, and in Asia (especially China and South Korea).
The bioremediation role of seaweeds, acting as biological nutrient scrubbers, offers mutual benefits for co-cultured organisms, either in open water systems or for land based aquaculture operations. For example, the productivity, and nitrogen and phosphorus uptake of the red alga Porphyra are sufficiently high to make it an excellent choice for eutrophication abatement in the proximity to salmon cages. At the same time, aquaculture wastes, then valued as fertilizers, ensure a rapid growth of Porphyra with the appropriate pigmentation required for high-valued products either in the food market (sushi) or the industrial / biotechnological applications. Using seaweeds as site-specific biomonitoring tools represents a benefit to the aquaculture industry, which needs to take new directions to optimize its efficiency and to diversify, while maintaining the health of coastal waters. Even with the development of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture systems, Prof. Yarish and his co-workers, discovered the need to re-visit the systematics of one of the best studied species of seaweeds, Porphyra.
His energy levels has enabled him to promote the use of molecular techniques for resolving questions of concerning the systematics and biogeography of Porphyra and promoted this economic seaweed as a new experimental system (with D.B. Sahoo and X. Tang). He has developed collaborative studies with colleagues at the University of Otago (J. Broom) and the University of New Hampshire (C. Neefus and A. Klein) to use the analysis of plastid DNA by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), the sequence analysis of the internal transcribed spacers (ITS 1 and ITS 2) and the intervening 5.8S ribosomal nuclear DNA region for understanding Porphyra.
Prof. Yarish has also ventured beyond is primary interests in seaweeds into a multi-team effort to conduct the first, comprehensive, seasonal field study of the microbial loop in Long Island Sound with G. Capriulo (formerly at the SUNY at Purchase). In this study Yarish (as co-PI, along with a team of 2 additional Ph.D’s, 4 undergraduate seniors carrying out their senior thesis research, 1 Univ. of Conn. graduate student and a NOAA, NMFS Milford scientist) quantified bacterial growth rates, microalgal, bacterial, heterotrophic and autotrophic flagellate, ciliate, zooplankton and larval fish densities, and species composition, total and size-fractionated chlorophyll concentrations as well as nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, particulate and dissolved organic nitrogen, phosphate and silicate concentrations, at stations in the eastern, central and western Long Island Sound. They related their findings to eutrophication parameters and demonstrated that human-induced nutrient loading coupled with intense fishing pressure and habitat destruction have literally altered the food web of Long Island Sound along an east to west gradient. This work appeared in a large monograph in the international journal Hydrobiologia, in 2002.
In recognition of the success of his current and past research programs, Prof. Yarish has received a commendable variety of intra- and extramural fundings. Based on his many collaborations, he is adept at seeking out the right people to assist him in reaching the research goals he has set out. His involvement in refereeing scientific journals and grant applications, and in evaluating programs / faculty members at other universities, also demonstrates that his research and expertise is well regarded by his peers.
Prof. Yarish thoroughly enjoys and is deeply committed to teaching, primarily at the undergraduate level (although he has also greatly enjoyed teaching graduate courses), which for him includes conducting field, laboratory, and theoretically-based marine botanical research with undergraduate students, and some graduate students as well. His teaching career is equally outstanding. He is viewed by his students, at all levels, as a respected, appropriately demanding, and a fair educator. He is equally at home teaching introductory level non-majors type courses, as well as teaching advanced courses. Indeed, he genuinely enjoys translating difficult topics into lectures that can be understood and appreciated by general education students, students with non-traditional learning backgrounds and general audiences, as well as majors, of all ethnicity’s and cultural backgrounds, and routinely lectures to these kinds of groups.
Additionally, he has taught primary, secondary and high school students in special programs through colleges, aquarium institutes, and various environmental organizations, and have often participated in high school teacher workshops as well. In his career to date, he has taught introductory level organismal biology, general biology for majors and nonmajors, general ecology, phycology (both general and advanced), marine botany, environmental science, and even nature photography courses as the faculty advisor of the Stamford Campus Photography Club (1977-1983).
Most recently, Prof. Yarish has worked with N. Gillies and S. Cudiner of the University of Connecticut Libraries in establishing a digital collection of his bethic aarine algal herbarium of Long Island Sound. This database of over over 250 collected and pressed specimens of benthic marine macroalgae from Long Island Sound is available at http://www.algae.uconn.edu.
Recognition has been given to Prof. Yarish through many grants and awards. He has personally supervised Masters (7) and Doctoral (2) students at the University of Connecticut and other institutions even though he has been at a regional campus. He has also been an invited Associate Advisor to Ph.D. students at the State University of New York at Stony Brook; University of Massachusetts at Amherst; University of Maine at Orono; Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada; University of Cape Town, South Africa; Lehman College of the City University of New York, Bronx, New York; Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, PRC; The Autonomous Universidade de Baja California, Ensenada, Mexico; and an external reviewer for the South African FRD Core Programs, SNO Kernprogram.
Prof. Yarish has also supervised students from Stamford High School, Bridgeport Regional Vocational Aquaculture School, Greenwich High School and White Plains High School. Most recently, one of his students, was a semi-finalist in the Intel Competition. He is a member of the Advisory Board for the City of Bridgeport’s Regional Vocational Aquaculture High School and has also been on the Advisory Board for the City of New Haven’s Sound School.
Prof. Yarish has served with many organizations including the International Executive Service Corps’ Aquacultural Project in Kenya, member of the Organizing Committee & the Executive Secretariat for the Vth International Phycological Congress, Qingdao, People’s Republic of China (1994) and Advisory Board of the Institute of BioSciences, National Research Council of Canada (1990-1995).
He has received the 1992 Marinalg Award’s First Prize (at the XIVth International Seaweed Symposium, Brittany, France) for his work in East Africa (Kenya) judged to be the most useful to the economic development of the world seaweed industry. He has also been a national lecturer for the Phycological Society of America (1993-1995), its Secretary, and member of the Society’s Executive Committee (1993-1996). He was the Vice President (2000), President (2001) and Past President (2002) of the Phycological Society of America and a member of the Society’s Executive Committee (2000-2002). He is currently the chair of the Phycological Society of America’s Award of Excellence Committee. He was on the Executive Committee of the Northeast Algal Society (1999-2005) as a member at large. In 1982, he was a co-convener at the Northeast Algal Society meetings at Woods Hole, MA, and was the senior co-convener of the 2004 annual meetings at the University of Connecticut (Groton, CT, April 23-25, 2004).
In Feb. 1998, he was the senior organizer and session chair of an invited symposium on “Macroalgal cultivation” for the Triennial Meetings of the World Aquaculture Society, Las Vagas, Nevada. Recently, he was the senior organizer and session co-chair of an invited symposium “Seaweed Culture and Integrated Aquaculture Developments” at “Aquaculture – An Ecologically Sustainable and Profitable Venture for The Meetings of the World Aquaculture Society’s Aquaculture 2004 meetings, Honolulu, Hawaii, March 1-5, 2004. He was an invited participant to an Aquaculture Biotech workshop (May 17-19, 2004) that had been sponsored by the Martin Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway and the RI/CT Sea Grant College Programs where he gave a presentation entitled “Seaweed cultivation and biotechnology: Opportunities for integrating seaweeds in aquaculture systems for bioremediation and industry diversification.” He was the senior organizer and co-convener a symposium on marine plant aquaculture in the northeast for the Northeast Conference and Exposition (NACE), Manchester, NH, December 2-4, 2004.
Since 1992, he has been the Co-chairman (elected) of the Science Technical Advisory Committee for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound Study and assists the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce on matters dealing with aquaculture in the People’s Republic of China, South Korea and Japan. He was the Science Co-Chair for the 31st Meetings of the United States-Japan Cooperative Program in Natural Resource (UJNR) Panel, Yokohama and northeast Honshu, Japan, Oct. 16-25, 2002. He is also an invited participant for the 32nd Meetings of the United States-Japan Cooperative Program in Natural Resource (UJNR) Panel, Nagasaki, Japan, Nov. 1-7, 2004. He is also an honorary guest professor at Shanghai Fisheries University, Shanghai, China (Nov. 2, 2002) and that University’s first E-academe professor. He also was the senior organizer and co-convener of a symposium on “Marine plant aquaculture in the Northeast” for the 2004 Northeast Conference and Exposition (NACE). He was an invited workshop leader for The International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) for a workshop entitled “MARINE ALGAE CULTURE: TECHNIQUES, USES AND DEVELOPMENT PERSPECTIVES,” 22-26 May 2006, Zaragoza, Spain.
Recently he has been invited member of the State of Connecticut DEP Ad Hoc Steering Committee for the creation of a National Estuarine Research Reserve for Connecticut and also an invited member of the State of Connecticut DEP Seagrass Steering Committee of the Office of Long Island Sound Programs (2006-present). He is also serving as an invited member of the New Haven Harbor Watershed environmental Monitoring Program Science Advisory Committee (SAC) (Sept. 2006-present).
At the Stamford Campus he is a member (2006-present) of the Oversight Committee for the Center of Globalization and Commerce, University of Connecticut, Stamford, CT. Finally, he is an invited member (2006-present) of a national panel called the “Sustainable Seafood Forum”, Aquarium of the Pacific, Marine Conservation Research Institute, Long Beach, California.