Randolph L. Ferguson

Location of Interview
Collection Name

NOAA Beaufort Lab Oral Histories


Interviews with retired staff of NOAA Beaufort Lab, documenting their academic background, career path, research focus, and reflections on their work in the lab.  

Date of Interview

National Capital Contracting 

Principal Investigator

 Dr. Randolph “Randy” L. Ferguson was born in Wisconsin along the shores of Lake Michigan and
spent his formative years there.

 During his mid-teens the family moved to New York; there, he enrolled in Cornell University and graduated in 1967 with a Bachelor’s Degree concentrating in Environmental Sciences.

 He entered graduate school at Florida State University in Tallahassee and received his Ph.D. from FSU in 1971; his dissertation dealt with the effects of light and temperature on the growth and productivity of phytoplankton.

 In 1972, Randy was hired at the Beaufort Lab. Initially, his research involved studying marine bacteria and detritus in salt marshes and the ocean. Later, he collaborated with other researchers at the Lab examining trace metals in marine food webs.

 His research interests shifted course in mid-career when he began to use aerial photogrammetry and satellite imagery to analyze land usage adjacent estuarine waters. Additional studies involved satellite sea surface temperature imagery as related to fishery resources.

 With his expertise in remote sensing, Randy in cooperation with the State of North Carolina, the U.S Agriculture Department, and the U.S. Geological Service produced a set of hydrographic charts of North Carolina’s major sounds while accurately mapping extant seagrass beds.

 Owing to his expertise with phytoplankton in the Gulf of Mexico during his FSU years, Randy was one of the first researchers to recognize an historic red tide outbreak in North Carolina waters in 1989.

 Randy retired from the Beaufort Laboratory in 2008.

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