Candidate for Member at Large: Robert Chen

Robert (Bob) Chen

A.B., 1986 (Chemistry and Physics, Harvard University, USA) Ph.D. 1992 (Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, USA)


Biographical Information

Bob ChenRobert F. (Bob) Chen is a Professor and Interim Dean of the School for the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Boston. After an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, he has remained at UMassBoston since 1993, serving as Graduate Program Director, Director of the Center for Coastal Environmental Sensing Networks (CESN), and presently Interim Dean. His research interests include the cycling of chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM), carbon biogeochemistry in coastal systems, and the development of sensor networks in shallow water systems. He has explored dissolved organic carbon (DOC) outwelling from salt marshes, remote sensing of coastal water quality, and indicators of estuarine health. He is also dedicated to ocean and environmental science education and outreach at the local, national, and international levels and transforming K-12, undergraduate and graduate environmental and aquatic science education. He was the Principal Investigator of the Watershed-Integrated Sciences Partnership (, COSEE OCEAN (, the Boston Energy in Science Teaching (BEST) (, and Coasts and Communities IGERT projects, and he has been involved in Ocean Literacy and Energy Literacy efforts. He was Chair of the COSEE Council from 2013-2014. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed articles and is an active researcher in the area of coastal observations, carbon cycling, and contaminant distribution and fate.

He has served as major advisor to over 20 graduate students, taught Introduction to Environmental Sciences class to over 480 undergraduates and developed a new, transdisciplinary Coasts and Communities graduate curriculum. His efforts in research, teaching, and service have been recognized with the UMassBoston Outstanding Achievement Awards for Research in the Sciences (1996) and for Overall Contributions in the Sciences (2005), an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program Award (1997), the Massachusetts Marine Educators Special Award (2005), the UMass President’s Award for Public Service (2005), and the UMassBoston Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Teaching (2014).

Candidate Statement

ASLO is my society. I never miss the February meeting and get to the summer meeting whenever my schedule allows. It renews my desire to explore new ideas; it allows me to reconnect with my predecessors, peers, and students; it inspires me to have impact with all that I do professionally; and it is, simply put, fun. ASLO serves as a physical and virtual place for friends and colleagues to meet, a professional ideal to set high standards and expectations, and a supportive community to increase diversity together. ASLO Meetings: ASLO meetings are held in wonderful locations and act as a means to periodically renew our social networks, to share ideas and ideals with people with similar careers, dreams, and skills, and to gain feedback to refine our thinking. With social media, committee service, and remote participation, ASLO will become a space to connect with friends and colleagues virtually throughout the year. High standards: ASLO journals, ASLO awards, ALSO meeting plenaries, and ASLO education activities set the bar high for our scientific community. We want to publish the best science, recognize our best scientists, and be inspired by our most engaging, influential community members. Diversity: As our world continues to become more global through physical and electronic connections, ASLO has embraced the diversity of disciplines necessary to address complex questions, the diversity of nationalities and perspectives that think about aquatic sciences, and the diversity of individuals required to carry on our work for future generations. I would like continue to help ASLO serve its members and evolve in response to these needs of aquatic scientists worldwide.

I joined the Education and Outreach Committee in 2005, and served as Chair of the ASLO Outreach Sub-Committee since 2010. Under my guidance, the ASLO Mentoring Program was developed, refined, and incorporated into ASLO standard meeting procedures, the Global Outreach Initiative was established and funded nineteen international outreach projects so far, and education and outreach special sessions and workshops have become consistently prominent components of ASLO meetings. I served on the ASLO Board from 2017-2020, on the 2013 Aquatic Sciences Meeting Program Committee in New Orleans, as an Associate Editor of L&O Methods, as vice chair for the OSM 2020 Program Committee in 2020, and will be Chair of the OSM 2022 Program Committee. I have come to appreciate the dedication of so many ASLO members, and have dedicated my own efforts to further integrating education and art into ASLO meetings, to offer professional development opportunities for students and early career professionals, and to maintain the Association as the premier destination to present and publish cutting-edge oceanographic and limnological research. With and additional three years on the Board, I will be deeply dedicated to expanding and diversifying the ASLO membership, to developing the next generation of aquatic scientists who will take on a host of complex aquatic issues, to decrease carbon emissions related to ASLO interactions, and to maintain the high scientific standards of the Association in terms of publications and meetings, and the high impact of its education and outreach activities.

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