William Fitzgerald, Ph.D.

Nobel Conference 48

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut, Groton

Marine bio-geochemist and chemical oceanographer William Fitzgerald has been called “the father of mercury research.” His interests are in atmospheric and marine chemistry with particular emphasis on global bio-geochemical cycles of trace metals, and the environmental impact of metal emissions associated with human endeavors. In the early 1970s he established The Mercury Laboratory at UConn, which has been recognized nationally and internationally for pioneering work with the complex and ultra-trace cycling of mercury in the environment.

A native Bostonian, Fitzgerald received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemistry from Boston College and the College of the Holy Cross, respectively. In 1970 he earned the first Ph.D. granted in a joint Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute/Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemical oceanography program. In that same year, he joined the faculty at UConn, where he has had almost continuous NSF funding for his research. In 2003 he received the Geochemical Society’s Patterson Award for his contributions to environmental chemistry, and in 2011 he was honored with the first Kathyrn R. Mahaffey Lifetime Achievement Award in Mercury Research.


Fitzgerald will also be in residence as the Rydell Professor at Gustavus Adolphus College in September 2012. The Rydell Professorship at Gustavus is a scholar-in-residence program designed to bring Nobel laureates, Nobel Conference lecturers, and similarly distinguished scholars to campus as catalysts for enhancing learning and teaching. It was established in 1995 by Drs. Robert E. and Susan T. Rydell of Minnetonka, Minn., to give students the opportunity to learn from and interact with leading scholars. During his residency, Fitzgerald will assist the Nobel Conference Committee in developing previews of the conference to be held in the Twin Cities and will also team-teach a seminar on oceanography for advanced science students with some members of the committee.