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Charles Messing's Crinoid Pages: About the Author

The Sea Lilies and Feather Stars

Dr. Charles G. Messing

Professor Emeritus, Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Halmos College of Arts and Sciences, Nova Southeastern University

Born in the Bronx, New York City, Charles earned a bachelor’s degree in Biological Science at Rutgers University (1970) and both M.S. (1975) and Ph.D. (1979) in Biological Oceanography at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. He made his first submersible dive, aboard Alvin in 1975, to the floor of a deep canyon in the Bahamas. Subsequently, he was awarded a Smithsonian post-doctoral fellowship, and he has been at NSU for over 30 years. He has led 14 deep-sea submersible expeditions funded by NSF and NOAA and led or participated in over 30 other research and educational expeditions as far afield as Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Malaysia, the Galapagos, Honduras, and the Bahamas. Charles has written or co-authored 68 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and has 49 years’ experience as a scientific illustrator. Currently, he is a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution and at Scripps Institute of Oceanography and has been a repeated Visiting Scientist at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris. His research focuses on the ecology and evolution of living crinoids (sea lilies and feather stars) and on deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems, but he has also been involved in assessments of both shallow and deep-water habitats for proposed fuel pipelines, fiber-optic cables, artificial reefs, and beach renourishment. He has written, hosted, or been featured in several educational television programs, including two episodes of “Messing with Nature” and the “Living Fossils” episode of WPBT-TV Miami’s series “Changing Seas”; published a children’s book about marine food chains called “Sea Food or Who eats who in the ocean”, and wrote and performed “My Beard Toward Heaven, a Play of Michelangelo.” More at