Rich Bell headshot photo

Rich Bell

Science/Data Team, Navigator
Fisheries Scientist
The Nature Conservancy

Tell us about your work / research. What kinds of things do you do?

I am interested in the processes which regulate the abundance and distribution of marine organisms and how to sustainably manage them. I examine how changes in oceanographic features, species interactions and fishing cause populations to vary over time. My work is largely focused on the east coast of North America, but I have worked with fisheries around the world.  

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

I love being in, on and around the water and learning about the natural world. That lead to a career in science and specifically in oceanography.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

Numerous people have been great mentors for me, but it was in high school that I realized I could have a job that involved being out in the field. 

What element of your work / study do you think is the most fascinating?

The natural world is simply amazing and every aspect has a story. The rotation of the earth sets up ocean currents which led explorers to some locations and not other, changing the course of history. The blood of horseshoe crabs is different than ours and helps ensure medicines are safe or some eels leave fresh water rivers to swim around the entire North Atlantic trying to find the best spawning areas. The earth is simply fascinating.  

What other jobs led you to your current career?

I have held a range of jobs in the marine sciences that steered me to my current position. I have always tried to blend teaching, field work and research, resulting in working aboard a tall ship, partnerships with the National Park Service and positions at the New England Aquarium.  

What are your degrees and certifications?

PhD in Oceanography - Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island

What are your hobbies?

I love being outside swimming, sailing, hiking and sharing that with my family.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Being out on ships and studying the worlds oceans is truly fantastic, but that is only possible through a solid education. It all starts with working hard in school, engaging with teachers and subjects one enjoys and looking for opportunities to work with people in the field (internships, summer programs, volunteering).  

How did you get involved in the Nautilus Exploration Program? How did you get on the ship?

Chance favors the well prepared. I had a strong background in marine science, oceanography, seamanship and navigation and was finishing up my degree as OET was forming. They needed a navigator and I got invited on the boat.  

"The Nautilus combines my love of being at sea with my love of learning about the world around us."