Two Additional Senior Research Scientists Join Bigelow Laboratory


It’s an exciting time of growth at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. Our campus is expanding with the construction of new facilities. Our programs are seeing record participation, and our research team is benefitting from the addition of two senior research scientists.

Jim McManus joined our team in early August and has a dual role at the organization. In addition to working as researcher, he is helping lead the Laboratory as vice president of strategy and administration. McManus earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Stockton State College and his Ph.D. in oceanography from Oregon State University. His research is focused on the chemical reactions that occur within seafloor sediments and how those reactions influence the rest of the ocean.

“Microbial organisms catalyze a lot of the interactions I’m most interested in – particularly the cycling of metals,” McManus said. “Those reactions help shape the chemistry of the world we live in.”

While he’s spent most of his career as a research scientist, he most recently worked as Chair of the Department of Geosciences at the University of Akron. In his administrative role at Bigelow Laboratory, he’ll be overseeing many of the day-to-day operations and helping support strategic initiatives for the institution.

“One of the strengths of Bigelow Laboratory is that we’ve maximized the depth and diversity of our research while avoiding significant duplication,” McManus said. “It makes for a place that’s exciting to work and overflowing with opportunities for strategic initiatives and research commercialization.”

Douglas Rasher is our newest senior research scientist and joined our team this week. He studies the ecology and conservation of coastal ecosystems, ranging from tropical coral reefs to subarctic kelp forests. His research seeks to reveal the ecological drivers of those ecosystems and how they’re changing in response to human activity.

Rasher earned his bachelor’s degree in zoology at Michigan State University and his Ph.D. in biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Most recently, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center.

“My research spans the spectrum of biological scale – from the interactions of molecules to the movements of megafauna,” Rasher said. “Most of the questions I try to answer lie at the junction of several different scientific disciplines. I was drawn to Bigelow Laboratory because many of the scientists here have a similar philosophy.”

Much of Bigelow Laboratory’s research is on the open ocean, and Rasher’s coastal ecology focus further enhances the breadth of our research. Many of the most pressing marine economic and conservation issues are unfolding in the near-shore region. To predict and prevent damage to coastal ecosystems, we have to understand how they function, how we impact them, and what processes help keep them going in a rapidly changing world.

“By developing a better understanding of our coasts, I hope to inform and improve management strategies so those ecosystems continue to function and provide the services that people have come to rely on,” Rasher said.