PROFESSOR OF THE MONTH
 

Dr. Raymond Wells
Marine Biology

Dr. Raymond Wells is the mentor of Pierce's extensive Marine Biology Program and a Professor in the Life Science Department. Born to a pioneering San Fernando family, Raymond attended Sylmar High School and Cal State University, Northridge (CSUN), where he was a member of the swim team. He married while a student at CSUN, and had a son, Aaron.

While working for his M.S. degree in Biology, he commuted by ferry to Catalina Island each Friday night, camping at a cove in a tent through the weekend, and returning to the mainland each Monday. He eventually was given laboratory space at the USC (University of Southern California) lab on Catalina. There, he could sleep on a cot in the lab each weekend, while going out in a wet suit every two hours to study the ecology of limpets (molluscs with volcano-shaped shells).

All of this hard work paid off in research publications - published even before his Master's thesis was accepted - and in acceptances at several universities for doctoral studies. Because he wanted to be close to his son Aaron, he chose the program at USC. While pursuing his doctoral work, Raymond did field research in Catalina, in the Gulf of California, and (while working as an ecologist for the World Health Organization of the U.N.) in Veracruz, Mexico, and the Yucatan. Raymond estimates that he spent over 1000 hours underwater off Catalina Island studying the effects of El Nino on the kelp forest and researching sea urchin interactions in the Caribbean.

Dr. Wells taught field classes in the Gulf of California while working on his doctorate, and taught courses at CSUN, USC, Cal State University, Los Angeles, and summers at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) before and after finishing his Ph.D. He then taught part-time at Mission College for a year, and was about to be hired at Pierce College. He couldn't take the job at Pierce, however, because he had to take time out to train for living underwater, which he subsequently did for a full week in the Hydrolab Underwater Habitat in the Virgin Islands.

Fortunately for us, Dr. Wells did return to bring his vast field and teaching experience to Pierce College, part-time in 1983 and then full-time since 1985. As a result of programs pioneered by Dr. Wells, Pierce College has more field offerings in Marine Biology and Oceanography than any other community college in California! Further, our Marine Biology courses are accepted for upper division credit by CSUN and the University of California, Berkeley. As a result, upper division and graduate marine biology students in universities throughout the country have come to Pierce College to take our field courses, and students who began their Marine Biology studies at Pierce College have finished doctorates in this subject at several universities.

Examples of these field courses (where students study on a research ship and make field observations while snorkeling) include: (1) Marine Ecology: Kelp Forests of Catalina Island (Biology 11A); (2) Marine Ecology of the Rocky Intertidal Environment of the of the Punta Banda, Baja California (Biology 11B); (3) Marine Ecology of the Wetland Environment of the of the Punta Banda, Baja California (Biology 11C); (4) Marine Biology of the Gulf of California in Bahia de los Angeles, Baja California, Mexico (Biology 123 - Summer); and (5) Directed Studies in Marine Ecology, Bahia de los Angeles, Baja California, Mexico (Biology 123- Summer).

Dr Wells' expertise in Marine Biology has earned him a position on the Cabrillo Aquarium Board of Scientific Advisors, on a National Science Foundation (NSF) board consulting on teaching and research in the Gulf of California, as a member of the advisory board COSEE West, and as a Collaborative Researcher at the Prescott College Kino Bay Center for Cultural and Environmental Studies.  Dr. Wells is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Southern California Academy of Sciences.

In addition to all of his work in the Pierce College Life Science Department and Marine Biology Program, Dr. Wells was Chair of the Professional Development Committee and in the Pierce College Academic Senate for 14 years. He lives near the ocean with his wife Dayna and their two children, Graham and Delaney, and has two grown children Aaron and Jenn, and a granddaughter, Kai.

For his invaluable contributions to Marine Biology education and Pierce College, the Professional Development Committee is proud to elect Dr. Raymond Wells our Professor of the Month.