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Dr. Ken Thomas

If he isn’t on the water or in the water, then marine biologist and natural science professor Dr. Ken Thomas is teaching about the water and its countless inhabitants.

While he also teaches introduction to biology and human biology, marine biology has had his heart since he was a boy on family trips to the beach.

“I was the one poking around the rocks, digging in the sand, and sieving the water just to see what was living in there,” he says.

What he found, in addition to marine life, was a lifelong interest. A young follower of “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau,” he was inspired by Cousteau to pursue a field of study that would satisfy his intellect.

When he earned his associate degree at Northern Essex Thomas never imagined he would return years later to teach. After NECC, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from UMass Lowell and a Master of Science in Zoological Sciences and PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Rhode Island.  

An expert canoer, sailor, and swimmer, bodies of water are his playground as well as his office.

“Marine biology is exciting because we are always finding out new things about old, familiar organisms, as well as discovering organisms we didn’t know existed,” he says.

These new discoveries keep old material fresh in the classroom and keep the students engaged.     

“I like to challenge my students to think for themselves…to question and investigate what we think we know, and to make their own decisions based upon their interpretation of evidence,” he says.

He is a satisfied professor, he says, when his students have an epiphany regarding the class material.

Northern Essex offers associate degrees in liberal arts with a biology or physical science focus.  These degrees are designed for students who are interested in transferring to a four-year college after earning an associate degree.  The college also offers an associate degree in lab science for students who would like a job as an entry level lab technician and/or are interested in transfer.