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Bringing Science to the People: Dr. Bill Seaman, Emeritus Professor

When Dr. Bill Seaman retired from the University of Florida in 2006, it was important to him that he retired “to something” instead of “from something.”

Bill dedicated 40 years of his life to the teaching and research missions at UF. He started as a graduate student, earning both his MS and PhD in Zoology/Ichthyology. After graduating, he worked with different start-up aquatic science programs across campus before finding his home in fisheries as an Assistant Professor in 1975. In 1984, Bill was one of the founding members of the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences program. He later also served as Associate Director for the Florida Sea Grant program.

Bill’s research and technology transfer emphasis was on coastal fishes, habitats and fisheries. He contributed to developing the scientific basis for the design of artificial reefs, their responsible use in fisheries and ecosystem management, and multi-disciplinary evaluation of their performance, worldwide.

While he no longer has an active research program, Bill still finds ways to apply his science in meaningful ways.

“As a faculty member, I was so fortunate to have done something that I loved. I wanted to use my time in retirement to give back as much as I could,” said Bill.

As an emeritus professor, Bill remains involved in the School and regularly consults with faculty and provides feedback for projects. He also writes a monthly science column for his local newspaper and published the “Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences: Artificial Reefs” in 2019. Outside of these more academic projects, Bill discovered a passion for outreach and working with new audiences in his community of Montreat, North Carolina.

Anne and Bill Seaman with UF President Kent Fuchs (center) at the annual Gator Gathering in the North Carolina mountains.

“I met up with Martha Monroe and one of her former students, Mallory McDuff at a national environmental education conference. Mallory works about 5 miles away from my home as a very popular faculty member at Warren Wilson College and she encouraged me to pursue environmental education,” he said.

Bill took 100 hours of coursework to get certified as a North Carolina Environmental Educator, working with a much younger set of learners than in the past.

“In 2018, I helped establish a Children Outdoors program in my town. We partner with the North Carolina Arboretum and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to host activities such as wildlife photography or guided nature walks for students k-12,” he said, “It’s very rewarding to work with the next generation who may go on to pursue these fields in the future.”

Bill is actively involved in his church, where he started a “Creation Care” committee, with the mission of environmental awareness, education, and action.

“I strive to harmonize religion faith and science. Helping folks connect those dots is key to future conservation efforts,” Bill noted.

For example, the group will learn about brook trout from a state biologist, go on a hike, and pray reflecting on the sacredness of water. Occasional weekday afternoon programs feature guests presenting different topics, such as climate change and earth care.

Despite coordinating these two very successful programs, Bill still finds time to attend UF networking events, where he spreads the word about the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences program. He is even in talks of writing a book, after an interested editor read his article about Artificial Reefs in the Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences. Bill has truly achieved his goal of continuing to make an impact in his retirement. To contact Bill for more information about any of these projects or for a consultation, you can email him at seaman@ufl.edu.

Anne and Bill Seaman with legendary announcer Mick Hubert (center) at the 2019 Gator Gathering in Linville, North Carolina.