In 2002 and 2003, Robert Letscher competed in the Bay Scallop Bowl with his team from Mount Sinai High School in Mount Sinai, New York. A new teacher at his school, fresh from graduate school at SUNY-Stony Brook with a M.S. in Marine Biology, began teaching new electives in Coastal Ecology and Marine Biology and started a team to compete at the Bay Scallop Bowl at SUNY-Stony Brook. Robert took the electives taught by Mr. Matthews and joined the NOSB team, which proved advantageous. His team won in 2002 and again in 2003, traveling to Providence, Rhode Island (’02) and La Jolla, California (’03) for the national Finals competitions.

Robert notes that his NOSB experience led him to change his college education focus from Physics to Marine Science. Last minute, before college apps were due, he decided to apply to the University of Miami (UM) to study Marine Science and Chemistry. He ultimately attended UM from 2003-2007, earning a B.S. degree, and stuck around for graduate school, earning a PhD in Chemical Oceanography from the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science in 2012. “All along, my career goal was to become an oceanographer and university professor.” After five years of a postdoc at the University of California, Irvine and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, he reached his goal and joined the faculty at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in 2017.

“[My] success story all started because of that teacher, Mr. Matthews, and the NOSB competition in New York. The NOSB launched me on a career trajectory that most recently has made me an Assistant Professor of Chemical Oceanography at [UNH]. Without it, I don’t know if I’d be an ocean scientist.”