Andrew Thomas, PhD.
here to view my CV
My research interests are focused around questions of plankton distributions in time and space,
especially larger-scale patterns; seasonal and interannual time scales and 5 km to ocean basin
spatial scales. Why do even quite close shelf regions have different plankton seasonal cycles than
others? Can we quantify these? Can we identify and quantify the primary forcing mechanisms which might
be responsible for differences (winds,
tides, runoff, along or cross-shelf advection, links to larger-scale oceanic phenomena)?
We need to answer these questions in order to begin answering the second
group of questions which are of interest to me: questions about interannual variability, ocean
climate change and dominant processes controlling and influencing it.
To address these questions, I have come to rely strongly on the use of satellite data, one of the only
tools with which we can repetitively make synoptic measurements over the time/space scales that I'm
interested. My research is almost exclusively focused on the acquisition, processing and digital image
analysis of very large time series of surface temperature and ocean color (chlorophyll) images and
supporting data such as satellite scatterometer wind measurements and altimeter data. We supplement
these data with available in situ measurements, usually acquired through collaboration with field
researchers. My lab, then, is really a computer lab and all who work in the lab become good programmers,
data analysts, graphics experts and digital image processors. My research is currently divided primarily
between two geographic regions; the Gulf of Maine (our backyard), and the strongly wind-driven and
highly productive eastern boundary current regimes of the planet (the California, Peru-Chile, Benguela
and Canary Current Systems).
I enjoy teaming with other researchers in different fields of oceanography to
address problems which might benefit from the incorporation of satellite data, or the analysis tools
which accompany time-series image analysis. In this manner, I have teamed with ecologists studying
crab larval recruitment and fisheries scientists studying scallop larval distributions and open-ocean
salmon habitat and migratory habits. At present, I work with local (Maine) scientists studying lobster
larval drift and recruitment, oceanographers studying harmful algal blooms and numerical modelers
carrying out simulations of both physical processes and biological processes in the coastal and open
I currently teach three courses.
At the undergraduate level, I teach SMS 302, Oceanography, a Junior level
introductory course. At the graduate level, I teach SMS 540, Satellite
Oceanography, a primary literature-driven survey of ocean remote sensing methodologies and applications,
and SMS 692, a topics-driven literature discussion (co-teach with Drs. F. Chai, MJ Perry and M. Wells).
Swimming! Go fast or go home! I've been a competitive swimmer for over 30 years, enjoy all aspects of competitive swimming
(age-group to Olympics) and learn new tricks to go fast every day. I'm currently a member of Maine Masters, train
regularly, compete as often as possible and fight to keep my times from deteriorating as the years go by.
My kids both swim (Canoe City Swim Club, Old Town, ME). I take great pleasure in
watching them get faster as they get older and stronger. My 14 year old daughter can unfortunately
kick my butt around the pool in anything over a 100. My son also fences (Down East Fencing Club), I don't go near him when he does.
I'm also a big rugby fan, courtesy of my Canadian schooling and English parents.
My wife won't let me play anymore, so I have to just watch.
Windsurfing! (you're never cured, you're always just 1 session away from a full relapse)
White water kayaking (too much wear and tear on the shoulders, had to stop)
Good wine, good beer and good food!