What's Happening at GCRL

Richard Heard retires after a 35-year career at GCRL

Richard Heard, professor of invertebrate zoology, announced his retirement from the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in January 2015. Heard has been involved with the identification of invertebrates collected from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts of the southeastern United States for more than 35 years. He originally joined GCRL in 1980.

“Richard is an amazing man with an encyclopedic knowledge of marine invertebrates, and a trip into the field with him is a truly unique experience,” said Sara Lecroy, curator of the GCRL museum. “He’s absolutely fearless in the pursuit of just one more specimen, and no one can find as many species of inverts in a given area as Richard can.”

Heard has authored and co-authored more than 160 publications dealing with marine invertebrates and fish, including the descriptions of a new family, new genera, and a variety of new species of stomatopods, mysids, cumaceans, tanaidaceans, isopods, amphipods and decapods.

“He’s always extremely generous with his time and expertise, willing to share his knowledge with anyone who has an interest,” Lecroy said. “There are very few crustacean biologists worldwide who are not familiar with the work of Richard Heard.”

Robin Overstreet, professor emeritus of parasitology, remembers teaching Heard as he pursued his doctorate in 1970.

“We were crammed together in one small room for five years until he graduated in December 1975,” Overstreet said. “Because of his previous and past collections and contacts, he quickly became an international expert on a few different groups of crustaceans and other invertebrates.”

Overstreet and Heard first met when Overstreet was teaching a parasitology course at the University of Miami in the 1960s.

“Richard was a student at the University of Georgia at the time,” he said. “He passed through and we met. We’ve been closely working together since.”

Heard and Overstreet’s paths would cross again in 1967 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Parasitologists in Tucson, Ariz., where they both gave the first presentations in their careers.

“He has always been known around the lab and invertebrate community as capable of telling folks about every marine and coastal invertebrate in the Southeast,” Overstreet said. “He knows where and when to find them and exactly how to catch them, day or night.”

Heard will return to GCRL on an emeritus status in 2016 to continue teaching those interested in the fields of marine science, which he has dedicated his life to.