William Fitzgerald

Distinguished Emeritus Professor

Department of Marine Sciences | Expertise: marine biogeochemistry, chemical oceanography, atmospheric and marine chemistry


Marine bio-geochemist and chemical oceanographer William Fitzgerald has been called “the father of mercury research.” His interests are in atmospheric and marine chemistry with particular emphasis on global bio-geochemical cycles of trace metals, and the environmental impact of metal emissions associated with human endeavors. In the early 1970s he established The Mercury Laboratory at UConn, which has been recognized nationally and internationally for pioneering work with the complex and ultra-trace cycling of mercury in the environment. A native Bostonian, Fitzgerald received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemistry from Boston College and the College of the Holy Cross, respectively. In 1970 he earned the first Ph.D. granted in a joint Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute/Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemical oceanography program. In that same year, he joined the faculty at UConn, where he has had almost continuous NSF funding for his research. In 2003 he received the Geochemical Society’s Patterson Award for his contributions to environmental chemistry, and in 2011 he was honored with the first Kathyrn R. Mahaffey Lifetime Achievement Award in Mercury Research.