CELS Recognizes Professor Emeritus, David Bengtson, in Hall of Fame

This November, a distinguished University of Rhode Island professor who helped expand sustainable fish farming around the world was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the College of the Environment and Life Sciences (CELS). CELS Professor Emeritus Dr. David Bengtson, whose career at URI spans 40 years, was honored for his dedication to teaching and research, his academic leadership, and his global contributions to sustainable aquaculture.

DavidBengtson_smallAs Bengtson receives CELS’ highest honor, he reflects on the college with pride. “Here’s what I love about CELS, people at CELS solve problems…there’s always a sense of mission,” he explains.

Bengtson has been on a mission since he began teaching and researching at the university as a graduate student in the Biological Sciences department. In 1996 he obtained a tenured track position as Associate Professor in the Department of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science (FAVS) at CELS.

At the Hall of Fame ceremony in November celebrating Bengtson’s accomplishments, Dean Kirby praised Bengtson for his dedication to the college. “Whenever Dave would come see me in my office he would give me advice that had no agenda…it was always in the best interest of CELS and I truly appreciate that.”

Throughout his career, Bengtson remained an active faculty member within the CELS community, chairing the FAVS department for three consecutive three-year terms and teaching a variety of classes, including Fish Nutrition, Fishery Science, and Aquaculture and the Environment.

He also served as interim chair of the Department of Plant Science and Entomology and mentored students in the Sustainable Systems specialization for the Masters of Environmental Science and Management (MESM) program at CELS.

“He was an exceptional leader, mentor, and teacher,” praise his long-time colleagues Dr. Peter August and Dr. Art Gold, directors of the MESM program.

Bengtson demonstrated an unwavering commitment to advancing the FAVS department with eighty-seven peer-reviewed publications. He also secured more than $5.5 million in grant funding, which provided substantial research and lab opportunities for his students.

In addition to his academic accomplishments at CELS, Bengtson is also recognized as a distinguished scholar within the aquaculture community in New England, where he was among the pioneers of aquaculture research after commercial fish stocks crashed in the 1980s.

Bengtson has also made his mark internationally where his work has had a significant impact on global affairs in Southeast Asia. His federally funded research in Vietnam helped improve trade relations between Vietnam and Cambodia by assisting in the development of a sustainable food source for a native fish species in the region.

Even as he steps down from his position at URI, Bengtson shows no signs of slowing down. He’ll spend the next year-and-a-half working to complete the Vietnam-Cambodia project while also mentoring two of his Ph.D. students through the end of their degrees.

Dr. Bengtson (middle) with colleagues from FAVS department