Peter Raymond arrived at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in 1995 in an old Volkswagen van with just his dog, his few worldly possessions, and a general interest in carbon cycling within rivers and estuaries.A 1999 alumnus of the Ph.D. program at VIMS, Raymond is now an internationally known expert in the earth, aquatic, and marine science communities—and he is giving credit where credit is due: to his alma mater.
“Each step that has led me to where I am in my professional career as a scientist and researcher has been crucial,” he says, “but it was the research and publications that came out of my dissertation at VIMS that were critical to getting me where I am today.”
Raymond is now a professor of ecosystem ecology at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and has spent the majority of his scientific career studying the carbon cycle. “I’m still studying my undergrad senior thesis,” he laughs.
Raymond’s research at Yale focuses on biogeochemistry, concentrating specifically on carbon and nitrogen cycles within aquatic systems. He and the graduate students in his lab use natural radioactive tracers to study how natural and human processes control the concentrations of carbon and nitrogen within ecosystems, and to track the movement of these elements between land, water, and air. Their work has fundamentally altered scientists’ understanding of the source and fate of river-borne carbon, with important implications for the global carbon budget and possible responses to human-induced climate change.