Mark received his B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Purdue University. As an engineer for private industry, including AT&T in Virginia, he worked to control and minimize pollutants in wastewater, stormwater runoff and hazardous waste from large manufacturing facilities. In 1992, he found much more satisfying employment at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) working with sea turtles, oysters, and estuarine fishes.
From VIMS he migrated to South Carolina where he worked with hard clams, leeches, and other interesting marine creatures. As luck had it he was then hired by the Marine Resources Research Institute, part of SCDNR where he participated in oyster reef research, headed their horseshoe crab program, and helped with water quality monitoring in the ACE-Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR). While in South Carolina, he received an M.S. in Environmental Science from the College of Charleston-Medical University of South Carolina’s joint graduate program. His thesis explored the secret life of horseshoe crabs in South Carolina, during which time he was a member of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Horseshoe Crab Management Plan development team.
He moved to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FL DEP), where he monitored and analyzed southeastern Florida’s waters using biological, chemical, and physical indicators. His work also included taxonomy, data management, laboratory work, and resulting publications.
The U.S. Peace Corps captured Thompson in 2005, where he spent three years in a tropical Philippine paradise teaching Coastal Resource Management (CRM) at a small college and developing a CRM research program. He and his numerous student researchers did baseline assessments of coral reef, seagrass, and mangrove habitats as well as the state of local fisheries. The research included characterizing catch efficiencies of local gear types and implementing least-impact fishpond management techniques. He also developed a CRM resource center complete with water quality lab,habitat assessment equipment, eight computers with GIS and statistical software, all connected to the Internet.
Thompson enjoys learning about nature and sharing his knowledge with others, with special interests in estuarine ecology and the impact of water quality on biological communities. He dives (US EPA Research Diver Certification), kayaks, mountain bikes, and he lived aboard a 33-foot sloop for many years in SC and FL. He is an accomplished coastal navigator.