I received my BA (Biology) and MS (Biochemistry) degrees from Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA) and my PhD (Oceanography) from Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada). I did post-doctoral research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (La Jolla, CA). I have lived in Lewes, Delaware for the past 42 years with wife, Gwyneth. We raised our son (Jonathan O. Sharp) and daughter (Katherine H. Sharp) there, both of whom are now successful PhD faculty members, respectively in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Colorado School of Mines (Golden, CO) and Marine Biology at Roger Williams University (Bristol, RI).
My research interests include Phytoplankton algal physiology, Microbial biogeochemistry (estuarine, coastal, and oceanic), Analytical methodology for routine aquatic analyses, Translation of estuarine research results to resource management, Assistance in training scientists to communicate with the public.
My earlier work focused on organic chemical oceanography and phytoplankton ecophysiology. An early interest in analytical methodology led to about two decades of intercalibration and standardization efforts with the international oceanographic community as well as work with state and regional monitoring agencies. My publications on phytoplankton led to much discussion and re-evaluation of the concept of extracellular production by phytoplankton and the role in the microbial loop. Much of my research effort over the last three decades has been on estuarine microbial biogeochemistry. I have published over 100 papers (in refereed literature) and reports including 35 papers in the refereed literature from my research group specifically about the Delaware Estuary. In addition to using the Delaware Estuary as a “laboratory” for understanding estuarine biogeochemistry, this has allowed national and international involvement in re-defining estuarine eutrophication.
I have also published a number of newsletter articles and guest newspaper op-eds on local estuarine science and policy as well as global carbon cycle and climate change. Throughout most of my career, I have worked closely with resource managers to apply the results of environmental research to estuarine and coastal resource management.
My interest for over three decades in the Delaware Estuary has included being primary advisor for 16 MS and PhD projects about the Delaware Estuary. Most of the research involved many short research cruises along the full length of the estuary. A final project on the estuary was establishment of monitoring on the Cape May Lewes ferry across the mouth of the Delaware Bay. On the more applied side, I served as the chairman of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee for the Delaware Estuary Program from 1989-1996; then became the chairman of its Monitoring Implementation Team and first Chairman of the Board of the non-profit Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. I served on advisory committees and have given informal advice to the Delaware River Basin Commission for over 30 years.
I have provided informal advice and assistance to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection regarding measurements and interpretation of data on estuarine resources. I have provided various consulting activities about Delaware Estuary science for Delaware River Basin Commission, Public Service Electric and Gas Company (operator of a major nuclear electrical generation facility), Duffield Associates (geological and engineering consulting company), and the DuPont Company. I have had some similar advisory and technical committee involvement with Maryland and California on Chesapeake and San Francisco bays, respectively. Recently, I served on two national advisory committees (for NOAA and EPA) assisting with design for the management of estuarine nutrient problems.
In 2008, I was inducted into the Delaware Maritime Hall of Fame and was awarded the first Lifetime Achievement Award by the Delaware Estuary Program in 2011; the award was later renamed “The Jonathan Sharp Lifetime Achievement Award”.
In service to ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography), in addition to participation on the editorial board for Limnology and Oceanography and membership on the Meetings Committee, I was co-chair of the 2005 Aquatic Sciences meeting and the 2008 and 2014 Ocean Sciences meetings. Through these meeting organizational activities, I became interested in improving communication by scientists to the public. Recently, I have received support from the US National Science Foundation for outreach activities at national and international meetings. These have included panel discussions with media experts and workshops that have brought Hollywood actors, filmmakers, and screenwriting consultants to meetings as communications experts advising the scientists.