Hailing from Sweet Home, Oregon, where his father introduced him to the fascinations of pondwater (McCarthy 2018), Jim McCarthy graduated from Gonzaga University, and in the late 1960s joined the Food Chain Research Group at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he received his doctorate in 1971. The Food Chain Research Group, which was becoming recognized as the premier research group on plankton, was at that time directed by such distinguished scientists as John Strickland and Dick Eppley, among others. The goal of the Food Chain Group was to understand plankton dynamics and trophodynamics, “to a degree that will enable man to exercise satisfactory control of the environment and make useful predictions” (Institute of Marine Resources annual report, 1968, cited in Shor 1978:143) and “to predict the formation and transfer of nutrients through the full cycle of life in the ocean” (Shor 1978:140). It was there that Jim became immersed in all aspects of nutrients, plankton, and the marine food web.
Glibert, Patricia M., Mark A. Altabet, Joseph P. Montoya, and Dennis J. McGillicuddy. 2019. "Advancing science from plankton to whales—Celebrating the contributions of James J. McCarthy." Journal of Marine Research 77, (S). https://elischolar.library.yale.edu/journal_of_marine_research/470