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A History of Success, A Future of Promise

Jeffrey Armstrong

​​Halls of Fame

Alumni PictureDr. Jeffrey L. Armstrong

Dr. Jeff Armstrong has successfully blended two seemingly disparate interests into a fulfilling career with strong roots from his experience at Santa Ana College. Jeff attended Santa Ana College from fall semester 1985 through fall semester 1988, initially as a criminal justice major. His studies took a fortuitous turn when he enrolled in a general interest marine biology course to satisfy the science requirement for graduation. He found the subject so intriguing and his instructor so enthusiastic, Jeff knew his calling would be in the field of biology. It would evidently prove a solid choice, leading to membership in the Alpha Gamma Sigma honor society.
In 1993, Jeff received a Bachelor of Science in marine biology from California State University, Long Beach, as well as a master’s degree in biology in 1997. He received the Kenneth A. Johnson Award for the outstanding master’s thesis in his graduating class. He went on to the City University Los Angeles where he received a Ph.D. in biological oceanography in June 2001, graduating with honors (summa cum laude). However, the world of criminal justice remained an important part of his life, serving as a full-time police officer for the Santa Ana Police Department from 1981 to 1997.  He worked in diverse areas including patrol, child abuse and molestation investigations and crime scene investigations. In addition, he volunteered with the Police Explorer Scout program, and received the Santa Ana Police Department Corporal (Supervisor) of the Year award in 1993.
After completing an internship from September 1994 to January 1997, in the ocean monitoring program with the Orange County Sanitation District in Fountain Valley, Jeff joined the program as a full-time principal environment specialist in February 1997 and left law enforcement. He was later promoted to the level of senior scientist, the highest level within the program. Jeff is also an adjunct professor of marine biology in the department of biological sciences at California State University, Long Beach, functioning as a part-time lecturer and a doctoral researcher in the fish endocrinology laboratory.  In addition, he serves on the bioscience advisory committee for Chapman University in Orange, and has participated in master degree thesis committees at CSU Long Beach, CSU Fullerton and UC Riverside. Jeff has published research articles in primary scientific literature, provided peer reviews of papers for scientific journals, contributed to a textbook on scientific writing and presented original research papers at numerous scientific meetings and conferences throughout the United States and Canada, many as an invited speaker.
Interestingly, Jeff’s dual interest in biology and law has continued through a very active role in organizations involved with important issues of environmental quality. He served on national committees including the United States Geological Survey’s National Monitoring Network Design Committee, the Water Environmental Federation Contaminants of Emerging Concern Community of Practice Committee, and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies Endocrine Disrupting Chemical Research Committee. Jeff has been a speaker at numerous meetings, conferences and workshops regarding his work on contaminants in the marine environment. In 1995, Jeff received an award from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for using ecological population biology concepts in an investigation to determine the extent of illegal cruising activities in Southern California.  In March 2007, he went before the United States Congress with a briefing on the issues and challenges related to emerging contaminants in United States waters.
Jeff gives back to the community through involvement in the Da Vinci Mentor Program, working with students at Newport Harbor High School who are interested in careers in the sciences. He is also a volunteer judge at the Orange County Science Engineering Fair and a volunteer lecturer at CSU Fullerton on cultural awareness for psychotherapists. He is currently the president of the Southern California chapter of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) serving as board member since 1999. Jeff is a member of SETAC North America, the Southern California Academy of Sciences, the Southern California Association of Marine Invertebrate Taxonomists and the American Fisheries Society.
For Jeff, Santa Ana College provided the ideal experience in preparation for further study in undergraduate and post-graduate levels. He noted the small class sizes and individual attention, which gave him a solid foundation and started him on his path to success. In his view, the community college system and SAC, in particular, are an indispensable community resource where students can get their feet wet in an affordable college setting, with an outstanding quality of education and without becoming overwhelmed.
The Armstrong family resides in Orange, California. His wife, Dawn, has worked at SAC for 15 years as a tutor in human development and as a sign language interpreter; daughter, Cassandra, is an administrative assistant at the college; and daughter, Shannon, attends CSU Fullerton.