Following completion of bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Southeastern Massachusetts University and a doctorate at the University of Rhode Island, John Farrington joined the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1971 as a postdoctoral investigator. He held successive positions in the Chemistry Department for 17 years, and simultaneously served for six years as director of the WHOI Coastal Research Center. In 1988 he was appointed Michael P. Walsh Professor and Director of the Environmental Sciences Program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. In 1990, he returned to WHOI to become Associate Director for Education and Dean of Graduate Studies in 1990. In 2002, John was named Vice President for Academic Programs and Dean.
His research interests include marine organic geochemistry, biogeochemistry of organic chemicals of environmental concern, and the interaction between science and policy. He has served on committees and panels for international, national, and local organizations, including the UNESCO-Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Lloyd Center for Environmental Studies. He has participated in four major field programs and 18 oceanographic cruises (eight as chief scientist), and he has supervised 13 graduate students or postdocs.