Dr Fenical first became excited about the ocean at the age of 12 while on a family trip to Florida. Not long after, he and his family moved from their Chicago home to California. Bill continued to enjoy the ocean through scuba diving while obtaining his formal training in organic chemistry.
He received his MS from San Jose State University and his PhD from the University of California at Riverside. Determined to blend his love of the ocean with his career, Bill attained an Assistant Research Chemist position at Scripps in 1973. Since that time Bill has studied marine chemical ecology with particular interest in the role of chemical defence in thwarting predation on vulnerable marine organisms.
It is from this research, and the resultant discovery of new chemical compounds, that Bill became interested in the medical potential of the oceans. Today his research focuses on the discovery of medicinally valuable compounds derived from marine microorganisms collected locally and tropical locations, as well as extreme environments such as the deep-sea and arctic waters. In support of this research Bill has traveled the world performing field collections using scuba. He is one of the few to have successfully combined his hobby with his career.