Born in Vienna, Richard studied Biology and Physical Education at the University of Vienna.
In his early years, he developed a strong interest in amphibians and reptiles. During his youth, he maintained many different turtle species. Captive care of turtles showed him their requirements and gave him valuable insights into their biology.
After working as a teacher and in sports management, he began a career as Collections Manager and Librarian at the Herpetological Collection of the Natural History Museum, Vienna, and worked there from 1995-2013. During 2005-2012, he was Secretary General of the Austrian Herpetological Society.
He published papers, particularly on turtles and fossilized turtles. Several times, his main interests led him to India and Bangladesh.
During one of his trips, he and Peter Praschag found a turtle shell on a rubbish heap in a village in Assam near the border of Arunachal Pradesh. This turtle turned out to be a new species and was named Cyclemys gemeli in honor of him. The turtle shell is stored now in the Natural History Museum of Vienna as a holotype.
Richard Gemel is corresponding editor of Herpetozoa and ÖGH Aktuell Journals. He has frequently lectured on herpetology, mainly during the annual meetings of the Austrian Herpetological Society. In his retirement, he continues to support the activities of the Viennese Herp Collection.