Currently Funded Research (2016-2018)

The Connecticut Sea Grant College Program is funding six research projects with a total value of $879,091 for the period of 2016 to 2018. The suite of competitively-selected projects will benefit both Long Island Sound and the coastal Connecticut communities that surround it. These projects together help achieve objectives set out in the program’s four thematic focus areas: Healthy Coasts and Oceans, Safe Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture, Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies, and Environmental Literacy and Workforce Development.

coastal resilienceResilient Coastal Communities under Wind & Flood Hazards

Wei Zhang and Christine Kirchhoff of UConn’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, aim to reduce coastal community vulnerabilities by evaluating and comparing trade-offs in residential home building designs for both wind and flood factors. New GIS-based resilience maps will be produced to show multi-hazard effects to help communities plan and build appropriately to reduce vulnerabilities to extreme weather events and sea level rise. The towns of Fairfield and Milford, CT are participating in the study. Click here for more info.


Public Support for Adaptation to Sea Level Rise

Coastal storm damageStephen Swallow of the UConn Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, is leading a multi-disciplinary team of investigators that will survey Connecticut coastal residents to examine their preferences and values with respect to various measures to preserve coastal areas and resources in the face of sea level rise. They want to find out whether residents are more likely to support environmentally protective measures if they understand the value of ecosystem functions for public benefit. Results will give managers insight into the alternatives and tradeoffs which are preferred, and how much residents are willing to pay for adaptation measures in coastal area to make communities stronger. Associate Investigators include James O’Donnell and Jennifer O’Donnell, UConn Marine Sciences, and Christopher Elphick and Eric Schultz, UConn Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Click here for more info.

Nutrients and Bioaccumulation of Methyl Mercury

Picture of students with seine netRobert P. Mason and Zofia Baumann of the UConn Department of Marine Sciences, will examine mercury concentrations and methylation in water and sediments, and how it accumulates into marine fish and shellfish. They will sample multiple locations along the Connecticut coast that differ in mercury sediment concentration levels. They hope to explain how the nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus in coastal water bodies influence mercury methylation and accumulation in marine life.


LIS Mass Balance

Nutrient & Carbon Fluxes through Long Island Sound

Penny Vlahos and Michael Whitney, UConn Department of Marine Sciences, will determine chemical budgets and fluxes of carbon and nitrogen in Long Island Sound; in other words, how much goes into the Sound and back out to the ocean, by what routes, and how fast. This information is essential to effectively manage water quality in the Sound. Future modeling of ecosystems that incorporates these data will inform water quality, restoration and preservation strategies.

Acartia tonsa, credit Univ. of Del.Effects of Global Warming/Ocean Acidification
on Marine Plankton

Hans G. Dam, Hannes Bauman, and Michael Finiguerra. UConn Department of Marine Sciences, will investigate the combined effects of warming waters and ocean acidification on a key species of copepod, Acartia tonsa. Copepods, small zooplankton, are the most abundant animals in the ocean and Long Island Sound, and are a primary food source for larger animals such as fish. Click here for more info.

coastal literacy
Credit: C. Sziabowski, UConn Today

Coastal Literacy in CT Schools

Michael Finiguerra, UConn Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Rachel Gabriel, UConn Neag School of Education, will bring together an educational researcher, a coastal scientist, and high school teachers to develop and test a variety of education strategies to increase coastal literacy. Innovative teaching practices and factors that are found to be successful will be used in historically low-performing schools to see how effective they are in improving student learning outcomes. For more info, please visit

These projects will enhance our understanding of the coastal systems and resources of Long Island Sound, provide new and useful information for Connecticut’s residents interested in augmenting coastal resilience, and coastal literacy.