Previously Funded Research

CTSG funds research through our omnibus project selection process, as well as regional competitions, national awards, development projects and external grants. The NOAA Central Library’s Sea Grant Collection began archiving research and publications supported by Connecticut Sea Grant and the other 33 Sea Grant Programs in January 2022.

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Prior to 2022, the National Sea Grant Library archived research and publications supported by Connecticut Sea Grant and the other 33 Sea Grant programs.

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Previously Funded Research (2018-2020)

Long Island Sound’s marine life and water quality will be the focus of five two-year research projects Connecticut Sea Grant will support starting in 2018. Proposals by four research teams from the University of Connecticut and one from Yale University School were chosen for the awards. The projects were slated to begin in the spring of 2018. Each will leverage matching funds of at least $75,000, bringing the total value of the research investment to over $1.1 million.

  • Researchers Julie Granger and Jamie Vaudrey, both in the Department of Marine Sciences at UConn, will investigate the extent to which nutrients in the effluent from the Westerly and Pawcatuck wastewater treatment plants are fueling invasive macroalgae in Little Narragansett Bay. They will analyze nitrogen flowing into the Pawcatuck River to assess its source, comparing effluent from the two plants with naturally occurring levels of nitrogen and oxygen in the river, which flows into the bay. They hope to determine whether nitrogen from these treatment plants is a substantial contributor to the overgrowth of an invasive green algae, Cladophora. They plan to continue their collaboration with the organization Clean Up Sound and Harbors, also known as CUSH, and share their results with the community.

  • Patterns of methylmercury accumulation in copepods, a type of zooplankton that is a critical part of the Long Island Sound food web, will be assessed by Zofia Baumann and Hans Dam, both in the Marine Sciences Department at UConn. Methylmercury is an organic form of heavy metal mercury that is neurotoxic and can lead to human health impairments.

  • UConn Professor Hans Dam will examine whether red tide algal blooms will become more common and more toxic in the sound as water temperatures and carbon dioxide levels in the estuary increase as a result of climate change. The findings will help managers better understand the dynamics of red tide blooms and minimize human health impacts.

  • Gaboury Benoit, at Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, seeks to understand the extent that heavy metal contaminants (lead, mercury, copper and cadmium) are captured in sediments that become trapped in tributary estuaries flowing into Long Island Sound. The West River in New Haven, which until recently had restricted flows due to a tide gate that has been removed, will be the focus of the research. Flows from the West River will be measured and compared with those from New Haven’s Mill River, which continues to have tide gates. The research will also examine how sea level rise might change these functions.

  • A multidisciplinary team of UConn scientists led by Pengfei Liu of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Stephen Swallow of the same department and Eric Schultz of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology will investigate how fishermen’s behavior changes in response to new regulations on size limits, season length and numbers of fish that can be caught. The researchers will engage focus groups and survey anglers to learn how fishermen respond to restrictions on tautog (black fish). Ultimately, they hope to determine the effectiveness of different management strategies intended to rebuild depleted fish populations.

The competitive grant process is open biennially and utilizes federal funding administered by Connecticut Sea Grant for projects to improve the health of marine and coastal ecosystems and benefit the public. 

Previously Funded Research (2016-2018)

The Connecticut Sea Grant College Program funded six research projects with a total value of $879,091 for the period of 2016 to 2018. The suite of competitively-selected projects was chosen to benefit both Long Island Sound and the coastal Connecticut communities that surround it. These projects together helped 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.Previously Funded Research Projects (2016-2018)

coastal resilienceResilient Coastal Communities under Wind & Flood Hazards

Wei Zhang and Christine Kirchhoff of UConn’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, aimed 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 were 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 participated 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, led a multi-disciplinary team of investigators who surveyed 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 wanted 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 provided managers with 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, examined mercury concentrations and methylation in water and sediments, and how it accumulates into marine fish and shellfish. They sampled multiple locations along the Connecticut coast that differ in mercury sediment concentration levels in an effort 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, determined 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, investigated 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, brought 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 found to be successful were used in historically low-performing schools to gauge their effectiveness in improving student learning outcomes. For more info, please visit


Previously Funded Research Projects (2014-2016)

Shrimp Expedition 2014 – Research on Invasive Shrimp

invasive shrimpShrimp are tasty and good for you, right? So why worry about invasive shrimp coming to our shores? The reason for concern is that such invasive species often thrive and compete with native species, sometimes even driving them out, and may further impact the prey species of the shrimp as well. Dr. James T. Carlton, a world-renowned expert on invasive species, led a team conducting dockside surveys to assess the spread and abundance of invasive non-native shrimp in the Northeastern United States. In the summer of 2014, with partial funding from the Northeast Sea Grant Consortium, Carlton and project coordinator Shannon Weigle launched Shrimp Expedition 2014, using floating docks at public and private marinas as sampling sites. Find out more

Connecticut Sea Grant, based at the University of Connecticut, funded four grants totaling $ 491,750 to researchers in Connecticut for the years 2014-2016. These grants funded research projects focusing on the ecosystems and natural resources of Long Island Sound and Connecticut’s shoreline communities.

Bakers_Cove_marshShimon Anisfeld and his colleague Andrew Kemp at Yale University will investigate the ability of salt marshes to migrate upland as sea levels rise. Healthy marshes protect shorelines from storm impacts and serve as nursery habitat for many animals. Their successful migration will depend on many factors such as elevation, hydrology, soils, plants, and animals.
 Acartia tonsa, credit Univ. of Del.Hans Dam at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Marine Sciences will examine how the zooplankton species Acartia tonsa might adapt evolutionarily to heat waves, which in the future may occur more frequently, last longer, and have higher peak temperatures. This species is a critical source of food for fish in Long Island Sound.

Chris Elphick at the University of Connecticut Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology will lead an assessment of Connecticut coastal property owners’ attitudes and intentions towards rising sea levels. Elphick and colleagues will use the results to help managers integrate conservation management goals with what is important to coastal residents.

Juvenile horseshoe crabs Mark A. Beekey and Jennifer Mattei in the Sacred Heart University Department of Biology will identify juvenile horseshoe crab nursery habitats along the Connecticut coastline and evaluate them for qualities essential to the species’ growth and survival. The project will build on the educational and outreach activities of Project Limulus, an ongoing citizen monitoring effort for horseshoe crab populations. In addition to these research projects, Connecticut Sea Grant funds a variety of regional social science projects, including the recent Coastal Storm Awareness Program with New York and New Jersey Sea Grant.