2021 Research Symposium

Primary tabs

oyster research in Great Bay, NH during the COVID-19 pandemic featuring 3 people standing in the water up to their hips around a small research vessel as they examine oysters from an oyster aquaculture cage

Thursday, January 28, 2021
9:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Hosted Virtually

Join us virtually for our 2021 Research Symposium! This biennial symposium is designed to showcase recently-funded NH Sea Grant research projects and provide a forum to discuss best practices in translating cross-disciplinary science to action through integrated research, education, and engagement. Symposium participants will also learn how successful NH Sea Grant research projects strive to address the core tenants of Sea Grant's work to be responsive, relevant, integrated, and engaged.

It is our goal for the symposium to help strengthen the sense of community and integration among current NH Sea Grant researchers, extension and education staff, students, project partners, and stakeholders, as well as to engage with potential new investigators and collaborators.


  • 2018-2019 Research Projects
  • 2020-2021 Research Projects
  • Virtual Poster Session
  • Q&A for 2022-2023 Research Funding


If you were unable to attend or missed any part of the presentation, a recording of the Research Symposium is now available.

Watch the Symposium


The symposium (9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) be divided into sections by research cohort, staff presentations, a virtual poster session, and Q&A.

View/Download Agenda


View Posters


2022-2023 RFP

We are soliciting research projects for our upcoming funding cycle (2022-2023)! Learn more about and our latest Request for Proposals (RFP) and how you can join our growing research community.

RFP Details


Michelle Lemos
Program Assistant
(603) 862-6700

Steve Jones, Ph.D.
Associate Director &
Assistant Director for Research
(603) 862-5124

Browse symposium research projects:

Current Research (2020-2021)

Dr. Elizabeth Craig, Shoals Marine Lab and UNH School of Marine Sciences and Ocean Engineering
Dr. Nathan Furey, UNH Biological Sciences
Dr. Jennifer Seavey, Shoals Marine Lab and UNH School of Marine Sciences and Ocean Engineering

Having accurate data about fish populations is vital to managing a fishery, but getting that data for younger, smaller fish using traditional sampling methods can be difficult. A research team led by Elizabeth Craig at the Shoals Marine Laboratory and the University of New Hampshire will be studying the diets of seabirds – specifically terns in the Isles of Shoals – to close this data gap and more accurately measure the health of specific fisheries. By watching what kinds of fish seabird parents feed to their chicks, analyzing fecal samples, and sampling the fish community through net tows and DNA in seawater samples, the project will inform the ways we monitor our fisheries and make management decisions.

Learn more

Dr. Diane Foster, UNH School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, Mechanical and Ocean Engineering
Dr. Dave Burdick, UNH School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, Jackson Estuarine Laboratory
Dr. Alyson Eberhardt, NH Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension

During storms and extreme weather events along the coast, sand and other sediments can wash over a barrier, like a beach or a road, and end up in a salt marsh. This process, called overwash, plays an important role in bringing sediment and nutrients into the marsh. Healthy salt marshes act as nurseries for fish, habitat for other wildlife, and buffer storm surge. However, in the New Hampshire Seacoast, salt marshes are increasingly separated from their barrier beaches by manmade structures such as seawalls, roads, and neighborhoods. A team led by Diane Foster at the University of New Hampshire will investigate the role overwash plays in our salt marsh ecosystems and how manmade structures are altering the effects.

Learn more

Dr. Nathan Furey, UNH Biological Sciences
Dr. David Berlinsky, UNH Biological Sciences
Dr. Alyson Eberhardt, NH Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension
Dr. Benjamin Walther, Texas A&M University Marine Biology

Populations of rainbow smelt, a species important in ice fishing, have declined in New Hampshire and are listed as a Species of Concern by state and federal agencies. Estuaries are presumed to serve as important ecosystems for rainbow smelt because smelt travel between fresh and saltwater habitats, but the role of estuaries play in smelt populations is not well understood. Through experimental larval release, acoustic telemetry, and otolith microchemistry, a team of researchers led by Nathan Furey at the University of New Hampshire will explore how rainbow smelt use estuaries throughout their life cycle. Future managers of the stock will be able to use this research to better protect and enhance populations of rainbow smelt and revive a threatened ice fishery.

Learn more

Dr. Gregg Moore, UNH Biological Sciences
Dr. Michael Routhier, UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space
Dr. Alyson Eberhardt, NH Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension

Understanding how sea level rise will affect coastal communities in New Hampshire is key to forming a plan to combat future risks to property and livelihoods of Seacoast residents. New research from a team led by Gregg Moore at the University of New Hampshire will combine data from UAV remote sensing technology with a wireless network of salinity and water level sensors to create a field monitoring system that can identify current and future flooding risks. Moore will also use the data from this system to engage students and volunteers, inform communities, and increase coastal resilience by holding local meetings and developing new coastal management strategies.

Learn more

Dr. Paula Mouser, UNH College of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Dr. James Malley Jr., UNH Civil and Environmental Engineering
Dr. Jenna Luek, UNH Civil and Environmental Engineering

Wastewater treatment plants remove many contaminants before water is released back into surface waters, like New Hampshire’s Great Bay. However, most treatment facilities are not designed to remove contaminants of emerging concern such as p­­­­harmaceuticals, personal care products, and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) – some of which can have sublethal toxic effects on aquatic life and people. To examine this growing threat, Paula Mouser and her team at the University of New Hampshire will apply new analysis tools to better understand how the operation of wastewater treatment facilities can influence the removal of these emerging contaminants. The team hopes to identify strategies that could reduce the amount of these compounds released from treatment facilities into tributaries of the Great Bay estuary.

Learn more

Completed Research Projects (2018-2019)

David Berlinsky, Biological Sciences, UNH (603.862.0007; david.berlinsky@unh.edu)
Adrienne Kovach, Natural Resources and the Environment, UNH (603.862.1603; adrienne.kovach@unh.edu)

The need to increase domestic seafood production is essential to our nation’s food security, and NOAA’s five-year marine aquaculture strategic plan mandates expanding sustainable U.S. marine aquaculture production by at least 50 percent by 2020. One of the impediments that has hindered the expansion of finfish aquaculture has been the limited number of appropriate species choices. Candidate aquaculture species must command a premium price, have high consumer demand and adapt to localized environments for profitable production. One species that meets all these criteria is the striped bass (Morone saxatilis), and its commercial production has been initiated on a limited scale. For marine culture, it is also imperative to culture fish indigenous to, or representative of, those inhabiting waters of the culture site. This is important because indigenous fish likely have adapted for optimal growth and other important rearing traits. It is also important to use endemic strains because any potential escapement would be less injurious to the local genetic population structure of wild fish. Improved knowledge of genetic stock structure would benefit fishery management in addition to aquaculture, as striped bass is one of the most popular recreational sport species in the northeastern U.S.

In this study, researchers will work with collaborating fishermen and aquaculturists to develop environmentally responsible marine striped bass culture by increasing our understanding of the genetic stocks that should be used as broodstock. The researchers will also use state-of-the-art genomic tools to identify the stock structure of migrating striped bass in the northern Atlantic coastal region to better inform management decisions. Finally, they will culture striped bass in recirculating systems and near-shore netpens, to demonstrate the feasibility of marine culture. The results of this study will be made available to current and future culturists and fishery managers through a robust outreach component.

Learn More

Joshua Carloni, NH Fish & Game (603.868.1095; joshua.carloni@wildlife.nh.gov)
Win Watson, Biological Sciences, UNH (603.862.1629; win@unh.edu)
Jason Goldstein, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (207-646-1555 ext 136; jgoldstein@wellsnerr.org)

The Jonah crab fishery has increased significantly over the past 15 years. This growth has necessitated the development of a Fisheries Management Plan; however, a full assessment of the population cannot be conducted until we gain a better understanding of growth, mortality and reproduction. Recently, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council established a coast-wide standard for claw harvesting, but the implications of declawing these animals are poorly understood. It is vital to determine if this practice has long-term implications that might make it difficult to maintain a sustainable Jonah crab fishery. The primary goal of this project is to examine Jonah crab growth rates and molt increments at different temperatures. These data will help to determine how fast these animals reach sexual maturity and how long it may take for them to reach a legal harvestable size. The secondary goals of this project are to determine how claw harvesting affects the health, mortality and mating behavior of Jonah crabs, both in the laboratory and in the field. Researchers will examine Jonah crab mating behavior in the laboratory to determine if males able to successfully mate after they have had one or both claws removed because they might have difficulty grasping and manipulating females. Collectively, the we expect that the results from our proposed work will have a significant impact on the development of subsequent management plans and lead to a strong, sustainable, and profitable Jonah crab fishery.

Learn More

Celia Chen, Biological Sciences, Dartmouth (603-646-2376; celia.y.chen@Dartmouth.Edu)
Kate Buckman, Biological Sciences, Dartmouth (603-646-8768; kate.l.buckman@Dartmouth.Edu)
Vivien Taylor, Earth Sciences, Dartmouth (603-646-3318; vivien.f.taylor@Dartmouth.Edu)

Seafood is one of the healthiest sources of protein and contains nutrients such as lipids, selenium and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (PUFA) which have neuroprotective, cardiovascular, and immunological benefits. Yet consumption of seafood is also associated with risks due to toxic substances, such as mercury and arsenic, that can accumulate in marine-sourced foods. The public may have difficulty assessing the relative risks and benefits of different sources of seafood, leading to lower than recommended intake levels of nutrient levels. Recent publications as well regulatory and advisory agencies have advocated for the concurrent measurement of both nutrients and contaminants in the same tissues, and for the development of regionally relevant consumption guidelines. The Gulf of Maine is host to multiple productive inshore and offshore fisheries, yet there is little information regarding the nutrient and contaminant levels in commercially relevant species for these fisheries. This information is important to providing optimal fisheries products to seafood consumers.

The research aims are to fill knowledge gaps regarding relative nutrient and contaminant concentrations in commercially important seafood from the Gulf of Maine in order to examine the benefits and risks of consumption. Local fishermen, the National Marine Fisheries Survey, and local aquaculture sources were engaged to assist with sample collection of 12 species spanning a range of habitats, life history strategies, trophic characteristics, and sizes. Muscle tissue was sampled and concentrations of mercury, inorganic arsenic, selenium and total lipids measured on all samples, with a subset analyzed for methylmercury and omega-3 PUFA. Relationships between tissue concentrations and fish size, trophic status, or location of catch were examined to see if these factors influences the relative nutrient or contaminant load for each of the species examined, and to assist stakeholders in promoting the healthiest seafood choices and the consumption of locally sourced fish.

Learn more

Todd Guerdat, formerly affiliated with Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems, UNH (todd.guerdat@gmail.com)
Shadi Attalah, Natural Resources and the Environment, UNH (603.862.3233; shadi.attalah@unh.edu)
Ryan Dickson, UNH Cooperative Extension and Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems, UNH (603.862.2520; ryan.dickson@unh.edu)
Peter Konjoian, Konjoian's Floriculture Education Services (peterkfes@comcast.net)

The decline in Northeast groundfish landings is forcing New Hampshire fishermen to develop new opportunities to remain economically sustainable. At the same time, the Northeast is struggling to meet the steadily-increasing consumer demand for locally produced seafood. Aquaculture is a proven means for producing seafood year-round; over half of the world’s seafood comes from aquaculture sources. To address the needs for future and existing US aquaculture producers, practical research is needed to develop scalable and economically sustainable opportunities which are relevant to industry.

This research will be conducted at the farm scale to develop a series of integration strategies for improving the economic sustainability of US aquaculture in the Northeast. Integrating recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) with hydroponic plant production will improve energy and resource utilization and increase the return on investment for costly treatment processes. However, the integration of fish and plant production must go beyond the conventional plant-biased production model. Developing a more balanced economic approach for the production of fish requires an analysis of integration strategies for RAS waste utilization in different production settings in the Northeast (intensive RAS, urban aquaculture, etc.). This research will enable new and existing Northeast aquaculture producers to increase locally-grown fish by diversifying production and monetizing fish waste nutrients.

Learn more

Alison Watts, Civil and Environmental Engineering, UNH (603.862.0585; alison.watts@unh.edu)

Environmental DNA (eDNA), or DNA present in an environmental sample, is emerging as a powerful tool to detect species present in an ecosystem without having to actually capture and identify individual organisms. Fish, invertebrates, and other animals shed DNA through fragments of tissue, reproductive and waste products into the environment they live in.  Researchers can identify which species are present by extracting and analyzing the DNA in water or sediment samples.

This project will design and implement a pilot eDNA monitoring program in N.H. streams and estuaries. Anadromous fish travel from the oceans to New England mountain streams, but their movements are increasingly restricted by tidal crossings such as dams, bridges, or culverts. Understanding how crossings impact species movement and diversity is a crucial element to effectively mitigating and restoring habitat while supporting societal needs for roads and other development. This project will develop protocols and recommendations for the appropriate use of eDNA in coastal monitoring programs, using American eel as a pilot species, with potential application to other estuarine fish. 

Learn more

Cheryl Whistler, Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences, UNH (603.862.2359; cheryl.whistler@unh.edu)

Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) is the leading cause of seafood-borne bacterial infections in the US that is increasingly linked to shellfish harvested in the Northeast. Previous research indicates that in northernmost locations for Vp populations, a particular strain of Vp had bacteriophage (viruses, or “phage”) integrated into their genome, suggesting that the successful founders of each of these populations became phage-infected and then expanded their populations. These phages cause chronic infections, thereby presumably impairing the growth of its host bacterial cell. And yet the correlation of phage presence with successful population establishment suggests the phages could provide a fitness benefit that balances the costs of chronic infection.

Researchers will conduct experiments to compare chronically bacteriophage-infected Vp to phage-free Vp to quantify the effects of phage on Vp fitness and virulence. Concurrently, researchers will evaluate the extent that presence of these phage could serve as a diagnostic test for tracing isolates to harvest locations, tracking the spread of strains to new areas, and as a predictive measure for risk of disease from shellfish product. Combined these will allow better protection of shellfish consumers, and also allow growers to provide a safe product and minimize the negative impact of harvesting closures.

Learn more