Awardees, Research

Six Teams to Share $814K in 2015 Collaborative Research Grant Awards


2015 Collaborative Research Grant Awards

With the goal to make Rhode Island an international leader in understanding and predicting the response of marine organisms and marine ecosystems to climate variability, Governor Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island Science & Technology Advisory Council (STAC) today announced the recipients of the 2015 Rhode Island Research Alliance Collaborative Research Grants.


The awards, totaling $814,042 will fund six multi-disciplinary teams bringing together deep expertise in oceanography, supercomputing, environmental conservation, genetics, toxicology, and aquatic pathology to examine how marine life in Narragansett Bay is responding to climate change. Data from these projects will lead to improved strategies for fisheries and aquaculture management, new tools for monitoring ecological change, and a 3D modeling system for coastal waterways that can enhance risk assessment, infrastructure planning and tracking of toxic spills.


These grants are the ninth round of awards aimed at facilitating collaborative research in Rhode Island and support STAC’s partnership with the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). To date, STAC has invested $10.6 million in collaborative research projects that have yielded a return of $43 million back to the state in the form of grants for continued research, new federal programs, infrastructure improvements, commercialization of new products and funding for new companies.


More about the 2015 Collaborative Research Grants Awardees

Diatom Community Composition as an Indicator of Coastal Ecosystem Change ($158,722)

This project will bring together four scientists from different fields to explore coastal biogeochemical responses to climate change and develop new assessment tools for monitoring ecological change.

Rebecca Robinson, University of Rhode Island
Tatiana Rynearson, University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography
Warren Prell, Brown University
David Murray, Brown University

Canaries in Narragansett Bay? Untangling the Ecological Response of a Key Diatom Genus to Environmental Change ($118,895)

This project links an academic scientist with expertise in genetics and a federal agency scientist with expertise in predictive modeling to examine how the base of the food web in Narragansett Bay is changing in response to changes in environmental conditions.

Tatiana Rynearson, University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography
Jason Grear, US Environmental Protection Agency

Marine Disturbance Disease and Climate Change in Rhode Island’s Coastal Waters: Merging Higher Trophic Level Population Dynamics Models/Datasets with Lower Trophic Level Climate Forecast Models ($139,952)

This team will use physical oceanography and aquatic pathology to integrate historic datasets to understand the relationship between physical and chemical changes in the ocean and various health issues affecting coastal fish and shellfish of commercial interest.

Lewis Rothstein, University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography
Kathleen Castro, University of Rhode Island
Marta Gomez-Chiarri, University of Rhode Island
Roxanna Smolowitz, Roger Williams University

A Proteomics Approach to Analyzing Phenotypic Plasticity versus Adaptation in the Response of Marine Invertebrates to Climate Change ($131,799)

This team will study the proteins in a common invasive marine species to determine if it is adapting to local stress factors within one generation or going through genetic changes over multiple generations. The findings will be used to predict the impact on economically important fisheries and aquaculture.

Steven Irvine, University of Rhode Island
Niall Howlett, University of Rhode Island
Thomas Meedel, Rhode Island College
James Clifton, Brown University

Pushing to New Limits for Models of RI Bays and Sounds ($160,449)

This trans-disciplinary project combines expertise in coastal waterway modeling and supercomputing model development to create a new 3D modeling tool that extends our existing ability to understand coastal turbulence for such things as risk assessment, infrastructure planning, tracking of toxic spills and fisheries/aquaculture management.

Baylor Fox-Kemper, Brown University
Lewis Rothstein, University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography
Christopher Kincaid, University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography
David Ullman, University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography
Edward Durbin, University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography
Dale Leavitt, Roger Williams University
David Taylor, Roger Williams University

Narragansett Bay Apex Predators’ Response to Toxic Chemicals and Climate Change ($104,225)

Working in partnership with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, an research scientist with expertise in shark biology and molecular toxicology will study the sensitivity of predators to persistent chemicals in Narragansett Bay.

Rebeka Rand Merson, Rhode Island College
Diane Nacci, United States Environmental Protection Agency