Explore Marine Research at UNE
The University of New England School of Marine and Environmental Programs serves as an incubator for forward-looking marine research. The school provides faculty, students, and partner researchers with the information and resources they need to contribute to global conversations regarding marine science, policy, and management.
Our goal is to create new knowledge in a wide variety of interdisciplinary fields, including marine science, marine ecosystems, conservation, restoration, business, sustainable fisheries and ecological aquaculture, social-ecological systems, and marine sustainability science.
Our coastal setting, cutting-edge facilities, and faculty expertise lead to countless marine research opportunities. UNE students serve as key contributors to this work — while also getting the hands-on experience they need for further study and future careers.
Areas of Research
The field of Marine Science is as broad and diverse as the vast oceans that cover most of our planet. At UNE we touch upon all facets of marine science with special focuses in the following areas of research.
Applied Marine Technology
Applied marine technology is a crucial Marine Programs research area that cuts across all others. Robotics, research vessels, remote and autonomous underwater vehicles, environmental monitoring, and modeling are all vital tools that enable modern marine research to occur. Researchers in this area are interested in innovations in and novel applications for marine technology.
Part of our dedication to experiential learning includes providing opportunities to garner real-world skills that make you sought after in the job market and graduate education institutions. A shining example of this is our association with Aquatic Animal Life Support Operators (AALSO). AALSO is a 501 c6 nonprofit organization that focuses on the education and training of aquatic life support operators around the world. AALSO members are those behind the scenes at research institutions and large public aquariums around the world who design, construct, and maintain large aquatic husbandry systems. AALSO provides professional credentialing and proficiency certifications that carry real weight in the industry. UNE is one of only two academic institutions who have been approved by AALSO to administer these tests to our students. Meaning you can walk out the door with a degree in hand, and a professional industry certification in your back pocket.
Boats, for obvious reasons, are important to marine research. At UNE we are fortunate enough to have a fleet of research and education vessels [ATS1] from 18’ to 35’ that are utilized in our programs. Add to this our faculty and professional staff with professional vessel operation credentials and experience operating and conducting science aboard ships and research vessels all over the world — and UNE Marine programs are well suited to help you gain the important technical knowledge needed to be proficient and safe both operating and conducting research at sea.
Researchers: Tim Arienti
The oceans cover more than 70% of the planet. The interconnectivity of life and ecosystems in the sea are incredibly complex, and distinctly linked to both the land and our atmosphere. Such complexity is nearly impossible to understand without the powerful predictive capacities of computer models. These models, based on data collected in the field, from satellites, the geological record, and elsewhere, are used to forecast (and hind-cast) everything from fish populations and food webs to ocean circulation, hurricanes, and climate change.
Ocean robotics and smart technology — in the form of underwater drones, manned submersibles, water quality sensors, oceanographic buoys, and camera systems — is a rapidly growing, and increasingly important marine field. In the age of technology, these tools are becoming vital components in enabling cutting-edge marine research across the board.
Biology of Marine Organisms
Our Marine Programs faculty and professional staff conduct a wide range of research in the areas of biology and ecology of marine organisms. This research area is very broad and ranges from marine genetics to the migration patterns of large animals like sharks, seals, and whales. From seaweed to sharks — plankton to pinnipeds (seals!) our team covers it all.
Food web dynamics focuses on how energy moves through organisms in an ecosystem through primary productivity (photosynthesis) and consumers. Researchers in our Marine programs study these interactions to create a “who’s eating who” web of connections between organisms in an ecosystem.
Researchers: Carrie Byron, Ph.D.
Invasive species are any species introduced to an ecosystem in which they are not native that then go on to cause disruption or harm to the functioning of that ecosystem. Marine organisms are adept at hitching rides in ballast water of ships, through hitchhiking on marine debris, or even through deliberate introduction. Researchers at UNE study these organisms and their ecological interactions and impacts in the Gulf of Maine and beyond.
Researchers: Markus Frederich, Ph.D.
There are more than 20,000 species of marine and fresh water bony fish on the planet, while mollusks alone (snails, bivalves, etc.) comprise more than 85,000 known species. Of all the expansive biodiversity contained within our oceans, the vast majority is contained within the marine invertebrates. With so much diversity, the opportunities for research in marine invertebrates are almost inexhaustible.
Life in the sea poses challenges unique to oceanic organisms, especially the smallest of those (microorganisms). By virtue of being immersed in water, they are at the mercy of the tides, currents, chemistry, and geology of the sea. Oceanography is the study of these physical properties and processes in the ocean — physical, chemical, and geological. Oceanography researchers at UNE study how these oceanographic components interact with each other and affect life in the sea.
With few exceptions, marine microbes and plankton form the base of the marine food web. Small but mighty, the plankton are the fuel for life in the sea. Researchers within our Marine programs study many facets of the biology, ecology, and even chemistry of this important and diverse group of organisms.
The largest organisms in an ecosystem are often sentinels of ecosystem health and serve key roles in the health and balance of our oceans. UNE researchers study the biology and ecology of sharks and marine mammals in the Gulf of Maine and across the globe.
Food from the Ocean
With a global human population headed towards 10 billion by 2050, understanding the interactions between the ocean and what we eat is more important than ever. Our location on the coast of Maine has a deep heritage and connections to the people and communities who have harvested food from the sea, and the ecosystems that provide it. We have robust research and education programs in this focus area including fisheries science and management, ecological aquaculture, marine entrepreneurship, migration of highly migratory species, and food web ecology.
Fisheries science and management are both distinct disciplines that are highly interwoven. Fisheries science creates the knowledge and data used in order for fisheries management to make the best possible policies to manage a fishery. The policies and the priorities set forth by management then in turn creates the framework for fisheries science to design and conduct research. At UNE, we have researchers with expertise on both sides of this important coin.
Researchers: Susan Farady
Globally, the saltwater ornamental fish and aquarium industry is valued at $15 billion, resulting in the importation of more than 400 fish species. And yet, only 10% of these fish are cultured. Ornamental aquaculture is the application of aquaculture techniques and protocols to produce fish and other organisms used for decorative purposes. This practice can help greatly reduce pressure on wild fish populations and increase the sustainability of a hobby growing rapidly on a global scale.
The global human population is projected to be more than 10 billion people by 2050. That is a lot of mouths to feed. And yet, while the oceans cover more than 70% of our planet, only 2% of food production (including all fisheries and ocean farms) comes from the sea. In the future there will be by necessity, increased pressure on global oceans to produce food. Much of this will come from ocean-farms producing not only fish, but shellfish, seaweeds, and other marine foods. Researchers in our Marine programs study the entire suite of issues pertaining to seafood and aquaculture.
Human Impacts on the Ocean
Evidence of human impact on the ocean is everywhere, not just limited to our coastal oceans. Plastics and chemicals have been documented from the deepest depths of the global seas, while climate change affects all aspects of the ocean. More and more, we cannot separate studying the natural ocean environment apart from human influence. Fisheries, microplastics, policy, pollution, conservation, and restoration all fall into this category. UNE Marine Programs faculty, professional staff, and students are focused on research and solutions across the spectrum of human influence on our seas.
Our climate is changing — rapidly. Its impacts are felt broadly across our planet, especially our oceans, which play crucial roles in mediating, moderating, and shaping the global impacts of accelerating planetary change. This is exemplified in our own backyard, where the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 90% of all other ocean waters. Rather than a discrete area of study, climate change research at UNE Marine Programs is more of an umbrella. One of the most important planetary challenges of our time, climate change research is integrated by necessity into almost all of our Marine Programs research and scholarship areas of focus.
Not all human impacts on the sea are negative. Human interventions in the forms of conservation and restoration science and policies can produce real and impactful improvement in the marine environment. Ecosystem and habitat restoration, invasive species mitigation and management and ocean advocacy are all part of UNE Marine Programs.
In many ways, the ocean represents a vast resource with the potential for creating economic growth in a sustainable or even restorative fashion. Opportunities here include sustainable fisheries and aquaculture ventures, ocean robotics, sensors and remote sensing, shipping, value-added marine-derived products such as cosmetics and nutraceuticals, even textiles and fashion.
Researchers: Jeri Fox
The ocean is downstream of everything and given a long enough period of time, everything ends up in the ocean. Marine pollution impacts our oceans through many pathways and in many forms: excess nutrients and runoff from urban and agricultural lands, bacteria from our wastewater, chemicals from our industries, and plastics from, well, everywhere…are just a few examples. Researchers in our Marine programs look into how the pollutants impact marine organisms and ecosystems, as well as techniques to mitigate and policies to prevent pollution from entering the ocean.
UNE offers some of the best marine science facilities in the nation for research and education — and you can access all of them right from our main campus in Biddeford, Maine.
Tour the Marine Science Center
Undergraduate Research Opportunities
At UNE, you'll be in the field and out on the water as early as your freshman year, with plenty of additional undergraduate research opportunities throughout your academic career.
Hands-on Marine Research
In addition to lab classes and faculty lab positions, UNE provides pathways for students to obtain research experience through fellowships from partners and programs including Pratt & Whitney, Bristol Seafood, SEANET, and the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.
Our faculty, professional staff, and students are thought leaders in their fields, published in some of the top marine science and aquatic science journals in the world.
Sulikowski, J.A., Golet, W., Hoffmayer, E.R., Driggers W.B., Natanson, L.J., Carlson, A., Sweezy, B.A., and Carlson, J. 2019. Quantifying post-release mortality for dusky sharks, Carcharhinus obscurus, captured in the US pelagic longline fishery.
Hylton S., Weissman A., Sulikowski J. (in press) Identification of potential wintering habitat for threatened Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) in Saco Bay, Maine. Endangered Species Research.
Weissman, A., Mandelman, J. W., Rudders, D. B., Sulikowski, J. A. The effect of capture and handling stress in Lophius americanus in the scallop dredge fishery. Conservation Physiology.
Hayne, A.H.P., G.R. Poulakis, J.C. Seitz, and J.A. Sulikowski. 2018. Preliminary age estimates of female southern stingrays (Hypanus americanus) from southwestern Florida, USA. Gulf and Caribbean Research.
Hodgdon, C.T., Tennenhouse, C., Koh, W., Fox, J., & Sulikowski, J. 2018. Shortnose Sturgeon of the Saco River Estuary: Assessment of a Unique Habitat. Shortnose Sturgeon of the Saco River Estuary: Assessment of a Unique Habitat. Journal of Applied Ichthyology.
Prohaska BK, Tsang PCW, Driggers, WB III, Hoffmayer ER, Wheeler CR, Sulikowski JA. Effects of delayed phlebotomy on plasma steroid hormone concentrations in two elasmobranch species. J Appl Ichthyol. 2018;00:1–6. http://doi.org/10.1111/jai.13700
Wheeler CR, Novak AJ, Wippelhauser GS, Sulikowski JA. 2018. Validity of an external sex determination method in Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus). Journal of Applied Ichthyology.
Bricelj, V.M.; Kraeuter, J.N., and Flimlin, G., 2017. Status and trends of hard clam, Mercenaria mercenaria, populations in a coastal lagoon ecosystem, Barnegat Bay–Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey. In: Buchanan, G.A.; Belton, T.J., and Paudel, B. (eds.), A Comprehensive Assessment of Barnegat Bay–Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey. Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 78, pp. 205–253. Coconut Creek (Florida)
Knotek, R.K., Rudders, D.B., Mandelman, J.W., Benoît, H.P., Sulikowski, J.A. 2017. The survival of rajids discarded in the New England scallop dredge fisheries. J. Fish. Research.
Himes A, Balschi WS, Pelletier G, Frederich M (2017) Color-phase specific ion regulation of the European green crab, Carcinus maenas, in an oscillating salinity environment. Journal of Shellfish Research, 36(2): 465-479.
Kunkel JG , M Rosa, A Bahadur. (2017). 3D-Xray-tomography of American lobster shell structure: An overview. Fisheries Research 186, Part 1: 372-382.
Sulikowski J.A, Benoît H.P., Capizzano, W.C., Knotek R.J., Mandelman J.W., Platz, T., and Rudders D.B., 2017. Evaluating the Condition and Discard Mortality of Winter Skate, Leucoraja ocellata, Following Capture and Handling in the Atlantic Monkfish (Lophius americanus) Sink Gillnet Fishery. J. Fish. Research.
St-Gelais A.T., Aeppli C., Burnell C. A., Costa-Pierce, B. A. (2017). Non-dioxin like polychlorinated biphenyl indicator congeners in Northwest Atlantic spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias). Marine Pollution Bulletin. (http://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.05.001)
Dzieweczynski, Teresa L. and Greaney, Nicole E. 2017. Sex and dose-dependent effects of an estrogen mimic on boldness in threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus, from an anadromous population. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol.
Costa-Pierce, B.A. 2016. Ocean foods ecosystems for planetary survival in the Anthropocene, p. 301-320. In: E.M. Binder (ed.) World Nutrition Forum: Driving the Protein Economy. Erber AG, Austria. 368pp. http://www.biomin.net
Slater, M. A., P. A. Morgan, C. E. Tilburg, and S. E Travis, Environmental variables, not Allee effects, drive patch vigor in exotic Phragmites australis stands invading the Saco River Estuary, Maine, USA, Aquatic Biology, [in press].
St. Gelais, A. T., Chaves-Fonnegra, A., Moulding A. L., Kosmynin, V. N., Gilliam, D. S.. (2016) Siderastrea siderea spawning and oocyte resorption at high latitude. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development. 212-222.http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07924259.2016.1194334.
St. Gelais, A. T., Chaves-Fonnegra, A., Brownlee, A. S., Kosmynin V. N., Moulding, A. L., Gilliam, D. S. (2016) Fecundity and sexual maturity of the coral Siderastrea siderea at high latitude along the Florida Reef Tract, USA. Invertebrate Biology. 135: 46-57. DOI: 10.1111/ivb.12115
Novak, A.J., A. E. Carlson, C. R. Wheeler, G.S. Wipplehauser, and J. A. Sulikowski. 2016. Critical foraging habitat of Atlantic Sturgeon based on feeding habits, prey distribution, and movement patterns in the Saco River estuary, Maine. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society.
Wheeler CR, Novak AJ, Wipplehauser GS, Sulikowski JA (2016) Using circulating reproductive hormones for sex determination of Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) in the Saco River estuary, Maine. Conserv Physiol
Smith, K. M., Byron, C. J., & Sulikowski, J. A. 2016. Modeling Predator-Prey Linkages of Diadromous Fishes in an Estuarine Food Web. Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science. 8: (In Press)
Byron, C.J., Morgan, A. 2016. Potential role of spiny dogfish in gray and harbor seal diets in the Gulf of Maine. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 550:249-270.
Kelly E. Pennoyer, Anthony R. Himes, Markus Frederich (2016) Effects of sex and color phase on ion regulation in the invasive European green crab, Carcinus maenas. Marine Biology 163(6), 1-15. DOI 10.1007/s00227-016-2910-2
Moriarty, P.E., Byron, C.J., Pershing, A.J., Stockwell, J.D., Xue, H. 2016. Predicting migratory paths of post-smolt Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Marine Biology 163(74): 11pgs.
Chapman, E.J., Childers, D.L., and Vallino J.J. 2016. How the Second Law of Thermodynamics has informed ecosystem ecology through its history. BioScience 66: 27-39.
St. Gelais, A. and Costa-Pierce, B - Mercury concentrations in Northwest Atlantic winter-caught, male spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias): A geographic mercury comparison and risk-reward framework for human consumption. Marine Pollution Bulletin 102 (2016), pp. 199-205 DOI information: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.12.009
Kunkel JG, M Rosa*, A Bahadur. (2015). Toward a modern interpretation of the American lobster shell using X-ray tomography. The Lobster Newsletter 28(2):19-21.
Kunkel JG. (2015). My Adventure Volunteering on NOAA Ships. Fisheries 40(8):360-361.
Munroe, D., J. Kraeuter, B. Beal, K. Chew, M. Luckenbach, and C.P. Peterson. 2015. Clam predator protection is effective and necessary for food production. Mar. Poll. Bull. 100:47-52.
McDermott, J.J. and J. N. Kraeuter. 2015. Occurrence of first crab instars of the Atlantic ghost crab Ocypode quadrata (Decapoda: Brachyura: Ocypodidae) along the coast of Maine; USA. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 128:98-102.
Byron, C.J., Tennenhouse, C. 2015. Commonality in structure among food web networks. Network Biology. 5(4):146-162.
Byron, C.J., Jin, D., Dalton, T.M. 2015. An integrated ecological-economic modeling framework for the sustainable management of oyster farming. Aquaculture. 447: 15-22.
Munroe, D., Kraeuter, J., Beal, B., Chew, K., Luckenbach, M. and Peterson, C.P. 2015. Clam predator protection is effective and necessary for food production. Marine Pollution Bulletin 100: 47–52.
Rudnicky, B. R.*, Smith, K. M., and Sulikowski, J. A. 2015. First Observation of YOY Paralichthys dentatus (Summer Flounder) in a Southern Maine Estuary. Accepted. North East. Nat.
Yund,P. O., C. E. Tilburg, and M. A. McCartney, Across-shelf distribution of Mytilus edulis and M. trossulus larvae in the northern Gulf of Maine: Consequences for population connectivity and a species range boundary, Royal Society Open Science, [accepted], 2015.
Goodchild, C.G., Frederich, M., Zeeman, S.I. 2015. AMP-activated protein kinase is a biomarker of energy status in freshwater mussels exposed to municipal effluents. Science of the Total Environment: (512:201-209).
Goodchild, C.G., Frederich, M., Zeeman, S.I. 2015. Is altered behavior linked to cellular energy regulation in a freshwater mussel (Elliptio complanata) exposed to triclosan? Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology- Part C: (179:150-157).
Tilburg, C. E., L. M. Jordan, A. E. Carlson, S. I. Zeeman, and P. O. Yund, 2015 The effects of precipitation, river discharge, land use and coastal circulation on water quality in coastal Maine, Royal Society Open Science, (in press).
Meserve, M.M., Ono, K.A., Perlut, N.G. Brood Provisioning and Nest Survival of Ardea herodias (Great Blue Heron) in Maine. Northeast Naturalist 22: (in press)
Thomas, A., Ono, K. Diving Related Changes in the Blood Oxygen Stores of Rehabilitating Harbor Seal Pups (Phoca vitulina). PLOS ONE: (in press)
Knotek, R.J., Gill, S.M., Rudders, D.B., Mandelman, J.W., Benoît, H.P., Sulikowski, J.A. 2015. The development of a low-cost refrigerated flow-through seawater system for at-sea estimation of post-release mortality. Fisheries Research (in press).
Bloodsworth, K.H., Tilburg, C.E. Yund, P.O. Influence of a river plume of the distribution of brachyuran crab and mytilid bivalve larvae in Saco Bay, Maine. Estuaries and Coasts. In press.
Morgan, A. C., and Sulikowski., J.A. 2015. The role of spiny dogfish in the Northeast United States continental shelf ecosystem and how it has changed over time. Accepted Mar. and Fresh. Res.
Aronson, R.B., Frederich, M.; Price, R.; Thatje, S., (2015) Prospects for the Return of Shell-Crushing Crabs to Antarctica. Journal of Biogeography 42, 1–7 DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12414
Marine Research Partnerships
Do you represent an organization seeking to partner with the University of New England on Marine Science initiatives? Please contact Charles Tilburg, director of the School of Marine and Environmental Sciences.