Sustainability Research

As the state of Rhode Island’s flagship research institution, sustainability is a topic of great interest to the dozens of faculty here who are helping to solve the most critical environmental issues for the New England region, and for the world. The University of Rhode Island is a Land Grant and Sea Grant institution, meaning that the University is granted land by the government which it can use to conduct research and educate future researchers, and is involved with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in marine conservation research. As an institution conducting work that is greatly involved with the environment, it is a priority to conduct sustainability research. This page will highlight the efforts that the University has made to elevate the profile of sustainability research in an academic setting.

Increasing Environmental Literacy

In order to increase the amount of research we conduct on campus, students are engaged with faculty who will help them acquire the necessary skills early in their academic careers. The University of Rhode Island has extensive and successful environmental science programs already in place, specifically, curricula in the natural sciences, environmental and natural resource economics, oceanography, ocean engineering and marine affairs. A majority of graduate programs fall into these categories, but other undergraduate programs cover a wide variety of educational focus which often are related to sustainability, such as the newly-created Green Business double major.

One of the challenges of increasing sustainability research is encouraging undergraduate students, who are not enrolled in any of the “traditional” science programs, to concentrate on sustainability issues, mainly through interdisciplinary studies. The University has created a sustainability minor, introduced the Grand Challenges program which focuses on bringing real global issues into undergraduate classrooms, and introduced new graduate programs like the Blue MBA that prepare graduate students to develop business models with sustainability in mind.

There is also a leadership workshop supported by the Office of the Provost, Infusing Sustainability into the Curriculum, that informs faculty and staff of ways to complement their current curricula with sustainability topics and ways to engage students with issues of global importance. Modeled after Emory University’s Piedmont Project, the workshop provides an innovative approach that has been intellectually stimulating and collegial for the faculty. More information about the workshop can be found here.

Increasing Research Opportunities

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in the move to increase sustainability research on campus is defining and identifying these kinds of research opportunities for the students and staff who want to study the links between the local campus community and global sustainability issues. By turning our focus to sustainability research, we can attract new researchers and promote future research to both students and staff. Currently, there are initiatives in place that can help to fulfill this goal; the Office of The Vice President for Research and Economic Development has supported start-up grants for new research initiatives in the past, and the URI Transportation Center provides an opportunity at the graduate and undergraduate levels alike to further research on sustainable transportation.

URI Sustainability Researchers

The list below contains a list of URI faculty known to be conducting sustainability research. Note that this is not an exhaustive list of all faculty at URI who are conducting research. We are working with the Research Office to produce a more accurate inventory. Any faculty currently conducting research or thinking about starting research should contact the Sustainability Office.



Aaron Bradshaw Civil & Environmental Engineering
Robert Campbell Oceanography
Vinka Craver Civil & Environmental Engineering
Brian Crawford Coastal Resources Center
Tracey Dalton Marine Affairs
Simon Engelhart Geosciences
Isaac Ginis Oceanography
Arthur Gold Natural Resources Science
Marta Gomez-Chiarri Fisheries, Animal & Veterinary Science
Annette Grilli Ocean Engineering
Thomas Husband Natural Resources Science
Albert Kausch Cell & Molecular Biology
Dorothy Kellogg Coastal Institute
Jason Kolbe Biological Sciences
Najih Lazar Fisheries, Animal & Veterinary Science
K. Wayne Lee Civil & Environmental Engineering
Rainer Lohmann Oceanography
Jennifer McCann Coastal Resources Center
Susanne Menden-Deuer Oceanography
Laura Myerson Natural Resources Science
Serena Moseman-Valtierra Biological Sciences
Jimmie Oxley Chemistry
Christopher Roman Oceanography
Lewis Rothstein Oceanography
Pam Rubinoff Coastal Resources Center
Tatiana Rynearson Oceanography
Gail Scowcroft Office of Marine Programs, GSO
Theodore Smayda Oceanography
Rodrigue Spinette Cell & Molecular Biology
Thomas Sproul Environmental & Natural Resource Economics
Judith Swift Coastal Institute
Elin Torell Coastal Resources Center
Yeqiao Wang Natural Resources Science
Yinjiao Ye Communication Studies
Think Big We Do

Copyright © 2017 University of Rhode Island.