Shoals Marine Laboratory Announces New Executive Director

Shoals Marine Laboratory Announces New Executive Director

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

For wildlife ecologist Jennifer Seavey, the Isles of Shoals archipelago holds appeal beyond its marine environment and population of nesting birds – Seavey Island, was named after her ancestor, William Seavey. 

Now the scientist will become a steward of neighboring Appledore Island as director of the Shoals Marine Laboratory on April 1. 

“I am thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to lead such a successful marine laboratory with a long and unique history. I look forward to helping to create and sustain a new vision for Shoals that will bring a variety of new opportunities for current and future students and faculty. It is an exciting time for Shoals,” Seavey said. 

Located six miles off the New Hampshire coast in the Gulf of Maine and run by UNH and Cornell University in a partnership that has spanned 48 years, the laboratory hosts undergraduate and community educational programs in marine science, sustainable engineering and ornithology.  

Seavey will be the first Shoals director to be based at UNH, and will join the faculty of the UNH School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering. She replaces Willy Bemis, who retired after nine years as John M. Kingsbury director to return to Cornell’s Ithaca campus as professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. 

“We are very excited that Jennifer has accepted our offer to become the executive director of the Shoals Marine Lab,” said Larry Mayer, director of UNH’s School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering. “Jennifer brings an ideal combination of academic credibility and relevant marine lab leadership experience.  She is full of enthusiasm and new ideas that should assure the long-term success and growth of this crown jewel of marine programs at UNH.” 

Seavey is coming to Shoals from the Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory, a field station of the University of Florida where she has served as assistant director, responsible for directing college and K-12 science education programs and overseeing the facilities and staff in support of educational, research and outreach programs. 

During her tenure there, she helped expand the field station’s role to make it a more collaborative and interdisciplinary laboratory serving several institutions and communities. She also developed new research opportunities, in fields ranging from environmental engineering and experiential art to archaeology and hydrology. 

Under Seavey’s leadership, Shoals hopes to expand its offerings to include additional course and research opportunities in sustainability engineering, conservation science and coastal community resiliency, as well as the development of partnerships with other educational and research organizations in the region. 

“Shoals Marine Lab serves as an invaluable marine research and educational resource for Cornell faculty, student and staff,” said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. “Jennifer’s appointment represents the dawning of a new era in the enduring partnership between CALS and UNH that sustains the lab. I am confident that her energy, expertise and enthusiasm will further foster those ties and strengthen Shoals' unique programs for years to come.” 

Seavey’s research focuses on the ecology and conservation of coastal ecosystems. She is particularly interested in understanding human impacts on coastal ecosystems, especially climate change. Her studies have incorporated landscape ecology; shorebirds, small mammal, shellfish, and seabird ecology; barrier island dynamics; and avian habitat selection modeling. 

She earned a master’s degree in wildlife sciences at the University of Washington and a doctoral degree in natural resource conservation at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She held postdoctoral positions at the University of Massachusetts and the University of Florida. 

She has worked as a field biologist from coast to coast and internationally. Recently, she served as adjunct faculty at the University of Florida and Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla.

By Stacey Shackford, staff writer, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences