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Research


Scientists and students at the School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST) pursue a range of leading-edge research projects, both independently and in collaboration with some of the most highly regarded oceanographic institutions. 

‌Nearly all full-time students are supported by external research funds, and new assistantships are regularly available. We cultivate a combined emphasis on curiosity-driven and societal need-driven research and learning in an interdisciplinary environment that involves observations, modeling, experimentation, and theory. Research particulars are available on our inventory of SMAST laboratories below, arranged by major research themes.

SMAST investigators pursue cutting-edge research affecting the current and future wellbeing of the environment and humans.

Biochemical Cycling

Biogeochemical Particle Flux and Sedimentation Group

The Biogeochemical Particle Flux and Sedimentation Group at SMAST, led by Dr. Cynthia H. Pilskaln (Ph.D., Geosciences, Harvard University,1985), focuses on the temporal and spatial relationships between water column particle fluxes and sedimentation.

Isotope Biogeochemistry Group

The Isotope Biogeochemistry Group at SMAST, led by Dr. Mark A. Altabet, specializes in study of marine biogeochemical processes using high-precision measurements of stable isotopic ratio as well as dissolved gas composition as natural tracers.

Marine Ecosystem Science

The Gulf Carbon project employs a combination of models and remotely-sensed and in situ observations to develop geo-referenced products and associated uncertainties for land-ocean exchange of carbon, air-sea exchanges of carbon dioxide, and coastal to open ocean exchanges of carbon for the northern Gulf of Mexico and Eastern U.S. coastal waters.

Coastal Ecosystem Dynamics and Restoration

Coastal Systems Program

This research area focuses on both saltwater and freshwater wetland ecology and hydrology. The program has played a central role in evaluating the impacts of nutrients and wastewater on all ecological levels (bacteria to birds) and the effects of surface and sub-surface hydrology on wetland growth and development, including research into the role of wetlands in the interception of groundwater-transported nutrients from coastal development.

Computational Modeling

Computational Methods Laboratory

The Computational Modeling Lab (CMLab) at the School for Marine Sciences and Technology at UMass Dartmouth focuses on the application of computational methods to problems in marine science. Use the tabs above to find out information about research projects and teaching.

Marine Ecosystem Dynamics Modeling Laboratory

The Marine Ecosystem Dynamics Modeling Laboratory (MEDML) at the School for Marine Science and Technology houses an active research team with focus on coastal and estuarine circulation, frontal dynamics, bio-physical interaction, suspended sediment processes, and ecosystem modeling.

Oceanographic Modeling and Analysis Laboratory

The Oceanographic Modeling and Analysis Laboratory at SMAST is a leading developer of feature-oriented modeling technology. Numerical ocean models depend on the coverage of the ocean basin of interest by actual physical measurements. The FORMS (feature-oriented regional modeling system) technology modulates this expensive requirement by incorporating persistent features (currents, eddies, jets, etc.) of the basin circulation into the model.

Fisheries Science

Biological Oceanography – Plankton Ecology

The Biological Oceanography & Plankton Ecology group led by Dr. Jefferson Turner is currently working on several projects involving plankton and water quality in coastal habitats, and toxic microalgal blooms commonly known as “red tides.” These projects include long-term monitoring of plankton communities, water quality, and environmental factors in Buzzards Bay, Boston Harbor, and Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays.

Fay Laboratory

Fay Laboratory research focuses on developing interdisciplinary modelling approaches to extend the scope of applications for fisheries and ecosystem assessment methods, and testing the performance of decision support tools for living marine resource management.

Fish Behavior and Conservation Engineering

Fish Behavior and Conservation Engineering in marine capture fisheries works with the fishing industry to develop practical solutions to fisheries problems. Collaboration with industry partners is vital to successful research.

Fisheries Biology and Assessment Lab

The Fisheries Biology and Assessment Lab studies all aspects of fisheries science, ranging from life history of fishes to fishery management strategies, and emphasizes collaborative research with fishermen.

Marine Finfish Dynamics Research Group

The Department of Fisheries Oceanography has a main mission of education and research in the interdisciplinary sciences related to the interactions between marine organisms and marine environments. This covers a wide range of categories including field exploration, laboratory experiments, theoretical research and modeling.

Marine Fisheries Field Research Group

The Marine Fisheries Field Research Group studies the population dynamics of marine fish and invertebrates, including their spatial distribution, abundance, life-history parameters, and habitat. They also study the impacts of harvesting, gear effectiveness, and developing alternative fishing strategies.

Marine Renewable Energy

Coastal Engineering & Fluid Mechanics lab

The Coastal Engineering & Fluid Mechanics lab led by Dr. Daniel G. MacDonald, Principal Investigator, pursues research in a variety of areas related to coastal physics and engineering. Basic and applied research encompasses the areas of stratified hydrodynamics, turbulence and frontal dynamics—with specific emphasis on estuarine flows, river plumes, and industrial discharges.

Marine Fisheries Field Research Group

The Marine Fisheries Field Research Group studies the population dynamics of marine fish and invertebrates, including their spatial distribution, abundance, life-history parameters, and habitat. They also study the impacts of harvesting, gear effectiveness, and developing alternative fishing strategies.

Ocean Observing/Remote Sensing

Ocean Observation Laboratory

The researchers in the Ocean Observation Laboratory (OCEANOL) seek to better understand coastal ocean processes by integrating modern ocean observations with numerical ocean modeling. Measurements from moorings, coastal high-frequency radar sites, shipboard surveys, operational satellite imagery and meteorology are integrated into our studies of various coastal ocean and estuarine domains including the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, the New England Shelf, and Buzzards, Narragansett and Mt. Hope Bays.

Oceanographic Remote Sensing Laboratory

The Oceanographic Remote Sensing Laboratory (ORSL), led by Dr. James J. Bisagni, is currently studying various coastal physical oceanographic processes and how they relate to productivity in the coastal ocean over various trophic levels from phytoplankton to fisheries. Processes of interest currently include the shelf break front, cross-frontal flows and transport due to eddies and Gulf Stream warm-core rings, wind-driven transport, and the effects of varying freshwater output from arctic regions.

Ocean Physics

Coastal Engineering & Fluid Mechanics Lab

The Coastal Engineering & Fluid Mechanics lab led by Dr. Daniel G. MacDonald, Principal Investigator, pursues research in a variety of areas related to coastal physics and engineering. Basic and applied research encompasses the areas of stratified hydrodynamics, turbulence and frontal dynamics—with specific emphasis on estuarine flows, river plumes, and industrial discharges.


Marine Turbulence Laboratory

Principal investigation is quantification of realistic turbulence regimes through the use of the SMAST Turbulence Remote Environmental Measuring Unit (REMUS). Acquired from Hydroid Inc. and retrofitted with a suite of microstructure and finestructure sensors, this Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) is capable of a wide variety of missions.

Ocean Mixing and Stirring Group

Research areas of the Ocean Mixing and Stirring Group include vertical and horizontal mixing processes, dye release and Lagrangian drifter studies, numerical modeling of two- and three-dimensional turbulent flows, numerical modeling of physical and biological interactions. The importance of mixing and stirring processes in the ocean range from their influence on climate to their role in distributing nutrients and microscopic organisms that are the base of the oceanic food chain.

Upper Ocean Dynamics

Led by Dr. Amit Tandon, Upper Ocean Dynamics conducts process studies relevant to sub-mesoscale processes in the ocean, working with the Mahadevan lab at WHOI. One of the current major effort involves the Air-Sea Interactions in the Northern Indian Ocean – Regional Initiative (ASIRI Departmental Research Initiative). Another involves Role of mixed layer eddies on phytoplankton productivity in seasonally variable regimes.

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