Alan Desbonnet Biography
Alan Desbonnet began in the Sea Grant extension program in 1989, then shifted into program management in 2002, providing oversight of education and aquaculture activities, and managing the animal husbandry section of the international journal Aquaculture. In 2007 Desbonnet assumed the position of Assistant Director at Rhode Island Sea Grant. His thesis research focused on predator-prey relations and the aquaculture of the surf clam, Spisula solidissima, and he conducted non-thesis related research on amphipod physiology that was presented the Buck-Ketchum Award at the 1989 New England Estuarine Research Society meeting.
At Sea Grant he authored the ecology chapter for the “Ocean Special Area Management Plan” for Rhode Island, and the ecology chapter for the “Rhode Island Shellfish Management Plan.” He has edited two books: “Urban Aquaculture” (CABI) and “Science for Ecosystem-based Management: Narragansett Bay in the 21st Century” (Springer). As an extension agent, Desbonnet synthesized science for improving coastal resource management, including work on interstate management plans with Connecticut and Rhode Island, and with Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Development of a water resource inventory that promulgated a move towards sustainable water management in the Pawcatuck River watershed, and helping the nine-town Washington County Regional Planning Council collaborate and cooperate on planning and management issues were a few major engagements. Desbonnet developed a 400+ coastal public access site GIS data layer that provides the foundation for a new “Shoreline Rhode Island” mobile app.
Previously, Desbonnet worked at the Mystic Aquarium as an aquarist, researcher, and educator, and he designed and implemented their college intern program during his tenure. He authored a monthly “science for the fisherman” column for “On the Water” magazine for over a decade, and taught ecology as an adjunct at Eastern Connecticut State University.
Outside work Desbonnet is an avid fly tier and fly fisherman of both fresh and salt waters, an amateur photographer, avid birder, gardener, and gourmet cook. Desbonnet also runs, mountain bikes, road cycles, kayaks, skis, and plays tennis. During the ski season he can often be found at Avie’s Ski & Sport in Westerly, RI where he runs the tuning and repair shop, acts as a ski “tester,” manages the website, and helps with sales. Desbonnet served on the Stonington Shellfish Commission for 15 years, and on the Board of Trustees for the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association on multiple occasions over several decades.