Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium


The annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium provides a forum for researchers, resource managers, and stakeholders to discuss the most current science in various areas important to Rhode Island coastal communities and coastal and ocean environments.

This forum was formed in 2002 and renamed in 2006 to honor former National Sea Grant Director Ronald Baird and his contributions and continued service to the Sea Grant mission as an advisor to the Rhode Island and National Sea Grant offices.


16th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium
Changes in Narragansett Bay: A Conversation Among Citizens and Scientists
December 6, 2017

Aerial view of the Endeavor at the URI Bay Campus

Although there is a great deal of scientific information known about Narragansett Bay, many people who work and spend time on the bay continue to have questions about what is happening to habitats and species within the bay and what impacts climate change may have on the bay’s ecological communities. In addition, there have been many natural and man-made chemical and biological changes in the bay that are of great concern.

The purpose of this free, one-day event is to provide resource users, regulators, and scientists an opportunity to discuss the changes they have seen in the bay and to share information about why these changes are taking place. The results from this event will inform Sea Grant’s research agenda as well as the state’s developing Narragansett Bay Special Area Management Plan (Bay SAMP).

Lunch and refreshments will be provided by the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. Free, but registration is required.

During lunch, participants will have the opportunity to review research posters. If you would like to present a poster, please contact Cathy Dwyer ( by December 1, 2017.  Write “Baird Symposium poster” in the subject line and describe your material needs. URI will have 24 x 36 foam core boards, clips, and easels available for you to use.

For more information, please contact Jennifer McCann at (401) 874-6127 or


This event is sponsored by the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Rhode Island Sea Grant, the URI Coastal Resources Center, and the van Beuren Charitable Foundation.


The Social Dimensions of American Offshore Wind Energy: Towards a Research Agenda
15th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, October 24, 2016

This invitation-only event was hosted by the Coastal Resources Center and the University of Rhode Island Marine Affairs Department, with support from the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences and the Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration at the University of Delaware. Its primary purpose was to help inform Rhode Island Sea Grant’s next research RFP, which will include a call for social science proposals on the issue of the impact of offshore wind energy development on society.


Jeremy Firestone, CCPI: The Nature of Offshore Wind Energy Concerns

Grover Fugate, CRMC: Rhode Island’s Offshore Wind Experience: The Block Island Wind Farm

Brian Krevor, BOEM: Regulator Perspectives on Offshore Wind Energy & Social Research Needs

Robert O’Connor, Decision, Risk and Management Sciences, National Science Foundation: Trends in Environmental Social Science

Martin Pasqualetti, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University: Public Acceptance of Wind Power

Bonnie Ram, CCPI: Lessons from Denmark

Experience with Offshore Wind Energy: Community and User Perspectives

Speakers: Jessica Willi, Block Island Tourism Council; David Monti, Rhode Island charter boat operator/fishing columnist, Providence Journal; Richard Getchell, Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians/All Nations Global; facilitator Nick Battista, Island Institute

  • David Monti, charter boat operator and fishing columnist

2015 International Marine Spatial Planning Symposium
14th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, October 6, 2015

program_coverPlanning Ocean Space for the Future: Notes from the Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium

Since the beginning of July, Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound have been abuzz with barges, tugs, and supply vessels carrying steel pilings and jacket foundations, each weighing up to 450 tons, to build what will be the country’s first offshore wind farm.

“There are a lot of lessons to be had from the fact that our project made it to this moment and others didn’t,” said Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, in his keynote address at the Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium on marine spatial planning (MSP), which brought practitioners from across the nation and globe to discuss the needs and challenges of this emerging field.

“At the end of the day, marine spatial planning was one of the principal reasons why.”

+ Read full article

Watch entire LIVECAST 

Jeff_015KEYNOTE: Jeffrey Grybowski, Chief Executive Officer of Deepwater Wind

“Rhode Island’s pioneering marine spatial planning work has helped to pave the way for America’s first offshore wind energy project, the Block Island Wind Farm.  Smart, transparent, and inclusive planning is essential to the offshore wind energy industry.”

Grybowski is the Chief Executive Officer of Deepwater Wind, where he manages the company’s portfolio of offshore wind and transmission projects. He has been intimately involved since its inception in the development and execution of the first offshore wind farm in the United States, Deepwater Wind’s path-breaking Block Island Wind Farm. The project closed on a $300 million financing in early 2015 and is scheduled for commercial operations in late 2016.

Grybowski has been at the forefront of shaping the federal and state policies supporting offshore wind in the US, including playing key roles in the development of federal rules governing the leasing and permitting of offshore wind projects, federal tax policies supporting renewables, and policies at the state level throughout the northeast for offshore wind, transmission, and renewables. Grybowski is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Wind Energy Association.

Grybowski previously served as Chief of Staff to the Governor of the State of Rhode Island, where he was the Governor’s most senior advisor on all matters of state business. He previously practiced corporate law at Hinckley, Allen & Snyder in Providence, Rhode Island and at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York.

Grybowski earned an A.B. with Honors in Public Policy from Brown University, a J.D. with High Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, and served as a Law Clerk to the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

Primary Symposium Sponsors:

Rhode Island Sea Grant and the Coastal Resources Center at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, and the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council. This symposium is funded in part by Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Staying Afloat: Adapting Waterfront Businesses to Rising Seas and Extreme Storms
13th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, December 10, 2014

This one-day conference focused on minimizing impacts to waterfront business, and the shores where they are situated, in the face of increasing threats from extreme storms and rising seas. Representatives from the private sector, government, and the community examined the planning, engineering, and design-based climate adaptation options, as well as trade-offs to keep in mind as a business owner or waterfront district decision maker. Download the summary: Baird 2014 Summary

Courtesy of the Providence Journal:

“We know that intensity is likely to increase,” said Austin Becker, associate professor of coastal planning at the University of Rhode Island.

But perhaps the more disquieting pictures shown by Becker during his presentation were taken more recently when there was no storm. They showed the effects in North Kingstown of a moon tide from earlier this year when waters in Wickford Harbor washed over docks and into parking lots.

Though it may not be the new normal yet for Rhode Island, such events will only become more common in the coming years as temperatures go up and seas gradually rise, speakers said at the 13th annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium. The facts, they said, are incontrovertible.

“We need to forget politics for a moment,” said oceanographer John Englander. “This is physics.”

Englander, the Florida-based author of “High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis,” delivered the keynote speech at the all-day conference sponsored by the Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant, both at URI, and the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina.

In his 45-minute talk, Englander summarized the data on rising seas. The average sea level hasn’t been higher in 120,000 years than it is today. While sea levels hadn’t changed much in 5,000 years, in the last century they have risen 8 inches on average. While the rise has been smaller on the West Coast — Los Angeles has seen a 4-inch increase — it has been higher on the East Coast, with New York City experiencing a 14-inch increase and Boston a 13-inch increase.

+ Read the full article


Are the Costs of Resiliency Worthwhile?
Resiliency_CostsThe added costs for more resilient infrastructure are causing tension as coastal communities grapple with how to recover, and to what extent, after devastating storms such as Sandy.

The expenses of cleaning up after a storm, as well as of constructing more resilient buildings, sparked some of the liveliest discussion at the Baird Sea Grant Symposium

+ Read More

In the media

Find additional presentations at RISeaGrant YouTube

Keynote, John Englander, author of High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Levels and the Coming Coastal Crisis, and oceanographer, consultant and sea level rise expert. He brings the diverse points of view of an industry scientist, entrepreneur and CEO. For over 30 years, he has been a leader in both the private sector and the non-profit arena, serving as CEO for such noteworthy organizations as The Cousteau Society and The International SeaKeepers Society. As the Founder of the Rising Seas Group, he works with businesses, government agencies, and communities helping them understand the financial risks of sea level rise.

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Planning Committee:  RI Marine Trades Association, Commerce RI, RI Statewide Planning, RI Nursery and Landscape Association, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, EPA Smart Growth, URI Marine Affairs/Landscape Architecture, Tetra Tech, and the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Thank you to all of the following sponsors: The Rhode Island Foundation, Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, Tetra Tech, Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association, USDA’s Risk Management Agency, 11th Hour Racing, Prince Charitable Trusts, the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, the Newport County Chamber of Commerce, and the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

The Future of Shellfish in Rhode Island: Sustainable seafood, economic opportunities, and ecosystem benefits
12th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, November 14th, 2013

The current and the potential future value—economic and environmental—of shellfish to Rhode Island. 

Summary Notes



The 2013 Baird Symposium is funded by Rhode Island Sea Grant, the URI Coastal Institute, and the Rhode Island Shellfish Management Plan.

This event is being coordinated in partnership with representatives from the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, University of Rhode Island, Roger Williams University, R.I. Department of Environmental Management, R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council, The Nature Conservancy, East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, and the local shellfishing industry.

International Marine Spatial Planning: Sharing Practical Solutions
11th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, May 16th, 2012

Planning for who gets to do what (and where, when, and how) in a nation’s coastal and ocean waters falls to a state or country’s coastal managers, and over 75 of them from across the U.S. and around the world gathered in Providence, R.I., on May 14-16, 2012, to discuss how their efforts-known as “marine spatial planning; (MSP) – are faring.

Summary Notes
Practitioner Biographies
Practitioner Contact Sheet
MSP Survey Document


Organizing the Process through pre-planning

Marine Planning in England Organising the process through pre-planning. Paul Gilliland, Marine Management Organisation, United Kingdom

Oregon Marine Spatial Planning Overview and Update. Paul Klarin, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, Oregon 

Applying Decision Support Tools

Marine Spatial Planning Decision Support Tools Development in Canada. Darren Williams, Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada

Frameworks for the Processes & Outcomes of MSP. Stephen Olsen, University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources

Formal Adoption and Final Products

Implementation of the ecosystem approach through Marine Spatial Planning: the Norwegian case. Erik Olsen, Institute for Marine Research, Norway

Formal Adoption and Final Products 30 Years of Transnational Cooperation. Harold Marencic, Common Wadden Sea Secretariat, Germany

Regulatory Results

BOEM’s Renewable Energy Program Philosophy and Lessons Learned. Maureen Bornholdt, Bureau of Ocean Energy Managemen

Economic and Social Results

Marine Spatial Planning for Ocean Resources. Grover Fugate, R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council

Deepwater Wind.  Bill Moore, Deepwater Wind, Inc.

Potentials of Multi-Use Concepts within a MSP Process. Bela Buck, Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany

Enviornmental Results

Marine Spatial Planning: a tropical perscective. Vera Agostini, The Nature Conservancy, Florida 

Marine Spatial Planning in Support of Environmental Protection in Canada’s marine waters. Danna Campbell, Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada

Capacity to Implement

Massachusetts Ocean Management: Capacity to develop and implement plan. Bruce Carlisle, Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone, United States

Capacity to implement; experiences from the Dorset C-SCOPE Project. Ness Smith, Dorset C-Scope, Project UK, United Kingdom

May 16th, 2012

Marine Spatial Planning: What’s the Big Deal

Marine Spatial Planning: What’s the Big Deal? Jake Rice, Fisheries & Oceans Canada.

U.S. Strategy for Promoting MSP

Ocean planning in the Northeast U.S. John Weber, Ocean Planning Director, Northeast Regional Ocean Council.

The European MSP Experience: What are we Learning

30 Years of Dutch-German-Danish Cooperation on the Protection of the Wadden Sea. Herald Marencic, Deputy Secretary, Common Wadden Sea Secretariat

Marine Planning in England What are we learning? Paul Gilliland, Marine Planning Development Manager Organization: Marine Management Organization.

A Race for Space in the Begain Marine Waters: Marine Spatial Planning in Belgium. Charlotte Herman, Belgium, Directorate-General for Environment.

More MSP Experiences from Abroad

Canada’s Approach to Marine Spatial Planning – an ecosystem based approach. Darren Williams & Danna Campbell, Ocean Policy and Planning Unit, Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Marine Spatial Planning of the Azores. Frederico Cardigos, Regional Director of Sea Affairs, Government of the Azores.

Maritime Spatial Planning in France. Denis van der Putten, Chief of the Mission for Coordinator for Maritime Policies, Mache Est Mer du Nord, France.

Multi-Use Concepts as a Potental Solution for the Overcrowded Marine Realm. Bela H. Buck, Marine Aquaculture Specialist, Alfred Wegener Institute.

MSP in the United States: What Are the Main Results?

Massachusetts Ocean Management: Implementation Progress and Results. Bruce K. Carlisle, Office of Coastal Zone Management, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Oregon Marine Spatial Planning Progress Report. Paul Klarin, Marine Affairs Coordinator, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development.

Marine Spatial Planning For Ocean Resources. Grover Fugate, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council.

The Next Generation of MSP in the US

MARCO Mapping & Planning Portal. Laura Mckay, Manager, Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program.

Marine Spatial Planning in Washington State. Jennifer Hennessey, Ocean Policy Associate, Department of Ecology.

The Next Generation of MSP in the U.S: Future Challenges and Opportunities. State of Hawaii and the Pacific Region. Jesse K. Souki, Director, State Office of Planning.

Other Resources

Integration of Marine-Related Data and Information in Foreign Countries. Tomohiko Tsunoda and Masanori Muto. Science and Technology Group. Mitsubishi Research Institue, Inc. (Presentation)

C-Scope Combining Sea and Coastal Planning in Europe: (Website Link)


Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation 
RI Coastal Resources Management Council 
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management 
URI Coastal Resources Center 
Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program 
The Nature Conservancy 
The Ocean Conservancy 
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
The University of Rhode Island 
American Mussel Harvesters Inc.
Matunuck Oyster Bar

Developing the Rhode Island Seafood Knowledge Economy: Perspectives on Seafood Sustainability
10th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, June 26-28, 2011

The symposium brought together an international group of scientists, chefs, the seafood industry, and others to share perspectives on topics such as sourcing sustainable seafood, consumer preferences, and health. Participants got to prepare—and taste—sustainable seafood dishes under the guidance of chefs at the Johnson & Wales University campus in Providence. The symposium was sponsored by JWU, Rhode Island Sea Grant, and the University of Rhode Island.

Celebrating Sustainable Seafood, the video of the 2011 Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, highlights the best of the symposium, “Developing the Rhode Island Seafood Knowledge Economy: Perspectives on Seafood Sustainability.”

Film from the 10th Ronald C. Baird Symposium, 2011

New Approaches to Understanding Emerging Marine Diseases
9th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, August 10-11, 2010

Researchers trying to understand disease emergence are dealing with complex, multi-scale, and variable systems. Traditional approaches using cause-and-effect methods are difficult to apply when systems are at ecosystem levels and risk factors are non-linear. New techniques to examine diseases are being used to explain disease outbreaks. Triangulation is a process of gathering information about a system through field, laboratory, model, and historical investigations facilitated by a cross-disciplinary research group. This new approach has been used in the investigation of shell disease for American lobster by researchers and their staff and students from 14 institutions. As one team, experts in the fields of crustacean endocrinology, genetics, veterinary medicine, behavior, microbiology, lobster biology, chemistry, environmental science, and epidemiology have worked together with fishermen and managers for three years to uncover the dynamics of shell disease. This symposium will include a special workshop on shell disease in American Lobster.

Research Results

New Information and Tools

The Ecology of Marine Windfarms: Perspectives on Impact Mitigation, Siting, and Future Uses
8th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, November 2-4, 2009

The development of offshore renewable energy systems is an international priority driven by the need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and decrease human impacts on global climate. At the same time, the increasing demand for high quality seafoods, marine products, and recreational opportunities is accelerating worldwide.

The purpose of this symposium is to develop opportunities and document progress toward a new vision of designed, permitted, offshore ecosystems that have windpower energy systems as their focus to provide mutual benefits for multiple uses of ocean space and many new opportunities to develop the “green economy.”

This symposium will bring together international experts in wind energy, biotechnologies, seafoods, fisheries, aquaculture, and leading legal and policy experts to discuss innovative methods for the integration of these future uses into wind farm marine areas.

Symposium Speakers

Dr. Bela Buck, Head of the Marine Aquaculture, Maritime Technologies and ICZM Work Group at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, will provide the symposium keynote  address. Willett M. Kempton, of the College of Marine and Earth Studies at the University of Delaware, is one of the lunch speakers. Leon Cammen, National Sea Grant College Program director, will also address participants.

Sound Connections: The Science of Rhode Island and Block Island Sounds
7th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, October 20-21, 2008

Creating Vibrant Waterfronts in Rhode Island
6th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, October 19-21, 2007

The Evolution of Ecosystem Based Management: From Theory to Practice
5th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium. October 19-20, 2006

Lobsters as Model Organisms for Interfacing Behavior, Ecology, and Fisheries
4th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium. July 14, 2005

State of Science Knowledge of Nutrients in Narragansett Bay
3rd Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium. November 17-18, 2004  More.

Shallow Marine Ecosystems of Southern Rhode Island
2nd Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium. December 9, 2002, and January 2003. Part I: Hydrology, nutrient & bacteria dynamics. Part II: Sediment dynamics, habitat changes & fish resources.

Urban Aquaculture
1st Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium