Biography of Alan Desbonnet


Assistant Director, Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program
M.S. Biological Oceanography, University of Connecticut, 1989
B.A., Environmental Biology, Eastern Connecticut State College, 1979

Alan Desbonnet worked in the coastal management extension program from 1989–2002, then shifted his focus into aquaculture and program management aspects in late 2002, while providing oversight of the education activities for the program. From 2012–2013, Desbonnet served as Interim Director for the program. He authored the Ecology chapter for the Ocean Special Area Management Plan for Rhode Island, and has edited two books: Urban Aquaculture (CABI Publishing)  and Science for Ecosystem-based Management—Narragansett Bay in the 21st Century (Springer). His thesis research focused on predator-prey relations and aquaculture of surf clams, 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. After joining the Sea Grant team, Desbonnet engaged in a diverse array of projects that provided interpretation of science for improved management of coastal resources. Work on interstate management plans with Connecticut and Rhode Island, and with Massachusetts and Rhode Island, are examples of these efforts. Other efforts were development of a water resource inventory and assessment that has promulgated a move towards sustainable water management in the Pawcatuck River watershed, and he helped the nine-town Washington County Regional Planning Council develop inter-town collaboration and cooperation on resource and economic planning and management issues. Desbonnet developed several novel GIS data layers for Rhode Island, including a 400+ coastal public access site data layer that sets an historical baseline for public access in the state. Previously, Desbonnet worked three years at the Mystic Marinelife Aquarium as an aquarist and researcher, and five years in the aquarium's education and outreach division, developing and teaching college- and high school-level classes. Desbonnet also designed and implemented the college intern program for the aquarium during his tenure there. He has written a monthly "science for the fisherman" column for On The Water magazine (2000-2012), and since 1992 has taught ecology as an adjunct at Eastern Connecticut State University. Outside of work Desbonnet is an avid fly tier and fly fisherman in both fresh and salt waters, an amateur photographer, avid birder, and gourmet cook. Desbonnet also runs, mountain bikes, road cycles, skis, and plays tennis. During the season he tunes skis and snow boards at Avie’s Ski & Sport. Desbonnet serves on the Stonington Shellfish Commission (1992-present) and on the Board of Trustees for the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association (1990-2000; 2010-present).