Our Team


Program Management

Tracey Dalton Ph.D.


Tel: (401) 874.6802
Email: dalton@uri.edu


Tracey Dalton was appointed Rhode Island Sea Grant Director in 2021. She has been a professor of Marine Affairs at the University of Rhode Island since 2002. From 2016-2021, she led the Marine Affairs program as department chair.

Dalton’s research covers a variety of topics, all involving human interactions with marine and coastal environments embedded within a dynamic system. She has conducted studies on how people think about and use coastal and ocean spaces; the social, cultural, and economic impacts of using ocean and coastal space in different ways; and participatory processes for planning and managing human interactions with these spaces. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Rhode Island Sea Grant, NOAA, and a range of other funding agencies, and her findings have been published in journals and periodicals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Marine Policy, Environmental Management, Conservation Biology, Marine Pollution Bulletin, and other peer-reviewed journals.

Alan Desbonnet

Assistant Director

Tel: (401) 874-6813 


Alan Desbonnet has been the Assistant Director at Rhode Island Sea Grant in 2007 but has been with the program since 1989 working on a variety of coastal and water resource projects.

Desbonnet completed undergraduate work at Eastern Connecticut State University, and the master of oceanography program at the University of Connecticut.

Previously, Desbonnet worked at the Mystic Aquarium as an aquarist, researcher, and educator. 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 skiier, fly tier and fly fisherman of both fresh and salt waters, an amateur photographer, avid birder, gardener, and gourmet cook.

Kimberly Ohnemus

Workforce Development & Research Coordinator

Tel: (401) 874-6846
Email: kohnemus@uri.edu

Marianne Prior

Scientific Research Grant Assistant

 Tel:  (401) 874-6805
Email: mariannep@uri.edu 


Monica Allard-Cox

Communications Director

Tel: (401) 874-6937


Monica Allard Cox is the editor of the twice-yearly magazine 41°N that is produced by Rhode Island Sea Grant in partnership with the Coastal Institute at the University of Rhode Island. In addition to her work on the magazine, Allard Cox also supports program communications through layout and design, photography, social media, event planning, writing, and public relations.

She edited and designed the 2015 book, Rhode Island’s Shellfish Heritage: An Ecological History. Allard Cox previously taught composition at the Community College of Rhode Island.

She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from the University of Rhode Island and Brown University respectively.

Meredith Haas

 Science Communication & Digital Media Manager
Tel: (401) 8746019


Meredith Haas specializes in feature and science writing, as well as digital content development.

For over a decade, she has extensively covered science and environmental issues, interviewing fishermen, policymakers, resource managers, artists, explorers, historians, and scientists to connect the human element to these stories, both at local and national scales.

Haas served as the Sea Grant Communicators Network chair, representing 34 programs nationwide, between 2017-2020.

Prior to Sea Grant, she was the writer/editor for the National Outdoor Leadership School and a field biologist with Wyoming Game and Fish.

She has degrees in biology and journalism from the University of Rhode Island and a Masters of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography.

Coastal Program

Jennifer McCann

Jennifer McCann

Coastal Program Director

Tel: (401) 874-6127
Email: jmccann@uri.edu


Jennifer McCann is the director of U.S. Coastal Programs at the Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant. McCann leads research and provides technical support on blue economy-related topics to government decision makers,
the private sector, and the public both locally and abroad. At the request of diverse coastal stakeholders, in 2019/2020 McCann led a process to define Rhode Island’s blue, or ocean, economy and identify strategies and recommendations to ensure this sector continues to thrive.

McCann is winner of the Rhode Island Saltwater Angler’s Annual Environmental Award (2020) and a Peter Benchley Ocean Award (2017), and is a 2017 Graduate of Leadership Rhode Island.

McCann also served as URI’s lead for developing and facilitating the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP), which led to the siting of the first offshore wind farm in the United States. McCann has also played a leadership role in the development and implementation of plans for the siting of land-based renewable energy and a comprehensive management and marketing approach for Rhode Island’s shellfish resources and blue economy.
McCann has led national efforts to develop indicators, monitoring protocols, and modeling tools for improved social and environmental management of offshore renewable energy.

Pam Rubinoff

Climate Adaptation Specialist

Tel: (401) 874-6135


Pam Rubinoff is a climate adaptation specialist for Rhode Island Sea Grant where she has contributed to the development of National Coastal Smart Growth principles, helped lead the development of Rhode Island’s state sea level rise policy, identified hazard mitigation initiatives for the state’s urban core, and initiated the Smart Hurricane Recovery initiative for southern Rhode Island.

Her leadership has contributed to efforts including Rhode Island’s FORTIFIED Home program, USAID’s Coastal Adaptation Framework, and URI’s partnership with the National Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Rubinoff has a master’s degree in marine policy from the University of Rhode Island and a bachelor’s of civil engineering from the University of Delaware. She has worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Peace Corps in Thailand and was the Regional Coordinator on Cape Cod for the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Program.

Azure Dee Cygler

Fisheries & Aquaculture Specialist

Tel: (401) 874-6197
Email: acygler@uri.edu 


Azure Dee Cygler joined the Coastal Resources Center & Rhode Island Sea Gran in 2012 as their Fisheries & Aquaculture Extension Specialist. Azure has a master’s in marine affairs from the University of Rhode Island, where her graduate work focused on measuring the well-being of commercial fishermen in three New England ports and how management measures have impacted their decision-making and conservation ethics. Prior to her graduate work, she was with the School for Marine Science and Technology in Massachusetts, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Mass., and has fished commercially in the U.S. and abroad. She lives in Narragansett and is involved in the coastal community.

Sue Kennedy

Coastal Program Communications

Tel: (401) 874-6107


Sue Kennedy has served Rhode Island Sea Grant as a Coastal Program Coordinator, providing public outreach and media relations for the coastal program.

Prior to Sea Grant, she worked for the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, and also served in both reporter and editor capacities at several community newspapers in Rhode Island.

Kennedy has an M.A. and a B.A. in English.

Robbie Hudson

Fisheries & Aquaculture Specialist

Tel: (401) 874-6218
Email: rhudson@uri.edu


Rob Hudson holds a Master’s of Environmental Science and Management degree (2017), Graduate Certificates in GIS and Remote Sensing as well as Community Planning (2017) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology (2007), all from the University of Rhode Island (URI). Currently, Rob is a Ph. D, student at URI in the Biological and Environmental Sciences program. His research focuses on improving larval performance in shellfish hatcheries.

As a Fisheries and Aquaculture Extension Specialist, Rob works primarily on the team’s seafood portfolio including finfish, shellfish and kelp as it relates to the wild fisheries and aquaculture production.

Prior to joining CRC and RI Sea Grant as a Fisheries and Aquaculture Extension Specialist (2023), he was the Shellfish Hatchery Manager and was responsible for the operation of the CEED Shellfish Hatchery at Roger Williams University, while being an Adjunct Professor for various Biology and Aquaculture courses. Rob was the Restoration Ecologist for Save The Bay for 12 years. Some of his work includes restoration, monitoring and research with bay scallops, oysters, quahogs, ribbed mussels, eelgrass and salt marshes. Rob has also worked at URI’s Coastal Resource Center (CRC) and RI Sea Grant as a Fisheries and Aquaculture Graduate Research Assistant (2015-2017) and was providing technical support to Dale Leavitt’s online Applied Shellfish Farming course while at CRC. He is a Licensed US Coast Guard Captain, a Certified SCUBA and CPR/AED/First Aid Instructor.  Mr. Hudson has extensive experience in research, outreach and extension for aquaculture and in coastal and natural resource management in both the natural and social science fields.

Thaïs M. Fournier

 Coastal Resilience Specialist

Email: thais.fournier@uri.edu


Thaïs joined CRC as a coastal resilience specialist in 2023, bringing with her the interdisciplinary skills needed to assist coastal communities in becoming more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Born in Fall River, MA, Thaïs is a coastal ecologist whose international research has taken her oversees from New Zealand to work on conservation of overharvested shellfish, to an archipelago in Mexico
assessing the effects of climate and marine input on terrestrial communities. Thaïs also spent two years in Rwanda teaching biology with the U.S. Peace Corps.

Thaïs gained a B.S. in Biology from the University of New Hampshire and was later awarded a M.S. in Marine Science from the University of San Diego, where she concentrated on habitat connectivity amongst coastal communities. Early in her career, Thaïs worked in several National Estuarine Research Reserves monitoring invasive species in coastal habitats and human induced effects related to climate change.

Thaïs has a strong commitment to integrating outreach and education
throughout her scientific career; she has spent time at the Mystic Aquarium in CT where she cared for California sea lions while providing marine mammal education to the community. Additionally, she has led middle school and high school students on outdoor interpretive ecology programs as a Naturalist. Before joining CRC, Thaïs worked for the Town of Nantucket’s Natural Resources Department as their Water Resource Specialist, overseeing the Island’s estuarine monitoring and research program. Prior
to her role on Nantucket, Thaïs worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to develop recommendations on policy and program issues to better characterize
potential impacts of biosolids on water quality and human health.

Abbey Greene

 Coastal Project Manager

Email: abbey_greene@uri.edu 


Abbey Greene recently graduated from the University of Rhode Island, where she is studying in the Master’s of Environmental Science and Management program in the environmental policy track. In 2021, she was the Rhode Island Sea Grant Fellow based at the Coastal Resources Center. 

As a Coastal Extension Specialist with CRC’s domestic team, Abbey supports offshore renewable energy, aquaculture, coastal management–working specifically on communication initiatives and project implementation.

April Pariseault

Fiscal Specialist

Tel: (401) 874-6027
Email: apariseault@uri.edu

Keri Newman

Coastal Program Specialist

Tel: (401) 874-6218
Email: Knewman73@uri.edu


Keri joined the Graduate School of Oceanography in 2021 as a Coordinator for Ocean Robotics. In her current role as Coastal Resources Center Specialist, Keri provides financial, logistical, and event planning support for the U.S. team. She is passionate about whale conservation, and runs Twisted Orca, an organization that teaches children about marine life. Keri has a bachelor’s degree in English and Communications from URI and is currently working on her Master’s in Public Administration.

Seafood Safety

Nicole Richard

Seafood Safety Specialist

Tel: (401) 874-2977


Nicole Richard is Rhode Island Sea Grant’s seafood safety specialist. Her work includes food safety-related research and outreach programming. She has been involved in numerous food-safety related needs assessment projects which resulted in the development of resources and programming for target audiences (e.g. home gardeners, educators, consumers, and seafood and produce industries).

Her lab-based research has primarily focused on the evaluation of biochemical and microbiological quality and safety parameters of seafood. She coordinates food safety outreach activities targeting retail foodservice, home food preservation, entrepreneurial food businesses, and FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Food.  She also coordinates planning of the Rhode Island Food Safety Task Force’s annual conferences.

Legal Program

Julia Wyman

Legal Program Director

Tel: (401) 254-4613


Julia Wyman is the director of the Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program and the director of the Marine Affairs Institute at Roger Williams University (RWU) School of Law.

She has extensive state and national ocean and coastal law and policy experience and most recently served as Ocean and Environmental Counsel for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Prior to that, she served as the staff attorney at the Marine Affairs Institute, and the policy analyst for the Coastal States Organization in Washington, D.C., an organization that represents the interests of the governors of the thirty-five coastal states, commonwealths, and territories.

Much of Wyman’s work has focused on coastal adaptation to climate change. She serves as an adjunct faculty member at RWU School of Law, where she teaches courses related to ocean and coastal law and policy.

She is the former chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Marine Resources Section.

Wyman received her J.D. from the University of Maine School of Law and her B.A. from Trinity College. She is also an alumna of the Williams-Mystic maritime studies program.

Christopher Perret

Research Attorney

Tel: (401) 254-4524
Email: cperrett@rwu.edu


Chris Perrett is a Research Attorney with the Marine Affairs Institute and the Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program.  He is a veteran of the United States Coast Guard and a recent graduate of the Roger Williams University School of Law and University of Rhode Island J.D./M.M.A. joint degree program.

Mr. Perrett has experience in the maritime industry as a Boatswain’s Mate in the United States Coast Guard and in his academic career as a Rhode Island Sea Grant Law Fellow.  He was also a student editor for the Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce and a legal intern with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  

Mr. Perrett received his BA in History from the University of Southern Maine.

Molly Perkins

Administrative Assistant

Tel: 401-254-5392

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