Mission, Leadership, and Strategic Plan

Appledore Island


The mission of Shoals Marine Laboratory is to provide outstanding experiential, place-based education and to support innovative research programs focused on understanding and sustaining the marine environment.

Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML) is dedicated to undergraduate education and research in marine science. Since 1966, SML has offered undergraduate students a unique opportunity to study marine science in the field with exceptional faculty from institutions throughout North America. Learning at SML is grounded in truly "hands-on" educational experiences. SML courses and internships provide rigorous training in a diversity of marine subjects and prepares students for careers in the fields of marine and environmental science and sustainability. All SML programs are infused with in our ethos of responsible natural resource use and management, valuing scientific and community collaboration, and public service.


Shoals Marine Laboratory is a world leader in the study, appreciation and conservation of sustainable, healthy oceans. Our hallmarks are experiential, place-based education, sustainability in action and innovative research to advance the understanding and protection of marine ecosystems.


The Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML) leadership team is dedicated to fulfilling our mission, strengthening our tradition of academic excellence, and enhancing our programs and services. The SML Executive Committee, along with the SML Executive Director, make up the core of leadership. Valuable input, advice, and support come from the SML Academic Advisory Committee.

photo of SML Director Dr. Jennifer Seavey

Dr. Jennifer Seavey,
Kingsbury Executive Director

Dr. Jennifer Seavey is the Kingsbury Executive Director of Shoals Marine Laboratory on Appledore Island, Maine which is a joint facility of the University of New Hampshire and Cornell University. She also holds faculty appointments at both UNH and Cornell. As Executive Director, Jennifer develops and implements strategies to achieve the Shoals mission to provide education and research programs that advance the 1) understanding of marine and coastal ecosystems and 2) development of sustainable solutions to environmental challenges.

Dr. Seavey is a broadly trained marine ecologist with a focus on applied research on waterbirds, climate change, and resource management. Her academic achievements include: two post doctorate positions at the University of Massachusetts and the University of Florida where she conducted research on climate change impacts to coastal ecosystems; Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts in Natural Resource Conservation, where her dissertation focused on the landscape ecology and conservation of the piping plover on barrier islands of New York; Master’s Degree from the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington; and a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon.

Before joining Shoals Marine Laboratory, Dr. Seavey held an Adjunct Assistant Professor position in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, where she also served as the Assistant Director for University of Florida’s Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory. She currently serves as a board member of the Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS), Northeastern Coastal Stations Alliance (NeCSA), and the Regional Association for Research on the Gulf of Maine (RARGOM).

The SML Executive Committee oversees the operations and finances of SML. Committee members include:

Dr. Diane Foster, co-chair
Director, School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, University of New Hampshire

Dr. Esther Angert, co-chair
Senior Associate Dean, CALS, Cornell University

Dr. Kim Babbitt
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, University of New Hampshire

Dr. Cole Gilbert

Professor, Department of Entomology, CALS, Cornell

Dr. Cliff Kraft
Professor, Department of Natural Resources, CALS, Cornell

Dr. Marian McCord
Senior Vice Provost, University of New Hampshire

The SML Academic Advisory Committee is made up of three subgroups: Cornell faculty, UNH faculty, and faculty from other institutions.

The goals of the SML Academic Advising Committee are to:

  1. Help guide SML academic programming each year (short term)
  2. Help SML understand and maximize our service to student & faculty needs/desires;
  3. Help SML academic programs evolve in an appropriate direction (long term); and
  4. Assist us to effectively and quickly disseminate information to faculty and students about SML opportunities, changes, and other news.

Cornell University members:

Dr. Eugene Won
Academic Coordinator for Shoals Marine Laboratory at Cornell University

Dr. David Bonter
Assistant Director of Citizen Science, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Dr. Matt Hare
Associate Professor, Dept. of Natural Resources

Dr. Bruce Monger
Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

University of New Hampshire members:

Dr. Gregg Moore
Academic Coordinator for Shoals Marine Laboratory at UNH

Dr. Catherine Ashcroft
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Natural Resources & the Environment

Dr. David Plachetzki
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Molecular, Cellular, & Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Win Watson
Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences

Members from other institutions:

Dr. Liz Craig
Academic Coordinator for Shoals Marine Laboratory

Dr. Jarrett Byrnes
Assistant Professor, UMass Boston

Dr. Jan Factor
Professor, Purchase College SUNY

Dr. Nadine Lysiak
Faculty, Marine Studies Consortium; Lecturer, UMass Boston

John Kingbury, Founding Director
Jack Kingsbury

Dr. John M. Kingsbury, 1966-1979
Cornell University


Dr. JB Heiser
J.B. Heiser

Dr. John B. Heiser, 1979-1994
Cornell University


Patricia McGill
Patty McGill

Dr. Patricia McGill, 1994-1995
Dallas Zoo


Dr. Brian Rivest
Brian Rivest

Dr. Brian Rivest, 1995-1997
State University of New York Cortland


Dr. Jim Morin
Jim Morin

Dr. James Morin, 1997-2005
Cornell University


Willey Bemis
Willy Bemis

Dr. William E. Bemis, 2005-2013
Cornell University


Dr. Jonathan Pennock
Jon Pennock

Dr. Jonathan R. Pennock, 2013-2014 (Interim)
NOAA National Sea Grant


Former Directors
(left to right) Willy Bemis, Patty McGill, Brian Rivest, Jack Kingsbury, J.B. Heiser and Jim Morin on Appledore Island.

Navigating to the Future

Shoals Marine Laboratory's 2018-2028 Strategic Plan represents the contributions of more than 100 participants, spanning across our alumni, faculty, long-time supporters and university leaders, who participated in six workshops and online surveys over the past year. Participants helped to identify the strengths, challenges, and opportunities for SML. This community input was provided to a team of field station and marine laboratory leadership experts as well as the SML Executive Committee (comprising UNH and Cornell leaders) to help us formulate our vision and goals. In addition, UNH’s Office of Campus Planning undertook the interpretation of strategic goals into a master facilities plan. Throughout the planning process, five ideas emerged as beacons that will serve as goals for the next 10 years.

Beacon 1: World-class place-based, experiential and immersive science education
Beacon 2: Scientific discovery and application to today’s environmental challenges for the coasts and ocean
Beacon 3: Interdisciplinary and problem-based collaboration
Beacon 4: An engaged and supportive SML community
Beacon 5: Sustainability leadership

These beacons will anchor our strategic plan and guide our actions, investments and partnerships as we sail ahead into the next decade. We are excited to have you join us to ensure that SML rises to the challenge of meeting our goals and fulfilling our mission. If you have questions or suggestions regarding our plan, we hope you will reach out. Together we will ensure that SML continues to advance understanding, discovery and sustainability of the marine environment.