Distinguished Fellow Awards

Distinguished Fellow Awards are the most prestigious honor bestowed by the University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute. They are awarded for exceptional volunteer service to communities in Rhode Island and beyond in recognition of the tremendous benefit of the knowledge, guidance, and concern given by the individual. The Coastal Institute takes a broad view of coastal systems and embraces the concept that people, culture, and society are an integral part of the landscape. Each of the awardees have served the CI in the shaping of its mission and in the meeting of its goals.


Peter V. August: A Professor Emeritus of the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences, Dr. August’s research and outreach focuses on using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology on the analysis and conservation of natural resources in coastal environments. He is particularly interested in using GIS to model and map lands most important for conservation. The first CI Director, he now leads the Climate Response Demonstration Site at Napatree Point in Watch Hill, RI, an effort focused on stewardship of a natural area ecosystem and the application of science-informed outreach for preservation of such sites. He has also served the CI as a voluntary member of the CI advisory group.

Arthur J. Gold: A Professor Emeritus of the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences, Dr. Gold’s research addresses the effects of land use and natural features on water quality, with particular focus on sources and sinks of nitrogen in mixed-use watersheds. He is partnering with the Roger Williams Park Climate Response Demonstration Site in response to the inflow of contaminated fresh water to its ponds and outflow to the Pawtuxet River. As Dr. Gold’s work has helped demonstrate, for diverse, multi-generational communities from all reaches of Providence, the park also serves as a coastal metaphor: freedom from the urban heat island. Dr. Gold has also served the CI as an associate director of the CI advisory group.

John W. King: A Professor Emeritus of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Dr. King is a geological oceanographer who has done extensive work in estuaries and coastal lagoons. His research interests are pollution, habitat, eco-risk, and paleo-environmental studies in coastal areas. John has steadfastly served the CI, serving as the Chair of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program’s Science Advisory Committee as it worked to produce a milestone report, “The State of Narragansett Bay and Its Watershed.” Dr. King has also served the CI as an associate director of the CI advisory group.

Candace A. Oviatt: A Professor Emerita of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Dr. Oviatt has decades of experience in coastal ecology with research focused on whole systems and experimental marine ecosystems, examining nutrient, carbon cycling, and benthic-water column interactions. Her recent interests include the impact of climate trends on estuarine ecosystems and changes in production with changes in nutrient loadings. Dr. Oviatt has also served the CI as a consistent source of wisdom for the CI advisory group. In addition to her data-based decision-making, which is of great value to Narragansett Bay and its watershed, she is an inspiration to women in science. In the community, she is well-regarded for her skills with horses and for her care of them.

Charles T. Roman: As a retired National Park Service Research Coordinator and adjunct professor with both the URI Graduate School of Oceanography and the URI College of Environment and Life Sciences, Dr. Roman is an estuarine and salt marsh ecologist, with a focus on salt marsh restoration, nutrient enrichment, and long-term ecosystem monitoring. In recent decades, his research program has focused on National Park and Wildlife Refuges throughout the northeast, with a goal of providing good science to support natural resource management decisions. Dr. Roman has provided substantial writing support to the CI and served as an editor for the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program’s “The State of Narragansett Bay and Its Watershed,” as well as for several plans and reports for the Mixed-Use Climate Response Demonstration Site. Dr. Roman has also served the CI as an associate director of the CI advisory group.

Chaplin B. Barnes:  Chaplin was a conservationist who was instrumental in the protection and stewardship of the Napatree Point Conservation Area.  To understand the ecological complexities of the Napatree ecosystem, Barnes commissioned the Rhode Island Natural History Survey to develop a scientifically accurate baseline inventory of Napatree in 2005, and he engaged the Survey to reassess the Napatree ecosystem in 2010. This scientific “report card” for Napatree became a reality with the completion of the “2013 State of Napatree” report. He led the adoption of conservation easement on the Watch Hill Fire District parcels that comprise much of the conservation area. He also founded the innovative Napatree Investigators youth education program that takes place every summer. Hundreds of children have spent their summers learning about the ecology of the Napatree ecosystem. Barnes was often praised for his work as an environmental advocate and his skills as a negotiator in often contentious conservation issues and his enormous contribution to conservation efforts.