Shaping Our Future: Ensuring Sustainable Life in the Coastal Zone

8th Annual Scott W. Nixon Lecture

WHEN: Thursday, April 7th, 2022, 3:30–5:00 PM (*note, reception originally scheduled to follow event has been canceled)
WHERE: Virtually and at the Coastal Institute Auditorium, Narragansett Bay Campus, URI
WHAT: Riverine systems. Watershed dynamics. Estuarine nurseries. Saltmarsh drowning. Ecosystem diversity. Hear experts on the urgent need to address climate change in the coastal zone. Download flyer.

Online registration for in-person attendance is now closed

Watch the live feed:


Dr. Robert Griffin 
Natural Capital Project & Research Assistant Professor, UMass Dartmouth

Rob Griffin is an economist at the Natural Capital Project and research assistant professor at UMass Dartmouth. His research interests are focused on how preferences and incentives relate to the values people hold for coastal and marine environmental services. This has chiefly addressed how to rethink market structures to deal with absent or poorly functioning markets and measuring the value of the environment when incomplete or absent markets provide little information for decision making. This work has been applied to valuing the direct and indirect benefits of shoreline hazard adaptation, identifying spatial values associated with different ocean uses and how they relate to each other for ocean planning decisions, and designing permit and lease allocation mechanisms to achieve social objectives. Rob received a B.A. in Economics and his Ph.D. in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics from the University of Rhode Island. During his graduate studies, Rob was a National Science Foundation IGERT fellow with an interdisciplinary research focus on coastal ecosystems. 

Dr. Brita Jessen
Interdisciplinary Research and Partnerships Lead, South Carolina Sea Grant

Brita Jessen is the first Interdisciplinary Research and Partnerships Lead for the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium.  Her role is to build relationships and long-term investments across academic, private, government, and local communities, and to ensure that coastal management includes equity and inclusion of local voices. Brita leads programs focused on coastal resilience, management decision support, conservation financing, and co-production of science with local knowledge.  She teaches and mentors graduate students as an adjunct faculty at Florida Gulf Coast University, is an adjunct researcher at the College of Charleston and courtesy faculty at Florida International University.  She was recently appointed to the board of directors for the non-profit Coastal Resources Group. While a student at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Brita was a National Science Foundation IGERT fellow and a graduate research fellow with the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) in Puerto Rico. Prior to joining the Consortium, Brita was the research director for the Rookery Bay NERR in southwest Florida where she oversaw a team of scientists and collaboratively led grant-funded programs in restoration science, fisheries, habitat change, and human-ecological systems. 

Dr. Erika Lentz 
Research Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey

Erika Lentz is a Research Geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey stationed at the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center.  She received her PhD in Earth Science from the University of Rhode Island in 2010 where she was a National Science Foundation IGERT fellow from 2005-2007, and from 2012 to 2014 she was a USGS Mendenhall Post-doctoral Research Fellow.  Her research focuses on coastal change and the processes that drive it over a range of spatial (barrier island to regional) and temporal (storms to sea level rise) scales in both natural and built environments.  Most recently, Dr. Lentz has been exploring how coastal change varies among different ecosystems and across landscapes, and what makes certain locations more resilient than others.  She is also interested in the meaningful communication of scientific information to support decision-making and uses design thinking and transdisciplinary approaches to deeply consider the user and to foster creativity and innovation in research teams.  She was chapter co-author on the Northeast regional chapter of the fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA) and is currently part of the author team for the national Coastal Impacts chapter for NCA5. 

Between a Trek and a Stroll: Pathways to a Career (in person only)
Join alumni of URI’s National Science Foundation funded Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) for a discussion of professional career development challenges and choices.  Learn more and RSVP.