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. He is currently Assistant Director for the program, focusing on revitalizing educational elements, expanding feedback loops between research and extension, and expanding the program in new directions. He recently authored the Ecology chapter for the Ocean Special Area Management Plan for Rhode Island. He has also 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. Desbonnet was instrumental in designing an interstate management plan with Connecticut and Rhode Island, and with Massachusetts and Rhode Island. He also developed a water resource inventory and assessment that has promulgated a move towards sustainable water management at the state level in Rhode Island. Desbonnet was also instrumental in launching the nine-town Washington County Regional Planning Council, a group that is now engaged in inter-town collaboration on resource and economic planning and management issues. Desbonnet developed a GIS system for the Sea Grant Sustainable Coastal Community and Ecosystems team and assisted in the development of many novel GIS data layers for Rhode Island, including a 400+ coastal public access site data layer that sets a historical baseline for public access in the state. Previously, Desbonnet worked at the Mystic Marinelife Aquarium for three years as an aquarist and researcher, and for five years in the aquarium's education and outreach division, writing and teaching college- and high school-level classes. Desbonnet also designed and implemented the aquarium’s college intern program. He currently writes a monthly "science for the fisherman" column for On The Water magazine, 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 accomplished amateur photographer, and a gourmet cook. Desbonnet is also a dedicated runner, mountain biker, and skier, all needed pastimes to keep off those gourmet calories. Desbonnet serves on theStonington Shellfish Commission and on the Board of Trustees for the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association.