Mentors and mentor teams will be selected from LUMCON faculty members, their post-docs and graduate students, and visiting scientists (typically 1-2 scientists spend extended periods at LUMCON each summer) who have active research programs addressing basic and applied research questions in and around the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers, their deltas, adjacent wetlands, and nearby coastal ocean waters.

In the summer 2014, REU opportunities are available in several research areas, including:


  • Fisheries and Aquaculture
  • Coastal Hypoxia
  • Wetland Science
  • Benthic Ecology
  • Ecosytem Ecology
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Coastal Geology
  • Gulf Oil Spill Impacts


The following mentors at LUMCON are accepting students for the 2014 LUMCON REU program (this list will change yearly). You can access more information on mentors by doubling clicking on their name which will direct you to their research page.

Dr. Edward Chesney’s research expertise and areas of study include fisheries oceanography and fish ecology, especially as they relate to the early life history or larval stages of fish. Culture, foraging behavior, and growth of larval fishes. Spawning, larval rearing and propagation of marine fishes for fisheries research and aquaculture development. Recent research includes the effects of anthropogenic factors on coastal fish populations, the use of cryopreserved sperm in the spawning and propagation of marine fishes, foraging studies with fish larvae and the sublethal effects of coastal pollutants on the swimming performance of fishes. Potential areas of REU research in Dr. Chesney’s lab: Habitat studies of juvenile reef fishes; spawning of fishes at sea and in captivity;rearing fish larvae for pollution and aquaculture research;sub-lethal effects of hydrocarbons on swimming performance of larval and juvenile fishes.

Dr. Tara Duffy is an experimental fish biologist. She is interested in the impacts of contaminants on the physiology, behavior and development fish early life stages. She is experienced at larval culture and uses laboratory experiments with live animals to make predictions about impacts of contaminants in the wild. Her current research focuses on assessing sublethal impacts of oil and dispersants on four ecologically and economically important species in the Gulf of Mexico; blue crab, bay anchovy, spotted seatrout and red snapper. Potential research projects include assessing impacts of oil on bay anchovy, red snapper and/or blue crab, using 3-D videography to understand impacts on behavior, histological analysis of larval development, impacts of oil on growth of larvae.

Dr. Alexander Kolker investigates the geological oceanography of deltaic coasts. Deltaic coasts are fascinating places to study because the history of changing river courses leaves a landscape that is diverse and complex. In coastal Louisiana, this means we have large rivers, small rivers, barrier islands, estuaries, barrier islands, fresh marshes, salt marshes, swamps and crevasse splays that are all accessible within a day’s reach. The Mississippi River Delta (MRD) is also one of the most rapidly changing coastal systems, and it has lost almost 1900 square miles of land in the past century. Over recent decades, scientists have learned lots about why this system loses land, we know substantially less about how to build land. REU projects in Dr. Kolker’s lab will be pursued in the field and in the laboratory using a variety of geophysical, geochemical, and sedimentological tools.This summer, we are looking for REU students to work on a variety of pathways that include: examining the crevasses and sub-deltas that exist across the MRD that can serve as natural analogues for coastal restoration; determining rates of subsidence across the MRD, as these rates affect coastal restoration strategies; and investigating pathways of groundwater flow in the MRD, which is poorly understood but has the potential to influence hydrology and chemistry of this system.

Dr. John Marton is a wetland ecologist and biogeochemist. His research focuses on carbon and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) cycling in wetlands along the salinity gradient and how these processes respond to natural and anthropogenic stressors. Specifically, he investigates ways the wetlands retain and transform nutrients and how these services relate to various rates of anaerobic carbon mineralization. He couples laboratory manipulations, field observations and measurements, and multivariate statistical analysis to elucidate the predicted responses of wetland ecosystem functions. Potential research projects include: the influence of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on nitrification, denitrification and potential greenhouse gas production; relative importance of denitrification and dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonia (DNRA) in salt marshes; the effects of varying salinity on nitrification in marshes along a salinity gradient; differential biogeochemical responses of soils dominated by mangroves or Spartina to changes in salinity or temperature.

Dr. Nancy Rabalais’ research interests include the dynamics of hypoxic environments, interactions of large rivers with the coastal ocean, estuarine and coastal eutrophication, environmental effects of habitat alterations and contaminants, and science policy. Dr. Rabalais is an active member of her research team, participating in research cruises, diving operations, and data synthesis and publications. She advises two Ph.D. students and assists as a committee member for several more graduate students at Louisiana State University. Current opportunities, centered on the topics of eutrophication and hypoxia, include work with oxygen tolerance of low oxygen conditions by foraminiferans, benthic sedimentary structure and infaunal communities through a season of hypoxia with the use of a benthic profiling camera, continued work on microphytobenthos and conditions of distribution. Potential projects include: benthic profile camera work in oiled marsh compared to benthic fauna, possible use of a profile camera in the area of hypoxia, and tolerance benthic fauna to oxygen deprivation.

Dr. Brian Roberts is an ecosystem ecologist and biogeochemist. His research group studies how ecosystems along the freshwater-estuary-ocean continuum process and retain nutrients and energy and how this is altered as a result of human perturbations to the landscape. His research interests also include biogeochemical cycling and greenhouse gas fluxes in wetlands and estuarine pelagic and benthic environments. This research involves field observations and controlled mechanistic experiments conducted both in field and laboratory settings. There are several potential REU research projects associated with each of his lab’s current research projects (described on faculty page), including examinations of: controls (including the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill) on nutrient cycling, soil respiration and greenhouse gas fluxes in wetland soils; influence of vegetation type (Spartina v. black mangrove) on biogeochemical rates; influence of salinity alterations on soil biogeochemical processes in marshes along a salinity gradient; influence of marsh infauna on soil biogeochemical rates (with Dr. Wall); marsh fish habitat use, site fidelity, and growth (with CWC fish group).

Dr. Chuck Wall is a benthic community ecologist. His research focuses on interactions of benthic organisms (shellfish, sponges, seagrasses, salt marsh vegetation) with each other and with the surrounding water and sediment. Recently he has studied how bivalve shellfish, such as clams, oysters, and scallops, can facilitate eelgrass habitat and buffer against eutrophication. These shellfish, in turn, respond to what’s going on in the water above them, such as changes in food availability or phytoplankton community composition. In Louisiana, he is studying how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has affected salt marsh communities of mussels, snails, worms, and crustaceans, and how these populations can recover after oiling. Additionally, he is interested in how benthic animals (mussels) and benthic plants (salt marsh grasses) benefit each other as they create the salt marsh ecosystem, and how understanding biological interactions can inform management of coastal ecosystems faced with multiple environmental challenges. Potential projects include: Potential projects include: growth and ‘health’ indicators of mussels in oiled and unoiled areas; animal-plant relations of snails and salt marsh vegetation in oiled and unoiled areas; and benthic infauna of oiled and unoiled areas.