Melissa Baustian

Coastal Ecologist/Director of LA-COE

Melissa M. Baustian, Ph.D. is a Coastal Ecologist with The Water Institute of the Gulf. She has more than 15 years of experience in researching the ecological responses of aquatic ecosystems to nutrient enrichment, eutrophication and hypoxia. She has extensive research experience studying the benthic ecology of the low-oxygen area, known as the “Dead Zone”, in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. Baustian's current research is focused on providing technical support in the data collection and development, and application of analyses and ecosystem models to examine nutrient-related dynamics from restoration efforts in Louisiana’s coastal zone. She is also examining climate change related effects on coastal vegetation and ecosystem processes, a research priority in the Institute’s Science and Engineering Plan. This includes a field study that examines organic matter decomposition and short-term and long-term soil carbon accumulation rates in herbaceous wetlands across a salinity gradient and determining how black mangrove expansion might alter basal carbon sources in benthic food webs of salt marshes.

In addition to being a researcher at the Institute, Dr. Baustian is the Director for the RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana where she leads the administration of a competitive coastal research grants program. She is also adjunct faculty in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Prior to joining the Institute, Dr. Baustian was a post-doctoral researcher at the Center for Water Sciences at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI, where she collaborated with other water researchers that have a wide range of expertise (e.g. economics, microbiology, geography, geochemistry) to better understand the coupling of socioeconomic and ecological systems in the Great Lakes. While at Michigan State University, she also conducted research on the essential mechanisms and stressors involved in benthic-pelagic coupling of lakes, estuaries, and oceans.

Dr. Baustian earned a M.S. and Ph.D. from the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University and a B.S. in biology at Iowa State University.

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