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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

News from URI's Graduate School of Oceanography...

Gift to URI Graduate School of Oceanography Expands
Quonochontaug Pond Research Program

Narragansett, R.I.--January 19, 2001--New Jersey businessman Finn M.W. Caspersen has awarded the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) a two-year $150,000 grant to continue the Quonochontaug Pond Research Fellowship originally established in 1999. The gift will enable a GSO student and faculty team to expand on baseline studies conducted for the previous grant.

The recipient of the 1999 Quononchontaug Pond Research Fellowship, GSO doctoral candidate Kathryn Ford of Narragansett, has also been awarded the current fellowship to continue her research, including geochemical studies of mussels, an expansion of habitat studies on quahogs, winter flounder, and eelgrass, and a more thorough analysis of the pond's circulation. Ford will also study the historical hurricane record to help determine the impact of hurricanes on the coastal environment.

"I am pleased to be able to assist the URI Graduate School of Oceanography in their continuous environmental monitoring of Quonochontaug salt pond," said Caspersen, who spends his summers in the Westerly community of Shelter Harbor. "This is a critical Rhode Island natural resource and one of the reasons that all of us choose to live in this area."

Like most of the south shore coastal ponds, Quonochontaug Pond has not been thoroughly researched, and a comprehensive profile of the pond is one of the goals of the current study. Until the establishment of this research project in 1999, the major effort on Quonochontaug Pond was a 10-year monitoring program for fecal coliforms and nutrients established by the URI Coastal Resources Center and continued by the Salt Ponds Coalition.

"Coastal ecosystems change dramatically in response to a wide variety of natural and man-made stressors," said Ford. "Since the increasing habitation of the coasts, these changes have been noticed astutely, and explanations have been sought. The most reliable way to thoroughly understand a system as complex as a coastal habitat is long term studies (monitoring) of geochemistry, animal populations, and water quality.

"The funds and expertise necessary to undertake such interdisciplinary studies are frequently unavailable," added Ford. "However, it is made feasible in Quonochontaug Pond through generous donations of time, money, and local knowledge from the proactive community surrounding the pond."

Ford conducts the Quonochontaug Pond studies under the guidance of her faculty advisor, geological oceanographer John King. Other members of the research team include GSO chemical oceanographer James Quinn, and Arthur Ganz and Richard Satchwill of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

"This project is a great example of how GSO research expertise can be applied directly to helping Rhode Islanders solve problems in coastal management," said GSO interim dean James Yoder. "We are delighted that Finn Caspersen has extended the fellowship for two more years and pleased that it will provide a practical and important learning experience for a graduate student."

A graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School, Caspersen was Chairman of the Board and CEO of Beneficial Corporation of New Jersey from 1976 to 1998. He is now CEO of Knickerbocker Management, a private management firm. He serves as moderator of Westerly's Shelter Harbor Fire District and is the chair of the Ellis Island Commission in New Jersey. He is also the chair of the Board of Trustees of The Peddie School, chair of the Harvard Law School Dean's Advisory Board, and a trustee emeritus of Brown University.

The Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island is one of the country's largest marine science education programs, and one of the world's foremost marine research institutions. Founded in 1961 in Narragansett, Rhode Island, GSO serves a community of scientists who are researching the causes of and solutions to such problems as acid rain, global warming, air and water pollution, oil spills, overfishing, and coastal erosion.

In addition to graduate education and scientific research, GSO provides school and public education programming, including the JASON Project, the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, and the Narragansett Bay Classroom through the Office of Marine Programs. GSO is also home to the Coastal Institute on Narragansett Bay, the Coastal Resources Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, the Ocean Technology Center, and the National Sea Grant Library.

Contact: Lisa Cugini, (401) 874-6642

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Page last revised on Friday, March 09, 2001 .