Human-marine environment interactions crux of DMC director’s study

Heather Leslie, director of the University of Maine Darling Marine Center, is leading a research project to deepen her interdisciplinary investigations of ecological and human dimensions of small-scale fisheries in Mexico’s Baja peninsula.

A $1.79 million award from the National Science Foundation’s Coupled Natural and Human (CNH) Systems Program funds the three-year project.

“My studies of human-marine environment connections are inspired and informed by my earlier time in Maine. Now that I am back on the midcoast, I am excited to begin to build on the work that I’ve done in Mexico so as to contribute to the scientific and societal needs of the state of Maine,” said Leslie, who also is the Libra Associate Professor in UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences.

“With the support of the NSF, I will be able to attract students to the Darling Center who are keen to work in this important area of coupled systems, or marine conservation, science. I expect that we will turn our attention to local challenges — particularly those related to sustaining both aquaculture and wild caught fisheries off the Maine coast — quite soon,” adds Leslie, who began directing UMaine’s marine laboratory Aug. 1.

Betsy Von Holle, CNH program director for NSF’s Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO), says the complex environmental issues created as human populations expand and the environment changes are best investigated by multi-disciplinary teams.

“CNH provides support for natural and social scientists to work together to examine these complex human-environment interactions,” she says. “The results can then be applied to other regions experiencing similar issues.”

The CNH grant program, which considers humans and the environment as one interconnected system, is co-funded by NSF’s BIO, Geosciences and Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences. It has been issuing awards since 2001; total 2015 funding is $20.4 million.

To learn more, read the NSF release.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777