Meet the experts

These scientists helped build our understanding of oysters

Since its early days as one lab under Dr. Reginald V. Truitt, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science grew into a scientific authority on Chesapeake Bay and trusted scientific adviser to state and national leaders, in part due to its key leadership on oyster restoration in Chesapeake Bay.

Our scientists have built an understanding of how much oysters clean the water by eating algae and removing nitrogen, helped point to the causes when oyster populations declined, and helped draft solutions to restore those populations. Additionally, with an oyster culture facility at Horn Point Laboratory, our scientists have spent years perfecting how to grow new oysters and helped rebuild the oyster reefs both those baby oysters and other key species need to thrive in Chesapeake Bay.

Get to know our oyster experts

Jeffrey Cornwell is an expert in sediments, water quality, and wetlands, but his work on oysters helped move forward efforts to restore the Bay’s oyster population through insights on the role of oysters in removing nutrients from the water column and how aquaculture impacts the chemistry of sediments and the impact of nutrient and phosphorus pollution on excess algae growth.

Matthew Gray is an expert in ecophysiology. His seeks to understand how local environmental factors affect vital physiological rate functions (e.g. eating, breathing, reproducing) that are important controls of healthy and growing oyster populations. Additionally, his work explores how these same physiological functions impact water quality and may improve ecosystem health.

Victor Kennedy, professor emeritus, was the editor of the definitive book on oyster biology and has been a keen observer of oyster management over many decades. He is the author of the recent book "Shifting Baselines in the Chesapeake Bay: An Environmental History" that details changes in historical reference points used in environmental assessments, in which oysters play a prominent role.  

Elizabeth North is an expert on the role that estuarine tides and currents play in the dispersal of larval animals, including fish and oysters. She led the OysterFutures Project that engaged stakeholders to seek a more sustainable future for oyster fisheries.

Kennedy Paynter is an expert on oyster diseases and has been responsible for most of the monitoring of oyster survival, growth, and disease prevalence for the restoration projects undertaken through the Oyster Recovery Partnership.

Louis Plough is an expert in the population genetics and is focusing on the genetic traits that promote environmental tolerance, disease, and growth. He research is oriented to selecting superior strains for use in oyster aquaculture.

Eric Schott is an expert on diseases of shellfish and has served on the Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission since its inception in 2007.

Lisa Wainger is an expert in environmental economics and is assessing the economic costs and benefits of oyster conservation and fishery policies. She was a participant in the OysterFutures project.

Michael Wilberg is an expert in assessing the stocks and dynamics of fishery populations. As such work is essential in setting sustainable harvest levels, he was the lead scientist for the stock assessment required by the 2016 Sustainable Oyster Population and Fishery Act. He is also a participant in the OysterFutures Project.