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Lucy S. Vlietstra, Ph.D.

Professor, Marine Science Department of Science

Lucy S. VlietstraProfessor Vlietstra has been a faculty member in the Science Department at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy since 2009. In 2003, she received a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, specializing in Marine Ecology, from the University of California-Irvine after completing an undergraduate program at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and graduate work at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. From 2003 to 2005, she served as Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy before becoming a faculty member at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. In 2009, Professor Vlietstra returned to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where she teaches courses in marine ecology, atmospheric and marine science, and other topics related to marine ecosystems. She conducts collaborative research in the field of marine ecology and conservation. Specifically, her research explores changes in the physical marine environment caused by human activities and associated impacts on marine consumers and their food webs. Most recently, Professor Vlietstra has worked on studies addressing environmental considerations in coastal and offshore wind energy development, climate-related shifts in the ecology of gelatinous consumers native to New England estuaries, and habitat use by demersal fishes of conservation interest in estuaries on Long Island Sound.


  • Ph.D., University of California - Irvine, 2003
  • M.S., State University of New York - Syracuse, 1998
  • B.S., University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, 1994

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • Vlietstra, L.S., K.L. Mrakovcich, V.C. Futch, and B.S. Stutzman. In Press. Anthropogenic climate change in undergraduate marine and environmental science programs in the United States. Journal of College Science Teaching.
  • Vlietstra, L.S. 2014. Seasonal abundance of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in relation to water temperature and other zooplankton in the Thames River Estuary, Connecticut. Northeastern Naturalist 21(3): 397-418.
  • Burger, J., C. Gordon, L. Niles, J. Newman, G. Forcey, and L. Vlietstra. 2011. Risk evaluation for federally listed (roseate tern, piping plover) or candidate (red knot) bird species in offshore waters: a first step for managing the potential impacts of wind facility development on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. Renewable Energy 36: 338-351.
  • Sinclair, E.H., L.S. Vlietstra, D.S. Johnson, T.K. Zeppelin, G.V. Byrd, A.M. Springer, R.R. Ream, and G.L. Hunt Jr. 2008. Patterns in prey use among fur seals and seabirds in the Pribilof Islands. Deep-Sea Research Part II 55: 1897-1918.
  • Jahncke, J., L.S. Vlietstra, M.B. Decker, P. Sullivan, and G.L. Hunt. 2008. At-sea distribution of marine birds around the Pribilof Islands: an interdecadal comparison of spatial and temporal patterns. Deep-Sea Research Part II 55: 1809-1826.
  • Vlietstra, L.S. 2007. Potential impact of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy wind turbine on common (Sterna hirundo) and roseate (S. dougallii) terns. Proceedings of the Oceans ‘07 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Marine Challenges: Coastline to Deep Sea, 18-21 June 2007, Aberdeen Scotland.
  • Vlietstra, L.S., K.O. Coyle, N.B. Kachel, and G.L. Hunt, Jr. 2005. Tidal front affects the size of prey used by a top marine predator, the short-tailed shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris). Fisheries Oceanography 14(S1): 196-211.
  • Vlietstra, L.S. 2005. Spatial associations between seabirds and prey: effects of large-scale prey abundance on small-scale seabird distribution. Marine Ecology Progress Series 291: 275-287.
  • Vlietstra, L.S., and J.A. Parga. 2002. Long-term changes in the type, but not amount, of ingested plastic particles in short-tailed shearwaters in the southeastern Bering Sea. Marine Pollution Bulletin 44: 935-945.

Professional Memberships

  • National Marine Educators Association
  • National Science Teachers Association
  • The Oceanography Society

Contact Information