Don Scavia, Ph.D.

Professor and Director of the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute

Ph.D., Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan, 1980

MS, Environmental Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1974

BS, Environmental Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1973


Research interests include the effects of natural and anthropogenic stresses on Great Lakes and marine ecosystems, with a focus on the use of models and integrated assessments in transferring knowledge to the decision-making process. Teaching interests include the roles of conveying uncertainty, peer review, stakeholder input, interpreting trends, prediction, scale, and government interaction in developing and applying Integrated Scientific Assessments.

Awards and Grants:

  • EPA Great Lakes Biological Monitoring Program. $2.5M
  • NOAA Grant: CHRP 2005: Watershed-estuary-species nutrient susceptibility. $2.5M
  • NOAA Grant: ECOFORE: Lake Erie $2.2M
  • NSF Grant: Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE) - Great Lakes $2.5M
  • Recipient of the Department of Commerce Gold Medal for Leadership 2004

Research Interests:
My research focus is on using quantitative analysis and assessment, through statistical and deterministic modeling and integrated environmental assessment, to assess policy alternatives for managing coastal marine and Great Lakes ecosystems.

Current/Recent Research:
I am principle investigator on two large NOAA projects (Coastal Hypoxia, Ecological Forecasting) focused on modeling the impacts of watershed and land-use changes on coastal marine and Great Lakes ecosystems. The goals in both studies are to develop decision support tools relating policy alternatives to ecosystem impacts. I am also lead investigator on a 5-year EPA grant to track ecological changes in the lower food webs of the 5 Great Lakes. I continue modeling efforts for forecasting the effects of nutrient loads and climate change on hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay.

Teaching Interests:
I teach courses related to the development and application of integrated environmental assessments for informing natural resource management and policy, and occasional seminars in coastal marine and Great Lakes science and management

Current/Recent Teaching:
NRE 580 Integrated Assessment. This course provides students with a set of frameworks for combining natural and social science in policy contexts. Through interdisciplinary case studies, students will learn how these frameworks have been (or could be) used in guide, implement and analyze environmental policies. The course explores conveying uncertainty, the role of peer review, the value of stakeholder input, interpretation of trends, limits and value of prediction, issues of scale, and effective communication with policy makers.

Selected Publications:

Please visit my website for an up to date list.