The Virginia Institute of Marine Science has named Dr. Linda Schaffner as its new Associate Dean of Academic Studies. Schaffner will oversee VIMS’ education programs, including the graduate and undergraduate programs of the College of William and Mary’s School of Marine Science at VIMS.
Dr. John Wells, VIMS Dean and Director, says Schaffner’s selection is based on an exemplary record of teaching, administration, and research. “Linda has considerable administrative experience, both within and outside of VIMS,” says Wells. “She’s very familiar with our educational mission, and has a deep understanding of all aspects of student learning. I’m confident that Linda will lead the academic program at VIMS with great pride, skill, and wisdom.”
Schaffner's appointment is subject to approval by the William and Mary Board of Visitors, which next meets in early February.
Schaffner, an expert in the ecology of estuaries, received her Ph.D. from the School of Marine Science at VIMS in 1987, and joined the VIMS faculty in 1988. During her time on the faculty, she has mentored 10 Ph.D. and Master’s students through to completion of their degree, and served on the advisory committees of an additional 46 graduate students. Her students have gone on to careers in academia, government, and the private sector.
Research & Teaching
Schaffner and her students have authored dozens of research papers on the ecology of Chesapeake Bay and other coastal ecosystems worldwide, including Long Island Sound, the Baltic Sea, and coastal waters of Korea. Her research has focused on key topics such as the productivity of estuarine food webs, linkages between bottom-dwelling communities and higher trophic levels such as blue crabs and fish, effects of low-oxygen "dead zones" on biodiversity, and how pollutants move through coastal ecosystems. She was part of the team that developed the Chesapeake Bay "Index of Biotic Integrity," which has helped provide resource managers with an important tool for assessing Bay health and water quality in a timely fashion.
The courses she has taught include Coastal and Estuarine Processes and Issues, Biological Oceanography, Estuarine Benthic Processes, Marine and Freshwater Invertebrates, Marine Benthos, and Global Coastal Change.
In addition to advising and teaching, Schaffner has played a key role in establishing several innovative educational programs at the Institute. These include the Summer Intern Program, which places 10 to 15 undergraduates with faculty mentors for an individualized 10-week research experience. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the program is now entering its 22nd year. Schaffner has served as the program’s Director since 1997.
Schaffner also helped establish the Hall-Bonner Program for Minority Doctoral Scholars, a partnership with Hampton University and Old Dominion University that seeks to increase the diversity of students earning doctoral degrees in the marine and ocean sciences. The program has enrolled 19 students since its founding in 2004, including VIMS graduate students Erica Holloman, Justin Falls, Jennifer Ah King-Elliott, Leonard Pace, Cielomar Rodríguez-Calderón, Gabrielle Saluta, Treda Smith-Grayson, Kersey Sturdivant, Delonna White, Branson Williams, and Carissa Wilkerson.
Outside of VIMS, Schaffner has served as President of the Estuarine Research Federation (2003-2005), and as Secretary to the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (2004-2005). She is a member of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation, American Geophysical Union, American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, and Atlantic Estuarine Research Society.
Schaffner has been recognized with the VIMS Outstanding Teaching Award (1994), The College of William and Mary’s Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award (2001), the Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia (2003), the Dean's Prize for Advancement of Women in Science at VIMS (2005), and the Estuarine Research Federation Distinguished Service Award (2007).
Schaffner will take over the reins from Dr. Iris Anderson, who will renew her research focus as a faculty member in VIMS’ Department of Biological Sciences. Anderson served as Dean of Graduate Studies from 2003-2010. Dean Wells says “Iris has performed admirably and will be greatly missed as a member of the VIMS administration.”
VIMS is an independent state agency with a mandate to provide research, education, and advisory service to the Commonwealth. The College of William and Mary's School of Marine Science at VIMS provides advanced students with a comprehensive program in marine science and marine-resource management, and close interaction with faculty involved in research and management issues. The School has graduated more than 800 Ph.D. and Master’s students since 1943. Alumni fill leading roles in academia, government, and industry around the nation and world.