Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Research Programs & Projects


SamplingThe mission of the Department of Aquatic Health Sciences is to identify and detect toxicological, pathobiological and biochemical agents in the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed that affect the health of important aquatic organisms and surrounding human populations.

Environmental Health


This program investigates contaminants in the biosphere and their effects on constituents of the biosphere, including humans.

Environmental Chemistry

Research in environmental chemistry addresses the sources, transport, fate, bioavailability and impacts of contaminants in ecosystems.

Environmental Microbiology

This program concentrates on indicator and pathogenic microorganisms in waters used for recreation, aquaculture, and shellfish harvesting.

Environmental Toxicology

Research involving the toxic effects of chemicals in water and sediment are conducted at the molecular and population levels.

Risk Assessment

Research to estimate the probability of an adverse effect of a contaminant to humans or the environment.

Aquatic Animal Health

Crustacean Disease

This program focuses on the epidemiology, ecology, and pathophysiology of pathogens affecting aquatic crustaceans, with an emphasis on the blue crab.

Fish Immunity

Research in the Fish Immunity Laboratory is dedicated to the study of the immune defense mechanisms of finfish.

Fish & Shellfish Nutrition (no longer accpting new students)

Investigates energy reserves and nutritional factors important in the survival, growth, and recruitment of fish and shellfish species.


Investigations into abnormalities in structure and function at the cellular and organismal level are conducted.

Marine and Aquaculture Molecular Genetics

The focus of this program is molecular genetic studies of aquaculture species and aquatic pathogens.

Oyster Pathophysiology & Diseases (no longer accpting new students)

This program focuses on the interactions between oysters and their parasites by studying the defense system of the oyster and identifying the factors contributing to parasitic virulence.

Shellfish Pathology

The VIMS Shellfish Pathology Laboratory studies the diseases of commercially important molluscs like oysters and clams.

Projects, Monitoring & Diagnostic Services

Mycobacteriosis in striped bass
VA-DEQ Elizabeth River Tributyltin Monitoring Program
OIE Reference Laboratory
Oyster Disease Monitoring (coming soon)