Research Programs

The mission of the Department of Aquatic Health Sciences is to identify and detect toxicological, pathobiological, biochemical agents and other environmental and ecological stressors in aquatic systems, with a focus on the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed, which affect the health of aquatic organisms and surrounding human populations.

Aquatic Toxicology

Research within this program focuses on the ecology, ecotoxicology, and chemistry of natural toxins synthesized by microorganisms in freshwater, estuarine and marine ecosystems.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Juliette Smith

Crustacean Diseases

This program focuses on the epidemiology, etiology, ecology, and pathology of diseases affecting crustaceans, with an emphasis on crabs and lobsters

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jeffrey Shields

Environmental Chemistry

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

Principal Investigators: Dr. Rob Hale, Dr. Drew Luellen, Dr. Michael Unger

Evolutionary and Ecological Medicine

The Evolutionary and Ecological Medicine lab focuses on utilizing evolutionary and ecological theory to guide disease management.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Andrew Wargo


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

Principal Investigator: Dr. Wolfgang Vogelbein

Marine and Aquaculture Molecular Genetics

Molecular ecology and genetic studies of aquaculture species, HABs, and aquatic pathogens.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Kimberly Reece

Molluscan Health

The VIMS Shellfish Pathology Laboratory studies the pathology and parasitology of species like oysters and clams, with the management of shellfish health in aquaculture and the wild a core focus.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ryan Carnegie