Long Island Sound Study Celebrates “Women in Science” for Women’s History Month

This article spotlights a sample of women involved in Long Island Sound Study-related activities. 

In March 1987, Congress established Women’s History Month1 to honor the contributions of women throughout American history. Many of these accomplishments were in the field of science, including the nation’s first state water-quality standard, which was determined by sanitary chemistry pioneer Ellen H. Swallow Richards in 18902. Contributions from women involved with the Long Island Sound Study program include water monitoring, research, education, conservation, and restoration efforts throughout the Sound.

A grid mosaic of photos of the women in science featured, overlayed with the Long Island Sound Study logo.
A photo mosaic of women engaged in various science-based activities on Long Island Sound.
Dr. Syma Alexi Ebbin sits on a rock and smiles, holding a camera.
Credit: Syma A. Ebbin

Research Coordinator at Connecticut Sea Grant and Professor in Residence at UConn

Dr. Ebbin administers competitive research funding programs for the Long Island Sound Study and Connecticut Sea Grant. Additionally, she engages in social science research on offshore wind developments, ports, cable landfalls, coastal communities, and the blue economy in Connecticut.

PhD Candidate at UConn

Madeline Kollegger crouches and takes a selfie in the field.
Credit: Madeline Kollegger

Kollegger studies coastal wetland restoration on Long Island Sound and shares her research on Instagram. She is involved in several restoration projects along the Connecticut coastline. Her work involves collecting a variety of samples, such as soil, porewater, greenhouse gas, and conducting vegetation surveys to see how Great Meadows Marsh in Stratford, CT has changed following restoration efforts. Kollegger also researches how soil amendments can be used to prevent the development of acid-sulfate soils in sediment addition projects.

LISS Groups: Habitat Restoration and Stewardship Work Group, Climate Change and Sentinel Monitoring Work Group, Thriving Habitats and Abundant Wildlife CCMP Writing Team

A headshot of Dr. Diane Greenfield.
Credit: Diane Greenfield

Associate Professor at CUNY Advanced Science Research Center and Queens College

Dr. Greenfield is a biological oceanographer who combines fundamental ecology with molecular tools to study feedback between human activity and ecological/biogeochemical processes within coastal ecosystems. Her research emphasizes phytoplankton, as they influence biogeochemical cycling, productivity, and climate. Dr. Greenfield’s work focuses on the causes and consequences of harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, and associated planktonic processes. Currently, she is studying the spatial and temporal factors that regulate nutrient-microbiome dynamics within Long Island Sound and nearby embayments, as well as integrating new and more accurate molecular and observatory technologies to inform management strategies.

LISS Groups: Science and Technical Advisory Committee

A headshot of Robin Landeck Miller.
Credit: Robin L. Miller

Water Resources Technical Leader at HDR, Inc.

Throughout Long Island Sound, Miller has developed and applied models for evaluating nitrogen reduction and dissolved oxygen improvement, nutrient bio-extraction, and the potential for watershed pesticide applications to contribute to lobster mortality. Her work also involves connecting water quality assessment, protection, and restoration with management and regulatory policy needs.

LISS Groups: Science and Technical Advisory Committee

Samantha Wilder sits on the edge of a boat out on the water.
Credit: Samantha Wilder

Environmental Analyst with the Interstate Environmental Commission

Wilder is part of a new program that will monitor fecal indicator bacteria in waterways within the Long Island Sound watershed to track down potential sources. In this role, she performs regular water quality monitoring in Manhasset Bay during the recreational season and coordinates a volunteer monitoring program for waters that flow into the New York-New Jersey Harbor.

Martin and Michele Cohen Endowed Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Director of the Bio-Optical Laboratory at the CCNY Center for Discovery and Innovation

A headshot of Dr. Maria Tzortziou.
Credit: Maria Tzortziou

Dr. Tzortziou leads research efforts to understand the impacts of pollution due to human activity and natural stressors on biogeochemical cycles and ecological processes along the inland, wetland, coastal, and open ocean ecosystems. On Long Island Sound, she studies the impacts of excess nutrients, acidification, and hypoxia on water quality and the Sound’s ecological health, noting drivers of harmful algal blooms. Dr. Tzortziou has partnered with regional stakeholders to co-produce satellite data products relevant to water quality and harmful agal bloom outbreaks that support equitable and inclusive access to information for water resource management.

LISS Groups: Science and Technical Advisory Committee

Kimarie Yap wearing a red personal flotation device.
Credit: Kimarie Yap

Environmental Analyst with the Interstate Environmental Commission

Yap is the program manager and coordinator for ambient water quality monitoring on the western Long Island Sound. She collects water samples and measures water quality parameters in the field, processes and analyzes the samples, creates hypoxia interpolation maps with the data, and writes bi-weekly summaries of IEC’s monitoring surveys. Yap is also the project manager and coordinator for IEC’s participation in the Unified Water Study.

LISS Groups: Environmental Justice Work Group

Sarah Crosby, pictured on the left, holds  a plant and dirt.
Credit: Sarah Crosby (left)

Director of Conservation and Policy at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk

Dr. Crosby is responsible for shaping the Aquarium’s overall strategy, focusing on the ecosystem of the Sound and the impacts of climate change, marine pollution, and other conservation issues. Her work with the Long Island Sound Study focuses on the protection of species and habitats.

LISS Groups: Habitat Restoration and Stewardship Work Group, Citizens Advisory Committee, Science and Technical Advisory Committee, Climate Change and Sentinel Monitoring Work Group

Life Scientist at U.S. EPA, Region 2

Cayla Sullivan underwater in an eelgrass meadow.
Credit: Cayla Sullivan

As the EPA Habitat and Reporting Coordinator for the Long Island Sound Study, Sullivan manages the implementation of the Long Island Sound Eelgrass Management and Restoration Strategy. This includes increasing communication through the Long Island Sound Eelgrass Collaborative, improving water quality, mapping, and monitoring in eelgrass meadows, updating habitat suitability models, and better understanding eelgrass resiliency in a changing climate. To communicate the importance of eelgrass to the public, Sullivan published a StoryMap showcasing results of ongoing EPA research to estimate eelgrass extent using satellite imagery and connect distribution trends to water quality data. She is working to become an EPA Diver to continue to help in the restoration, management, and protection of eelgrass in Long Island Sound.

LISS Groups: Long Island Sound Eelgrass Collaborative, Habitat Restoration and Stewardship Work Group, Indicators Review Team

Kyra Lin smiles, holding a testing device for water quality.
Credit: Kimarie Yap

Seasonal Intern at the Interstate Environmental Commission

Lin assists with western Long Island Sound monitoring activities and IEC’s participation in the Unified Water Study. Her work includes collecting samples and measuring water quality parameters in the field, processing, and analyzing samples in the lab.

Victoria O’Neill measuring the elevation change of coastal marsh sediment at West Pond in Glen Cove, NY.
Credit: NYSDEC

Director of Coastal Resilience at Audubon CT/NY

O’Neill works to make coastal bird habitats, and their associated coastal communities, in NY and CT, more resilient to climate change through the implementation of coastal habitat restoration projects and nature-based features. Audubon actively restores habitat in both states and works to influence policy changes directed at coastal resiliency and coastal habitat protection and restoration.

LISS groups: Habitat Restoration and Stewardship Work Group, Citizens Advisory Committee, Sustainable and Resilient Communities Work Group

A selfie of Nikki Spiller steering a research vessel.
Credit: Nikki Spiller

Director of Harbor Watch at Earthplace

Spiller helps to conduct water quality monitoring throughout Fairfield County as well as develop environmental education programs for high school and college students. Her monitoring focuses on using pathogens to identify and isolate sewage pollution sources and work with municipal partners to remove them from the watershed. Spiller also studies fish and crustacean abundance and diversity, participates in the Unified Water Study, serves as co-lead of the Pathogen Monitoring Network, conducts salt marsh research, and has started to get involved with marine debris removal.

LISS Groups: Watersheds and Embayments Work Group, Citizens Advisory Committee

Julie Rose bends down to look at a table of research samples.
Credit: Julie Rose

Research Ecologist at NOAA Fisheries

Dr. Rose’s work informs marine policy and resource management through research on the environmental benefits provided by shellfish. Shellfish can remove nutrients, improve water clarity, and provide a habitat for wild fish. She collaborates with scientists and stakeholders to collect and synthesize data on these benefits and communicates findings to people interested in shellfish and the environment.

LISS Groups: Science and Technical Advisory Committee

Credit: Jo-Kasinak Marie

Former Professor of Biology at Sacred Heart University

The late Dr. Mattei helped bring climate resiliency projects to Long Island Sound, installing one of the first nature-based living shoreline projects at Stratford Point in 2013. Mattei also founded Project Limulus, a participatory science monitoring project focused on protecting the horseshoe crab. She worked to conserve horseshoe crabs globally serving as a member of the Horseshoe Crab Specialists Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Locally, Mattei mentored dozens of research students, gave public lectures to thousands of people, and helped tag over 98,000 horseshoe crabs to better understand their patterns of movement and track their abundance. You can donate to the Jennifer H. Mattei Scholarship for Undergraduate Research here.


  1. “Women’s History Month.” n.d. National Women’s History Museum. https://www.womenshistory.org/womens-history/womens-history-month. ↩︎
  2. Rayner-Canham, Marelene and Geoffrey Rayner. (1998). The first generation of professional women chemists. Women in chemistry: Their changing roles from alchemical times to the mid-twentieth century (pp. 51-55). Danvers, MA: American Chemical Society and Chemical Heritage Foundation. ↩︎

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