man giving presentation at the aquatic center

Faculty Seed Grants


The IWER Faculty Seed Grant program is to support faculty-led pilot projects that align with the Institute's four focus areas:

  • Florida Springs
  • Coastal Ecology and Conservation (formerly Indian River Lagoon)
  • Climate Adaptation (formerly Coastal Resilience)
  • Sustainability Management


Support for these projects includes funding from the Jesse Ball duPont Fund (2018-19) and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations (2020-21).

  • M. Roberts and T. Witek, "From Wrack to Dune: From Archive to Sculpture" 
    A two-year consideration of the wrack line, funded by 2 previous IWER grants, took new media artist Matt Roberts and poet Terri Witek 35 miles down the Atlantic coast, where they gathered a large archive of coastal materials. These became a series of videos and image/text cards displayed in a solo show at the Doris Leeper house on Canaveral National Seashore in March 2019. For this project, they will re-translate their large archive as well as new materials by building expanding books/sculptures that link all their gatherings/ findings and offer an in-depth focus on their inlet-determined endpoint at Smyrna Dunes. Focus: Coastal Ecology and Conservation
  • M. DeMoss, "Nestle Waters North America: The Ginnie Springs Water Issue"
    The goal of this project is to publish a teaching case about the decision by the Suwanee River Water Management District of whether to approve a permit to access 1.1 million gallons of water a day from Ginnie Springs by Seven Springs Water Company, which in turn will sell the water to Nestle Waters North America for its bottled water production. Environmentalists are concerned that taking out this much water will adversely affect the water level and are opposing the permit. This project will focus on awareness of the current status of Florida’s springs and understanding the processes that for-profit businesses go through to balance their impact on the environment with other stakeholders' needs. Focus: Springs and Sustainability Management
  • N. Wolek and C. Underriner, "Audio Streams of Lake Beresford and Cape Canaveral" 
    This research project in acoustic ecology will establish two high-quality online audio streams of Lake Beresford and Cape Canaveral. This project continues to use the methodologies of acoustic ecology in the work of the IWER in an attempt to “frame questions about what science might look at and listen for” in our local environment. This project will also help establish the Acoustic Ecology Lab at the Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center and further the partnership between IWER and the Digital Arts program. Focus: Coastal Ecology and Conservation
  • M. Gibbs, K. Work and E. Tristano, "Spring Fluid Dynamics and Analyses of Armored Catfish Fecal Nutrient Hot Spots in Volusia Blue Spring"
    Stetson biology faculty has been investigating the ecological impacts of the fecal deposits made by the invasive armored catfish (Pterygoplichthys disjunctivus) in Volusia Blue Spring for over 10 years, and in 2016 published a study (Rubio et al.) that demonstrated that the ecological impacts of catfish feces were likely more significant than anyone might have thought. The recent addition of a Brown Teacher-Scholar with expertise in analyzing ecosystem nutrient budgets will allow investigation of the true impact of the catfish feces on the spring run ecosystem by (1) analyzing the flow dynamics in the spring run and (2) collecting & analyzing nutrient data from catfish, native fish, and algae, in order to utilize bioenergetics modeling to assess catfish contributions to nutrient levels in the spring. Focus area: Florida Springs
  • C. Day, "Making Sustainable Decisions on Suwannee Basin Farms: Barriers, Supports, and Farmer Decision-Making" 
    Nitrate pollution of groundwater aquifers in Florida is a widespread, increasing problem and pollution control measures above and beyond the required BMAP (Basin Management Action Plan) best management practices are necessary to protect groundwater sources. This research is intended to better understand the barriers and supports that shape farmer decision-making about fertilization practices on farms in the Suwannee River Basin. Through interviews with farmers, the researchers will evaluate how the IWER Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) grants and similar funding mechanisms enable change in nitrate loading and what the barriers may be to further change. Focus: Sustainability Management
  • K. Work, "Water quality testing in Cuba" 
    This project entails buying basic water sampling equipment to evaluate parameters most likely to signal impaired water, transporting it to Cuba, and collaborating with Cuban researchers on evaluating their water quality. This collaboration will yield many benefits. In addition to investigating water quality and the sustainability of water resources in Pinar del Rio, this collaboration is likely to lead to the expansion of research on Cuban springs and the introduction of Stetson students to Cuban biodiversity in the future. Focus area: Florida Springs

  • J. Evans, "Landscape Design with Performance Assessment at the Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center"
    Dr. Evans proposed to build upon the charrette held at the Stetson Aquatic Center in October 2018 by engaging Stetson faculty, staff, and students in a formal design process that can inform the development of a long-term Landscape Implementation Plan. Focus area: Sustainability Management
  • M. Roberts and T. Witek, "Walking the Wrack Line 2" 
    Drs. Roberts and Witek requested funding to support preparations for the spring exhibit of their project, which was supported by the first round of Seed Grant funding, as well as to undertake a second segment of the project that will be translated into a new multi-media performance. The exhibit is scheduled for the historic Doris Leeper House at the Canaveral National Seashore in March-May 2019, but any changes to those dates are yet to be determined as the effects of the government shutdown are assessed. Focus area: Coastal Resilience
  • N. Wolek and C. Underriner, "Florida Springs Soundscape, Phase 2" 
    Drs. Wolek and Underriner requested funding to showcase the collection they developed during their project that was supported by the first round of Seed Grant by way of performance and installation presentations as well as the building of an open-access collection that will be available to other acoustic ecologists and artists. Focus area: Florida Springs
  • W. Anderson, "Protecting the Blue Spring Springshed: Public Outreach through Participatory Environmental Art"
    Dr. Anderson proposed a participatory art project to build public awareness of the springshed and encourage student engagement in water issues. The project took place in conjunction with the 2019 Water Festival. Focus area: Florida Springs

  • M. Gibbs, "Circadian rhythms in fish utilizing high oxygen algal beds in hypoxic springs"
    Continuing her summer work that was supported by the first round of Seed Grant funding, Dr. Gibbs proposed to continue her study utilizing methods and equipment informed and improved by her summer experiences and data. Focus area: Florida Springs
  • B. Tanner and K. Work, "Algae in Florida Spring Runs: A Paleoenvironmental Perspective"
    Drs. Tanner and Work proposed to investigate whether increased algal coverage in spring runs is related to human influences on the watershed. The results will be used as a basis for a new Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant proposal. Focus: Florida Springs
  • C. de Bodisco, J. Evans and E. Stover, "Estimating the impact of flood risk on housing values in the Florida Keys" 
    Dr. de Bodisco and Dr. Evans will collaborate with senior Emily Stover, who is an Environmental Science and Economics double major, on an economic analysis of coastal resilience in the Florida Keys. Focus area: Coastal Resilience
  • B. Tanner and K. McGee, "Sh.O.R.E. 2018: Sharing Our Research with Everyone on the Indian River Lagoon" 
    Dr. Tanner and Ms. McGee requested sponsorship for the Sh.O.R.E. 2018 conference, a very important element of our supporting research and community outreach around the Indian River Lagoon. Focus: Indian River Lagoon
  • M. Gibbs and H. Brown, "Circadian rhythms in fish utilizing high oxygen algal beds in hypoxic springs" 
    Dr. Gibbs, with her student Hunter Brown will conduct a study at Volusia Blue Spring in the summer of 2018 to investigate the behavior of fish that may be using algal beds as an oxygen source. Aligning with our priority to support research in springs ecosystems, this study shows how fish communities in springs with enhanced nutrient loading and algal growth may be shifting their behavior or physiology in response to this alternative ecosystem state. Focus: Florida Springs
  • N. Wolek and C. Underriner, "Florida Springs Soundscape" 
    Wolek and Underriner proposed an investigation of the acoustic ecology of Blue Spring State Park and DeLeon Springs State Park to explore the role of sound in the natural and human experience of the springs. The collection and presentation of these digital sound studies will expand how visitors to these springs, both on the ground and through digital media, understand the landscape and underwater environment of the springs. Focus: Florida Springs
  • M. Roberts and T. Witek, "Walking the Wrack Line" 
    Roberts, a digital media artist and Witek, a poet, propose to document the experience of walking along the wrack line for the length of Canaveral National Seashore through visual media and text. The presentations of their collaborative work will expand our understanding and experience of the importance of the natural processes occurring in the wrack line and the ways that human additions and interference in the wrack line modify its role in coastline stability. Focus: Coastal Resilience