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Mary Watzin

Professor Emeritus

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Mary Watzin came to NC State after spending 22 years in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, as Professor, and from 2009-2012, as Dean. She was Dean of the College of Natural Resources at NC State from 2012-2019.

She holds a Ph.D. in Marine Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a B.S. in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina. She has received numerous awards and other recognitions for her teaching, research, and service, including the Kroepsch-Maurice award for teaching excellence at the University of Vermont, the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation award, and the Ibakari- Kasumigaura Prize recognizing her work with colleagues in Macedonia and Albania on transboundary
water management.

Watzin specializes in aquatic ecology and watershed management, with a wide-ranging program of research focused on understanding how human activities influence ecosystem health and how adaptive management can be used to improve environmental outcomes.



  • 1984 – Ph.D. Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 1978 – B.S. Marine Sciences, University of South Carolina

Professional Experience

  • October 2012 to 2019 – Dean, College of Natural Resources, NC State University, Raleigh, NC; Professor Emeritus, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
  • 2009 to 2012 – Dean, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
  • 2009 to 2012 – Director, Lake Champlain Sea Grant Program (Vermont and New York)
  • 2008 to 2009 – Associate Dean for Graduate Education and School Planning, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
  • 2005 to 2012 – Professor, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
  • 1998 to 2011 – Director, Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory, University of Vermont, 3 College Street, Burlington, VT, Founding Director and manager of the Laboratory, its research vessel and associated programs.
  • 1994 (September) to 2005 – Associate Professor, School of Natural Resources, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
  • 1995 to 1998 – Graduate Program Coordinator, School of Natural Resources, University of Vermont, Burlington VT
  • 1990 (October) to 1994 – Assistant Unit Leader, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Research Associate Professor, University of Vermont, School of Natural Resources, Burlington, VT
  • 1987 to 1990 – Ecologist, National Wetlands Research Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Slidell, LA
  • 1985 to 1987 – Ecologist, National Wetlands Research Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Slidell, LA
  • 1984 – Instructor, Prologue School, Urban Skills Institute, City Colleges of Chicago,  Chicago, IL
  • 1979 to 1984 – Research and Teaching Assistant, Research Fellow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC  and Institute of Marine Sciences, Morehead City, NC
  • 1977 and 1978 – Summers, Research Assistant to Bruce C. Coull, Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine Biology and Coastal Research, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Research Interests

Aquatic ecology, ecotoxicology, lake and watershed ecology

“My research explores topics ranging from toxicology to aquatic food web dynamics, harmful algae blooms, hydrodyanamics and stream habitat conditions, nonpoint source pollution, and the effectiveness of environmental management approaches and policies.

While I describe myself as an aquatic community ecologist, my passion is conducting research that both answers fundamental questions about how the world works and contributes to practical problem-solving in lake, estuarine, and watershed management. Solving these problems requires multidisciplinary partnerships across the natural science and engineering fields, and with social scientists with expertise in policy analysis, community networks, planning, and socioeconomics, thus my research is also highly collaborative.” – Dr. Mary C. Watzin

Honors and Awards

  • 2009 – Friends of Northern Lake Champlain Leadership award.
  • 2007 – Vermont Campus Compact, Engaged Scholar Award, One given annually, recognizing “the innovative or important use of knowledge for the public good, commitment to partnering with students and communities, campus leadership for incorporating service into scholarship, and campus-community partnerships.”
  • 2006 – SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Partner of the Year Award.  One given annually for successful partnership and collaboration.  Syracuse, NY.
  • 2006 – Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Award, Isle LaMotte Preservation Trust, Lake Champlain Land Trust, and The Champlain Islands Chamber of Commerce, Isle LaMotte, VT
  • 2003 – Ibakari-Kasumigaura Prize, International Lake Environment Committee, Shiga Prefecture, Japan (5-6 given biannually globally, for meritorious scientific work in developing or transitioning countries. Received with Albanian Veli Puka and Macedonian Trace Naumoski for our work on Lake Ohrid).
  • 2000 – Conservation Leadership Award, Lake Champlain Committee, Burlington, Vermont.
  • 1998 – Lake Champlain Research Consortium, Distinguished Service Award (First given, for long term commitment and dedication to the development of research and education within the Lake Champlain Basin).
  • 1997 – Shoemaker Communications Award, U.S. Geological Survey, for Excellence in Communicating Scientific Information (One given annually nationwide).
  • 1997 – Environmental Merit Award.  Environmental Protection Agency, New England Region. For technical assistance concerning the Pine Street Barge Canal Superfund Site.
  • 1996 – Kroepsch-Maurice Award for Teaching Excellence. University of Vermont. (One given annually to an Associate Professor).
  • 1996 – Louisiana Wildlife Biologists Association outstanding literature publication of 1995 for “Gulf of Mexico coastal wetlands: case studies of loss trends.”
  • 1993 – National Association of Government Communicators – Honorable Mention for brochure “The Fragile Fringe: Coastal Wetlands of the Continental United States.”
  • 1991 – Fish and Wildlife Service Special Achievement Award for leadership in Lake Champlain Basin Program activities.
  • 1989 – Fish and Wildlife Service Special Achievement Award for service on the Department of the Interior’s Coastal Barriers Study Group.
  • 1988 – Fish and Wildlife Service Director’s Award for Unusually Outstanding Performance in FY87 (Highest Fish and Wildlife Service Performance Award, 2 given annually nationwide).
  • 1987 – National Association of Government Communicators – First place award for brochure “Restless Ribbons of Sand:  Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Barriers.”
  • 1987 – Federal Business Association of Greater New Orleans Distinguished Service Award in Professional Category.
  • 1986 – Appointed Affiliate Member of the Louisiana State University Graduate School in the Center for Wetland Resources and Department of Marine Sciences.
  • 1984 – Spring semester, Dissertation Fellowship, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • 1981-1983 – National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant  ($9532) OCE 8106883 “Larval settlement into marine soft-sediment systems: interactions with the meiofauna.”
  • 1978 – Phi Beta Kappa, University of South Carolina.
  • 1977-1978 – Belle W. Baruch Scholarship in Marine Biology, University of South Carolina

Area(s) of Expertise

Coastal Resilience and Sustainability


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