Florida Sea Grant Biennial Competition Awards Funds to Eight Research Projects

Student conducting research under the supervision of Dr. Razieh Farzad on cell-based seafood and aquaculture production at the University of Florida.

Florida Sea Grant’s research projects are awarded on a biennial basis for two years following a rigorous review process in accordance with the National Sea Grant Competition Policy.  The competition is designed to help support the program’s applied research and educational responsibilities drawing from fields related to ocean and coastal resources. Supported research can span various disciplines including, natural or social sciences, engineering, planning and design, science communication, policy and legal analysis, architecture, business, education, arts, and humanities.  

This year’s competition awarded 8 projects up to $200,000 each until 2026. The funded research projects support healthy coastal ecosystems, resilient communities and economies, and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. 

The topics addressed in Florida Sea Grant’s funded work aim to provide innovative solutions to emerging and ongoing issues in Florida. Our eight funded projects cover a wide range of topics including – living shorelines, hurricane resilience, marine algae, green solutions, methane emissions, aquaculture, and red tide. 

2024-2026 Awarded Research Projects

Dr. Carrie Adams, Associate Professor at the University of Florida, leads a project enhancing living shoreline (LSL) design and planting. Despite growing interest, limited plant material availability hinders implementation along the Atlantic US coastline. The project aims to develop seed-based guidance through collaboration with nurseries, practitioners, hazard-prone communities, and students. Data collection includes FSG agent and nursery needs assessments, addressing plant material challenges. The research explores seed-based production methods, quantifying increased plant supply benefits. This initiative guides ecosystem-based approaches for managers, contributing to coastal shoreline enhancement and restoration

Dr. Christopher Daly, Assistant Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, leads a research project assessing Hurricane Ian’s impact on the Southwest Florida coast and predicting future storm impacts. The project focuses on Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, Naples, and Lovers Key State Park to inform coastal resilience decisions. Ongoing data collection involves UAV-flown LiDAR and ground-penetrating radar, complemented by numerical modeling with XBeach. The research identifies vulnerable coastal areas, guides resilience strategies and management decisions, and shares findings with municipalities and the public through workshops, aiming to safeguard the region’s socioeconomic well-being from future storm impacts

Dr. Nicolas DiLorenzo, Professor at the University of Florida, leads a research project that explores the potential of marine algae as a sustainable protein source for livestock, aiming to reduce enteric methane emissions and address challenges in food production. Collaborating with industry partners, Netuno, USA Inc. and Two Docks Shellfish, LLC, the research will assess algae’s viability through the cultivating and harvesting of algae in the Tampa Bay area, with the harvested macro algae undergoing in vitro incubations to simulate various dietary effects. Promising algae will be grown in controlled conditions before testing on Angus crossbred heifers at NFREC, evaluating both performance and methane emissions. Algae-based feed additives offer a chance for farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while sustaining livestock productivity. However, further research is needed to optimize formulations, assess long-term effects, and address scalability and cost-effectiveness challenges.

Dr. Amal Elawady, Assistant Professor at Florida International University, leads a research project addressing vulnerabilities in elevated homes to extreme winds, emphasizing challenges in design guidelines and retrofitting existing structures. The project introduces a community-guided engineering framework, fostering early-stage engagement with multi-sector stakeholders to understand priorities, particularly in underrepresented and underdeveloped communities. Informed by community input and wind tunnel testing studies, the research aims to develop a cost-effective architectural device that minimizes the impact of wind hazards on coastal elevated houses. The proposed experimental program also complements recently published design provisions for wind effects on elevated coastal homes.

Dr. Razieh Farzad, Assistant Professor at the University of Florida and Seafood Safety Extension Specialist for Florida Sea Grant, leads a research project focused on enhancing sustainable local seafood production by utilizing advancements in cellular agriculture to create cell-cultured fishmeal with a nutritional profile comparable to marine-based fishmeal. Tilapia serves as the animal model to assess the effects of cell-cultured fishmeal on fish production. The project also investigates aquaculture producers’ potential acceptance of this approach. To evaluate sustainability implications, an assessment will compare marine-based and cell-cultured fishmeal production methods. Given the price instability of fishmeal and anticipated increases in aquaculture production, this research offers insights into an alternative protein source for aquafeed production. 

Dr. Michelle Gaither, Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida, leads a research project that advances monitoring strategies for harmful algal blooms in Florida. The state invested a lot of money to improve monitoring and mitigation, but these efforts rely on accurately identifying species. Recent challenges, like new harmful algal bloom (HAB) species, increased distribution of problematic species, and simultaneous HAB occurrences, have made this identification difficult. In collaboration between UCF and FWC/FWRI scientists, the research involves the development of an optimized molecular toolkit for the accurate and efficient detection and quantification of HAB taxa across the state

Dr. Kai Lorenzen, Professor at the University of Florida, leads a research project that aims to develop good practice guidelines to make scientific and professional guidance available to all stocking initiatives.  Stocking is used for fisheries enhancement, but it often falls short of delivering significant benefits and can negatively affect naturally recruited stocks. Evaluating and managing stocking programs is crucial. The project aims to tackle this issue by creating a network of marine enhancement scientists and practitioners. It involves gathering and synthesizing statewide marine stocking data, creating user-friendly tools for modeling, analysis, and visualization to inform and assess stocking initiatives, and improving data collection and analysis protocols.

Dr. Prashant Singh, Assistant Professor at Florida State University, leads a research project advancing rapid seafood identification assays for on-site detection of commercially significant seafood species. Given the challenges of seafood misrepresentation in the United States, the research focuses on developing standardized assays tested at seafood processing facilities in collaboration with industry experts and processors. The study’s outcomes include the standardization and application of assays for identifying six crucial Gulf species, such as black grouper, red drum, red grouper, red snapper, yellowtail snapper, and royal red shrimp. These advancements aim to safeguard the economic interests of domestic seafood stakeholders and foster collaboration between the industry and academia.

For more information on these and other ongoing Research and Program Development projects, visit our newly launched project explorer tool