Innovative partnership to strengthen local communities against storms, floods

Hank Hodde Head_shot 03-2017.jpg

(MOBILE, Ala.) – The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium and Smart Home America are pleased to announce a new, first-of-its-kind partnership to increase wind and flood resilience across coastal Alabama and Mississippi. This agreement aligns the common missions of both organizations through a shared staff position

Both organizations agreed to hire Henry (Hank) Hodde, a certified floodplain manager, as the planning and policy manager at Smart Home America. In this role, Hodde is supporting and leading community and policy planning for Smart Home America while he serves as the liaison for Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium focused on building resilient coastal communities and economies.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to take on this unique role and apply my experience to build bridges between the public and private sectors,” he said. “It’s really a win-win. I get to work with two successful organizations making a difference in the lives of people along the Mississippi and Alabama coasts.” Read more

Online viewer shows values for habitats in Gulf



The Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Services Viewer shows, in an interactive format, the values people place on salt marshes, mangroves and oyster reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. Based on research results, this tool fills an informational gap in the Gulf.

Read more

Use viewer


Swann appointed to Ocean Research Advisory Panel

LaDon Swann

LaDon Swann

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Director LaDon Swann has been selected to serve on the Ocean Research Advisory Panel (OARP). The panel advises the National Ocean Research Leadership Council and provides independent recommendations about ocean research and related issues to the federal government.

Swann’s appointment is for a four-year term. Members of the panel represent the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, ocean industries, state governments, academia and others, including individuals who are eminent in the fields of marine science, marine policy, or related fields, including ocean resource management.

The panel’s duties include providing advice in several areas, including policies and procedures to implement the National Oceanographic Partnership Program; selection of partnership projects and allocation of funds for partnership projects for implementation under the program; and matters relating to the national oceanographic data requirements. The panel also fulfills any additional responsibilities that the National Ocean Research Leadership Council considers appropriate.

The ORAP is an advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act and is the only FACA body chartered to advise all the ocean agencies.

The panel has no more than 18 members and no less than 10. Members are appointed by the Chairman of the Council, and the appointments are renewed on an annual basis by the Secretary of Defense.

Swann is also the director of marine programs for Auburn University.

Graham to share oil spill research

Larissa Graham

Larissa Graham

Larissa Graham has joined the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium and Auburn University’s Marine Extension and Research Center as a Gulf of Mexico oil spill extension specialist.

Each Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant program has hired an oil spill science extension specialist as part of a $1.5-million program funded through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). The four extension specialists will work as a team to create education programs to share GoMRI-funded oil spill research results with groups who depend on a healthy Gulf of Mexico for their livelihoods.

“Larissa has an exceptionally strong background as an adult educator, and she knows how to work with science and diverse audiences,” said LaDon Swann, director of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and Auburn University Marine Programs.

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative was created in 2010 with $500 million to invest over a 10-year period to investigate oil spill science topics and impacts of the spill. Universities across the United States are conducting research, which may also focus on improving mitigation and remediation technologies.

Chuck Wilson, GoMRI’s chief scientific officer and former Louisiana Sea Grant director, said Sea Grant has a rich history of working with science and reaching the audiences that use science-based information. 

“There are very few, if any, organizations that have the capacity inherent in Sea Grant’s extension network,” he said.

Graham is a trained facilitator and has experience developing and evaluating outreach programs for various audiences. She has worked with Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Mississippi and the New York Sea Grant College Program. She has a master’s degree in fisheries and wildlife science from Virginia Tech.

“There is a lot of valuable information that is coming out of the GoMRI-funded research projects looking at the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the environment and public health,” Graham said. “It is important that those results and products are provided to the different audiences that can use the information.”

Graham can be reached at

Sea Grant Grad Student to Serve at Masters


John Shackelford

When the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy tee it up on the first hole at Augusta National Golf Club for the 2013 Masters Golf Tournament, David Toms won’t be the only one representing Louisiana among golf’s most notable players. John Shackelford, a Louisiana State University Food Science graduate student, will work as a lead chef manning the kitchen that serves some of the tournament’s corporate sponsors. To read more, click here.

Red Swamp Crawfish

For centuries, human commerce has played a role in distributing plant and animal species around the globe. But not every species can claim the title of circumnavigator. Ari Daniel Shapiro journeys to the Gulf Coast of the U.S. to meet a tiny Magellan, the star of an unlikely story that has come full circle. Click here to listen.


Residents can make rain barrels at Spanish Fort workshop

Residents can make their own rain barrels at a Sept. 29 workshop in Spanish Fort, Ala. Rain barrels conserve water while reducing residential stormwater impacts.

(Mobile, Ala.) – Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant, in partnership with the Coastal Alabama Clean Water Partnership and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, will hold a rain barrel workshop from 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Spanish Fort City Hall, 7581 Spanish Fort Blvd., in Spanish Fort.

Workshop participants will learn about important water quality and conservation issues and practical measures they can take to reduce their impact on coastal Alabama’s water resources. During the workshop, they will construct a rain barrel that will allow them to harvest rainwater for gardens, landscaping or other uses. They also will learn how to install the rain barrels at their homes.

To attend the workshop, interested individuals must pre-register with the Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center office by Wednesday, Sept. 26. The registration fee for the workshop is $40 and includes all materials required to construct a rain barrel.

For more information or to register, contact Christian Miller, extension specialist with Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and the Auburn Marine Center, at 251-438-5690 or

Twilley Named Louisiana Sea Grant Director

Robert Twilley is new Louisiana Sea Grant directorDr. Robert Twilley is the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program’s new executive director. He begins his duties in mid-August.

Twilley comes to Sea Grant from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he served as vice president for research over the past two years. He previously served as associate vice chancellor for research and economic development at Louisiana State University, where he also held the rank of professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences.

“It’s an honor to lead such a distinguished program,” said Twilley. “Louisiana Sea Grant has accomplished some extraordinary things, from responding to coastal stakeholder needs following devastating hurricanes and the recent oil spill in the Gulf to sponsoring innovative research and nurturing new scholars across the state. This truly is an exciting opportunity for me to continue my passion to promote solutions to living along coastal Louisiana.”

Read more about this topic at Louisiana Sea Grant.