Dr. Kim de Mutsert, Assistant Professor in the Division of Coastal Sciences in the School of Ocean Science and Engineering (SOSE) at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), explains the field of ecological modeling—or how scientists use computers to model ecological patterns—and her lab’s research on the response of fish populations in the northern Gulf of Mexico to ecological stressors like pollution, hypoxia, freshwater discharge, and more. USM SOSE offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in marine science and marine biology.

As part of the NOAA Marine Debris Project at George Mason University, the de Mutsert Lab took part in filming guides on anthropogenic impacts on fish for students. The guides include how to collect fish samples in the field to how to identify larval fish that were collected.

George Mason ( undergraduate research, led by principal investigators Amy Fowler and Kim de Mutsert, who are researchers at the Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center ( In the summer of 2017, this team project looked at the effects of micropollutants on the Potomac River watershed. Projects were funded by the Students as Scholars at Mason ( as well as the Patriot Green Fund ( , and the videos were produced by graduate student, Chelsea Gray, thanks to the Virginia Sea Grant (

Kim de Mutsert was one of the Keynote Speakers at the CSDMS (Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System) annual meeting “Modeling Coupled Earth and Human Systems – The Dynamic Duo.” That took place in Boulder, Colorado from May 23-25, 2017. See the presentation below entitled: “Modeling a Coastal Environment with Human Elements.”

Keynote Abstract:

If one system comes to mind where the human element is intertwined with the environment, it is the Louisiana coastal area in the Southern United States. Often referred to as the working coast, coastal Louisiana supports large industries with its ports, navigation channels, oil, and productive fisheries. In addition to that, Louisianians have a significant cultural connection to the coastal wetlands and their natural resources. Unfortunately, the land is disappearing into the sea with coastal erosion rates higher than anywhere else in the US. Due to these high rates of land loss, this system needs rigorous protection and restoration. While the restoration plans are mostly focused on building land, the effects on, for example, fisheries of proposed strategies should be estimated as well before decisions can be made on how to move forward. Through several projects I have been involved in, from small modeling projects to bold coastal design programs, I present how coupled models play a key role in science-based coastal management that considers the natural processes as well as the human element.