The Team




Dr. Dale Leavitt

Associate Professsor of Biology, Roger Williams University



Dr. Leavitt created and has been teaching an Applied Shellfish Farming course in Rhode Island for nearly two decades. The 15-week program, hosted at Roger Williams University, is a blend of classroom education and hands-on learning and has been instrumental over the years in shaping new aquaculture businesses to be well prepared for the rigors of running a successful and sustainable shellfish farming operation. Dr. Leavitt is known widely for his knowledge and practical, friendly teaching style and he has taught hundreds of individuals the ins and outs of running a shellfish farm. Dr. Leavitt is engaged in numerous research projects throughout the region, from growing kelp to industry partnerships looking at wild quahog densities. To learn more about Dr. Leavitt, read the Providence Journal’s interview with him in March 2015: “Sowing Lessons: RWU professor a guru for aspiring shellfish farmers.”



Matthew GriffinMatthew Griffin,

Shellfish Restoration Technician, Roger Williams University

Mr. Griffin joined the CEED staff in 2011 through a grant funded project to monitor restored bivalve populations in Rhode Island waters and to coordinate restoration efforts throughout the state. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from the University of Rhode Island (2007) and has been involved in shellfish restoration since 2004. Mr. Griffin has worked as assistant coordinator of the RI DEM/NOAA North Cape Restoration Program, and most recently as a Fisheries Specialist with RI DEM and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Mr. Griffin earned a Masters degree from URI in 2017.



robbieRob Hudson

Shellfish Hatchery Manager, Roger Williams University 


Rob Hudson holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Management (2017), Graduate Certificates in GIS and Remote Sensing as well as Community Planning (2017) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology (2007), all from the University of Rhode Island. Currently he is the Shellfish Hatchery Manager and is responsible for the operation of the CEED Shellfish Hatchery at RWU and continues to serve as a Coastal and Restoration Consultant. He was the Restoration Ecologist for Save The Bay for 12 years. Some of his work includes restoration, monitoring and research with bay scallops, oysters, quahogs and ribbed mussels. Rob has also worked at URI’s Coastal Resource Center (CRC) and RI Sea Grant as a Fisheries and Aquaculture Graduate Research Assistant. Rob is providing technical support to Dale Leavitt’s online ASF course. He is a Licensed US Coast Guard Captain, a Certified SCUBA and CPR/AED/First Aid Instructor.  Mr. Hudson is an adjunct professor for various Biology and Aquaculture courses and has extensive field research experience.



img_20130131_151741The Coastal Resources Center (CRC) & Rhode Island Sea Grant, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island.


Azure Dee Cygler: Jennifer McCann:

CRC is dedicated to advancing coastal management worldwide. In addition to assisting in the development and implementation of coastal management programs in Rhode Island and the United States, the Center is active in countries throughout the world promoting the sustainable use of coastal resources for the benefit of all. Implementing coastal management projects in the field, building capacity through education and training, and sharing lessons learned and information throughout the coastal community are the foundation of CRC’s work. The U.S. team at CRC also serves as Rhode Island Sea Grant’s Extension team. Rhode Island Sea Grant supports research, outreach, and education programs designed to foster vibrant coastal communities and marine environments that are resilient in the face of change. Rhode Island Sea Grant is one of 33 programs in a national network, and includes a legal program located at Roger Williams University School of Law. CRC and RISG have partnered with Dr. Leavitt on a NOAA-funded initiative to enhance and expand the reach of his Applied Shellfish Farming course.




Dave Beutel

Aquaculture Coordinator, Coastal Resources Management Council


The Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) is the state agency charged with the preservation, protection, development and where possible the restoration of coastal areas in the state. As Aquaculture Coordinator, Mr. Beutel is responsible for vetting new aquaculture lease applications, ensuring existing leases are monitored and functioning as permitted, and overseeing all aspects of the public process involved in aquaculture in the state.





Dr. Robert Rheault

Executive Director, East Coast Shellfish Grower’s Association

Dr. Rheault is an aquaculture industry advocate, serving as Executive Director of the East Coast Shellfish Grower’s Association, a group which represents over 1,000 shellfish farmers from Maine to Florida. Dr. Rheault is a pioneer in Rhode Island aquaculture, and was one of the first modern shellfish growers in the state. He is also passionate about ensuring harvesters are using sound growing and harvesting practices to ensure the public health is protected and that the industry continues to thrive. Dr. Rheault has been teaching safe harvesting, storage, and transport techniques for decades and one of the nation’s experts on Vibrio bacteria and its health implications for the shellfish industry. He also earned his PhD in Oceanography at the Graduate School of Oceanography and serves as Adjunct faculty at the University of Rhode Island.