New Associate Director Named

 Christian Hauser, new associate director of the Delaware Sea Grant College Program

Delaware Sea Grant has completed installing its new management team with the hire of Christian Hauser, who joins the network from a consulting firm, where he led ecological restoration projects throughout the United States. Hauser joins Dr. Kathy Coyne, a long-time Delaware Sea Grant-supported researcher who became the program’s director in April; new fiscal officer Lori Hans; newly promoted Director of the Marine Advisory Service Chris Petrone; and Mark Jolly-Van Bodegraven, director of environmental public education.

Among his principal responsibilities, Hauser will administer the research grant program for Delaware Sea Grant with an increased emphasis on designing calls for research proposals that address community needs and have clear paths to real-world impact. With a new request for proposals due to be issued this fall, Hauser will start his new position meeting with researchers, community members and government agencies to find opportunities to develop previous research results into useful applications or to catalyze new research that will culminate in tools or findings that can be immediately utilized.

“I’m really excited to bridge that gap and bring those communities together,” Hauser said of working closely with both researchers and the Marine Advisory Service specialists in extension. “My other main priority is bringing an increased awareness of the importance of the Delaware Estuary and the coast to the entire state.”

All of Delaware is classified as coastal, with nowhere in the state further than eight miles from tidal waters, and Delaware Sea Grant serves all three counties. But Hauser, who grew up in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and has a large extended family in New Castle County, recognizes that the upstate populace is not as aware of the program and what it has to offer. Despite the lack of awareness, there is just as much of a need for Delaware Sea Grant in the northern reach of the state as well.

Sea level rise will affect Port Penn, Delaware City, New Castle, Wilmington and even some places like Newport a bit further inland. Shipping is vitally important to the economy of New Castle County, and given the long history of heavy industry and its more recent decline in the area, there are opportunities for Delaware Sea Grant’s work in coastal ecosystems and community development to have an impact upstate as well.

Hauser’s understanding of the area and awareness of the potential for Delaware Sea Grant to build on its strengths in Kent and Sussex counties and do more north of the canal, his experience with varied ecological restoration projects around the country and the world, and the work he has done bringing together diverse communities of stakeholders in accomplishing those projects were all compelling reasons for his hire.

 Hauser worked on shoreline restoration projects in Connecticut and elsewhere around the country before joining Delaware Sea Grant.

Hauser worked on shoreline restoration projects in Connecticut and elsewhere around the country before joining Delaware Sea Grant.

“Chris has a strong background in coastal ecology and extensive experience working with private organizations, government agencies, and non-government organizations to implement a variety of coastal restoration and stabilization projects,“ Coyne said. “This experience in stakeholder engagement and knowledge of coastal issues and challenges facing our local communities will serve him well as the associate director of Delaware Sea Grant. As a member of the Delaware Sea Grant management team, Chris will work closely with our Marine Advisory Service staff and researchers at UD and other institutions to assist in providing science-based information to end-users and stakeholders.”

In fact, it is more than Hauser’s professional experience that makes him a good fit for Delaware Sea Grant. He grew up on a specialty produce farm with a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay running through it, and his parents’ ecologically sound farming practices to protect water quality downstream made an impression early on. He went to Cornell University to earn his bachelor’s degree in natural resources, conducting undergraduate research in the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. He then earned his master’s degree in marine science from the College of William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester Point near the mouth of the Chesapeake.

Having lived and studied at both ends and in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Hauser’s early interest in “taking a degraded ecosystem and figuring out a way to restore function” evolved into a desire to effect change on a watershed scale. His new job should give him plenty of opportunities to do so. Delaware is almost completely covered by National Estuary Programs, dedicated to improving the environmental health of the Delaware Estuary, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Inland Bays. And Delaware Sea Grant works in all three.

“I’ve always had an interest in the coastal environment, where the land meets the sea,” Hauser said. “I’ve worked with Sea Grant programs in other states as a private consultant, and I’m excited to have the opportunity now to use my skills to make a direct impact with Delaware Sea Grant.”