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R. Lawrence Swanson


Interim Dean and Associate Dean, SoMAS
Director, Waste Reduction and Management Institute

Ph.D., 1971, Oregon State University

Coastal oceanography, marine pollution, marine policy, recycling and reuse of waste materials, waste management



Research Interests

My broad research interests concern reducing the impact of waste generation on society. In the context of the ocean, this translates to understanding and identifying the appropriate use of the ocean as part of a comprehensive and sustainable waste management strategy.

I have been interested in the consequences of urban population centers and their infrastructure and waste management practices on coastal waters. Sewage, storm water, and municipal solid waste all have pronounced impacts. In some cases, near-field, short-term effects of these polluting activities have been reduced with advancing technologies; but the far-field, long-term effects are not well understood. Hypoxia, floatable wastes, and cycling of contaminants are major causes of impaired economic and societal uses of coastal resources. My interests have been in using scientific understanding of these issues, within the context of societal costs, to help influence and formulate sound public policy.

The development of secondary materials – materials made from post-consumer waste into new products that have different forms and uses than the original products – is a promising and growing means of reusing waste materials. Understanding the engineering properties, environmental, and public health effects, and the economic and social barriers associated with these materials is important. It is my desire to expand the work that the WRMI has been doing in this area so that we might help create cost- effective, beneficial markets for society’s residue.

Selected Publications

Swanson, R.L., R. Wilson, B. Brownawell, and K. Willig.  Environmental consequences of the flooding of the Bay Park sewage treatment plant during Superstorm Sandy.  Marine Pollution Bulletin.  In press.

Swanson, R.L., K. Lwiza, K. Willig, and K. Morris.  2016.  Superstorm Sandy marine debris wash-ups on Long Island – What happened to them?  Marine Pollution Bulletin 108, Issues 1-2, 215-231.

Swanson, R.L. and M.J. Bowman.  2016.  Between Stony Brook Harbor Tides.  SUNY Press, Albany, NY, 131 pp.

Swanson, R.L., C.B. Bauer, R.E. Wilson, P.S. Rose, and C. O’Connell.  2016.  Physical processes contributing to localized, seasonal hypoxic conditions in the bottom waters of Smithtown Bay, Long Island Sound, New York.  Journal of Coastal Research, Vol. 32, Issue 1, 91-104.

Swanson, R.L., M. Dorsch, M. Giampieri, P. Orton, A.S. Parris, and E.W. Sanderson.  2016. Dynamics of the Biophysical Systems of Jamaica Bay. In: E.W. Sanderson et al., eds., Prospects for Resilience.  Insights from New York City’s Jamaica Bay.  Island Press, Washington, D.C.  286 pp.

Latimer, J., M. Tedesco, R.L. Swanson, C. Yarish, P. Stacey, C. Garza, Editors.  2013.  Long Island Sound:  Prospects for an Urban Sea.  Springer-Verlag, 558 pp.

Tedesco, M., R.L. Swanson, C. Yarish, P. Stacey, J. Latimer, C. Garza.  2013.  Synthesis for Management (Chapter 7)  Long Island Sound:  Prospects for an Urban Sea.  Springer-Verlag,  558 pp.

Rose, P.S. and Swanson, R.L.  2013.  Iodine-131 in sewage sludge from a small water pollution control plant serving a thyroid cancer treatment facility. Health Physics, 105(2): 115-120.

Swanson, R.L., B. Brownawell, R.E. Wilson, and C.O’Connell.  2010.  What history reveals about Forge River pollution on Long Island, New York’s south shore.  Marine Pollution Bulletin, 60: 804-818.

Wilson, R.E., R.L. Swanson, and H.A. Crowley.  2008.  Perspectives of long-term hypoxic conditions in western Long Island Sound.  Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 113, C12011, doi:10.1029/2007JC004693.

Swanson, R.L. and R.E. Wilson.  2008.  Increased tidal ranges coinciding with Jamaica Bay development contribute to marsh flooding.  Journal of Coastal Research, Vol. 24, No. 6: 1565-1569.

Swanson, R.L., M.L. Bortman, T.P. O’Connor, and H.M. Stanford. 2004. Science, policy and the management of sewage materials, the New York City experience. Marine Pollution Bulletin 49:679-687.

R.L. Swanson. 2004. Garbage Crisis. Long Island must act now to avoid coming trash crunch. Opinion. Long Island Newsday. July 20, 2004. p. A33.

R.L. Swanson and D.F. Squires. 2002. Ellis Island, New York and New Jersey. New York History Journal.

Swanson, R.L., V.T. Breslin, and M.L. Bortman. 2001. Recycling technology: plastics. In: McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 9th edition.

Swanson, R.L. and D.J. Tonjes. 2001. New York City 2000 Regional Harbor Survey. New York City Department of Environmental Protection. 98 pp.

Swanson, R.L. and D.J. Tonjes. 2001. Water conservation cleans Long Island Sound. Clearwaters. Summer Vol. 31, No. 2.

Swanson, R.L., D.J. Tonjes, N. Georgas, and B.W. Stephens. 2000. New York City 1999 Regional Harbor Survey. New York City Department of Environmental Protection. 107 pp.

D.J. Tonjes and R.L. Swanson. 2000. How do we measure them? Lessons from Long Island on computing recycling rates. Journal of Urban Technology 7(3):63-79.

R.L. Swanson. 2000. A history of ocean dumping. MSRC Bulletin. 1(9):1-8. State University of New York, Stony Brook.

Swanson, R.L. 1999. Reuse of lead from dental X-rays. The New York State Dental Journal. 65(3):34-36.

Liberti, L., M. Notarnicola, V. Amicarelli, V. Campanaro, F. Roethel, and L. Swanson. 1998. Mercury removal with PAC from flue gases at the Coriano MSW incineration plant. Waste Management and Research. 16(2):183-189.

Swanson, R.L. and C.J. Sindermann, Editors.  1979.  Oxygen Depletion and Associated Benthic Mortalities in New York Bight, 1976.  NOAA Professional Paper 11.  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Rockville, MD, 343 pp.


The following news articles are related to Dr. Swanson:

SoMAS Convocation 2017

Congratulations to our graduates!  The annual SoMAS Convocation occurred on Friday, May 19, 2017 at the Student Activities Center auditorium. Students gathered with their friends and family and SoMAS faculty and staff to celebrate the completion of their journey at...

SoMAS Celebrates Earthstock 2017

Earthstock, the Stony Brook University annual celebration of Earth Day, has been an annual tradition for years.  This year, in honor of our 50th Anniversary, SoMAS had a very significant presence at the event. On Monday April 17th, New York State Assemblyman Steve...

Vax to Flax 2017

Many thanks to those who participated and assisted with the 2017 Flax to Vax Race + BBQ on Saturday. Heather Lynch and Kurt Bretsch won for the faculty and Mark Nepf and Ashley Cohen won for the students. Overall the top five faculty times beat the top ten student...

SoMAS 50th Anniversary

Welcome!Welcome to SoMAS! Many opportunities await you here. 2017 will be an exciting year to enter a career in marine and atmospheric sciences as we celebrate our 50th anniversary! Read More from the Dean

SoMAS 2016 Retrospective Banquet

Many thanks for those that joined us on December 14, 2016 for our Holiday Retrospective with great food and people. The highlight was when Santa arrived and the little ones all got a ride with him. A special thank you to those who helped organize the event including...

2016 Evan R. Liblit Memorial Scholarship Winners Honored

Above Image: Charles Taber (Dean of the Graduate School), Alfredo Esposito (Undergraduate Liblit Scholar), Michelle Barbosa (Undergraduate Liblit Scholar), Irvin Huang (Graduate Liblit Scholar), Larry Swanson, Michael Cahill The winners of the 2016 Evan R. Liblit...

Welcome Back!

From Larry Swanson, Interim Dean of SoMAS and Director of MSRC. Welcome to all new faculty, staff and students and welcome back to those who have been away for the summer either on vacation or undertaking research projects in the field.  Certainly there has been...

R/V Seawolf on Storage Wars

In late July 2013, the RV Seawolf escorted Chris Morelli & Tad Eaton from "Storage Wars: New York" in Port Jefferson Harbor to conduct an experiment with a water sampler they found in a storage locker.  Instrument Engineer Tom Wilson helped them test the...

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