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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 Cohosting “Waste on Wednesdays” Webinars

The Stony Brook University - School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and the Evan R. Liblit Memorial Scholarship Fund Committee is pleased to announce “Waste on Wednesdays,” a six-part free webinar series focusing on a number of environmental issues impacting Long...

Research Updates from SoMAS Faculty

Photo above: An automated mesocosm called the Red Sea Simulator that will be used by Dr. Karine Kleinhaus for her NSF-funded project. The end of classes at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences is when research projects kick into full gear. Here are some of...

Celebrating the Top Stories of the Decade

As 2019 draws to a close, so does another decade of Making Scientific Research Count.  The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences accomplished much in the years between 2010 and 2019, recording $82 million in research expenditures, and over 1,300 degree...

New York State Ocean Acidification Task Force to Meet on December 3

The third public meeting of the NYS Ocean Acidification Task Force will take place on Tuesday, December 3, 6:30-8:30 pm in 201 Wang Center.  All are invited to attend. Dr. Brad Peterson from the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University will...

Koppelman Documentary Premiere

Photo above:  Documentary film creators Anna Smith and Megan Gallagher with Dr. Lee Koppelman SoMAS undergraduate students Megan Gallagher, an Environmental Humanities Major with a Biology Minor, and Anna Smith, an Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Major with...

SoMAS Students Honor A Long Island Legend in Documentary

Photo composite above shows Lee Koppelman with student documentarists Anna Smith, center, and Megan Gallagher. From "SoMAS Students Honor A Long Island Legend in Documentary" by Glenn Jochum on Stony Brook News, September 17, 2019 Anyone who lives, works or attends...

SoMAS Students Release Preview of Lee Koppelman Documentary

Picture above: Teaser image for SoMAS Documentary on Dr. Lee Koppelman SoMAS students Megan Gallagher and Anna Smith have created a documentary about Long Island Urban Planner and Stony Brook University Professor Emeritus Lee Koppelman.  They recently released the...

MAR 333 Field Trips

Dr. Malcolm Bowman has shared his photos from the MAR 333 Coastal Oceanography Class field trips taken during the 2019 and 2018 school years. In 2018, photos from the MAR 333 field trip to the Flax Pond Marine Laboratory showed the bridge on the pond under...

Karen Chytalo’s Retirement Party

Karen Chytalo, a SoMAS graduate and a great friend and supporter of SoMAS, retires from the NYSDEC this month.  SoMAS commemorated the occasion with a retirement send off celebration for her in Endeavour 120 on June 27, 2019.  Larry Swanson presented her with a canvas...

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