Skip to toolbar


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:

New York State Ocean Acidification Task Force Meeting

The next meeting of the New York State Ocean Acidification Task Force will be held on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University in Endeavour Hall Room 120. The Ocean Acidification Task Force works...

Hunter College High School Wins First Place at 2019 Bay Scallop Bowl

The 2019 Bay Scallop Bowl has come and gone and a new winner has emerged from the dust - Hunter College High School! Round 9 had Midwood High School pitted against the Mighty Mustangs of Mount Sinai High School. Mount Sinai emerged the winner of that round with a...

New York State Ocean Acidification Task Force to Meet on November 1st

Please join us for the first meeting of the New York State Ocean Acidification Task Force November 1, 2018 6:30pm – 8:30pm 120 Endeavour Hall South Campus, Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY 11794 The Ocean Acidification Task Force works to assess the impacts of...

Workshop on the Erosion of Long Island’s North Shore

The COAST Institute at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University hosted a Workshop on Resilience and Sustainability of Long Island’s North Shore on Friday October 12, 2018 in Endeavour Hall Room 120. 8:30     Registration/...

Roger Flood’s Retirement Party

SoMAS celebrated Professor Roger Flood's retirement on August 22nd. Photos taken by Malcolm Bowman are available on Google Photos.

Celebrating SoMAS Dean Larry Swanson

The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, along with guests (and SoMAS Alums) from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, were joined by Stony Brook University Provost Michael Bernstein to celebrate Dean Larry Swanson, whose...

SoMAS Photo Competition 2018

The SoMAS photo competition is an annual event where students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty and staff share their pictures with the SoMAS community and the general public. The Photo Competition will be divided into three categories with a single...

Artificial Reef Creation off Shinnecock Inlet

On May 31st, 2018, SoMAS faculty Chris Gobler, Joe Warren, Brad Peterson, Mike Frisk and Interim Dean Larry Swanson joined New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at the first phase of the "largest artificial reef expansion in New York state history."  The Shinnecock reef uses...

SoMAS Convocation 2018

Congratulations to our graduates!  The annual SoMAS Convocation occurred on Friday, May 18, 2018 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...

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Subscribe By Email

This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.