Maine Sea Grant names new director

Gayle Zydlewski
Gayle Zydlewski

Gayle Zydlewski, an associate professor in the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences, has been named director of the Maine Sea Grant College Program, effective July 1.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to join Maine Sea Grant,” Zydlewski says. “Maine Sea Grant plays such a pivotal role for Maine’s coastal communities, and I look forward to transferring my skills and expertise to this important organization in Maine. I am excited to work with a team that has established networks with a diversity of partners on-the-ground and connections to nationwide efforts. I expect to learn from their experiences and expand those connections in new and innovative ways to benefit the state of Maine.”

Zydlewski, who has a Ph.D. in oceanography from UMaine, has more than 20 years of experience as a researcher and faculty member at UMaine and Washington State University. She also served as a supervisory fishery biologist at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in Longview, Washington.

She has had multiple roles as a faculty member at UMaine. She is currently the graduate coordinator of the Marine Biology Program in the School of Marine Sciences. Zydlewski also serves as the chancellor’s designee to the Maine Ocean School Board of Trustees, and is a member of the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station Research Council.

Zydlewski’s research seeks to understand the impacts of environmental conditions on fish behavior and physiology, and their relationship with population dynamics. Her most recent research focuses on shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon in the Penobscot River and the broader Gulf of Maine. This includes incorporating effects of various components of the ecosystems — dams, prey presence, interspecific interactions, and habitat quality — on fish behavior and population dynamics. She also leads a research program focused on the environmental effects of tidal power development in partnership with state and national natural resource regulators and marine renewable energy partners in the U.S. and Canada. She has authored and co-authored more than 100 papers in journals and conference proceedings.

“All of my research results would not have been possible without the 15 graduate students, more than 20 undergraduate researchers, multiple research staff, colleagues, and partners working with me over the years,” says Zydlewski.

“Gayle’s diverse research has had direct and positive impacts on sea-run fish and marine resources in Maine,” says Carl Wilson, director of the Bureau of Marine Science at the Maine Department of Marine Resources. “Most importantly, Gayle is a great listener. These experiences and talents will serve Sea Grant, the university and the state of Maine well in advancing sound marine science initiatives.”

“On behalf of Maine Sea Grant staff and our many collaborators throughout the state and the National Sea Grant Network, I am thrilled to welcome Gayle to this new role. Our work with Maine people will greatly benefit from Gayle’s leadership and expertise. We are well positioned to take on new opportunities and address new challenges in the coming years,” says interim director Beth Bisson.

The University of Maine Sea Grant Program is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the state of Maine, and part of a network of 33 Sea Grant programs throughout the coastal and Great Lakes states. Sea Grant funds marine research, outreach, and education projects and programs statewide. In partnership with UMaine Cooperative Extension, Sea Grant supports a team of Extension professionals based in coastal communities from Wells to Eastport. Learn more at

Contact: Catherine Schmitt, 207.581.1434;