Related Chesapeake Bay research


Oyster floats in a creek Kurt Stephenson and project partners have established a field trial site off the Little Wicomico Creek in Northumberland County, Va. Each float holds approximately 600 oysters.

Learn more about the university’s efforts to protect the bay.

  • Katharine Knowlton, associate professor of dairy science, is leading a study that offers incentives for dairy farmers to reduce phosphorus overfeeding on their farms. Using $1.3 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Tech is paying Shenandoah Valley producers up to $12 per cow each year to make changes that avoid overfeeding.
  • Eric Bendfeldt, community viability area specialist for Extension’s Northwest District, is collaborating with Shenandoah Valley producers to increase market opportunities for organic resources and overseeing the education and outreach component for a variety of water-quality projects in that region.
  • Greg Evanylo, professor of crop and soil environmental sciences and Extension composting specialist, has been studying the environmental effects of composted manure as a substitute for traditional methods of sediment and erosion control on disturbed lands, such as Virginia Department of Transportation-managed highway roadsides and construction sites.
  • Conrad Heatwole, associate professor of biological systems engineering, is modeling and assessing the Chesapeake Bay’s nutrient balance. He also manages an adaptive fencing study that looks at cost-share opportunities and barriers to adopting new fencing strategies that exclude livestock from streams and rivers that channel into the bay. Other researchers are trying to better quantify the benefits of this work.
  • Kurt Stephenson, professor of agricultural and applied economics, has turned to native oyster aquaculture. He has not only established field sites in Virginia and Maryland to estimate the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus removed by the oyster biomass harvest and nutrient processing but also looked at the economics of this burgeoning industry. 
  • Tess Wynn, assistant professor of biological systems engineering, is studying ways to reduce the impacts of urban development on the streams that feed the bay. She is investigating innovative methods of treating runoff from paved surfaces, such as parking lots, as well as the influence of vegetation on stream-bank erosion.
  • W. Cully Hession, associate professor of biological systems engineering, is working with his colleagues on a variety of Chesapeake Bay projects, including a recent study on 50 streams between Richmond, Va., and Washington, D.C., to evaluate sediment pollution due to channel erosion resulting from urban development.
  • Theo Dillaha, professor of biological systems engineering, and Mathew Habersack, Ph.D. candidate, have completed a study on the contribution of wildlife to bacterial loadings in the bay region. Theo also participated in an external scientific assessment of the Chesapeake Bay watershed model and recommended improvements needed in the current and future versions of the model.
  • The Water Resources Research Center in the College of Natural Resources develops, implements, and coordinates a variety of water and related land research programs in Virginia and then transfers the results to citizens in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and elsewhere.