Michael J. Kennish
Emeritus, Faculty
Professor Emeritus
71 Dudley Rd | Room 204

Full CV | Two Page CV

Research Interests

Marine Ecology, Marine Geology, Anthropogenic Impacts on Estuarine and Coastal Marine Environments

My primary research interests are investigating anthropogenic impacts on estuarine and coastal marine environments, as well as coastal watersheds, and developing remedial measures to improve ecosystems. As an ecosystem scientist, I have conducted basic and applied research on the structure and function of these environments, concentrating on the development and application of innovative methods to assess ecosystem condition and to mitigate the impacts of natural and anthropogenic stressors. This research has included the determination of the natural and anthropogenic drivers of change in coastal ecosystems and the dynamics of environmental forcing factors that generate imbalances in community structure and ecosystem function. The work has been multidisciplinary in scope, often employing key water quality and biotic indicators of environmental condition to develop new measures of ecological assessment and to delineate the overall ecological health of these environments. It forms the scientific foundation for ecosystem-based management. I also have been engaged in the study of climate change effects on estuarine and coastal ecosystems, as well as coastal communities, and was an expert reviewer of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report on climate change. All of this work has resulted in the following publications: 16 scholarly books (author or editor), more than 200 research articles in peer-reviewed science journals and other publications (author or co-author), and 9 peer-reviewed compendium science journal special issues (editor).

Short History

I received B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in geology from Rutgers University.  In 1988, I became a visiting professor at Rutgers’ Cook College and later a research professor and faculty member in the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences (now the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences), School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers. I have a long history of conducting studies on a wide range of coastal and marine problems such as the effects of watershed development and climate change (on estuaries and nearshore ocean waters), coastal storms and flooding, resilience of coastal wetlands, wastewater discharges, habitat loss and alteration of aquatic systems, nutrient enrichment and eutrophication, hypoxia and anoxia, organic pollution, chemical contaminants, overfishing, invasive species, watercraft effects, dredging and dredged material disposal, freshwater diversions, calefaction of estuarine waters, entrainment and impingement of electric generating stations, and human use of coastal space and aquatic systems. I also have conducted investigations on the biology and geology of mid-ocean ridge and hydrothermal vent systems in the deep sea. In addition, I have been active for many years in the outreach of science to coastal communities and K-12 schools.

Teaching Efforts

Hydrothermal Vents (Undergraduate Course)

Byrne Seminar (Jersey Shore and Estuary Environments)

Guest Lectures (Introduction to Oceanography)


I have been active for many years in the outreach of science to coastal communities and K-12 schools in New Jersey. This activity has included the participation in many community and environmental conferences, workshops, seminars, and other functions that discuss the measures needed to improve environmental conditions of the coastal zone. A considerable amount of my service activity in the past has been advising and informing coastal communities in New Jersey affected by hurricanes and other coastal storms, climate change, as well as direct anthropogenic impacts. In this regard, I have worked directly with the coastal communities of Pt. Pleasant, Seaside Heights, Brick, Toms River, Manahawkin, Little Egg Harbor, and elsewhere in New Jersey on assessment of coastal storms and flooding impacts, environmental and community sustainability, and restoration and resilience. In addition, I have served as an expert reviewer of science reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Geneva, Switzerland.


2017 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award

2013 Frank Oliver Environmental Award, New Jersey Environmental Lobby, for Recognition of Outstanding Research and Protection of New Jersey’s Environments

2011 Pearl S. Schwartz Environmental Award, League of Women Voters, for Outstanding Research on New Jersey’s Coastal Environments

2010 Sierra Club Award for Exceptional Environmental Research in New Jersey

2010 National Award, Graham Macmillan Award (American Littoral Society) for Marine Science and Conservation

2009 National Award, NOAA and the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association for Outstanding Contributions to the National Estuarine Research Reserve System

2008 Guardian of the Barnegat Bay Award (USEPA/Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program)

Select Publications

Kennish, M. J., H. W. Paerl, and J. R. Crosswell, (Eds.). 2024. Climate Change and Estuaries. CRC Press, Taylor and Francis, London, New York, and Boca Raton, 664 pp. ISBN 978-03-676-4752-0.

Kennish, M. J. 2024. Estuaries: origin, historical development, and classifications. In: Climate Change and Estuaries, Kennish, M. J., H. W. Paerl, and J. R. Crosswell, (Eds.). CRC Press, Taylor and Francis, London, New York, and Boca Raton, pp. 43-54.

Kennish, M. J. 2024. Anthropogenic drivers of estuarine change. In: Climate Change and Estuaries, Kennish, M. J., H. W. Paerl, and J. R. Crosswell, (Eds.). CRC Press, Taylor and Francis, London, New York, and Boca Raton, pp. 75-98.

Kennish, M. J. 2022.  Management strategies to mitigate anthropogenic impacts in estuarine and coastal marine environments:  A Review.  Open Journal of Ecology, 12(10): 667-688. DOI: 10.4236/oje.2022.1210038.

Kennish, M. J. 2021. Drivers of change in estuarine and coastal marine environments: An overview. Open Journal of Ecology, 11(3): 224-239. DOI:10.4236/oje.2021.11301.

Kennish, M. J. 2020. Practical Handbook of Marine Science, 4th edition. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, 528 pp. ISBN 9781032338231.

Kennish, M. J. and E. J. Buskey (eds.). 2018. The National Estuarine Research Reserve: An Integrated Network of Research and Monitoring Sites Supporting Coastal Zone Management. Estuaries and Coasts, Special Thematic Issue, Volume 41(1): 25-113. ISSN:1559-2723.

Meixler, M. S., M. J. Kennish, and K. F. Crowley. 2018. Assessment of plant community characteristics in natural and human-altered coastal marsh ecosystems. Estuaries and Coasts, 41: 52-64. DOI:10.1007/s12237-017-0296-0.

Kennish, M. J. (ed.). 2016. Encyclopedia of Estuaries. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. 760 pp. ISBN: 978-94-017-8800-7.

Kennish, M. J., M. J. Brush, and K. A. Moore (eds.). 2014. Drivers of Change in Shallow Coastal Photic Systems. Estuaries and Coasts, Volume 37, Supplement 1, 242 pp. ISSN 1559-2723.

Fertig, B., M. J. Kennish, G. P. Sakowicz, and L. K. Reynolds. 2014. Mind the data gap: identifying and assessing drivers of changing eutrophication condition. Estuaries and Coasts, Volume 37, Supplement 1: S198-S221. DOI:10.1007/s1223701397465.

Kennish, M. J. and B. Fertig. 2012. Application and assessment of a nutrient pollution indicator using eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) in Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor Estuary, New Jersey. Aquatic Botany, 96: 23-30.

Kennish, M. J. 2012. Restoration of Estuaries. Nature (Education), 3(11): 1-5.

Kennish, M. J. and V. N. de Jonge. 2011. Chemical introductions to the systems: Diffuse and nonpoint source pollution from chemicals (nutrients: eutrophication). In: M. J. Kennish and M. Elliott, eds., Treatise on Estuarine and Coastal Science, Vol. 8, Human-induced Problems (Uses and Abuses). Treatise on Estuarine and Coastal Science, Elsevier, Oxford, England, pp. 113-148.

Kennish, M. J. and H. W. Paerl. 2010. Coastal lagoons: Critical habitats of environmental change. In: M. J. Kennish and H. W. Paerl, eds., Coastal Lagoons: Critical Habitats of Environmental Change. Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, pp. 1-15.

Kennish, M. J., S. B. Bricker, W. C. Dennison, P. M. Glibert, R. J. Livingston, K. A. Moore, R. T. Noble, H. W. Paerl, J. M. Ramstack, S. Seitzinger, D. A. Tomasko, and I. Valiela. 2007. Barnegat Bay- Little Egg Harbor Estuary: case study of a highly eutrophic coastal bay system. Ecological Applications, 17(5) Supplement: 3-16.

Kennish, M. J. (ed.). 2007. Eutrophication of Estuarine and Shallow Coastal Marine Systems. Ecological Applications, Special Issue, Volume 17(5), 196 pp.

Kennish, M. J. 2002. Environmental threats and environmental future of estuaries. Environmental Conservation, 29: 78-107.