News

Sparks to focus on restoration, wetlands issues

By: Melissa Schneider / Published: Mar 09,  2015

Eric Sparks is the newest member of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium team. He has joined the organization as a coastal ecology extension specialist.

In his role with Sea Grant, Sparks will develop programs to address issues facing Mississippi and Alabama estuaries and wetlands. He will implement coastal restoration projects and conduct research regarding coastal issues and restoration. Sparks also will serve as coordinator for the Mississippi Master Naturalist program.

Sparks is an assistant extension professor of estuarine and wetland ecology with the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center.

“I hope to increase awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of coastal restoration projects,” he said.

He also hopes to further coastal restoration science through research. Increasing awareness of thebenefits of restoration and developing effective restoration techniques should make coastal systems healthier, he said.

“It is timely for our program to include a person with Eric’s experience in coastal restoration,” said Dave Burrage, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium’s Mississippi extension leader. “In the near future, there will be a multitude of projects funded by oil spill settlements that could benefit from his expertise.”

Sparks recently served as a senior environmental scientist for the Southwest Florida Water Management District in Brooksville, Florida. He also was a postdoctoral researcher and project manager at the Weeks Bay Foundation in Fairhope, Alabama.

Sparks has a Ph.D. in marine sciences from the University of South Alabama and Dauphin Island Sea Lab, where he studied, in part, under a Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant research grant.

“We are experiencing firsthand how Sea Grant’s investment in research and education creates a skilled workforce,” said LaDon Swann, director of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant.

Sparks’ office is located at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi, Mississippi. He can be reached at (228) 546-1025 or eric.sparks@msstate.edu.

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