Steven Scyphers, Ph.D.

Senior Marine Scientist I, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Associate Professor, University of South Alabama; Director, Center for Socio-Environmental Resiliency


Steven Scyphers is a Senior Marine Scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the Director of the Center for Socio-Environmental Resiliency. He is also an Associate Professor in the Marine and Environmental Sciences and the Faculty Director for the Gulf Scholars Program at the University of South Alabama, as well as an advisor for the National Academies of the Sciences.

Steven was awarded a Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. He received his BS in Marine Biology at Auburn University and his PhD in Marine Science at the University of South Alabama and Dauphin Island Sea Lab in 2012. Steven was a tenured Associate Professor at Northeastern University before returning to USA in 2022.

Education: Ph.D. 2012, University of South Alabama

Socio-Ecological Sustainability Lab

We study coastal development, fisheries management, and climate adaptation from a social-ecological systems perspective. Learn more at

marshlands with boat in foreground

Who We Are

Current Graduate Students

  • Sarah Gibbs - PhD Student
  • Savannah Swinea - PhD Candidate (Northeastern U)
  • Emerson Woodhall - PhD Student
  • Sarah Limer - MS Student & Research Technologist II
  • Hailey Smith - Research Technologist II
  • Grace Stringer - PhD Student
  • Emilie Changeux - Co-op Intern

writing on data sheet in the field


Current Funded Projects

Collaborative Modeling: the Benefits, Consequences, and Trade-offs of Mangroves and Seawalls for Coastal Communities (NOAA Adaptation Sciences)

  • Through network analyses, interviews, and collaborative modeling, we are studying the impacts of mangroves, bulkheads, and other climate adaptation strategies in the Florida Keys.

Integrating the Functional Importance of Biodiversity in Management of US Marine Ecosystems (Lenfest Ocean Program)

  • By understanding how stakeholders, scientists, and managers perceive marine biodiversity, we are looking to determine if and how it is incorporated into US marine management strategies. This project involves three case studies in the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay, and Salish Sea.

Extending our Reach: a Multi-State Collaborative Approach to Reef Fisheries Extension (Sea Grant)

  • We are studying the disconnect that erodes stakeholder faith in the credibility of scientific findings in order to determine how to work directly and consistently in identifying and communicating stakeholder needs to scientific and management communities.

Perdido Watershed Habitat and Community Resilience Initiative: Incorporating Nature Based and Hybrid Solutions Across Alabama and Florida (NOAA Habitat IIJA)

  • We are working to enhance ecosystem and community resilience in the Perdido Watershed through a holistic, system-wide approach. This includes the planning, implementation, and monitoring of innovative restoration approaches across coastal habitats with the involvement of stakeholders and community members.

Examining Impacts in the American Lobster Fishery (NOAA Sea Grant)

  • By leading stakeholder surveys, meetings, and efforts, we are providing expertise on the human dimensions of fisheries, survey design, and the sociology of fishing communities.

Quantifying and Reducing Discard Mortality of Undersized and Ovigerous Crabs in the Gulf of Mexico Blue Crab Fishery (NOAA)

  • We are expanding our biological knowledge about the state of blue crab fisheries and the perspective of blue crab system stakeholders through interviews and surveys.

NAS - University of South Alabama Gulf Scholars Program

The University of South Alabama Gulf Scholars Program is designed to equip undergraduate students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become change makers and future leaders in the Gulf of Mexico.

The program includes formal mentorship opportunities, funded research experiences, field trips, and community engagement to support students and connect them to interdisciplinary sustainability and resiliency careers. Steven Scyphers is the Gulf Scholars Program Faculty Director.

fish measured on boat



  • Prasky E, JM Drymon, M Karnauskas, A Anderson, S Gibbs, J Grabowski, A Jargowsky, D McAree, A Osowski, S Swinea, SB Scyphers. (In Press) Depredation Influences Anglers' Perceptions on Shark Management and Conservation in the United States Gulf of Mexico. Frontiers in Conservation Science.
  • Bardou, R., Osland, M.J., Scyphers, S. et al. Rapidly Changing Range Limits in a Warming World: Critical Data Limitations and Knowledge Gaps for Advancing Understanding of Mangrove Range Dynamics in the Southeastern USA. Estuaries and Coasts 46, 1123–1140 (2023).
  • Furman, K.L., Harlan, S.L., Barbieri, L. and Scyphers, S.B. Social equity in shore-based fisheries: Identifying and understanding barriers to access. Marine Policy, 148, p.105355.


  • O’Donnell, K.L., Tomiczek, T. and Scyphers, S.B. Resident Perceptions and Parcel-Level Performance Outcomes of Mangroves, Beaches, and Hardened Shorelines After Hurricane Irma in the Lower Florida Keys. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 10, p.734993.
  • Aminpour, Payam, Steven A. Gray, Michael W. Beck, Kelsi L. Furman, Ismini Tsakiri, Rachel K. Gittman, Jonathan H. Grabowski et al. 'Urbanized knowledge syndrome—erosion of diversity and systems thinking in urbanites’ mental models.' npj Urban Sustainability 2, no. 1 (2022): 11.


  • Aminpour, P., S.A. Gray, A. Singer, S.B. Scyphers, A.J. Jetter, R. Jordan, R. Murphy, and J.H. Grabowski. The diversity bonus in pooling local knowledge about complex problems. Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.
  • Furman, K., P. Aminpour, S.A. Gray, and S.B. Scyphers. Mental models for assessing social-ecological systems following disasters: a case study contextualizing natural and built shorelines after Hurricane Irma. Marine Policy. Volume 125, 104334.
  • Scyphers, S.B., J.M. Drymon, K.L. Furman, E. Conley, Y. Niwa, A. Jefferson, and G.W. Stunz. Understanding and enhancing angler satisfaction with fisheries management: insights from the “Great Red Snapper Count”. North American Journal of Fisheries Management.


  • Scyphers SB, MW Beck, KL Furman, J Haner, A Keeler, C Landry, KL O’Donnell, BM Webb, JH Grabowski. Designing effective incentives for living shorelines as a habitat conservation strategy along residential coasts. Conservation Letters 13(5), e12744.


  • Scyphers S.B., J.S. Picou, and J.H. Grabowski. Chronic social disruption following a systemic fishery failure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116(46): 22912–22914.


  • Scyphers, S.B., J.S. Picou, and S.P. Powers. Participatory conservation of coastal habitats: the importance of understanding homeowner decision making to mitigate cascading shoreline degradation. Conservation Letters 8: 41-49.
  • Scyphers, S.B., S.P. Powers and K.L. Heck, Jr. Ecological value of submerged breakwaters for habitat enhancement on a residential scale. Environmental Management 55:383-390.
  • Scyphers, S.B., T.C. Gouhier, J.H. Grabowski, M.W. Beck, J. Mareska and S.P. Powers. Natural shorelines promote the stability of fish communities in an urbanized coastal system. PLOS One 10(6): e0118580.


  • Scyphers SB, Powers SP, Akins JL, Drymon JM, Martin CW, Schobernd ZH, Schofield PJ, Shipp RL, Theodore TS. The role of citizens in detecting and responding to a rapid marine invasion. Conservation Letters.
  • Scyphers, S. B., J. S. Picou, R. D. Brumbaugh, and S. P. Powers. Integrating societal perspectives and values for improved stewardship of a coastal ecosystem engineer. Ecology and Society 19(3): 38.


  • Scyphers, S.B., F. J. Fodrie, F.J. Hernandez, Jr., S. P. Powers and R. L. Shipp. Venting and reef fish survival: Perceptions and participation rates among recreational anglers in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 33:1071–1078.
  • Scyphers, S.B. and S.P. Powers. Context-dependent Effects of a Marine Ecosystem Engineer on Predator-prey Interactions. Marine Ecology Progress Series. Vol. 491:295-301.
  • Powers SP, Fodrie FJ, Scyphers SB, Drymon JM, Shipp RL, Stunz W. Gulf-wide decreases in the size of large coastal sharks documented by generations of fishermen. Marine and Coastal Fisheries 5(1): 93-102.