Linda Schaffner homepage

Linda C. Schaffner


Email: [[linda]]
Phone: (804) 684-7366
Office: Watermen's Hall 106
Section: Coastal & Ocean Processes
Additional websites: {{, School of Marine Science Graduate Admissions,}} {{, NSF REU Summer Intern Program,}} {{, Shallow Water Website}}
Interests: Professional - inclusive excellence in graduate education, faculty development, higher ed leadership; Science - estuarine and coastal processes; science-informed solutions

  • B.A., Drew University
  • M.A., Ph.D., College of William and Mary

I am planning to retire at the end of 2024 and for that reason I am no longer serving as a major advisor or on student committees.  I continue to offer Writing Boot Camp and offer, or support, other professional development opportunities for VIMS graduate students.

As an associate dean and member of the leadership team of William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science and School of Marine Science for 12 years, I gained considerable experience with graduate program administration, university accreditation (SACSCOC) and strategic planning.  I am available and remain interested in participating in program reviews.

Research Interests

As a broadly trained marine and estuarine ecologist, I studied continental shelf and estuarine ecosystems in the U.S., Asia, and Europe over a 25-year+ research career. I was especially interested in how physical processes, dead zones, and climate change regulate biodiversity and productivity of marine and estuarine communities, marine food webs, and processes such as nutrient cycling, sediment transport and the fate of pollutants. My amazing graduate students, staff and colleagues undoubtedly improved the research.  We always had fun while learning, whether in the field or the lab. My former advisees have gone on to have interesting lives and successful careers in academia, government and the private sector.

As a VIMS associate dean, I provided stewardship of VIMS' broad educational mission and administrative oversight of the School of Marine Science graduate program. I remain dedicated to maintaining an inclusive education environment where we recognize potential and cultivate students as individuals, and to providing VIMS students with the education and skills they need to keep the ocean science workforce strong.  

Recent Projects
Representative Publications
  • Schaffner, L.C.., T. W. Hartley, J.G. Sanders. 2016. Moving Forward: 21st century pathways to strengthen the ocean science workforce through graduate education and professional development. Oceanography 29 (1): 26-43 (
  • Schaffner, L.C.. 2010. Patterns and rates of recovery of macrobenthic communities in a polyhaline temperate estuary following sediment disturbance: Effects of disturbance severity and potential importance of non-local processes. Estuaries and Coasts 33: 1300-1313. (DOI: 10.1007/s12237-010-9301-6).
  • Teixeira, H., Borja, Á, Weisberg, S.B., J. A. Ranasinghe, D. B. Cadien, D. M. Dauer, J.-C. Dauvin, S. Degraer, R. J. Diaz, A. Grémare, I. Karakassis, R. J. Llansó, L. L. Lovell, J. C. Marques, D. E. Montagne, A. Occhipinti-Ambrogi, R. Rosenberg, R. Sardá, L. C. Schaffner and R. G. Velarde. 2010.  Assessing coastal benthic macrofauna community condition using best professional judgement – Developing consensus across North America and Europe. Marine Pollution Bulletin 60: 589-600.
  • Dickhudt, P.J., C.T. Friedrichs, L.C.. Schaffner and L.P. Sanford. 2009. Spatial and temporal variation in cohesive sediment erodibility in the York River estuary: a biologically-influenced equilibrium modified by seasonal deposition. Marine Geology, 267: 128-140.
  • Gillett, D.J. and L.C.. Schaffner. 2009. Benthos of the York River. Journal of Coastal Research (Special Paper 57): 80-98.
  • Borja, A., D. Dauer, R. Díaz, R.J. Llansó, I. Muxika, J.G. Rodríguez, and L.C.. Schaffner. 2008. Assessing estuarine benthic quality conditions in Chesapeake Bay: a comparison of three indices. Ecological Indicators 8: 395-403.
  • Day, J. W., R. R. Christian, D. M. Boesch, A. Yáñez-Arancibia, J. Morris, R R.  Twilley, L. Naylor, L.C.. Schaffner, C. Stevenson, and H. Haas. 2008. Consequences of climate change on ecogeomorphology of estuarine wetlands.  Estuaries and Coasts 31:477-491.
  • Pomeroy, L. G., C. D’Elia and L.C.. Schaffner. 2006. Limits to top-down control of phytoplankton by oysters in Chesapeake Bay. Marine Ecology Progress Series 325: 301-309.
  • Lim, Hyun-Sig, R.J. Diaz, Hong, Jae-Sang and L.C.. Schaffner. 2006. Hypoxia and benthic community recovery in Korean coastal waters. Marine Pollution Bulletin 52: 1517-1526.
  • Hinchey, E.K., L.C.. Schaffner, C.C. Hoar, B.W. Vogt and L.P. Batte. 2006. Responses of estuarine benthic infauna to sediment burial: the importance of mobility and adaptation. Hydrobiologia 556: 85-98.
  • Sagasti, A., J.E. Duffy and L.C.. Schaffner. 2003. Estuarine epifauna recruit despite periodic hypoxia stress. Marine Biology. 142: 111-122.
  • Sagasti, A., L.C.. Schaffner and J. E. Duffy. 2001. Effects of periodic hypoxia on mortality, feeding and predation in an estuarine epifaunal community. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 258: 257-283.
  • Thompson, M.L. and L.C.. Schaffner. 2001. Population biology and secondary production of the suspension feeding polychaete Chaetopterus cf. variopedatus: Implications for benthic-pelagic coupling in lower Chesapeake Bay. Limnology and Oceanography 46(8): 1899-1907.
  • Dellapenna, T. M., S. A. Kuehl and L.C.. Schaffner. 1998 Seabed mixing and particle residence times in biologically and physically dominated estuarine systems: a comparison of lower Chesapeake Bay and the York River subestuary. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 46: 777-795.
  • Weisburg, S. B., J. A. Ranasinghe, D. M. Dauer, L.C.. Schaffner, R. J. Diaz and J. B. Frithsen. 1997. An estuarine benthic index of biotic integrity (B-IBI) for Chesapeake Bay.  Estuaries 20: 149-158.
  • Schaffner, L.C.., R. M. Dickhut, S. Mitra and P. W. Lay. 1997. Effects of physical chemistry and bioturbation by estuarine macrofauna on the transport of hydrophobic organic contaminants in the benthos. Environ. Sci. Technol. 31: 3120-3125.
  • Mayer, M. M., L.C.. Schaffner and W. M. Kemp. 1995. Nitrification potentials of benthic macrofaunal tubes and burrow walls: effects of sediment NH4+ and animal irrigation behavior. Marine Ecology Progress Series 121: 157-169.
  • Pihl, L., S. P. Baden, R. J. Diaz and L.C.. Schaffner. 1992. Hypoxia-induced changes in the diet of bottom feeding fish and Crustacea. Marine Biology 112:349-361.
  • Schaffner, L.C.. 1990. Small-scale organism distributions and patterns of species diversity: evidence for positive interactions in an estuarine benthic community. Marine Ecology Prog. Ser. 61: 107-117.
  • Diaz, R.J. and L.C.. Schaffner. 1990. The functional role of estuarine benthos. Perspectives on the Chesapeake Bay, 1990: pages 25-56 in Advances in Estuarine Science, Haire, M. and E. Krome (eds). Chesapeake Research Consortium.
Representative Reports
  • Schaffner, L.C. C. T. Friedrichs and D. Dauer. 2002. Review of the Benthic Process Model With Recommendations for Future Modeling Efforts. Report to the US EPA Chesapeake Bay Program, Modeling Subcommittee (pdf)
  • Schaffner, L.C., M.A. Horvath and C.H. Hobbs III. 1996 Effects of sand-mining on benthic communities and resource value: Thimble Shoal, lower Chesapeake Bay. (link
Past Students and Post-docs

Graduate Program and Post-Doc

  • Matthew Freedman, M.S. 2013. Benthic ecology of tidal freshwater habitats.
  • Elizabeth Hinchey Malloy, Ph.D. 2002. Physical disturbance effects on benthic community structure and function along an estuarine gradient. Recipient of Craig Smith Award (1999), Dean's Prize for Advancement of Women in Science (2001) and Thatcher Prize (2003)
  • Michelle Horvath, M.S. 1997. Effects of epibenthic predators and macrofauna on sediment resuspension and bioturbation.
  • David Gillett, Ph.D. 2010. The influence of habitat degradation on benthic secondary production and trophic transfer efficiency in shallow, unvegetated areas.
  • Susan Kane-Driscoll, Post-doc. 1995-1997. Toxicokinetics of sediment-associated pollutants.
  • Patrick Lay, Ph.D. 1996. Direct effects of macrofauna on transport of organic contaminants to demersal fish.
  • William Metcalfe, M.S. 2005. Meiofauna abundance and distribution in Chesapeake Bay: Relationships with eutrophication, sediment toxicity and macrofauna.
  • Alessandra Sagasti, Ph.D. 2000. Ecology of fouling communities in the York River ecosystem: interacting effects of environmental variation and biotic interactions on community structure and function. Recipient of John and Marilyn Zeigler Student Achievement Award (1999) and Dean's Prize for Advancement of Women in Marine Science (1999) and Best Ph.D. Oral Presentation, Atlantic Estuarine Research Society (co-advisor with Emmett Duffy)
  • Itchika Sivaipram, Ph.D. 2018. Settlement processes of estuarine decapods.
  • Michelle L. Thompson Neubauer, Ph.D. 2000. Benthic-pelagic coupling in lower Chesapeake Bay: effects of a benthic suspension feeding polychaete, Chaetopterus pergamentaceus (Chaetopterus cf. variopedatus, sensu Enders 1909). Recipient  of Mathew Fontaine Maury Student Fellowship Award (1999) and Best Student Poster Award, International Estuarine Research Federation Conference '99, New Orleans, LA
  • Rochelle Seitz, M.S. 1991. Population biology of the polychaete Loimia medusa (Savigny) on a tidal sand flat of the York River.
  • Bruce Vogt, M.S. 2003. Sublethal effects of sediment-associated contaminants on the burrowing behavior of the amphipod, Leptocheirus plumulosus

 Undergraduate Program/High School

  • Courtney Wickel, Department of Biology, William and Mary, 2009-2011
  • Lauren Batte, Department of Biology, William and Mary, B.S. with High Honors, 2001.
  • Undergraduates who joined my research group for internships: William O'Connell (1989), Doug Gantt (1990), Sharon Williams (1991), Michelle Rudoy and George Anderson (1992), Rebecca Born (1993), Simone Brooks (1994), Sam Jones and Charles Shimooka (1995), Alvaro Dompe (1996), Jennifer Lindsey and Allison Castellan (1998), Tara Spitzer and Scott Lundin (1999), Stephanie Babb and Christine Tallamy (2000), Patrice Longshaw and Barbara Garcia (2001), Theresa Childress (2002), Andria Salas (2006), Laura Mulvey (2007), William Allen (2009)
  • High School students who joined us for year-long research experiences through the Virginia Governor's School: Jennifer Shontz (1998-99), Benjamin Ritter (1997-98), Kelly Dorgan (1995-97)
Service on Graduate Student Committees


  • Adams, Aaron (1991-93)
  • Addington, Lisa (2004-05)
  • Armbrust, Bruce (1994-95)
  • Beaver, Aaron (2004-06)
  • Birchler, Justin (2011-2013)
  • Bradley, Cassie (2009-12)
  • Campbell, Jessie (2003-05)
  • Cochran, Michelle (1992-94)
  • Collumb, Chris (1992-96)
  • Cutter, G. Randy (1994-97)
  • Davenport, Theresa (2010-2012)
  • Dickhudt, Patrick (2006-09)
  • Fall, Kelsey (2010-2012)
  • Fishman, Jamie (1992-94)
  • French, Gail (2000-01)
  • Gustafson, Kurt (1991-93)
  • Hinchey, Elizabeth (1993-96)
  • Kniskern, Tara (1999-01)
  • Linden, Deborah (1989-90)
  • Ma, Yanxia. (2005-09)
  • McKenney, Amanda (1994-97)
  • Moriarty, Julia (2009- 12)
  • Neubauer, R. Joe (1987-93)
  • Rinehimer, J. Paul (2005-09)
  • Rodriguez, Cielomar (2007-10)
  • Romine, Heidi (2002-04)
  • Salisbury, Stephanie (2009-12)
  • Smith, Angela (1993-96)
  • Thompson, Michelle (1989-93)
  • Wagner, C. Mike (1995-97)
  • Watson, Kelly (2001)
  • Wooden, Erik  (1993-99)
  • Wright, Cristin (2019-2021)


  • Chisholm, Tom (1993-99)
  • Cicchetti, Giancarlo (1994-98)
  • Deberry, Doug (2003-06)
  • Dellapenna, Tim (1995-99)
  • Kim, Baeck Oon (1992-96)
  • Kniskern, Tara (2001- 07)
  • Kraatz, Lindsay (2007-12)
  • Lefcheck, Jon (2009-15)
  • Mayer, Marilyn (1989-92; Univ. of Maryland)
  • Mitra, Sid (1993-97)
  • Parker, Frank  (2002)
  • Seitz, Rochelle (1992-96)
  • Schultz, Gary (1995-99)
  • Shen, X. (2012-2015)
  • Trembanis, Art (2000-04)
  • Van den Hurk, Peter (1994-98)
  • Walker, Shelby (1999-03)
  • Yuan, Z. (2002-2005)
Courses Taught
  • MS 502: Coastal and Estuarine Processes and Issues
  • MS 503: Biological Oceanography
  • MS 507: Responsible Conduct of Research
  • MS 572: Estuarine Benthic Processes
  • MS 510: Marine and Freshwater Invertebrates
  • MS 647: Marine Benthos
  • MS 650: Estuarine Ecology
  • MS 698: Special Topics - History of Benthic Ecology
  • MS 698: Special Topics - Coastal Issues, Science and Policy of Thailand
  • MS 698: Special Topics - Global Coastal Change
  • 2024 - Thomas Jefferson Award, William & Mary
  • 2007 - Estuarine Research Federation Distinguished Service Award
  • 2005 - Dean's Prize for Advancement of Women in Science
  • 2003 - Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
  • 2001 - Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award, William & Mary
  • 1994 - Outstanding Teaching Award, School of Marine Science, William & Mary
Positions of Distinction
  • President, Estuarine Research Federation (2003-2005), Past President (2005-07), President-Elect (2001-03)
  • Secretary, Council of Scientific Society Presidents (2004-2005)
  • Estuarine Research Federation Governing Board, Secretary (1999-2001), Member-at-Large (1997-1999)
  • Estuarine Research Federation Education Committee (1997-2007)
  • Associate Editor, Estuaries, 1998-2001