National Estuarine Research Reserve System - NOAA

UM-Led Group Gets $20 Million Federal Agreement For Estuary Research

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative supports science for estuarine and coastal decision-makers. Managed by the University of Michigan Water Center, through a cooperative agreement with NOAA, the Science Collaborative coordinates regular funding opportunities and supports user-driven collaborative research, assessment, and transfer activities that address critical coastal management needs identified by the reserves.

ANN ARBOR—A collaborative, multisector team, led by the University of Michigan’s Water Center at the Graham Sustainability Institute and its School for Environment and Sustainability, has been awarded a five-year, $20 million cooperative agreement to support the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in overseeing research at a nationwide network of 29 coastal reserves.

Other team members include the Aspen Global Change Institute, a Colorado-based environmental reserach nonprofit; Anderson Smith Consulting, an Atlanta, Ga. engineering research firm; Virginia Sea Grant, a seven-university water resources research consortium; the Ann Arbor-based engineering firm LimnoTech; and Susanne Moser Research and Consulting, a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based social science research firm.

Initially selected five years ago to help coordinate the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) Science Collaborative program with NOAA, the team renewed its tenure through a recent national competition. The NERRS Centralized Data Management Office, at the University of South Carolina, provides data management support for the reserve system and is an ex officio member of the team.

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National Estuarine Research Reserve System

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The National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) is a network of 29 estuarine reserves located in 22 states and Puerto Rico. The mission of the NERRS is to practice and promote stewardship of coasts and estuaries through innovative research, education, and training using a place-based system of protected areas.

Established by the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, the Reserve System represents a unique partnership between NOAA and the coastal states. NOAA's Office for Coastal Management administers the program by providing guidance, coordination, technical assistance, and funding, and state or academic partners manage reserve resources, implement programs locally, and provide funds to match the federal investment.

Learn more about the NERRS:


The NERRS Science Collaborative promotes science to support coastal decision-making about management problems important to the reserves. Our primary objectives:

  1. Identify and address key stressors of management concern;
  2. Foster co-production of science to improve decision-making;
  3. Disseminate the knowledge, processes, and key lessons learned;
  4. Deliver credible, relevant, and accessible data and information;
  5. Iterate program priorities and processes over time; and
  6. Expand access to more of the scientific community.


The Science Collaborative is the primary mechanism that supports competitive, user-focused research in the Reserve System.

Emerging as the Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology (CICEET) in 1997, competitive research funding initially focused on the development of science and technology to support estuarine management within the Reserve System. NOAA established CICEET through a cooperative agreement with the University of New Hampshire (UNH). In 2010, NOAA restructured the program into the NERRS Science Collaborative, still housed at UNH, and increasingly focused on supporting research activities that engaged end users.

In 2014, NOAA awarded the University of Michigan the next iteration of the Science Collaborative through a five-year cooperative agreement.