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Lucy S. Vlietstra, Ph.D.

Dr. Lucy Vlietstra

Professor Vlietstra has been a faculty member at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy since 2009. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California-Irvine and teaches courses in marine ecology, biological and chemical oceanography, research in geospatial science, and emergency management. Dr. Vlietstra conducts research into long-term changes in the Arctic Ocean and implications for sea ice, maritime traffic, and marine ecosystems. Other interests include topics related to marine pollution and seabird conservation, curriculum development and assessment, and the science of teaching and learning. In addition to teaching, Dr. Vlietstra coordinates research and internship opportunities for cadets interested in exploring problems at the interface between marine science and geospatial intelligence (GEOINT). Professor Vlietstra serves as GEOINT Certificate Program Chair, and she is a member of the USCGA Credentials Committee, Center for Advanced Studies, and Superintendent’s Council for Cyber Education.


  • Ph.D., University of California – Irvine, 2003
  • M.S., State University of New York – Syracuse, 1998
  • B.S., University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, 1994

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • Vlietstra, L.S., K.R. Hinrichs, E.R. Bernstein, A. Darden, and M. Martino. 2023. Polar class ship accessibility to Arctic seas north of the Bering Strait in a decade of variable sea ice conditions. Frontiers in Marine Science 10: 1171958, doi: 10.3389/fmars.2023.1171958
  • Shugart, G.W., C.L. Waters, J.D. FitzPatrick, R.S.A. Kaler, and L.S. Vlietstra. 2023. Short-tailed shearwater (Ardenna tenuirostris) plastic loads and dimensions exhibit spatiotemporal similarity in the Pacific Ocean. Marine Pollution Bulletin 192: 115038, doi: 0.1016/j.marpolbul.2023.115038
  • Wainright, S.W., L.S. Vlietstra, H. Uber-Koch, and J.D. Paruk. 2022. Trophic position of wintering common loons (Gavia immer) in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Waterbirds 45(4): 17-28, doi: 10.1675/063.045.0104
  • Irmisher, I., J. Turk, L.S. Vlietstra, and W. Wright. 2021. Developing future geospatial intelligence professionals through collaboration with mission partners. GEOINT Symposium, St. Louis, MO.
  • Morgan, J. N. and L.S. Vlietstra. 2019. Geospatial skill-building through undergraduate research projects at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy: supporting Coast Guard missions with geospatial literacy. Northeast ArcGIS Users Conference, Newry, ME.
  • Vlietstra, L.S., K.L. Mrakovcich, V.C. Futch, and B.S. Stutzman. 2016. Anthropogenic climate change in undergraduate marine and environmental science programs in the United States. Journal of College Science Teaching 45(5): 34-43.
  • Vlietstra, L.S. 2014. Seasonal abundance of the ctenophore (Mnemiopsis leidyi) in relation to water temperature and other zooplankton in the Thames River Estuary, Connecticut. Northeastern Naturalist 21(3): 397-418.
  • Burger, J., C. Gordon, L. Niles, J. Newman, G. Forcey, and L. Vlietstra. 2011. Risk evaluation for federally listed (roseate tern, piping plover) or candidate (red knot) bird species in offshore waters: a first step for managing the potential impacts of wind facility development on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. Renewable Energy 36: 338-351.
  • Sinclair, E.H., L.S. Vlietstra, D.S. Johnson, T.K. Zeppelin, G.V. Byrd, A.M. Springer, R.R. Ream, and G.L. Hunt Jr. 2008. Patterns in prey use among fur seals and seabirds in the Pribilof Islands. Deep-Sea Research Part II 55: 1897-1918.
  • Jahncke, J., L.S. Vlietstra, M.B. Decker, P. Sullivan, and G.L. Hunt. 2008. At-sea distribution of marine birds around the Pribilof Islands: an interdecadal comparison of spatial and temporal patterns. Deep-Sea Research Part II 55: 1809-1826.
  • Vlietstra, L.S., K.O. Coyle, N.B. Kachel, and G.L. Hunt, Jr. 2005. Tidal front affects the size of prey used by a top marine predator, the short-tailed shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris). Fisheries Oceanography 14(S1): 196-211.
  • Vlietstra, L.S., and J.A. Parga. 2002. Long-term changes in the type, but not amount, of ingested plastic particles in short-tailed shearwaters in the southeastern Bering Sea. Marine Pollution Bulletin 44: 935-945.

Professional Memberships

  • U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation

Contact Information

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