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Lucy S. Vlietstra, Ph.D.

Associate Vice Provost for Research Professor, Marine and Environmental Science
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

Sponsor Family Application

Thank you for submitting your application to be part of the Sponsor Family Program. Your application will be processed in the upcoming week. Coast Guard Academy’s policy on background screening now requires all adults (everyone 18 and older living in the home) who volunteer to mentor, teach, coach or sponsor cadets, whether on or off Coast Guard Academy grounds, to be screened every 5 years. They are required to provide personal information (name, birth date and social security number) for the purpose of conducting a criminal background check.

The Security Officer at the Coast Guard Academy, CWO2 Gina Polkowski, is overseeing this process. Her email is:

Sponsor Family designations fall into several different categories. Below are the guidelines to help you determine how best to meet the background screening requirement:

  1. If you are Coast Guard active duty you do not need to apply for an additional Background Check. You will be vetted through the Coast Guard system by CWO2 Polkowski.
  2. If you are a Civilian working for the Coast Guard you do not need to apply for an additional Background Check. You will be vetted through the Coast Guard system by CWO2 Polkowski.
  3. If you are non-Coast Guard Active Duty, you are required to provide proof of your current security clearance or National Agency Check that is to be emailed by your Command Security Officer (CSO)/ Security Office to CWO2 Polkowski at
  4. If you are non-Coast Guard civilian who has a current security clearance or National Agency check, you are required to provide proof of your current security clearance or National Agency Check that is to be emailed by your Command Security Officer (CSO)/ Security Office to CWO2 Polkowski at
  5. All civilians in the families who are 18 years or older and do not have a security clearance or a National Agency Check are required to be vetted through Mind Your Business, the third party vendor hired by the Coast Guard Academy for the vetting process.

After you complete your application, please e-mail the Sponsor Family Program Coordinator at In your e-mail, you must include the e-mail address and phone number of every adult living in the home. The Sponsor Family Coordinator will then initiate the background check process and you will receive an email with further instructions.

Important things to note:

There is a Sponsor Family Training that is a one-hour training which we ask sponsors to attend once every four years. This training is designed to give you an overview of the program, what is expected of you as a sponsor, and what you can expect from your cadets. This training will also help familiarize you with the cadet regulations onboard CGA. You will be notified via e-mail once the training is scheduled.

The matching process of swabs to families will occur during July and August. Please bear with us and remain flexible through this process. There will be a meet and greet scheduled on Campus, typically in late August. This will give families an opportunity to formally meet their cadet if they have not already done so. Details on this will also be via email.

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