UNITED STATES TO GREECE
Natural and anthropogenic concerns impacting coastal marine ecosystems
Dr. Konstantine J. Rountos (U.S. Fulbright Student, 2007–2008) is a marine ecologist, aquatic conservation scientist, and Associate Professor of Biology at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, New York. His undergraduate research laboratory focuses on elucidating the impacts of humans on aquatic ecosystems and advancing sustainable seafood. Current research projects focus on the effects of harmful algal blooms on early life stages of fish, assessing the presence of microplastics in local waterways and shellfish (i.e., clams and oysters), and sustainable aquaculture. In the classroom, Dr. Rountos’ courses provide undergraduates with strong foundational knowledge and creative problem-solving skills by immersing them in experiential learning opportunities. Students learn the principles of ecology and the impacts of humanity by doing field work in local ecosystems of Long Island, NY, and around the globe. He continues to organize and lead dynamic study-abroad opportunities to Costa Rica and Greece, exposing students to diverse ecosystems, perspectives, and cultures. These experiences foster a better understanding of and appreciation for cultural diversity, while emphasizing the importance of international collaborations. A hallmark of any of his field lab excursions is that they conclude with time allocated for garbage collection. The aim being to always leave an ecosystem in a better state than when you arrived.
Dr. Rountos received his Fulbright award as a Master’s student in marine sciences at Stony Brook University, New York. The award was a transformative experience which galvanized his interests in academia and opened the doors to a vast international research and professional network. By working closely with his affiliated mentor at the University of Crete (Heraklion), Dr. Rountos executed an independent research project which advanced knowledge about the effects of coastal aquaculture activities on the surrounding seagrass ecosystems. These results were published in the international journal, Aquaculture Environment Interactions, and presented to the public and to school children throughout Greece. Following his Fulbright, Dr. Rountos completed his doctorate, working with local and international scientists to further the conservation of forage fish (e.g., sardines, anchovies, sprat, etc.). His dissertation research with the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, an international group of preeminent fisheries scientists, provided the first global assessment of the economic value these species provide when left in our oceans to feed commercially harvested predatory fish. Another notable collaboration involved assisting in research to assess the effects of dams on Lake Turkana, Kenya, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This research endeavor required extensive field work in a remote part of Lake Turkana for approximately a one-month period. He credits his Fulbright experience with enhancing his interest and life-long pursuit of international research and mutual cultural understanding. Aside from research, the Fulbright experience solidified his enthusiasm and mission of sharing the wonders of Greece and the Hellenic culture with his family, friends, colleagues, students, and anyone interested in learning.