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Kelli Hunsucker

Assistant Professor | College of Engineering and Science - Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences

Contact Information
(321) 674-8437
Edwin A. Link Building, 333

Educational Background

PhD, Biological Oceanography, Florida Institute of Technology

MS, Chemical Oceanography, Florida Institute of Technology

BS, Oceanography, with a Marine Chemistry focus, Stockton University

Current Courses

Introduction to Oceanography

Ocean Biology for Engineers

Biological Oceanography

Estuarine Ecology

Marine and Estuarine Phytoplankton

Selected Publications

Gilligan M, Hunsucker K, Rech S, Sharma A, Beltran R, White RT, Weaver R. 2022. Assessing the biological performance of living docks – A citizen science initiative to improve coastal water quality through benthic recruitment within the Indian River Lagoon, Florida.  J Mar Sci Eng 10: 823

Wassick A, Hunsucker KZ, Swain G (2022) A baseline survey to document the distribution and abundance of native and non-native barnacle species in Port Canaveral, Florida. BioInvasions Records 11:in press

Richard KN, Hunsucker KZ, Gardner H, Hickman K, Swain G. 2021. The application of UVC used in synergy with surface material to prevent marine biofouling. JMSE 9 (662)

Wassick A, Hunsucker K, Swain G. 2021. Does the benthic invertebrate community reflect disturbances in the Central Indian River Lagoon? Florida Scientist 84(2/3): 162-172

Hunsucker K, Melnikov A, Gilligan M, Gardner H, Erodogan C, Weaver R, Swain G. 2021. Cathodically protected steel as an alternative to plastic for oyster restoration mats. Ecological Engineering 164:

Braga C, Hunsucker K, Erdogan, Gardner H, Swain G. 2020. The use of a UVC lamp incorporated with a ROV to prevent biofouling: a proof of concept study. Marine Technology Society Journal 54 (5): 76-83

Braga C, Hunsucker KZ, Gardner H, Swain G. 2020. A novel design to investigate the impacts of UV exposure on marine biofouling. Applied Ocean Research.

 Hunsucker KZ, Gardner H, Lieberman K, Swain G. 2019. Using hydrodynamics to assess the performance of fouling control coatings. Ocean Engineering.

Hunsucker KZ, Braga C, Gardner H, Jongerius M, Hietbrink R, Salters B, Swain G. 2019. Using Ultraviolet Light for Improved Antifouling Performance on Ship Hull Coatings, Biofouling. 35 (6): 658-668

Weaver RJ, Hunsucker KZ, et al. 2018. The Living Dock: A Study of Benthic Recruitment to Oyster Substrates Affixed to a Dock in the Indian River Lagoon. Marine Technology Society 52(4): 7-18

Hunsucker KZ, Vora GJ, Hunsucker JT, Gardner H, Leary DH, Kim S, Lin B, Swain G. 2018. Biofilm community structure and associated drag penalties of a groomed fouling release ship hull coating. Biofouling 34(2):162-172

 Dickenson NC, Krumholz JS, Hunsucker KZ, and Radicone M. 2017. Iodine-infused aeration for hull fouling prevention: a vessel-scale study. Biofouling. 33(0): 955-969

 Sweat LH, Swain GW, Hunsucker KZ, Johnson KB. 2017. Transported biofilms and their influence on subsequent macrofouling colonization. Biofouling 33(5): 433-449

Hunsucker KZ, Hunsucker JT, Gardner H, Swain G. 2017. Static and dynamic comparisons for the evaluation of ship hull coatings. Marine Technical Society Journal 51(2): 71-75

Hunsucker JT, Hunsucker KZ, Gardner H, Swain G. 2016. Influence of hydrodynamic stress on the frictional drag of biofouling communities. Biofouling 32(10): 1209-1221

Hearin J, Hunsucker KZ, Swain G, Gardner H Stephens S, Lieberman K. 2016. Analysis of mechanical grooming at various frequencies on a large scale test panel coated with a fouling release coating. Biofouling 32(5): 561-569.

Hearin J, Hunsucker KZ, Swain G, Stephens S, Gardner H, Lieberman K, Harper M. 2015. Analysis of long term mechanical grooming on large scale test panels coated with an antifouling and a fouling release coating. Biofouling 31(8): 625- 638

Hunsucker KZ, Swain GW. 2015. In situ measurements of diatom adhesion to silicone ship hull coatings. Journal of Applied Phycology 28(1): 269 - 277

Hunsucker KZ, Koka A, Lund G, Swain G. 2014. Diatom community structure on in-service ship hulls. Biofouling 30(9): 1133- 1140

Zargiel KA, Swain GW. 2014. Static vs dynamic settlement and adhesion of diatoms to ship hull coatings. Biofouling 30(1): 15-129

Zargiel KA, Coogan JS, Swain GW. 2011. Diatom community structure on commercially available ship hull coatings. Biofouling 27(9): 955 -965


Dr. Hunsucker's research focuses on biofouling organisms and their settlement on anthropogenic structures. She is currently funded by the Office of Naval Research to study different ship hull coatings and the ability of these coatings in preventing the accumulation of biofouling. In collaboration with US Navy Labs and global industry partners, she works to test the efficacy of other biofouling prevention systems, such as aeration and ultraviolet light.  Dr. Hunsucker is part of a team which is studying the impact of grooming, or the frequent gentle wiping of a ship hull, to prevent fouling. This is done by way of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) which pushes a grooming tool over the ship hull. Long-term grooming has proven effective at stopping the establishment of macrofouling organisms on numerous types of ship hull coatings.  Dr. Hunsucker is speficially interested in studying the interaction between the grooming tools and biofouling organisms, both at the microbial and maco-levels. In addition, Dr. Hunsucker studies how biofilm (microbial fouling) community structure is altered due to different hydrodynamic conditions. 

Dr. Hunsucker is also interested in ecological engineering, or using ecology and engineering to improve local ecosystems. She works to promote the growth of benthic organisms (think oysters, sea squirts, sponges), as a mode of water filtration.  Adult oysters can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day, with sea squirts filtering roughly 24 gallons per day. She helps to create Living Docks, which through citizen science involvement, deploys oyster mats on docks with the goal of restoring the water quality.  Members of her lab are currently busy acessing the progress of the docks and the impact these organisms are having on filtering particles from the water. Dr. Hunsucker is also investigating alternatives to plastic in local oyster restoration efforts, using cathodically protected steel to develop a mineral accretion layer and enhance calcareous marine growth. 

Dr. Hunsucker is heavily involved in community based marine education and outreach, with an emphasis on the local Indian River Lagoon. She is part of a team of faculty and students that visit local schools with the Lagoon Science Bus, implementing lessons on marine engineering and science. More information about the Science Bus can be found on the Facebook page. Dr. Hunsucker's view of the Indian River Lagoon, sustainability, and ways to help were recently featured in the  Space Coast Business Magazine

Check out this recent article on Dr. Hunsucker's work for the US Navy and in the Indian River Lagoon. 

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