The faculty and staff involved in the Maritime Studies Program bring together their varied expertise to provide exciting and innovative approaches to teaching students with our maritime focus.




Michele Baggio (Ph.D., University of Maryland)
Associate Professor of Economics

Dr. Baggio is an applied microeconomist with research interests at the intersection of environmental and health economics. His current research examines the effects of climate change and adaptation on understudied morbidity outcomes, that is, respiratory allergies and asthma attacks, and vector-borne diseases, for example, Lyme Disease. He also investigates the economic impact of temperature and violence as well as the relationship between racial diversity and productivity in teams.

Phone:(860) 405-9035
Office Location: ACD101B



Kroum Batchvarov (M.A and Ph.D., Texas A&M)
Associate Professor of Anthropology

Dr. Batchvarov is a maritime archaeologist who specializes in shipwrecks. He has a strong interest in 17th-century maritime archaeology, Ottoman seafaring in the Black Sea, and naval warfare in the Age of Sail. Dr. Batchvarov was co-director of the largest in scope and scale maritime archaeological project ever undertaken, the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project, which involved recording 64 shipwrecks dating from the 5th century BC to the 19th century AD. The project is featured in the two-part documentary Ghosts of the Deep. While employed by the Swedish National Maritime Museums, Division Vasa, he developed and implemented a method for recording the frames of the 1628 Swedish warship Vasa. Dr. Batchvarov used the same method to record the framing on the English ship Warwick, lost in Bermuda in 1619. In 2000-2001, he organized and directed the first complete excavation of a post-medieval Black Sea shipwreck. In 2012-2016, Dr. Batchvarov directed the Rockley Bay Research Project studying the remains of the 1677 naval battle of Tobago. Currently, he is co-directing the excavation of an Ottoman wreck at Cape Urdoviza in the Black Sea and is part of an international team working on the reconstruction of 16th-century Scandinavian warships.


Phone:(860) 405-9295
Office Location: ACD116C

Mary K Bercaw Edwards, Director (B.A, M.A and Ph.D., Northwestern University)
Professor of English

Dr. Bercaw Edwards is Professor of English and the director of the Maritime Studies Program. An internationally known Herman Melville scholar and former President of the international Melville Society, she now serves as an Editor for Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies. She is the author of Sailor Talk: Labor, Utterance, and Meaning in the Works of Melville, Conrad, and London (2021), Cannibal Old Me: Spoken Sources in Melville’s Early Works (2009), and Melville’s Sources (1987). Dr. Bercaw Edwards spends her summers working high aloft on Mystic Seaport Museum’s square-rigged ships. A Coast Guard-licensed captain, she has 58,000 miles at sea, all under sail.

Video with Professor Bercaw Edwards.

Phone:(860) 405-9032
Office Location: ACD101C


Peter Drakos (B.A., University of Vermont, J.D. Gonzaga University School of Law)
Adjunct Professor of Maritime Studies

Professor Drakos has spent his career practicing maritime law in the commercial shipping industry, concentrating in the areas of bill of lading and charter party law, ship sale and purchase, and ship finance. His course “Global Dynamics of the Shipping Industry” touches upon all aspects of the shipping industry, with particular focus on the types and sizes of ships and the cargoes they carry around the globe, which leads to an understanding of the impact of the shipping industry on the world economy and upon the daily lives of all people.


Syma Ebbin (BA, Williams College; MS, Univ. of Alaska, Fisheries Science; MEM, Yale Univ., Environmental Management; PhD, Yale Univ.)
Professor in Residence

Dr. Ebbin is a Professor-in-Residence and the Research Coordinator for Connecticut Sea Grant. She is an interdisciplinary social scientist whose work has examined participatory management approaches and the role of institutional structure on social and ecological outcomes in coastal and marine systems. Recent collaborative research includes an examination of ocean literacy and integration of the arts and humanities into ocean education efforts; space allocation conflicts in working waterfronts and social acceptance of cable landfalls associated with offshore wind energy development; an examination of the challenges associated with the transition to the new blue economy in the Northeast; and the development of a Blue Heritage Trail highlighting Connecticut’s maritime and marine natural history.




Phone:(860) 405-9278

Frank Griggs (BA, University of California, Berkeley; MA, California State University, Northridge; PhD, University of Connecticut)
Assistant Professor in Residence, Political Science

Dr. Griggs studies how climate change influences political conflict and violence. His research focuses on persons who are displaced persons by natural disaster types that are worsening because of climate change. He teaches introductory courses on International Relations, Comparative Politics, American Politics, and Quantitative Analysis and advanced courses on Global Environmental Politics, Maritime Politics, and Political Violence.

Liz Kading (BA, University of Connecticut)
Adjunct Professor of Maritime Studies

Professor Kading’s research is mainly focused on documenting the life of Venture Smith and other enslaved people who lived in coastal New England. She also has a strong interest in American maritime history and literature, and she has been engaged in the study of Irish history and language for many years.



Matt McKenzie (B.A, Boston University; M.A. and Ph.D., University of New Hampshire)
Professor of History

Dr. McKenzie explores how doing the work of past mariners and maritime communities helps students ask better historical questions. His courses focus on developing unique critical perspectives derived from students operating tall ships (MAST 3501), building and repairing small craft (Independent Study), and analyzing how seafaring inextricably wove New England maritime communities into the West Indian plantation complex (MAST 2507). A licensed mariner with forty years’ experience on tall ships and small sailing craft, McKenzie believes that both “thinking” and “doing” form essential foundations to student learning.

Phone:(860) 405-9270
Office Location: ACD 114

Lynne Rogers
Department of English

Dr. Lynne Rogers, a former Fulbright Scholar, has taught extensively at universities in Palestine and Lebanon before coming to teach at Avery Point.  Her research focuses on the contemporary novel, particularly Francophone and Arab American  literature.  Her Ports of Passage course examines the port setting at tumultuous moments of history when two cultures collide.


Helen Rozwadowski (B.A, Williams College; M.A and Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania)
Professor of History

Dr. Rozwadowski, Professor of History and founder of the Maritime Studies program, researches the historical interconnections between people and the oceans. She has written two prize-winning books, Vast Expanses: A History of the Oceans (2018) and Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea (2005), and authored or edited four others. Her promotion of ocean history includes co-editing the University of Chicago book series, Oceans in Depth. For more information, see her History webpage:

Phone:(860) 405-9120
Office Location: ACD101D

Debapriya Sarkar  (M.S., University of Wisconsin-Madison, M.A. and Ph.D., Rutgers University)

Assistant Professor of English

Dr. Sarkar is the author of Possible Knowledge: The Literary Forms of Early Modern Science (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023). She researches and teaches at the intersections of early modern science studies, ecocriticism, premodern critical race studies, maritime studies, women’s writing, and postcolonial theory.

Phone:(860) 405-9187
Office Location: ACD101B


Nathaniel Trumbull (B.A, Harvard College; M.A, Columbia University; Ph.D., University of Washington)
Associate Professor of Geography

Dr. Trumbull’s research interests are in Water Resources Planning and Management, Urban Management, Urban and Community Development, Regional Planning, and Geographic Information Systems.

Phone:(860) 405-9272
Office Location: ACD101B


Laurie Wolfley
ECE Coordinator of Maritime Studies and American Studies

Laurie Wolfley coordinates UConn’s Maritime Studies and American Studies Early College Experience programs, acting as a direct contact for high school teachers who offer MAST and AMST courses in their classrooms. She also teaches English at UConn Avery Point.


Sarah Armour
Adjunct Professor of Maritime Studies

Captain Armour is the Master of Mystic Seaport Museum’s sail training vessel, Schooner Brilliant. Captain Armour’s career has focused on environmental education, sail training, and experiential learning aboard vessels like the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Pride of Baltimore II, Lady Maryland, and Geronimo. In addition to sailing Brilliant, Captain Armour sits on the Board of Directors of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and Tall Ships America.


Maria Bernier (B.A. Amherst College, MSLIS Simmons University, MBA Salve Regina University)
Avery Point Campus Library Director

As the director of the Avery Point campus library, Maria works with faculty and staff to support student learning and research. She came to UConn from the Connecticut State Library’s Division of Library Development and has worked previously at the Redwood Library & Athenaeum, Salve Regina University, and Mystic Seaport Museum. She attended Williams-Mystic, the Coastal & Ocean Studies Program of Williams College & Mystic Seaport.

Phone: (860) 405-9148
Office Location: Avery Point Library

Jason Change (PhD, UC Berkeley)
Associate Professor of History

Dr. Chang’s areas of specialty are Asian American History, Comparative Ethnic Studies, and Modern Mexico. He teach courses that bring together the fields of Area Studies, with emphasis on the Pacific and western hemisphere, and Comparative Ethnic Studies that stresses the dependent and contingent nature of race and its intersection with class, gender, and sexuality. I address topics such as global capitalism, transnationalism, diaspora, identity and community formation, indigeneity, inter-racial contact zones, governmentality, and the environment, as well as, the legal, cultural, and political economic foundations of colonialism, imperialism, and nationalism in the Americas. His current research interests are racial transformation of Chinese in Mexico, maritime Asian American history, and environmental history of the Pacific.

Phone:(860) 486-2804
Office Location: Wood Hall Rm 331 (Storrs campus)


Alexis Dudden (BA, Columbia University, Ph.D., University of Chicago)
Professor of History

Dr. Dudden teaches modern Japanese, Korean, and international history and has spent extended periods of time in Japan and Korea. Her research on the trade in indentured Asian workers, which accelerated in the wake of the formal emancipation of enslaved Africans in the colonial period in the mid-19th century, has been transformed into a comic book and middle-school curriculum to deliver cutting-edge Asian American studies lessons to public school audiences.

Phone:(860) 486-2768
Office Location: Wood Hall 326 (Storrs)


Anke Finger (Ph.D., Brandeis)
Professor of German Studies, Media Studies, and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies

A specialist of the media philosopher Vilém Flusser (author of Vampyroteuthis Infernalis) and the notion of the total artwork, Dr. Finger’s interests include comparative modernism, environmental media studies, and maritime literatures around the world. Her many publications focus on intersections in art and literature, (digital) media and communication, and (inter)cultural encounters between humans and environments, as presented, for example, in speculative fiction or human/machine interfaces.

Phone:(860) 486-33
Office Location: Oak Hall (Storrs)


Prescott Littlefield (BA, Bates College and MA, University of Rhode Island)
Waterfront Programs Manager, Adjunct Faculty, Sailing Club and Kayaking Club Advisor

Under Prescott’s leadership, Waterfront Programs at the UConn Avery Point Campus provide recreational, instructional, academic, and competitive water oriented programming that complements the marine and maritime focus of the Avery Point Campus.  Academic courses-for-credit include Basic Watercraft Skills, Intermediate Sailing, and various sailboat racing oriented courses.

Phone:(860) 405-5272 (cell)
Office Location: CB 113

Nancy Shoemaker (Ph.D., University of Minnesota)
Professor of History

Dr. Shoemaker’s maritime interests are in whaling history and nineteenth-century U.S-Pacific history. Her research on Native New England whaling history resulted in two recent books: Native American Whalemen and the World (2015) and a collection of documents and oral histories called Living with Whales (2014). At Storrs, she teaches Native American history, historical methods, a graduate seminar on overseas Americans, and “The Historian as Detective” with the 1858 mutiny on the whaleship Junior as the topic.

Phone:(860) 486-5926
Office Location: Wood Hall, Rm 227 (Storrs)

Bradley Simpson (Ph.D., Northwestern)
Associate Professor of History

Dr. Simpson teaches and researches 20th-century U.S. foreign relations and international history. He is interested in U.S.-Southeast relations, political economy, human rights, and development in the Pacific arena. He is currently researching a global history of self-determination, exploring its political, cultural, and legal descent through post-1945 US foreign relations and international politics.

Phone:(860) 486-0644
Office Location: Wood Hall 213 (Storrs)