Jane E. Disney, Ph.D.

Jane Disney, Ph.D.Senior Staff Scientist and Director, Community Environmental Health LaboratoryMDI Biological Laboratory

Research Areas

Human and Environmental Sustainability


Ph.D., Washington State University, Zoology, 1988 M.S., Pennsylvania State University, Genetics, 1984 B.S., Pennsylvania State University, Biology, 1982

My research involves studying and restoring eelgrass populations in Frenchman Bay using a community-based approach. I am collaborating with a variety of community partners, including Maine Coast Heritage Trust, to evaluate the efficacy of various methods of restoration. Together we are  mapping eelgrass recovery and tracking the colonization of restored eelgrass beds by marine invertebrates and fishes. I am also collaborating with Karen James, Ph.D. (MDI Biological Laboratory), who uses a DNA bar-coding technique to assist with species identification, and Larissa Williams, Ph.D. (Bates College), who is examining the genetic composition of eelgrass populations in the Frenchman Bay area. In addition, both Drs. James and Williams are using molecular methods to help understand the impact of the invasive green crab on eelgrass populations throughout the Frenchman Bay area. Finally, I study water quality in areas from which we harvest eelgrass for transplantation, at our restoration sites, and in surrounding areas in order to understand the impact of changing environmental conditions on eelgrass.

I help coordinate the activities of the Frenchman Bay Partners, a group of stakeholders including fishermen, aquaculture industry representatives, nonprofit organizations, education and research institutions, and individual community members who are working together to ensure a healthy future for Frenchman Bay. Eelgrass is one of the four conservation targets the group has prioritized.

As director of the Community Environmental Health Laboratory (CEHL), I am responsible for recruiting volunteers to participate in a variety of citizen science initiatives, including eelgrass mapping and restoration. In addition, I engage student interns, teachers, and community members as water quality monitors in the Maine Healthy Beaches Program and as phytoplankton monitors in the Maine Volunteer Phytoplankton Monitoring Program. I am also responsible for outreach and education initiatives in five local schools. Currently, middle school students are studying eelgrass habitats in aquaria in their classrooms and designing experiments to address their questions about relationships among organisms in eelgrass-based ecosystems.

A unique coastal watershed survey in Maine. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. Disney JE, Prinbeck G, Steele Z – 2014; 69(3):89A-94A  doi:10.2489/jswc.69.3.89A

Biodegradable Grids: A Preferred Method for Community-Based Zostera marina (Eelgrass) Restoration in Maine. Kidder GW, White S, Miller MF, Norden WS, Taylor T and Disney JE -. J. Coastal Research 2013; http://www.jcronline.org/doi/abs/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-13-00062.1

Defective repair of radiation-induced chromosomal damage in scid/scid mice. Disney JE, Barth AL, Shultz LD – Cytogenet Cell Genet. 1992;59(1):39-44.

Expression of mRNAs encoding mammalian chromosomal proteins HMG-I and HMG-Y during cellular proliferation. Johnson KR, Disney JE, Wyatt CR, Reeves R – Exp Cell Res. 1990 Mar;187(1):69-76.

High-mobility group protein HMG-I localizes to G/Q- and C-bands of human and mouse chromosomes. Disney JE, Johnson KR, Magnuson NS, Sylvester SR, Reeves R – J Cell Biol. 1989 Nov;109(5):1975-82.

Maintenance of foreign gene expression and independent chromosome fragments in adult transgenic rainbow trout and their offspring.
Disney JE, Johnson KR, Banks DK, Thorgaard GH – J Exp Zool. 1988 Dec;248(3):335-44.

Cytogenetic analyses of a Salvelinus hybrid reveal an evolutionary relationship between the parental species. Disney JE, Wright JE – Cytogenet Cell Genet. 1987;45(3-4):196-205.

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Duncan Bailey: Systems Developer and development lead @Anecdata.org

Duncan is a graduate of University of Maine with skills in computer programming, database construction, and data management. He created and is promoting worldwide use of our citizen science data portal: Anecdata.org

Jordan Bailey: Outreach and Education Coordinator

Jordan is a graduate of Boston College. She is the mastermind behind Seagrasses in Classes, our outreach and education program in local schools.  She coordinates our annual Marine Science Symposium for Students. She effectively plans and implements our Young Environmental Leaders Program. She has created curriculum and website tools for teachers involved in our eelgrass research and restoration work, and is the webmaster for seagrassesinclasses.org

Anna Farrell: AmeriCorps Environmental Steward January-November 2014, January-November 2015

Anna joins us from Toledo, Ohio. She is a graduate of Dennison University, where she received a degree in environmental studies. She started her second term of service with us in January 2015. After her work with us in 2014, she is now an eelgrass restoration and water quality monitoring expert.