Graham Sustainability Institute


The National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative supports high-quality, user-driven research to protect and restore estuarine ecosystems. Managed by the University of Michigan Water Center through a cooperative agreement with NOAA, the Science Collaborative coordinates regular funding opportunities and supports user-driven collaborative research, assessment, and transfer activities that address critical coastal management needs identified by the reserves.

National Estuarine Research Reserve System

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) is a network of 29 coastal and estuarine reserves located in 22 states and Puerto Rico. The mission of the NERRS is to practice and promote stewardship of coasts and estuaries through innovative research, education, and training using a place-based system of protected areas.

Established by the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, the reserve system represents a unique partnership between NOAA and the coastal states. NOAA's Office for Coastal Management administers the program by providing guidance, coordination, technical assistance, and funding, and state or academic partners manage reserve resources, implement programs locally, and provide funds to match the federal investment.

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The NERRS Science Collaborative seeks to support collaborative research that addresses coastal management problems important to the reserves. Its primary objectives are to:

  1. Identify and address key stressors of management concern
  2. Foster co-production of science to improve decision making
  3. Disseminate key knowledge, processes, and lessons learned
  4. Deliver credible, relevant, and accessibly data and information
  5. Iterate program priorities and processes over time
  6. Expand access to more of the scientific community


The Science Collaborative is the current, primary mechanism to support competitive, user-focused research in the reserve system.

Emerging as the Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology (CICEET), NERRS-focused competitive research funding initially focused on the development of science and technology to support estuarine management. NOAA established CICEET through a cooperative agreement with the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in 1997. In 2010, NOAA restructured the program into the NERRS Science Collaborative, still housed at UNH. The Science Collaborative increasingly focused on supporting research activities that engaged end users.

In 2014, the University of Michigan successfully competed to host the next iteration of the Science Collaborative through a five-year cooperative agreement.