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Yaqin Li
Judy Yaqin Li

Dr. Judy Yaqin Li

(AKA Yaqin Li in publications, Judy Yaqin Li May in NOAA directory)


  • Ph.D. Oceanography, Graduate School of Oceanography, Univ. of Rhode Island, 1996
  • M.S. Marine Phycology, Xiamen (Amoy) University, Xiamen, China, 1988
  • B.S. Botany, Xiamen (Amoy) University, Xiamen, China, 1985

Professional History

  • 2005-present: Research Ecologist, Milford Lab, NOAA Fisheries
  • 2001-2005: Environmental Analyst, CT Depart. Of Energy and Environmental Protection
  • 1999-2000: Assistant Marine Research Scientist, Univ. of Rhode Island
  • 1996-1999: Postdoctoral Fellow, Graduate School of Oceanography, Univ. of Rhode Island

Judy is interested in coastal ecology, phytoplankton dynamics and interactions between bivalve shellfish aquaculture and its environmental.  Working with her colleagues in the Milford Laboratory, her research examines the variability in coastal environments on various time scales and how such variability affects shellfish in nature and vice versa. She uses tools such as long term unattended measurements, flow-cytometry, phytoplankton variable fluorescence, HPLC pigments for phytoplankton taxonomic classification and SELDI proteomic technique in her research. Recently she and her colleagues finished a number of projects quantifying the interaction of an oyster nursery system and its embayment in Riverhead, Long Island. Her current projects on improving measurements of phytoplankton biomass and productivity will benefit shellfish site selection and coastal environment management:

  • Phytoplankton photophysiology in East River Tidal Straight, New York City.  Although East River Tidal Straight, New York has high nutrient concentrations like most of the highly populated coastal environment, phytoplankton biomass is surprisingly low.  Experiments using variable fluorescence demonstrated that photosynthesis at the site was light limited. The site therefore has limited phytoplankton production for shellfish whether it is wild population or human cultivation despite the availability of nutrients.
  • Primary productivity in Long Island Sound.  Collaborating with EPA and CT DEEP, Judy is working on phytoplankton physiology and productivity in Long Island Sound.  The aim of the project is providing scientific information for the water quality management activities and shellfish aquaculture site selection.
  • In vivo fluorescence based chlorophyll a measurements.  Chl a is widely used as an indication of phytoplankton biomass in aquatic sciences, e.g., ecological research, coastal management and shellfish aquaculture site selection.  In vivo fluorescence based chl a measurement provides a convenient alternative for the chemical extraction method.   However, there are inherent problems with this method.  Judy and her colleagues are evaluating ways of making measurements as accurate as possible.

In addition, Judy is working with a team from Milford Laboratory and Maine Field Station on a Atlantic salmon protection and recovery project, specifically focusing on biological and chemical environments of Penebscot Estuary where hatchery reared juvenile salmons are released to the sea.