Founded in 1997, the UCF Coastal & Estuarine Ecology Laboratory (CEELAB) focuses on the ecology of coastal and estuarine ecosystems, conservation biology, the science of restoration, and communication of science to diverse audiences. Our laboratory is located in the Biology Department on the main campus of the University of Central Florida in Orlando, with our primary field laboratory, Fellers House Field Station, located within the boundaries of Canaveral National Seashore, New Smyrna Beach, Florida. CEELAB members include faculty, graduate students, undergraduate researchers, postdoctoral fellows, field technicians, and volunteers.

CEELAB members have worked on coastal issues around the globe. At the heart of our current research is understanding our local “Lagoon in crisis” – the Indian River Lagoon. This shallow, subtropical estuarine system has been subjected to numerous stressors in recent years, including nutrient and microplastic pollution, algal blooms, invasive species, excessive wakes from boats and storms, sea level rise, boring sponge infection, and more. Determining how to respond to these problems has focused on novel restoration and shoreline stabilization techniques followed by extensive monitoring.

Funding for recent projects has come from: National Science Foundation, Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, Florida Fish and Wildlife, Disney Conservation Fund, National Park Service, Brevard County Natural Resources, Coastal Conservation Association, St. Johns River Water Management District, and NOAA.

Restoration workshop with partners Coastal Conservation Association-Florida and Mudhole Tackle.

Current project partners include Marine Discovery Center, FL Fish and Wildlife, Coastal Conservation Association, FL Department of Environmental Protection, FL State Parks, National Park Service, Florida Oceanographic Society, Brevard County Natural Resources, FL Sea Grant, and The Arc in Indian River County.

Up-to-date information on CEELAB can be found on our CEELAB Facebook page.


Prospective Students and Volunteers

We are always excited to welcome new students and new community volunteers to CEELAB. Undergraduates should expect to volunteer in the lab for a minimum of one semester prior to developing your own research project. During this time, you will have the opportunity to assist faculty, graduate students, and other undergraduate researchers with their data collection in the field and on campus, as well as assist with outreach events in the central Florida region. Prospective graduate students should contact Dr. Walters to discuss openings and the current research agenda. Please also view the UCF Biology Department criteria for admissions. Potential community volunteers – we have restoration and outreach events scheduled throughout the year, with a focus of efforts each May-June to coincide with high oyster recruitment and plant growth. All are advertised on our CEELAB Facebook page. You can additionally contact Dr. Walters for upcoming events.


Donations are always welcome to enhance our research, restoration, and outreach efforts. Recent funding has enabled us to print and distribute our conservation-themed children’s storybooks for free to many thousands of educators and their classes, pay for boat gas to get to restoration sites, and provide UCF students with the opportunity to attend professional conferences to enhance their career marketability.

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