Robert H. Stavn

Robert H. Stavn

Robert H. Stavn

Professor Emeritus



Optical oceanography, aquatic ecology, ecology, zooplankton, and lake optics.


Ph.D., Yale University


I study the penetration of photons into the ocean and their fate upon encountering molecules and suspended particles. The possible fates of the photons are to be absorbed (converted into heat or carbon compounds), scattered (diverted from the original trajectory), or transpectrally converted to another photon by Raman scattering or fluorescence. We have demonstrated that Raman scattering significantly contributes to the open ocean light field. I am working on accurate remote-sensing algorithms for determining suspended minerogenic matter and chlorophyll concentrations in the coastal ocean.  The needed calibration of remote sensing algorithms has been accomplished with new methods of analysis of suspended matter in the coastal ocean.  We have accomplished this with a new method of multiple linear regression, Model II multiple linear regression.  New analyses are also coming from X-ray Diffraction studies of suspended mineral matter from collaborations with the University of New Orleans.  We have completed new Super-computer Monte Carlo simulations of Ultra-Violet (UV) photon transport to study the effects of suspended sediment and particles on the penetration and possible harmful effects of UV light on aquatic and marine ecosystems.

Recent Publications:

Mohammadpour, G., Montes-Hugo, M. A., Stavn, R., Gagne, J., & Larouche, P. 2016. Particle composition effects on MERIS-derived SPM: A case study in the Saint Lawrence Estuary. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing, vol 42(1): 1-10.

Keen, T.R. and R.H. Stavn. 2012. Hydrodynamics and Marine Optics during Cold Fronts at Santa Rosa Island, Florida. Journal of Coastal Research, 28(5):1081-1095.

Robert H. Stavn. Mass-specific scattering cross sections of suspended sediments and aggregates: theoretical limits and applications. Optics Express, Vol. 20 Issue 1: 201-219. (2012).

William E. Mulberry and Robert H. Stavn. Extracting mineral effects on ultraviolet penetration and its effects in coastal and inland waters: a Monte Carlo study. Applied Optics, Vol. 50 Issue 31, 1. November 2011.

Stavn, R.H., Rick H.J., Falster, A.V. 2009. Correcting the errors from variable sea salt retention and water of hydration in loss on ignition analysis: Implications for studies of estuarine and coastal waters. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 81(4): 575-582.

Stavn, R.H. and S.J. Richter. 2008. Biogeo-optics: particle optical properties and the partitioning of the spectral scattering coefficient of ocean waters. Applied Optics, 47(14):2660-2679.

Snyder, W.M., Arnone, R.A., Davis, C.O., Goode, W., Gould, R.M., Ladner,S., Lamella, G., Rhea, W.J., Stavn, R., Sydor, M., and A. Weidemann. 2008. Optical scattering and backscattering by organic and inorganic particulates in U.S. coastal waters. Applied Optics, 47:666-677.

Stavn, R.H. and S.J. Richter. 2006. Biogeo-optics: Partitioning the Particulate Scatter Coefficient in Coastal Waters. Ocean Optics XVIII, Montreal, Canada, Office of Naval Research, USA, 9-13 October 2006 CDROM.

Snyder, W., Arnone, R., Davis, C., Goode, W., Gould, R., Ladner, S., Lammela, G., Rhea, W.J., Stavn, R., Sydor, M., Weidemann, A. 2006. Comparison of the particle size distribution and optical attenuation. Ocean Optics XVIII, Montreal, Canada, Office of Naval Research, USA, 9-13 October 2006 CDROM.

Mulberry, W.E. and R.H. Stavn. 2006. Particulate scattering and the penetration of ultraviolet light in coastal and inland waters. Ocean Optics XVIII, Montreal, Canada, Office of Naval Research, USA, 9-13 October 2006 CDROM.

Stavn, R.H. and T.R. Keen. 2004. Suspended minerogenic particle distributions in high-energy coastal environments: optical implications. J. Geophysical Res. 109, C05005, doi:10.1029/2003JC002098.


Major Concepts in Biology (Marine Biology) (BIO 105)
Principles of Biology Lab I & II (BIO 111L, 112L)
Principles of Ecology (BIO 301)
Introductory Ecology Lab (BIO 302)
Marine Biology (BIO 420)
Advanced Topics in Animal Ecology (BIO 501)
Seminar in Ecology (BIO 605)