Heidi Dierssen

(Ph.D., University of California) Professor of Marine Sciences/Geography

Dr. Dierssen leads the Coastal Ocean Laboratory for Optics and Remote Sensing at the University of Connecticut (www.colors.uconn.edu) and has a joint appointment in Marine Sciences and Geography. Her CV can be found here. Our current projects involve optics and remote sensing of the coastal zone ranging from Long Island Sound to the Southern Ocean using hyperspectral techniques. We are developing algorithms to use remotely sensing imagery to quantify phytoplankton community composition, benthic habitats in optically shallow waters, and to assess biogeographical distributions of organisms. We are also involved in research assessing microplastics on the sea surface, backscattering, particle size distributions and bubbles. Our laboratory has a variety of equipment for measuring optical and physical properties of the water column that can be loaned out to interested students or investigators. My current research projects, provided in more detail on my laboratory webpage (www.colors.uconn.edu), include:

  • Plankton Aerosol Cloud and Ocean Ecosystem (PACE) Mission
  • Interdisciplinary Sea Ice and Phytoplankton Interactions West of the Antarctic Peninsula
  • Advancing Remote Sensing of Microplastics on the Ocean Surface  
  • Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Coastal Habitats:  Seagrass, floating vegetation, sediments, macroalgae and carbon export

COLORS strives to develop quantitative linkages from remote sensing products to biogeochemical properties that contribute to a global understanding of elemental cycling.  Our research bridges the gap between ship-based sampling at discrete points and spatially comprehensive assessments from satellites and aircraft.

Research Projects

Projects funded by: – Office of Naval Research, Optics and Biology

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Naval Research

Oceanography Student

Maryam Mirhakak – Ph.D. Student

Oceanography Alumni

Dirk Aurin – Ph.D. 2010

Kelley Bostrom – M.Sc. 2011

Christopher Buonassissi – M.Sc. 2009

Kaylan (Kate) Randolph – Ph.D. 2015

Brandon Russell – Ph.D. 2016

Former Postdoctoral Fellow

Shungu Garaba, Fernanda Henderikx-Freitas, Brandon Russell, Kate Randolph


My CV can be found here


Publications and PDFs provided on


Contact Information