SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) — The associate dean of the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography has been named director of the Rhode Island Sea Grant program.

Dennis Nixon's appointment became effective July 1. He will oversee the program's research, education and outreach activities.

Nixon has taught courses in marine and coastal law in URI's Department of Marine Affairs for 37 years. He has been associate dean for research and administration at the oceanography school since 2009.

Rhode Island Sea Grant is one of more than 30 federal-state partnerships that work on a range of marine environment issues, including coastal management, fisheries, aquaculture and seafood safety.

Nixon succeeds Barry Costa-Pierce, who stepped down last year after 12 years.