In addition to her position at Union, she holds a guest investigator research appointment at the Marine Policy Center of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Past research appointments include both the Northeast and Southeast Fisheries Centers of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service and the Economics of the Sea Program at the University of Barcelona, Spain. She helped develop the Marine Studies Term Abroad, the first team taught interdisciplinary term abroad at Union College. Her work has appeared in Marine Policy, the leading journal in marine studies, and she has presented her findings at international and national conferences such as the World Fish Congress in Brisbane, Australia. Research grants have included funding from the Department of Marine Fisheries, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She has also developed an extensive internship program for students at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and various human service agencies in the New York Capital District.
Her most recent work has been a longitudinal study on marine policy, co-management and socio-economic trends in the fishing communities of New England. Professor Kaplan has worked with biologists examining the ecology and socio-economics of the New England conch fishery.
Professor Ilene Kaplan teaches courses on family life, domestic violence, community, environmental policy, and marine policy.