Skip to main content

Urban Coast Institute

Watch: Tribute to President’s Medal Honoree Robert Sculthorpe

Congratulations to Robert Sculthorpe ’63, ’15HN, on receiving the inaugural President’s Medal in recognition of his extraordinary service, philanthropy, and leadership. The award, created by President Patrick Leahy, represents the highest honor Monmouth University can bestow on an individual.

The video includes commentary by Director Tony MacDonald on Sculthorpe’s many contributions to the Urban Coast Institute. The UCI’s student research grant program and Monmouth University’s largest research vessel, the Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe, are named in memory of his daughter and in honor of his support.

MacDonald Joins the Citizen Campaign’s Law and Policy Task Force

Tony MacDonaldUrban Coast Institute Director Tony MacDonald has been named a member of the Law and Policy Task Force for the Metuchen, New Jersey-based Citizens Campaign. Founded in 1997 by government law and policy expert Harry Pozycki, the mission of the Citizens Campaign is to educate all Americans to the fullness of their political power and to introduce them to the shared experience of public service performed by participating in “No-Blame Problem Solving” of public issues.

The nonprofit organization consists of a community of practical problem solvers made up of volunteer government law and policy experts, civic leaders, civic-minded business people, high school and college students, teachers, veterans, and service-driven church members, dedicated to empowering fellow Americans through citizen leadership training and exposure to community-based public service options that offer citizens the opportunity to exercise leadership without having to run for public office. For more information about the organization and how you can get involved, visit

UCI to Assist Restoration of Barnegat Bay Marsh Islands

Barnegat Lighthouse

A view of the Barnegat Lighthouse overlooking the bay and marsh islands in Long Beach Township.

The Monmouth Urban Coast Institute (UCI) will serve on a team that has received $89,690 through the National Coastal Resilience Fund (NCRF) to develop a restoration plan for marsh islands in Barnegat Bay that can improve the system’s ecological health and protect nearby communities from flooding, coastal storms and climate threats.

Grantee Long Beach Township and the New Jersey Bay Islands Initiative (NJBII) will guide a core project team consisting of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Barnegat Bay Partnership, Stockton University, Ducks Unlimited, Mordecai Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and the UCI. The team will use a GIS decision-support tool to prioritize five islands adjacent to the township that are in greatest need of restoration and best-positioned to reduce flood risk and exposure to residents. Appropriate nature-based strategies will be determined for restoring the islands, such as depositing dredged sediments along their perimeters, growing oyster reefs to curtail wave impacts, and building up plant communities that can stabilize the areas.

UCI Associate Director Thomas Herrington, a coastal engineer, will advise on the project designs and work with the team to develop cost estimates and other documents for evaluation by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies that would handle their eventual construction. Monmouth University students will also assist with research on the project.

The team’s grant proposal noted that the many small marsh islands throughout the bay provide critical protections to nearby communities, citing a study that concluded natural wetlands reduced annual flood risk to properties within 5 feet of mean sea level in the area by up to 70% over a wide range of storm characteristics. It also noted that they were habitats for endangered, threatened and at-risk species including the northern diamondback terrapin, piping plover, least tern, black skimmer, red knot and American oystercatcher.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced funding for this and 48 other coastal resilience projects in 28 states and U.S. territories in a Nov. 18 press release. Click here to view a full list of projects funded through the NCRF 2021 grant slate.

Watch: Classes Aboard the R/V Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe

Step aboard Monmouth University’s floating classroom, the R/V Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe, to experience a few recent lab days from the Environmental Field Methods and Principles of Marine Biology courses. The 49-foot Heidi Lynn is Monmouth’s largest research vessel, with the capacity to take classes of over 20 students on the water.

The Environmental Field Methods course is taught by professors Keith Dunton and Sean Sterrett and the Principles of Marine Biology course is taught by Jason Adolf.

Reflections from the COP26 Climate Summit

Real Progress or Just ‘Blah, Blah, Blah?’

Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute (UCI) Director Tony MacDonald and Professor Randall Abate, Rechnitz Family/UCI endowed chair in marine and environmental law and policy and director of the Institute for Global Understanding (IGU), participated in the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), held Oct 31-Nov. 12 in Glasgow, Scotland. Over 20,0000 representatives of world governments, industries, advocacy organizations, scientific and policy bodies, and other interests gathered to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

MacDonald and Abate shared their impressions of COP26 and its outcomes in this session moderated by Monmouth University School of Science Dean Steven Bachrach on Dec. 2, 2021. Topics included:

  • Whether the conference lived up to its promise as the “last, best hope” for meaningful progress on climate
  • The U.S.’s renewed climate leadership, participation in the summit and commitments
  • The important role of oceans and the ocean-climate nexus
  • The threats of climate on displacement and migration
  • The role of youth activism and civil society, and other impressions from COP26

MacDonald and Abate chronicled the conference throughout the week in a COP26 Trip Journal published on the UCI website. Visit the page to view their blogs and photos from the event.

Speaker Bios

Randall S. Abate, J.D.

Photo of Randall AbateRandall Abate is the inaugural Rechnitz Family/Urban Coast Institute endowed chair in marine and environmental law and policy and a tenured full professor in the Department of Political Science and Sociology. He teaches courses in domestic and international environmental law, constitutional law, and animal law. Professor Abate joined Monmouth in 2018 with 24 years of full-time teaching experience at six U.S. law schools, most recently from Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando, where he also served as associate dean for academic affairs. Professor Abate has published five books and more than 30 law journal articles and book chapters on environmental and animal law topics, with a recent emphasis on climate change law and justice. Early in his career, Professor Abate handled environmental law matters at two law firms in Manhattan.

Steven M. Bachrach, Ph.D.

Steven Bachrach became the dean of the School of Science at Monmouth University in 2016. Previously, he was the Dr. D. R. Semmes distinguished professor of chemistry at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He also served terms as the assistant vice president for special projects, and Department of Chemistry chair. He began his academic career at Northern Illinois University where he earned the rank of full professor. Bachrach was an American Council on Education (ACE) fellow at the University of Redlands during the 2014-15 academic year. He maintains an active research program in computational organic chemistry, having published with dozens of undergraduate students. Dr. Bachrach has authored more than 150 publications, including his book Computational Organic Chemistry, and served as editor-in-chief of the Internet Journal of Chemistry. His latest book, Thinking Like a Physical Organic Chemist, is scheduled to be published next year with Oxford University Press. Bachrach is the recipient of more than $2 million in grant funding, most notably from the National Science Foundation, American Chemical Society, and the Welch Foundation.

Tony MacDonald, Esq.

Photo of Tony MacDonald, UCI DirectorTony MacDonald is director of the Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute (UCI). He was previously the executive director of the Coastal States Organization (CSO) from 1998-2005. CSO, based in Washington, D.C., represents the interests of the governors of the nation’s 35 coastal states and territories on coastal and ocean policy matters. Prior to joining CSO, Tony was the special counsel and director of environmental affairs at the American Association of Port Authorities, where he represented the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) at the International Maritime Organization on negotiations on the London Convention. Tony has also practiced law with a private firm in Washington, DC, working on environmental and legislative issues, and served as the Washington, DC, environmental legislative representative for the mayor of the City of New York.