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  • UCI Grants to Support School Green Teams, Sculpture Installation

    The Urban Coast Institute has awarded two spring Faculty Enrichment Grants for projects that will expand green teams in New Jersey schools and create art inspired by utopian societies that once existed in Jersey Shore communities.

    The UCI offers these grants on a competitive basis to Monmouth University faculty to support individual or collaborative projects for the enhancement of existing curriculum, new curriculum development, research and scholarship and team-teaching opportunities. Funding is available through the Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Scholars program for faculty and student researchers of all disciplines whose work advances core elements of Monmouth’s Strategic Plan and supports the UCI’s mission. The following projects were approved for the spring round.

    Going Green across the Garden State: Fostering the Formation of Green Teams in New Jersey School Districts

    Faculty researchers: Michelle Schpakow, Ed.D., Department of Curriculum and Instruction; School of Education Dean John Henning, Ph.D.; Kyle Seiverd, Ed.D., School of Science

    Roughly half of New Jersey school districts have formed green teams comprised of teachers, administrators, students, parents and other community members to promote sustainable practices.  This project will determine factors that promote green team development and share these strategies with the larger New Jersey community through a webinar; facilitate the development of new green teams at three New Jersey schools by establishing mentorships with three established green teams; and pilot discussions in focus group sessions that determine how the process of forming green teams affects participants’ perspectives regarding sustainability.

    Ruin/Regeneration: A Sculptural Installation

    North American Phalanx
    The former North American Phalanx site in Colts Neck. Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)

    Faculty researcher: Susan Meyer, MFA, Department of Art & Design

    This grant will support the creation of a sculptural installation inspired by the cyclical states of ruin and regeneration in coastal areas along the New Jersey shoreline. Professor Meyer and student assistants will conduct research on coastal ecosystems in Sandy Hook and utopian societies that once existed in Ocean Grove and at the historic North American Phalanx in Colts Neck to inform the project. The artwork will be publicly exhibited at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, through the summer.

    Apply Now for Funding

    The UCI is currently seeking proposals for student summer research grants, Faculty Enrichment Grants for the summer and fall, and endowed scholarships for the 2022-23 school year. Click here to learn more.

    These opportunities have been made possible through the generous support of many private and corporate donors. If you would like to make a tax-deductible gift to the Urban Coast Institute, please visit our online contribution form.

  • Monmouth U. to Monitor Deal, Sunset Lakes as Part of Statewide Probe of Harmful Algal Bloom Causes

    Deal Lake at sunset
    The sun sets over Deal Lake in Asbury Park. (Photo by Anthony DePrimo)

    Monmouth University has received a $127,600 grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to monitor Sunset and Deal lakes as part of a study of factors driving cyanobacterial harmful algal bloom (HAB) formation in New Jersey lakes.

    The work will be conducted by Endowed Associate Professor of Marine Science Jason Adolf, Urban Coast Institute (UCI) Community Science Coordinator Erin Conlon and Monmouth students. The team will regularly sample the lakes for water quality indicators such as clarity, temperature, HAB abundance, salinity and pH levels. In addition, periodic samples will be taken to study the range of cyanobacteria species present during bloom and non-bloom periods and the relationship between heavy rain events and HAB abundance.

    In lake ecosystems, the phytoplankton responsible for most HAB events are a type of photosynthetic bacteria known as cyanobacteria, or sometimes called “blue-green algae.” The organisms can produce toxins that are hazardous to humans and sometimes lethal to pets and wildlife. The issue has gained increased attention from state officials in recent years, as severe HAB events caused closures in lakes that are summer tourist destinations and drinking water sources.

    Map shows the study sampling sites.
    The study sampling sites.

    Deal and Sunset lakes were selected for inclusion in the statewide study for being representative of the unique conditions of coastal lakes. These water bodies differ from typical inland lakes in that they have ocean connections, which result in higher salinities and the occasional outflow of hazardous microbes at bathing beaches. The team will collect and analyze water samples from Deal Lake at five sites in Allenhurst, Asbury Park and Ocean Township, and from Sunset Lake at one site in Asbury Park.

    Deal Lake is the largest coastal lake in New Jersey and has a history of water quality impairments, including HABs. It discharges to the ocean in Asbury Park through a controlled gate as a means to avoid flooding. The team will sample the ocean on days when the gate is open.  Sunset Lake flows into Deal Lake through an underground connection.

    Among the questions to be explored through the data analyses are:

    • Do the sites sampled differ from each other in terms of HAB biomass and/or toxicity?
    • Do cyanobacteria and/or cyanotoxins contaminate ocean swimming beaches during bloom periods?
    • Does rainfall predict HAB events/expansion in Deal and Sunset lakes?

    Additionally, questions pertaining to comparisons between the lakes and others being studied throughout New Jersey will be addressed as directed by the NJDEP.

    Deal LakeThe University has studied and monitored Deal Lake for decades, most recently through its work on the Coastal Lakes Observing Network (CLONet). Since 2019, Adolf, Conlon and University students have trained and equipped community volunteers to collect water samples from 11 Monmouth County coastal lakes and file their findings to an online database. The data collected as part of the NJDEP study will complement the CLONet project’s.

  • Apply Now for UCI Summer Research and Faculty Enrichment Grants, Endowed Scholarships

    The Urban Coast Institute (UCI) is seeking proposals from Monmouth University students and faculty members of all disciplines for grants to support summer research through its Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Scholars program. Endowed scholarships for the 2022-23 school year are also available for Monmouth students with a demonstrated financial need and interest in coastal, marine, and environmental studies.

    The deadline for student summer research grants and endowed scholarships is March 21. Proposals for Faculty Enrichment Grants will be accepted through May 20 for the summer and Aug. 12 for the fall semester.

    Student Summer Research Grants

    Each year, the Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Scholars program awards dozens of students funding to conduct hands-on research projects that provide real-world experience while helping make a positive impact in coastal communities. Past examples have ranged from marine science research aboard University vessels, to studies on the fairness of beach access regulations, to the creation of artwork and communications products that promote healthy oceans.

    shark taggingSummer research projects may be proposed by students with the support of a faculty mentor or proposed by a faculty member with the support of students who will work under their supervision. Students will have the opportunity present their work at the Monmouth University School of Science Summer Research Symposium in August.

    All proposals relevant to the UCI mission are welcome. Some specific topics of interest include:

    • Enhancing consideration for social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion as coastal communities adjust to a changing climate
    • Resiliency of coastal communities and environments
    • Impacts of sea level rise on coastal environments and communities
    • Environmental and social issues related to offshore wind development
    • Coastal ecosystem adaptation planning
    • Financing resilience
    • Coastal community capacity building to address climate change

    For more information and instructions for submitting a proposal, visit the Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Scholars page on the MyMU Portal (Monmouth sign-in credentials required).

    Endowed Scholarships

    The UCI has established four scholarship funds to support undergraduate students pursuing degrees including, but not limited to, marine and environmental biology and policy (MEBP) and political science, as well as global sustainability minors, with a demonstrated interested in coastal, marine and environmental studies. They are: the Ann and Alfred L. Ferguson ’13HN UCI Endowed Scholarship; the MacDonald Family UCI Endowed Scholarship; the Rita Mangan UCI Endowed Scholarship; and the Urban Coast Institute Endowed Scholarship.

    These scholarships are intended to encourage Monmouth students to become active, global citizens while fostering an understanding of the coastal and marine environment and communities, legal studies, public policy, and research methods. Recipients must be full-time students with demonstrated financial need. Scholarships will be for a minimum of $1,000 with the opportunity for renewal.

    Click here (University sign-in credentials required) for more details on criteria and instructions for applying.

    Faculty Enrichment Grants

    UCI Faculty Enrichment Grants support full-time faculty of any rank for individual or collaborative projects for the enhancement of existing curriculum, new curriculum development, research and scholarship, and team-teaching opportunities. Although all proposals relevant to the goals and objectives of the UCI will be accepted, the UCI is particularly interested in funding collaborative, multidisciplinary projects that address aspects of the climate crisis and advance diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.

    Mini-grants are also available on a rolling basis for conference fees, symposia, guest speaker honoraria, equipment and supplies to supplement or develop course curricula or course-related activities, and other needs to be determined on a case-by-case-basis.

    Click here (University sign-in credentials required) for more information and instructions for submitting proposals.


    Those seeking more information about any of the funding opportunities above may contact UCI Associate Director Tom Herrington at (732) 261-5588 or Students or faculty with questions are also welcome to drop in at any time to an open UCI Summer Research Grant Information Session hosted by Herrington on March 4 from 3-4 p.m. The virtual meeting credentials are below.

    Zoom link:

    Call-in option: (301) 715-8592

    Meeting ID: 944 0725 4733

    Passcode: 312007