Close Close

UCI Awards Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Scholars Grants for Five Summer Research Projects

The Urban Coast Institute’s (UCI) Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Scholars program will provide funding for eight students and their faculty mentors to conduct five summer research projects on topics ranging from the development of an app that can simulate the risk of hurricane property damage in communities to threats faced by turtle populations in densely populated suburbs.

The Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Scholars Program supports students and faculty of all disciplines in pursuing their passions for marine and coastal issues through experiential research. The program provides grant opportunities for student researchers and faculty mentors to conduct projects of their own design that advance the UCI’s mission and Monmouth’s Strategic Plan. Each year, the program funds dozens of hands-on research positions that provide real-world experience to students while helping make a positive impact in coastal communities.

The program also provides support for projects administered through the Monmouth University School of Science Summer Research Program (SRP) that advance the goals and objectives of the UCI. Two SRP projects being conducted by five student researchers will receive UCI grants this summer.

Summaries of this year’s projects are below.

Evaluating the Predation Risk of an Eastern Box Turtle Population Inhabiting a Suburban Island

Student Researcher and Major: Madison Patterson, biology

Faculty Mentor: Sean Sterrett, Ph.D., assistant professor of wildlife ecology, Department of Biology/Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy Program

Building on previous research by the Sterrett Lab, the team will study the risk posed by predatory birds and mammals to Eastern box turtles using baited camera traps and artificial turtle nests deployed in Monmouth County’s Weltz Conservation Area, an open space area surrounded by commercial and residential development in Ocean Township.

Flood Designation Relative to Residential Real Estate Pricing

Neighborhood flooding

Student Researcher and Major: Julianna Rubinetti, information systems (masters student)

Faculty Mentors: Geoffrey Fouad, Ph.D., associate professor of geography, Department of History and Anthropology; and Tjeerd Boonman, Ph.D., specialist professor, Department of Economics, Finance, and Real Estate

The researchers will investigate the effect of three prominent risk designations (Federal Emergency Management Agency flood zones, First Street Foundation modeling, and National Flood Insurance Program claims) on property pricing in coastal and inland waterfront communities in Monmouth County.

Programming Application Development for Hurricane Risk-Based Assessments of Coastal Residential Communities

Student Researcher and Major: Johnathan Williams, computer science and software engineering

Faculty Mentor: Tom Herrington, Ph.D., UCI associate director

The student will develop a program for evaluating the risk of hurricane-related structural damage to residential building structures within a particular community and assessing the impacts in terms of financial loss estimates. The application will also allow users to enter data to explore how mitigation measures can reduce these risks and ultimately improve the community’s resilience.  

School of Science Summer Research Projects

Field Site Assessments and Sediment Transport Analysis for Tidal Marsh Island Restoration

R/V Seahawk passing a Barnegat Bay marsh island

Student Researcher and Major: Tyler Barkey, Alexis Baumgartner and Nicole Cappolina, marine and environmental biology and policy

Faculty Mentor: Tom Herrington, Ph.D., UCI associate director

The researchers will collect data on waves, tides and currents adjacent to a tidal salt marsh in Barnegat Bay to determine how natural sediments move within the system and how effective depositing sediments on marsh islands can be for protecting nearby communities from sea level rise.   

Suburban Turtle Ecology and Conservation

Student Researcher and Major: Adriana Simancas and Richard Robinson, marine and environmental biology and policy

Faculty Mentor: Sean Sterrett, Ph.D., assistant professor of wildlife ecology, Department of Biology/Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy Program

The researchers will investigate the spatial ecology and density estimation of a suburban box turtle population using radiotelemetry and spatial capture-recapture techniques with the aid of a working scent dog. 

Additional Funding Opportunities

Monmouth University students and faculty are invited to apply now for additional summer and fall Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Scholars funding opportunities. Grants available include:

  • Faculty Enrichment Grants for the enhancement of existing curriculum, new curriculum development, research and scholarship, and team-teaching opportunities. Proposals for summer grants will be accepted through May 22 and proposals for fall grants will be accepted through Aug. 18.  
  • Mini-Grants are also available to faculty and students for conference fees, symposia, guest speaker honoraria, equipment and supplies, and other needs to be determined on a case-by-case-basis. Applications can be submitted at any time and are reviewed on a rolling basis.

Those interested may apply via the UCI Funding Opportunities page on the MyMU Portal (Monmouth University sign-in credentials required). For more information, contact UCI Associate Director Thomas Herrington at

These opportunities have been made possible through the generous support of many corporate and private donors. If you would like to make a tax-deductible gift to the UCI, please use our Give a Gift Now form.