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  • National Academies Seeks Input on Inclusive and Equitable Ocean Workshop

    Text over an ocean surface reading, "An Inclusive and Equitable Ocean: A Workshop"

    The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will host two workshops in early 2024 entitled, “An Inclusive and Equitable Ocean: A Workshop (IEO).” The purpose of the workshops will be to hear a broad range of perspectives about best practices for engaging in an inclusive, equitable, and sustainable way for ocean science.

    The IEO Planning Committee seeks your input through a virtual town hall survey that will help guide its work. Responses will be accepted through Dec. 30.

    UCI Director Tony MacDonald is a member of the planning committee. Click here for more information about the workshops.

  • UCI Director to Moderate COP28 Virtual Ocean Pavilion Closing Panel Dec. 12

    Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute (UCI) Director Tony MacDonald will moderate a COP28 Virtual Ocean Pavilion closing event on Dec. 12 discussing collaborative and cooperative approaches that are being used to progress the ocean in the climate, biodiversity, and sustainable development agendas. The virtual panel will feature 14 speakers from around the world will be held from 8-9:30 a.m. ET.

    Globe with text reading "Virtual Ocean Pavilion."

    The event caps a series of live events organized by the Global Ocean Forum and Plymouth Marine Laboratory which focus on the theme “Integrating Ocean and Climate Action.” It underscores the opportunity provided by the adoption of the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) treaty (also known as the United Nations High Seas Treaty) in June and its signing by over 80 countries in September to explore the mitigation and adaptation potential of the vast high seas, along with its ecosystems and resources. This potential will need to be explored within the context of a wide array of international bodies with their respective governance arrangements that need to be harmonized.

    The event will include high-level interventions, personal experiences and messages across the age spectrum and give examples of collaborative undertakings at various levels that may be applicable to areas beyond national jurisdiction as well as discussing next steps as countries begin to ratify and implement the BBNJ agreement. The session will conclude in a review of the role and accomplishment of the Virtual Ocean Pavilion in engaging and reaching out to those not able to attend the United Nations COP28 climate summit in Dubai in person, democratizing the ocean at COP28, and promoting unity and inclusivity.

    The closing panel and other virtual events being facilitated through the COP28 Virtual Ocean Pavilion are free but require registration. For speaker listings and further details on this event, visit the Virtual Ocean Pavilion Agenda page and click the Dec. 12 tab.

    MacDonald is in Dubai this month participating in COP28, where the UCI is designated as an official observer. Keep an eye on the UCI blog for dispatches from MacDonald detailing the proceedings.

  • UCI to Assist with Four NFWF Coastal Resilience Projects in New Jersey

    The Urban Coast Institute will collaborate with several government, academic and nonprofit entities on four New Jersey projects funded through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) National Coastal Resilience Fund.

    Established in 2018, the National Coastal Resilience Fund (NCRF) invests in conservation projects that restore or expand natural features such as coastal marshes and wetlands, dune and beach systems, oyster and coral reefs, coastal forests and rivers, floodplains, and barrier islands that minimize the impacts of storms, sea level rise and other coastal hazards on nearby communities. The NCRF is primarily funded by, and coordinated with, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In 2023, additional funding was contributed by the U.S. Department of
    Defense, Shell USA, TransRe, Oxy and Salesforce. Click here to view summaries of all 109 projects selected for grants nationwide in the fall 2023 round.

    The UCI assisted the successful grantees with their applications for the four projects outlined below. UCI Associate Director Tom Herrington, Coastal Resilience and Restoration Practitioner Meredith Comi, and Monmouth University students will contribute to the efforts.

    Building Community Capacity for Restoration in the Arthur Kill-Upper Bay Watershed

    Grantee: Weequahic Park Association ($685,300)

    Project Objective: Implement forest and wetland restoration, along with stormwater mitigation, in Newark’s South Ward and the wider watershed. Project will build capacity for the Greater Neighborhood Alliance New Jersey, enhancing local resilience knowledge and efforts to conserve vital habitats for the community’s benefit. The UCI will serve as an advisor on the project.

    Developing Final Designs for Bay Islands Restoration in Long Beach Township

    Grantee: Long Beach Township ($772,300)

    Project Objective: Design a final stage nature-based restoration plan for two bay islands off Long Beach Township, New Jersey, enhancing community resilience and habitat. The project will facilitate permit applications, readiness for implementation and long-term monitoring to elevate habitat and reduce flood risk for the adjacent community. The UCI will serve as a partner on the project.

    Evaluating and Creating a Pipeline of Salt Marsh Restoration Projects

    Grantee: The Nature Conservancy ($982,700)

    An egret wading in a salt marsh.

    Project Objective: Create a pipeline process to accelerate marsh restoration in New Jersey. Project will evaluate 10 degraded salt marshes, develop preliminary designs for five restoration projects, and establish a continuous pipeline process for collaborative marsh restoration, ultimately enhancing up to 250 acres of critical salt marsh habitat. The UCI will serve as a partner on the project.

    Assessing Resiliency Enhancement for City of Ventnor

    Grantee: City of Ventnor ($200,000)

    Project Objective: Conduct site assessment and preliminary design for a living shoreline to protect the Ventnor West ecosystem from continued erosion and environmental degradation. Project will protect critical infrastructure and habitat as well as contribute to the Ventnor Master Plan to transform Ventnor West into an eco-park to build resiliency. Herrington will conduct community outreach and engagement on the project in his capacity as the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium’s coastal community resilience specialist.

  • The Tale of the Trash: Love Blue Monmouth Removes Nearly 1,000 Lbs. from Local Beaches

    Students posing with a Love Blue banner on the beach.
    Alpha Xi Delta sorority and Love Blue Monmouth volunteers at the completion of a beach cleanup on Oct. 8, 2023

    Katie Marshall would love to tell you the coast is clear, but her experience proves otherwise.

    As president of the Love Blue Monmouth University Chapter, Marshall helped organize five cleanups at beaches near campus this semester that removed a whopping 376 pounds of trash. The items ranged from the standard to the stunning.

    Current Love Blue Monmouth President Katie Marshall at an April 2022 beach cleanup in Long Branch.

    “We had one cleanup where there was an entire dinner set left on the beach. It makes you wonder how people can be so inconsiderate,” Marshall said. “When we come to the Jersey Shore, we don’t want to have to move plastic plates before we can lay down our towels.”

    Love Blue is entering its sixth semester on campus with plenty of momentum and an impressive track record. It started out modestly with one cleanup each in the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters, at which 70 volunteers cleared 82 pounds of trash. In the fall of 2022, the group found its stride, with 166 volunteers removing 317 pounds of trash at five events. Three more cleanups were held in the spring 2023 semester, with 89 volunteers ridding the beaches of 146 pounds of debris. In total, 462 participants cleaned 921 pounds of trash at 15 events. The most common items collected have been plastic bottle caps and straws.

    Marshall, a junior marine and environmental biology and policy student, first got involved with Love Blue Monmouth after meeting its founding president, Mia Najd, at the university’s Involvement Fair. She attributes much of the club’s success to the buy-in by other campus clubs and Greek organizations, who are showing up at cleanups in strong numbers and sometimes contacting Love Blue Monmouth to co-organize events. The club has also garnered support from the local business community, with merchants including the Herd Juicery, Jack’s Goal Line Stand and Tak Waterman contributing refreshments and prizes at events.

    A bucket of trash
    Plastic collected during the beach cleanup on Oct. 21, 2023, at Phillips Avenue Beach in Deal.

    Beyond removing trash, Marshall believes the experience of participating in cleanups is making students more conscious of ocean and beach pollution and how their choices could contribute to it. It may even be inspiring future generations.

    In October, Love Blue Monmouth scoured the south side of Phillips Avenue beach in Deal, then returned a few days later to clean the north side. The group saw what appeared to be a large group of daycare children playing in the area they had cleaned up.

    “I looked at my executive board and said, how amazing is it that the kids can be worry-free about stepping on all of the plastic we saw firsthand and cleaned up just the week before?” Marshall said. “And now they’re seeing these college students out there cleaning the rest of the beach. You hope that the kids pick up on that and maybe they ask who we are and why we’re carrying all of the giant blue buckets. It’s definitely reassuring to see the little generation seeing what we do, and us being able to see them enjoy the beach for what it should be – clean and fun to play on.”

    Looking ahead, Marshall hopes to expand the club’s footprint to organize cleanups at beaches that need help a bit further from campus, such as Sandy Hook. She would also like to build new partnerships with local church groups and schools, some of which could take advantage of the opportunities to gain community service hours.

    Students holding a gift card
    Marshall (right) and Love Blue Monmouth Vice President Kendal O’Neill hold a Herd Juicery gift card before awarding it to a volunteer.

    Love Blue Monmouth is finished with its cleanups for 2023, but is actively lining up events for the spring. To get in touch or for more information, visit Love Blue Monmouth on Instagram at @lovebluemonmouth.

    Love Blue Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the ocean through community outreach and beach cleanups. It has chapters at five additional universities on the Atlantic Coast. In addition to Marshall, members of the Monmouth chapter’s executive board include Ella Crossman (fundraising chair), Gabriela Mantos (secretary), Kendal O’Neill (vice president), and Kylie Schadt (social media chair).

  • Now Hiring: Vessel Captain and Operations Manager

    Monmouth University is seeking candidates for a full-time vessel manager/captain position within the School of Science. The position will support efforts of the Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy program, the Urban Coast Institute, and other University constituencies and partners.

    The hire will be responsible for operating and maintaining the University’s fleet of vessels, which range from 14-50 feet in length. The largest vessel is docked in Atlantic Highlands while the smaller boats are trailered out of campus. The hire will provide support for student training and academic research, as well as contract research efforts in fisheries, sediment sampling, water quality, moorings and hydrographic survey efforts. A description of the vessel fleet and associated equipment can be found found here.

    The position will require a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton license, abilities for precise vessel maneuvering, occasional nighttime work, and deployment of a variety of oceanographic equipment and fishing gears. Other duties include vessel maintenance and accommodating research equipment loading, hookup, and deployment. Cruises typically range from one to four hours in length for student training with 8-12 hour days for research and contract work. The position reports to the dean of the School of Science. The ideal candidate will work well in a dynamic environment with scientists, as well as college students from many different disciplines, including marine biology, fisheries ecology, and oceanography.

    Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, but priority will be given to applications received by Dec. 20. Click here for more information about the position or to apply.

  • Video: Learn to Map the Mid-Atlantic Ocean and Coast

    Urban Coast Institute Communications Director Karl Vilacoba provided an online tour of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal in a Nov. 14 edition of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean’s “How Tuesday” webinar series. The session is ideal both for newcomers and returning users seeking a refresher on the Portal’s maps, tools and features.

    MARCO Portal "How Tuesday" webinar series logo over an image of shells on the beach.

    The Portal is a free and publicly accessible GIS mapping and information tool focused on ocean areas from New York through Virginia. It features over 6,000 interactive maps showing marine life distributions, offshore wind proposals, fishing grounds, wreck and reef locations, vessel traffic patterns, recreation hot spots and much more. Vilacoba serves as the project manager for the technical team developing the site.

    For more information about the Portal, or if you’re interested in scheduling a training for your agency or class, contact Vilacoba at

  • Now Hiring: Marine Fisheries Monitoring/Acoustic Telemetry Positions

    Monmouth University is hiring two grant-funded (2023-25) positions for fisheries monitoring related to offshore wind development off the New Jersey coast. These positions will work as part of a growing team within the research labs of Professors Keith Dunton and Jason Adolf at Monmouth University (and collaborators at St. Anselm College, Stony Brook University, and New England Aquarium), working on acoustic telemetry monitoring and eDNA of various offshore wind development areas.

    Interviews will begin immediately with a proposed start date ASAP. Scroll below for overviews of four open research positions at Monmouth University and click the links to learn more or apply for these jobs.

    Marine Fisheries Acoustic Telemetry Senior Scientist – Full time 2-year grant funded.  Begins ASAP. Up to $70,000 per year depending on experience. PhD. preferred or an MS with relevant work experience.

    The incumbent will coordinate and lead field research related to assessing marine fish communities using acoustic telemetry as a monitoring tool in offshore wind areas. The incumbent will primarily be responsible for deploying and maintaining a large offshore (up to 50 miles offshore) Innovasea acoustic telemetry array and surgically tagging multi-species, including elasmobranchs and finfish. Ability to operate small boats, independently lead fisheries sampling seasonally in offshore conditions, and work with partner commercial/recreational fishing industries, as well as other academic institutions is a must. The incumbent will also be expected to lead report and manuscript writing, data analysis, presentations at national meetings, and contribute to outreach and education.

    Marine Fisheries Acoustic Telemetry Field Specialist – Full time 2-year grant funded.  Begins ASAP.  Up to $58,000 per year depending on experience.  MS preferred but extensive experience with acoustic telemetry can be substituted.

    The incumbent will assist and, in some cases, lead field research related to assessing marine fish communities using acoustic telemetry as a monitoring tool in offshore wind areas. The Specialist will primarily be responsible for assisting in the deploying and maintaining a large offshore (up to 50 miles offshore) Innovasea acoustic telemetry array and surgically tagging multi-species, including elasmobranchs and finfish. The incumbent is expected to operate small boats, independently lead fisheries sampling seasonally in offshore conditions and work with partner commercial/recreational fishing industries, as well as other academic institutions is a must. The incumbent will be expected to assist in preparing reports and manuscripts, presentations at national meetings, and contribute to outreach and education.

  • UCI Awards 2023 Endowed Scholarships to Seven Students

    UCI marine life icon

    The Urban Coast Institute (UCI) has awarded endowed scholarships to seven outstanding Monmouth University students for the 2023-24 school year. Three students received support for the first time beginning this semester: Christopher Meehan (Rita Mangan UCI Endowed Scholarship), Adriana Simancas and Brooke van de Sande (both Ann and Alfred L. Ferguson ’13HN UCI Endowed Scholarships). In addition, the UCI renewed an Ann and Alfred Ferguson ’13HN Scholarship for 2021 recipient Riya Ajmera, who is pursuing a double major in chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry and communications with a concentration in journalism and public relations; MacDonald Family UCI Endowed Scholarships for Jasmine Barzin and Nicole Cappolina, both marine and environmental biology and policy (MEBP) students; and an Urban Coast Institute Endowed Scholarship for MEBP student Jessica Maguire

    The UCI established endowed scholarships at Monmouth to support undergraduate students with a demonstrated interest in coastal, marine, and environmental studies. The 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.

    The Ann and Alfred L. Ferguson ’13HN UCI Endowed Scholarship and MacDonald Family UCI Endowed Scholarship have been available since the 2020 and the Urban Coast Institute Endowed Scholarship was established by the UCI Advisory Committee in 2021. The Rita Mangan UCI Endowed Scholarship was made available for the first time this year.

    Meet this year’s new endowed scholarship recipients below. See the UCI’s 2021 and 2022 annual reports for profiles of previous recipients.   

    2023 New Recipients

    Christopher Meehan

    Class and Major: Senior, Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy

    In His Own Words: “In my life, I aim to inform the general public to not only care for the environment but to understand how to be a better ally to the environment. I hope to contribute to research that will help inform policymakers to implement sustainable and proactive laws that will help maintain the appeal of New Jersey’s coast while keeping its inhabitants safe.”

    Adriana Simancas

    Class and Major: Senior, Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy

    In Her Own Words: “Growing up in New Jersey not too far from the coast, I have always had an interest in marine, coastal and environmental studies. The MEBP program at Monmouth has made me curious to know more about how to conserve and manage not only coastal communities, but other threatened and endangered species. I have always been passionate about helping animals, but now I am more interested in helping animals through conserving and observing their ecosystems and their interactions with the environment.”

    Brooke van de Sande

    Class and Major: Junior, Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy

    In Her Own Words: “My life has been spent living right down the block from the beach. As a child, I had a strong love for the ocean and knew I wanted to study it when I grew up. Now, as a young adult, that love for the ocean turned into a powerful passion to conserve and protect all marine ecosystems and their inhabitants. I specifically have always been interested in the research and protection of endangered or threatened marine mammals, like humpback whales. These amazing creatures help maintain the ecological integrity of marine ecosystems. I want to dedicate my life’s work towards advocating for and protecting these species.”

  • Watch: Climate Washing, Corporate Accountability & Human Rights

    Former Monmouth University Professor Randall Abate returned to campus Oct. 11 to deliver a presentation titled “Climate Washing, Corporate Accountability & Human Rights.” The event was sponsored by the Department of Political Science and Sociology and the Urban Coast Institute.

    Randall Abate

    Abate, now the assistant dean for environmental law studies at the George Washington University Law School, discussed “climate washing” litigation that seeks to hold fossil fuel companies and other private sector entities accountable for misleading the public about their compliance with climate change mandates or goals. Climate washing tactics can threaten human rights to health, property, food and water, and life, especially in vulnerable communities, by postponing effective climate regulation and thereby amplifying the risks from climate change-related events such as severe storms, flooding, heat and droughts. The presentation proposed mechanisms to help ensure that companies’ characterizations of climate change compliance are transparent and truthful to limit human rights impacts from their efforts to comply with climate change mandates and goals.

  • Student Q&A: Marie Mauro Shares Experience with NOAA Inclusive Fisheries Summer Internship

    Mauro and fellow IN FISH students look inside a container for plankton aboard vessel deck.
    Mauro (center) and IN FISH students examine the results of a plankton trawl aboard Monmouth’s R/V Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe in June.

    Marie Mauro, a senior marine and environmental biology and policy student at Monmouth University, was among 18 U.S. students accepted to participate this summer in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Inclusive Fisheries Internship (IN FISH) program. IN FISH is a partnership between NOAA Fisheries and research partners in academia and non-governmental research institutions which aims to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

    For the second consecutive year, IN FISH included a two-week course held at Monmouth. Students from Puerto Rico to California stayed in campus housing and made field visits to marine research facilities and ocean-related businesses in the region before fanning out across the country to complete eight-week internships at labs and offices administered by NOAA and its partners.

    Mauro spent her summer studying climate change threats to the endangered Atlantic salmon at the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center at its Orono, Maine, Field Station and Maine Sea Grant. We caught up with Mauro to ask about her work and experience in the program.

    Q: We’d love to hear about your summer. Can you tell us about your research and what it was like working at the Orono Field Station and Maine Sea Grant?

    Mauro standing aboard a vessel with a rocky shoreline in the background.
    Mauro during a hydroacoustic survey trip along Maine’s Penobscot River.

    For my research project, I was analyzing water temperature data in the East Branch of the Penobscot River in Maine from a 20-year period to compare when thermal events occurred for Atlantic salmon. I analyzed water temperature data provided to me from the Maine Department of Natural Resources and did quality control and quality assurance. I imported the data to RStudio, where we identified various inconsistencies in the dataset and selected the years with data consistency to utilize. We used thermal thresholds from scientific literature to determine the duration and frequency of thermal events occurring at three sites in the East Branch. This research project greatly improved my R skills. I also learned how to work with inconsistent datasets.

    I had the opportunity to participate in bi-monthly hydroacoustic surveys in the Penobscot Estuary. I extracted otoliths from riving herring. My job was to identify and count predators. I also got to see various Atlantic salmon sites, including the Milford Dam, where there is a fish pass and two Atlantic salmon hatcheries. Overall, my experience was very fulfilling, and I am grateful to have worked with fantastic mentors, John Kocik and Justin Stevens.

    Q: IN FISH just completed its third year, including an initial year as a virtual program during the pandemic. What do you think makes this program so valuable?

    The value of the IN FISH program can be attributed to several key factors. IN FISH gives undergraduate students the unique opportunity to undertake independent research with the guidance of mentors. This hands-on experience allows undergraduate students to develop value research skills and gain insights on the important work of NOAA Fisheries. This program facilitates networking opportunities for interns. Interns meet and interact with like-minded students that share similar academic interests. The cohort aspect of this program makes it so special in that regard.

    Q: Your IN FISH cohort included students from 16 universities and 10 U.S. states and territories. What was their impression of Monmouth University and the Jersey Shore area?

    The IN FISH cohort thought that the Jersey Shore was beautiful but were surprised that beaches were not free. They really enjoyed visiting Sandy Hook on our field trips and visiting Pier Village on our down time. They thought that campus was beautiful, especially the Great Hall. They thought that the campus was very walkable and there were lots of areas to study. Everyone got along well, and we all bonded during our time here. 

    Mauro stands aboard vessel with water passing through a dam in the background.
    Mauro takes a site visit to the Milford Dam.

    Q: What would you say to a student considering applying for an IN FISH internship?

    IN FISH provides an opportunity to gain experience in fisheries science. If fisheries science interests you, then definitely apply to the program. You will have to be comfortable being away from home for 10 weeks in the summer and traveling to a new place somewhere in the country. This program could provide you with insight into what you could do in your future career. It is a rewarding experience and I highly recommend this program to anyone who has an interest in fisheries.