Final Report Released from Monmouth-Rockefeller eDNA Conference
January 16, 2019
Advanced technologies capable of analyzing DNA in seawater will help answer some of humanity’s oldest, most profound questions and concerns, including “who lives in the sea?” – beginning with species of interest in specific areas, including clownfish (Nemo) and blue tang fish (Dory). To accelerate the pace towards the potentially far-reaching benefits of these technologies — both environmental and economic — organizers of the National Conference on Marine Environmental DNA (eDNA), co-organized by Rockefeller and Monmouth Universities in New York, prescribed priority steps for government, researchers, industry and investors. Click here to download the final report from the event or view a news release summarizing its findings.
January 14, 2019
Save the Date
March 20, 2019
Monmouth University | West Long Branch, NJ
The Mid-Atlantic Committee on the Ocean (MACO) will convene a Mid-Atlantic Ocean Forum on March 20 to discuss issues including the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal, offshore wind energy, maritime commerce and navigation, non-consumptive ocean recreation, marine debris.
MACO was recently established by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean to foster collaboration among states, federal agencies, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and federally recognized tribes. The purpose of MACO is to enhance the vitality of the region’s ocean ecosystem and economy through increased communication and collaboration.
The forum is open to the public and welcomes your participation. An agenda for this full day meeting and additional event details will be provided soon on the MARCO website. Forum plans subject to change pending status of federal government shutdown.
For more information, contact Judy Tucker at email@example.com.
December 19, 2018
UCI Associate Director Tom Herrington shared his experience working with community members to find solutions for chronic nuisance flooding in Ocean City, New Jersey, at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Fall Meeting. Held Dec. 10-14 in Washington, DC, the event assembled thousands of researchers dedicated to physical sciences spanning from the bottom of the oceans to deep space.
Herrington’s Ocean City work is being carried out through the AGU’s Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX) program, which pairs scientists with local communities to solve problems on a pro bono basis. An Ocean City native, Herrington has volunteered his time to the effort in his capacity as both a UCI staff member and New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium coastal community resilience specialist.
The barrier island community has seen flooding increase in frequency and severity over the years, to a point where high tides can cause disruptions and damage without rain. Herrington worked with members of a grassroots community flooding group to examine the source and causes of the flooding and identify long-term solutions that would remain effective in the face of sea level rise and the more intense storms wrought by climate change.
Through the partnership, Herrington has trained local residents to conduct citizen science work that will help build a better understanding of the issues. The community activists have begun discussions with city and state officials about implementing some of their ideas.
“Our work together has empowered them to use science to answer their own questions,” Herrington said. “I also found that building a better comfort level with the science has helped them become much better communicators when they’ve needed to approach the mayors and town councils to discuss the issues.”
Herrington also facilitated a panel at the conference focused on community engagement around scientific issues. It featured seven speakers from around the country plus another eight affiliated poster sessions in the conference hall.
December 19, 2018
Why do dead fish float? Does the Navesink River have a pollution problem? And what’s that smell coming off the water with the breeze? Rumson seventh graders came up with a long list of questions during a recent field trip to the Navesink, but Dr. Jason Adolf’s Principles of Marine Biology (BY 341) students had the answers.
The Monmouth University juniors and seniors delivered lessons to six of science teacher Jenn Crow’s seventh grade classes at the Forrestdale School on Nov. 27. Adolf, an endowed associate professor of marine science, said part of his course assignment was for his students to answer as many of the questions as possible while giving presentations on topics they’re studying at Monmouth. They included discussions on the impacts of plastics in marine environments, bioluminescence, biofluorescence, marine food chains and more.
The Monmouth students came up with some hands-on exercises to make the lessons engaging for the young scientists. In a lesson on stratification in the ocean, students mimicked the layering that naturally occurs by filling jars with household liquids like vegetable oils, honey and water.
“A lot of our marine and environmental biology and policy majors go into teaching, so this was directly applicable to what they’re doing,” Adolf said. “I also want students to learn not only how to communicate science to a K-12 audience, but to understand that’s part of science, no matter what level you’re working at.”
The Monmouth University School of Science and Urban Coast Institute have partnered with Rumson on several educational initiatives, most notably a joint plan to develop the Monmouth Marine and Environmental Field Station on municipal property along the Navesink River. Monmouth faculty and students are also working with the borough to transform a pond on the Forrestdale property into an outdoor educational space.
UCI Hosts Climate Change Discussion with Pallone, Environmental Leaders
December 19, 2018
Congressman Frank Pallone met with the UCI and other New Jersey environmental leaders at Monmouth University Dec. 18 to discuss the urgent need to address climate change. Click here to view an NJTV News segment about the meeting.
Listen: Tony MacDonald Discusses Climate Change Polling on Public Radio
December 17, 2018
Listen to UCI Director Tony MacDonald discuss the politics of climate change and new Monmouth Poll data on the issue on the latest edition of the nationally syndicated public radio show “Living on Earth.”
December 7, 2018
Monmouth University staff and students gathered with 100 of the nation’s leading practitioners of environmental DNA (eDNA) science on Nov. 29 and 30 to share discoveries, state-of-the-art technologies and new methods for this groundbreaking marine life detection method.
The National Conference on Marine Environmental DNA was the third in a series of four conferences (The Marine Science & Policy Series) being organized jointly by the Urban Coast Institute (UCI) and The Rockefeller University Program for the Human Environment (PHE). The events are held annually on rotating campuses, with the 2016 National Ocean Exploration Forum at Rockefeller University in New York City, the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Blue Ocean Economy symposium at Monmouth University, and the latest event back in Manhattan. The conference was capped by a luncheon honoring National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt with the UCI’s Champion of the Ocean Award.
Sampling for eDNA is an approach that allows scientists to confirm the presence of fish and other organisms by testing for trace amounts of genetic material that they shed into the water. The technique holds the promise of being less expensive, more humane and more revealing than other longstanding scientific methods that rely on physically catching or observing animals. Monmouth has piloted research in local waters such as Wreck Pond, Sandy Hook Bay, Deal Lake and the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers.
The conference highlighted insights provided by eDNA to date and its potential to further scientific knowledge and inform ocean management. One of the innovations discussed was “Go Fish,” an eDNA testing tool developed by PHE Senior Research Associate Mark Stoeckle that can confirm the presence of a given species inexpensively and within a few days. He noted that rapid access to eDNA data could be used to aid authorities with time-sensitive decisions.
One such example was provided by McNutt, who described how eDNA is being used to monitor the threat of invasive Asian carp entering the Great Lakes. Researchers are employing eDNA tests as an early warning system to detect whether the fish have made it past barriers set up in the lakes’ tributaries to thwart their advance.
A goal of the conference was to initiate a commitment by leading scientists and stakeholders to take up eDNA as a cooperative national or regional research theme.
“eDNA opens the door to cheap, frequent, widespread, potentially automated monitoring of the diversity, distribution, and abundance of aquatic life,” said Monmouth University President Emeritus and UCI Ocean Policy Fellow Paul G. Gaffney II. “Government agencies need to take notice.”
UCI Director Tony MacDonald credited PHE Director Jesse Ausubel for his vision in recognizing eDNA’s potential to solve problems and raising its profile throughout the scientific community.
“There is nothing more important than a big idea, and I think this eDNA conference is another example of how a big idea can inspire everybody in the work you do,” MacDonald told the gathering. “Everything you do in science, no matter how detailed, is rooted in a big idea.”
Conference program (PDF)
Abate Completes UK Lecture Tour on Climate Change and Wildlife Topics
December 7, 2018
Professor Randall S. Abate (Department of Political Science and Sociology and Rechnitz Family/UCI Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy) traveled to the U.K. from Nov. 28-Dec. 6 to deliver invited presentations at three universities.
First, he discussed his forthcoming book, Climate Change and the Voiceless: Protecting Future Generations, Wildlife, and Natural Resources (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming August 2019), with professors and graduate students at the University of Cambridge on Nov. 29. The book talk was hosted as the final lecture of the semester in the Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance Thursday Seminar Series. The series featured distinguished speakers from the University of Cambridge and universities in the Netherlands, Spain, Chile, and India. Professor Abate was one of only two invited speakers from the US in this series.
Professor Abate then traveled to London to deliver a second talk on his Climate Change and the Voiceless book to professors, graduate students, and lawyers at King’s College on Nov. 30. The event was hosted by the King’s College Climate Law and Governance Reading Group.
He concluded his U.K. tour with a stop in Glasgow, Scotland, for two presentations at the University of Strathclyde. They included a third talk on Climate Change and the Voiceless Dec. 4 and a presentation titled, “Ocean Iron Fertilization and Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Food: Leveraging International and Domestic Law Protections to Enhance Access to Salmon in the Pacific Northwest,” to approximately 75 professors, graduate students, and lawyers at a conference on Dec. 5. The conference, “A Vision for Ocean Law Governance: 2020-2030 and Beyond,” featured experts on ocean governance topics from the U.K., Canada, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific. Professor Abate was the only invited speaker from the US.
December 4, 2018
Marcia McNutt recalled the state of oceanography at the start of her career in the 1970s, when the research methods employed were still largely the same as those of the HMS Challenger exhibition of 1872-76. Everything still hinged on the collection of physical evidence through means such as dredging and net tows. But when she joined the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute as its director in 1997, she sensed a transformation was under way, thanks in large part to the vision of founder David Packard.
“He said, ‘Send instruments into the ocean, not people. Bring back data, not samples.’ And it was a thrilling to think about how we could revolutionize oceanography by doing just that,” said McNutt, now the president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The UCI recognized McNutt with its highest honor, the National Champion of the Ocean Award, in a Nov. 30 ceremony at The Rockefeller University in New York City. The special award luncheon capped off a two-day National Conference on Marine Environmental DNA, organized jointly by Rockefeller and Monmouth universities.
The Champion of the Ocean Awards were established in 2005 to honor individuals who have helped ensure coasts and oceans are clean, safe, sustainably managed and preserved for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations. Past honorees include marine biologist Sylvia Earle, ocean explorer Robert Ballard, former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta, and oceanographer Jean-Michael Cousteau.
“If I had to make a list of my own ocean heroes, it would be exactly the people who you have honored, so I am thrilled to join them,” McNutt said.
McNutt said she is excited about the scientific advances that are being made thanks to the rapid evolution of technology. Today’s tools are making it possible to test waters for their health and chemistry far faster than ever before, and gather massive volumes of data that can help scientists understand aquatic environments as living systems. That is crucial, McNutt said, because it can help predict how they’ll evolve in the future.
“I worry today because we’re still getting too many surprises, and the surprises are unpleasant,” she said. “More are sure to come if we’re not more knowledgeable of how these systems behave when they’re stressed.”
For example, McNutt said research now shows that when plastics break down, they release aromatics that mimic the scents of prey for turtles and other marine animals, which are in turn attracted to the substances and eat them. She also mentioned ocean acidification and warming as areas with major implications that are not yet fully understood.
“I believe that basic science, basic understanding of this large, bio-geochemical reactor in the ocean is the only thing that’s going to give us this understanding,” she said. “I hope that it’s not going to be only through observation that we find out. We need to know better ahead of time so we can intervene earlier, so we can have healthy oceans and healthy waterways.”
- Marcia McNutt biography
- The Champion of the Ocean Award
- The National Conference on Marine Environmental DNA
Climate Concerns Increase; Most Republicans Now Acknowledge Change
November 29, 2018
An increasing number of Americans believe climate change is occurring, including a majority who now see this issue as a very serious problem, according to the latest Monmouth University Poll. Most Americans are optimistic that there is still time to prevent the worst effects of climate change and support taking action, but they are not confident in the government’s ability or willingness to do something about it. A clear majority of Republicans currently acknowledge that climate change is happening – which marks a shift in opinion from three years ago – but there continues be a wide partisan gap in how serious the problem is and what should be done about it. Click here to read the full press release.
A Perfect Day Aboard the R/V Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe
November 20, 2018
The latest installment of Monmouth University’s “Perfect Day” commercial series features its newest and largest research vessel, the 49-foot Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe. The spot shows students Charlie Vasas and Lauren Kelly working with UCI Marine Scientist Jim Nickels on the Sandy Hook Bay before heading back to the lab with Endowed Associate Professor of Marine Science Jason Adolf.
Watch: Herrington Guest on Tidal Flooding Talk
November 6, 2018
Tidal Flooding Talk 11-4-2018:It’s Sunday evening at 7pm and Palma Accardi and I are back at The Irish Pub in Atlantic City for another episode of Tidal Flooding Talk. Join us and our guest Dr. Thomas Herrington from Monmouth University as we talk storm preparation and awareness along the shore as nor’easter season begins. Stop on by the pub or join the conversation online.
Posted by Dan Skeldon on Sunday, November 4, 2018
UCI Associate Director Tom Herrington sat down with Dan Skeldon and Palma Accardi at The Irish Pub in Atlantic City for the Nov. 4 taping of the New Jersey Coastal Coalition’s weekly Facebook Live series “Tidal Flooding Talk.” In it he talks about storm preparation and awareness along the shore as nor’easter season begins.
November 2, 2018
The UCI invites all Monmouth University students and faculty to attend its upcoming Marine and Environmental Lunch Speaker Series talks. All events will be held in Edison Hall’s multipurpose room and free pizza and drinks will be served.
October 30, 2018
Look back at 40 years of protection, policy and progress accomplished through New Jersey’s Coastal Management Program in a newly released report by the Urban Coast Institute. Presented in the four decades from 1978 through 2018, the report reviews the milestones the CMP has reached, the events that have shaped its policies, and some of the trials and tribulations it has faced along the way.
The report recognizes the tireless efforts of many who made the protection and management of New Jersey’s coastal resources their mission since the CMP’s adoption. The UCI recently honored the New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance, represented by Honorary Co-Chairs and former Govs. Tom Kean and Jim Florio, along with four other individuals who made significant contributions to the CMP’s success at the 14th Annual Coastal and Ocean Champion Awards Reception.
Click the links below to download or read the publication online. Hard copies are available upon request at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abate Shares Legal Expertise throughout the Americas
October 30, 2018
From Canada to Colombia, Rechnitz Family UCI Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy Randall Abate was on the road to deliver several invited presentations in October.
On Oct. 1 at the Universidad del Rosario in Bogota, Colombia, Abate, who is also a professor in Monmouth University’s Department of Political Science and Sociology, delivered the lecture “Animal Law and Environmental Law: Parallels and Synergies” to professors and students. The following day, he delivered a keynote presentation titled “Climate Justice Litigation in the United States: Lawsuits against Public and Private Entities for Climate Change Impacts,” to more than 100 professors, lawyers, public officials, and students at the “Climate Justice: Impacts, Litigation, and Social Movements” conference.
Next, Professor Abate traveled to the University of Windsor Law School in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, to deliver the presentation, “Atmospheric Trust Litigation: Foundation for a Constitutional Right to a Stable Climate System?” to law professors and students. The Oct. 22 talk was part of a roundtable discussion, “Legal Avenues for Climate Justice: Obstacles and Opportunities,” along with three other leading Canadian climate justice scholars.
Professor Abate then crossed the border for his second engagement of the day at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. There he discussed his work-in-progress book, Climate Change and the Voiceless: Protecting Future Generations, Wildlife, and Natural Resources (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming August 2019), with approximately 75 law professors and students.
October 22, 2018
Monmouth University students and faculty of all disciplines are invited to apply now for spring, summer and fall UCI Scholars funding and other grant opportunities.
Competitive grants available include:
- Faculty Enrichment Grants for the enhancement of existing curriculum, new curriculum development, research and scholarship, and team-teaching opportunities. Deadlines are April 30 for the summer semester and June 30 for the fall semester.
- Student Summer Research Grants for research projects either proposed by students with the support of a faculty mentor or proposed by a faculty member to enable students to conduct research with them. Proposals are due March 15.
- 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. Awards range from $250 to $500 depending on the availability of funds.
Applications should demonstrate that the work would advance core elements of Monmouth’s Strategic Plan and support the UCI’s mission.
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 Dr. Thomas Herrington at (732) 261-5588 or email@example.com.
University Vessels, Shark Research Featured in Monmouth
October 22, 2018
Pick up a copy of the fall edition of Monmouth magazine to read a pair of articles about UCI initiatives. “Meet the Fleet: A look at how Monmouth’s marine research vessels stack up” contains an infographic and story comparing the University’s 49-foot Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe, 29-foot Seahawk and 18-foot Little Hawk. The article “Tag Team” covers UCI-funded research by School of Science students and faculty on shark populations along the Jersey Shore.
October 18, 2018
With a crash of the ceremonial champagne bottle, Monmouth University’s newest and largest research vessel was christened as the R/V Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe.
The 49-foot vessel (formerly the R/V Nauvoo) was named in memory of Heidi Lynn, a lifelong Shore area resident who loved to surf and spend time at the beach with her family and friends. Ms. Sculthorpe’s father, Robert B. Sculthorpe, is a graduate of Monmouth and former chair of the University Board of Trustees.
“For the next few decades, people in New York Harbor, Sandy Hook Bay, and along the beaches of the Jersey Shore, will see her name pass by them on the water every day,” Monmouth University President Grey Dimenna said during a naming ceremony held at Bahr’s Landing in Highlands on Oct. 8. “It’s going to make them think about her, ask who she is, and build a strong association between Heidi Lynn, Monmouth University, and the ocean. That is a really special thing for us.”
“I have been proud to watch Monmouth’s marine programs grow into some of the finest in the country,” Mr. Sculthorpe said. “This vessel is an asset few universities can match, and will help Monmouth attract new students and expand its partnerships with other research institutions. I look forward to all of the new discoveries our students and faculty will make aboard the Heidi Lynn.”
The vessel was donated to Monmouth by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and launched this summer. Gifts from George Kolber, of Middletown, and the Fairleigh Dickinson Jr. Foundation made it possible for the University to restore the vessel and outfit it with enhanced technologies that will improve opportunities for students. The most recent donation from Mr. Sculthorpe, of New York City, will ensure the maintenance and operation of the vessel to support faculty and student research for years to come.
The acquisition of the Heidi Lynn will enable the University to conduct research, educational and contract work at a larger scale than ever before. It will also substantially enhance in-house research and monitoring capabilities to meet increasing faculty and student demand within the School of Science’s Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy program.
The vessel can take full classes and large groups on the water and work on the open ocean up to 20 nautical miles offshore. Overnight research trips on the water are now possible, as the vessel has a head and the capacity to berth seven.
Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute (UCI) Director Tony MacDonald noted that the name Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe “has long been in our DNA.” Since 2008, the UCI has awarded Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Summer Research Program grants to students for research activities that support the Institute’s mission. Recent projects include studies of Jersey Shore shark populations, the endangered Atlantic sturgeon’s feeding habits, and the resurgence of oysters in New York City area waters.
The University also owns two smaller research vessels, the 18-foot Little Hawk and 27-foot Seahawk.
Click here to view our album of photos from the christening ceremony.
October 15, 2018
Former Gov. Thomas Kean turned to the man to his left – literally and politically – and observed that he looked familiar.
“We ran against each other,” Kean said to his eventual successor, James Florio, as the crowd laughed.
Turning more serious, Kean observed, “[It was] what some people think was the last issues-based campaign in the state. And we argued about everything – urban policy, tax policy, you name it. I don’t think we ever disagreed once on the environment. Whichever one of us got elected, New Jersey was going to have an environmental governor for the next four or eight years.”
Between the two of them (Kean serving from 1982-90 and Florio 1990-94), New Jersey was actually the beneficiary of 12 years of strong environmental policy from the Governor’s Office, including through the early implementation of the state’s Coastal Management Program (CMP). The UCI’s 14th Annual Coastal and Ocean Champion Awards Reception, held Oct. 9 at Wilson Hall, celebrated the 40th anniversary of the CMP and honored Kean, Florio and four other individuals who made significant contributions to its success.
Launched in 1978 under Gov. Brendan Byrne, the CMP addresses pressing issues along the state’s 126 miles of Atlantic coast and 1,792 miles of tidal waterfronts, including sustainable and resilient coastal community planning, climate change, ocean planning and planning for energy facilities and development. In conjunction with the event, the UCI published a 40-year retrospective of the program’s major milestones.
Kean and Florio received the UCI’s highest honor, the National Champion of the Ocean Award, for their service as honorary co-chairs of the New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance and their full bodies of work in protecting the environment.
“Just a few of their accomplishments include leading efforts to regulate marine debris, improved beach water quality, phasing out ocean dumping, opposing oil and gas development [off the Jersey Shore] and so much more,” UCI Director Tony MacDonald said. “And I really think that their commitment to the Climate Adaptation Alliance shows that they’re not just solving yesterday’s problems, but they’re looking at tomorrow’s challenges and trying to come up with proactive solutions.”
Proceeds from the event support student research activities at Monmouth University. The reception is also a unique opportunity for students to spend time with some of the region’s and nation’s most prominent leaders and scientists on ocean and coastal issues.
“The hope is that the young students here appreciate that there is no Republican or Democratic thought about clean water or clean air,” Florio said. “We have problems in New Jersey and they’re not incapable of being solved.”
The UCI also presented Coastal and Ocean Leadership Awards to David Kinsey and John Weingart, who were instrumental in the design, 1978 approval and early implementation of the CMP; former New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Mark Mauriello, who spent his career at the agency as an advocate for coastal conservation and management of coastal hazards; and Rutgers University Professor Emeritus Norbert Psuty, a coastal geomorphologist whose long and distinguished career helped build a greater understanding of the history and evolution of the Jersey coast, and the impact of development on its natural processes.
The Champion of the Ocean Awards were established in 2005 to honor individuals who have helped ensure coasts and oceans are clean, safe, sustainably managed and preserved for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations. Past honorees include former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta, ocean explorer Robert Ballard, marine biologist Sylvia Earle, oceanographer Jean-Michael Cousteau, and former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.
October 11, 2018
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) launched work on a comprehensive plan to make coastal areas more resilient to the impacts of severe storms and sea level rise at Monmouth University on Oct. 9. The two-day New Jersey Coastal Resilience Summit, hosted by the Urban Coast Institute, gathered roughly 200 of the state’s leading experts on climate and resilience topics to discuss threats facing coastal resources, communities and economies and determine what actions need to be taken.
Staff from the UCI, Monmouth University School of Science and Kislak Real Estate Institute participated in panel discussions, and several students joined the plenary sessions. Click here to read the NJDEP’s press release and here to view an album of photos from the event.