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UCI Announces Spring Grant Recipients, Opportunities for Summer and Fall

February 7, 2019

shark taggingThe UCI has awarded grants for five faculty and student research efforts at Monmouth University in the spring semester and is now accepting applications for summer and fall opportunities.

Funding is provided through UCI Scholars Program, which offers competitive grant opportunities to students and faculty of all disciplines whose work would advance core elements of Monmouth’s Strategic Plan and support the UCI’s mission. In total, three Faculty Enrichment Grants and two Mini-Grants were approved for spring applicants representing six departments within the University.

Spring Faculty Enrichment Grants

Coastal Cultures for the Elementary Learner

Faculty: Geoffrey Fouad, GIS Program, with Communications graduate student and Production Services Director Erin Fleming

Videos, graphics and other content will be developed for an educational story map geared toward elementary school students that explores the differences and similarities in coastal cultures around the world.

Development of an Art & Ecology Residency Experience for Monmouth Students at Joya, Velez-Blanco, Spain

Faculty: Kimberly Callas, Dept. of Art and Design

Callas will continue to build on her nature-inspired Discovering the Ecological Self project through an arts residency at Spain’s Joya: arte + ecología.

Using Fractal Patterning to Explore the Coastline and the Human Body

Faculty: Karen Pesce, Dept. of Biology, and Sandra Zak, Dept. of Mathematics

Funding will support the development of an interdisciplinary curriculum module focused on the study of fractal patterns in nature, including in coastal environments.

Spring Mini-Grant Awards

Integrating Calligraphy into Interactive Design Curriculum Focused on Coastal Challenges

Faculty: Jing Zhou, Dept. of Art and Design

Tools and supplies will be purchased for students creating calligraphy art focused on phrases that reflect environmental and societal challenges in coastal regions.

Panel Chair and Presentation at 44th Annual Caribbean Studies Association Conference

Faculty: Paul Humphrey, Dept. of World Languages and Cultures

Humphrey will lead a panel discussion that explores how the sea unites and divides Caribbean cultures in literature.

Apply Now for Funding

Monmouth University students and faculty of all disciplines are invited to apply now for summer and fall UCI Scholars funding opportunities.

Summer grants available include:

  • Student-Faculty Collaborative 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.
  • Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Summer Research Grants to support student research projects in natural and social science, humanities, economic and public policy research involving faculty and students from any School or Department at Monmouth University. Proposals are due March 15.

Fall 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.
  • 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.

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


SAVE THE DATE: Climate Coasts & Communities Symposium April 17-18 at Monmouth University

February 7, 2019

Monmouth University

April 17-18, 2019


The “new normal” of increased storm events, flooding, sea level rise, and coastal erosion from climate change presents daunting adaptation challenges for New Jersey in the years ahead. This symposium features leading experts in climate change adaptation law and science to discuss lessons learned from other states and countries to assist New Jersey in navigating these challenges.
Topics Include:
  • U.S. and Australian case studies in coastal adaptation;
  • Public health dimensions of coastal adaptation;
  • Human rights impacts to vulnerable coastal communities;
  • Climate change impacts to “voiceless” communities (future generations, wildlife, and natural resources);
  • Strategies to combat climate change-induced and other anthropogenic factors in eutrophication of coastal marine ecosystems, and the impacts to ecosystem services and the communities who depend on them.
Keynote Speakers:
Special Features:
  • Panel of Monmouth students will deliver presentations on coastal adaptation and offshore wind energy development in New Jersey
  • Kickoff session of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Law and Policy Consortium to be held on April 18 (roundtable discussion of experts on current developments in the field in the Mid-Atlantic region)
  • Articles from symposium speakers will be published in Fall 2019 in a special issue of the Sea Grant Law and Policy Journal

For more information, contact Randall S. Abate at

Gaffney Inducted into Naval Oceanography Hall of Fame

January 29, 2019

Monmouth University President Emeritus and UCI Ocean Policy Fellow Paul G. Gaffney II was a member of the first class of three inductees to the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Hall of Fame during a Jan. 25 ceremony at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Vice Adm. (ret.) Gaffney served as commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMOC) from 1994 to 1997. He became the first naval oceanographer to attain the rank of vice admiral. Gaffney is credited with attaining the visionary goal of making Naval Oceanography a world-class supercomputing facility and delivering three oceanographic survey ships into the operational fleet—USNS Pathfinder, USNS Sumner and USNS Bowditch.

Read the full story in Monmouth Now.


Listen: Abate Discusses ‘Voiceless’ Victims of Climate Change on Public Radio

January 22, 2019

Professor Randall S. Abate (Rechnitz Family/UCI Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy) discussed his upcoming book “Climate Change and the Voiceless: Protecting Future Generations, Wildlife, and Natural Resources” on the Healthy Planet public radio show. Click here to listen to the discussion.


Joya to the World: Callas to Expand Environmental Art Initiative in Spain

January 18, 2019

Kimberly Callas

Monmouth University Assistant Professor of Art and Design Kimberly Callas will build on her nature-inspired Discovering the Ecological Self project abroad, having accepted an arts residency at Spain’s Joya: arte + ecología.

Eco Self masksLaunched last year with grant support from the UCI, Discovering the Ecological Self provides at-risk youth an opportunity to learn about the coastal environment and science through an artistic lens, under the direction of Monmouth student mentors. Middle school age students take field visits and classroom lessons focused on nature-based topics, explore them from philosophical and cultural perspectives, and create works of art inspired by them. Last spring, UCI staff gave the students a tour of the Navesink River while they wore colorful 3-D printed masks patterned after marine life.

While in Spain for the weeklong residency in March, Callas will make drawings and etchings of nature-based symbols in the landscape that represent the region’s culture and identity. The symbols will then become tactile patterns along the skin of a life-size, 3-D printed figure that she will create in her studio at Monmouth.

leg 3-D printJoya will offer no shortage of inspiration. The scenic property in Andalusia’s rural, arid mountains was a working farm that was abandoned by its owners in the 1960s due to the country’s continued post-Civil War economic stagnation and repression by the Franco regime. Since Joya’s launch in 2009, artists have contributed to the buildings’ rehabilitation and redesign, as well as the rejuvenation of the land.

The facility is now a model of sustainability, with power supplied almost entirely by renewables and two systems that recycle all of its waste water to nourish the property’s plants.

“I’m particularly interested in the things they’re doing with water treatment and retainment,” Callas said. “They’re trying to restore the land based on current models of climate change so they can stop soil erosion and bring back plants that have died out over the years.”

That is a source of special interest to Callas, who in 2006 co-founded a sustainability institute in Maine called Newforest. She and her husband, an energy auditor by trade, still maintain an in-ground stone home in Maine that has a sod roof, solar array, wood heating, and other eco-friendly features.

This semester, the Discovering the Ecological Self project will resume with a focus on trees.

“The point of the project is to get intimate with nature,” Callas said. “If you build a personal bond with the environment, then you’ll want to protect what you love.”

UCI funding supported student work to create, a website that contains image galleries of the artwork, a blog chronicling group activities and other details about the project. For more information, visit the website or watch this video created last year by student Joy Morgan.



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. Download the final report from the event or view a news release summarizing its findings.


Register Now: Mid-Atlantic Ocean Forum March 20 at Monmouth U.

January 14, 2019

MACO forum save the date

March 20, 2019 | 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

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. Click here to view the agenda and register. For more information, contact Judy Tucker at


Herrington Hosts Panel, Presents Ocean City Flood Work at AGU Conference

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.


Monmouth Students Take Marine Science Lessons to Rumson School

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. 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.”


Monmouth, Rockefeller Universities Host National Conference on Marine Environmental DNA

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.”

Additional Links

National Conference on Marine Environmental DNA website

Read coverage from National Geographic

View photos from the event

Event press release

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.


National Academy of Sciences President Honored as UCI Ocean Champion

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.”

Additional Links


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. 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.


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