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Marine and Environmental Internships and Research Opportunities Page Available to Monmouth Students

The UCI has created a new web page for Monmouth University students listing paid and unpaid internship and research opportunities in marine and environmental fields. The page contains recent openings shared with the UCI and Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy (MEBP) program faculty, links to job/internship pages and websites maintained by our partner organizations, and a list of staff mentors who may be contacted for additional help and information.

The page can be found in the “Offices & Services” dropdown menu in the MyMU Portal (Monmouth University sign-in credentials required). For questions about the page or inquiries about listing a position, please email

‘Paradoxical Paradise’ Shares Asbury Park’s African American History through Multimedia, Archival Documents

Photo shows nighttime aerial view of Asbury Park, NJ

To a tourist visiting the Asbury Park beachfront, it really could seem like a paradise. The boutique hotels and luxury high-rises blended among century-old Beaux Arts buildings and legendary music halls. The energy of diverse crowds splashing in the waves and mingling along the restaurant-lined boardwalk.

And therein lies the paradox. With the passing of each day and ribbon-cutting for every redevelopment project, Asbury Park’s history with racial discrimination and civil unrest fades further from collective memory and becomes harder to believe for the unacquainted.

A team of Monmouth University researchers is working to preserve that history through the “Paradoxical Paradise” project, led by Associate Professor of African American History Hettie V. Williams of the Department of History and Anthropology. The group has assembled a growing online library of archival documents and photos, newly compiled GIS maps, oral histories, podcasts and other multimedia, all of which are publicly accessible at

Photo of downtown storefront in Asbury Park, NJ

Photo by Hettie V. Williams

Williams said New Jersey is “the Georgia of the North” in terms of the depth of its history with civil rights issues and observed that Asbury Park offers a unique case study within the state due to past segregation at its beaches and tourist businesses. Although some attention has been given to racial issues through the lens of Asbury Park’s music culture, Williams said little research has sought a broader understanding of the community.

“It hasn’t been studied by a lot of scholars,” Williams said. “The riots haven’t even been studied a great deal, and they were one of the largest in the state, if not the country.”

The website contains several news articles and photos from the time of the city’s 1970 riots, but some of the most unique insights come from the personal records of Joseph F. Mattice, the mayor of that era. With the support of a UCI grant, Williams was able to access archival documents, letters, photos and other resources related to the riots from Mattice’s collection and has been working with students to add excerpts online. The original materials are housed at Duke University.

“They bought them on eBay for about $450,” Williams recalled. “When I learned that I said to myself, those archives should be at Monmouth.”

Williams encourages any community members with historic documents that can add to the project to contact the team. Materials can be stored on campus or scanned and returned to their owners.

COVID-19 Impacts

The chief focus of the work funded by the UCI grant was the pandemic’s impacts on the city’s African American community. Elements of that work include:

  • Specialist Professor of Public History Melissa Ziobro led students Gillian Demetriou, Kelly Dender, and Vincent Sauchelli in conducting nine interviews with residents, business owners, nonprofit representatives and others to record their perspectives on the pandemic. Transcripts of these oral histories will be added to the website in the fall.
  • Image of current COVID cases in Monmouth and surrounding countiesGIS Program Director Geoffrey Fouad and student Lissette Peña produced interactive maps depicting percentages of Black and white residents by Census tract in Monmouth County who are uninsured and below the poverty level. Both factors could contribute to disparities in infection rates or treatments.
  • Williams conducted three episodes of the Black and African Diaspora Forum United (BADFU) “This Week in Black History, Society and Culture” podcast series with guests who shared their stories on COVID-19’s impacts in the Black community. The podcasts were produced by student Max Adolph.

Among the standout moments from the podcasts, Williams said, was a discussion with longtime resident and community activist Felicia Simmons on the gaps the pandemic created in educational quality for low-income families who struggled to adjust to virtual schooling.

“The school’s first response was to create ditto packets to give to parents. When they finally got tablets for them, there were no instructions for how to work the technology,” Williams said. “We assume everyone has a cellphone, everyone has a tablet, but that’s not the case if you can’t afford it.”

The team plans to seek additional grants to continue building the website. Among the content currently planned or underway are interactive story maps that show stops in Asbury Park that appeared in “The Green Book” and journal articles based on the information gathered through the project.

The UCI grant also funded the work of Michelle Lippman and Justin Montana, both students in the graduate program in history at Monmouth. Montana worked with Williams to sort through the more than 200 files from the Duke collection add excerpts to the website and authored a blog post on the Asbury Park riots. Lippman assisted with research and authored a blog post on the history of Asbury Park.

For more information on Paradoxical Paradise, email Twitter users can also follow @ParadoxicalPar2 for project updates.

Student Q&A: Johanna Vonderhorst on Strengthening Protections for High Seas

Monmouth University student Johanna Vonderhorst recently completed a paper titled “Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction: A Need to Improve Governing Frameworks and Enhance a Global Commitment to Conservation” as part of her work as a spring intern at the Global Ocean Forum (GOF). In it, Vonderhorst contends that the high seas “are home to a wealth of ocean resources that are taken for granted” and deserve greater legal protections.

The internship gave Vonderhorst, a NOAA Hollings Scholar and former UCI research assistant, the opportunity to earn university credits while conducting external research on ocean policy. The senior majoring in chemistry and political science plans to continue her internship with the GOF in the fall. Read below to learn more about the issues explored in her paper.

Q: Your paper focuses on the need for greater protections for Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) – typically deep-sea zones that fall outside of the governance of any national entities. Why are these areas so important and what are some of the threats they face?

ABNJ are extremely important not only because they house major fisheries that feed millions worldwide, but also because they provide shipping and transportation routes, seabed for laying telephone cables, and resources used in medicine and scientific research. They also provide vital ecosystem services, acting as carbon sinks to regulate climate change impacts and generating over half of the world’s oxygen. Some of the biggest threats to ABNJ are overfishing, resource overexploitation, plastic and oil pollution, and climate change, which exacerbates all other threats to the health of ABNJ.

Q: You highlight some of the international frameworks that have been initiated to guide human activities in ABNJ, notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which calls for nations to cooperate on issues such as the exploitation of marine resources and the management of fisheries. Why do you believe UNCLOS and other existing initiatives are inadequate?

UNCLOS and other regulatory frameworks are inadequate primarily because they provide no mechanism for global enforcement and create no international entity to punish violators of their terms. UNCLOS is also anthropocentric, advocating for preservation of marine resources in ABNJ only to the extent that it benefits humans and not for the sake of the environment in its own right. Additionally, under UNCLOS, each member state is responsible for gathering its own scientific information regarding the condition of fisheries and other ABNJ resources and for creating and implementing policies in line with its findings and the terms of UNCLOS, resulting in fragmented governance.

Q: What steps do you think should be taken for the international community to better address the challenges for ABNJ?

A new framework under UNCLOS is currently being negotiated to improve cross-sectoral and transnational communication and build equivalent scientific capacity and information-sharing networks among party states, and this is a great place to start. The creation of an international enforcement body under this new framework would also be an important step forward. Increased support and funding for initiatives like the Deep Seas Project and the Common Oceans ABNJ Project, as well as regional projects such as the Global Ocean Forum’s efforts to enhance capacity-building and cross-sectoral communication, would also be beneficial.

Monmouth University Awarded Grant to Monitor Health of County’s Coastal Lakes through 2023

The Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute (UCI) has received a $150,000 grant from the Jules L. Plangere, Jr. Family Foundation to extend and expand a program that partners scientists and students with community volunteers to monitor the health of coastal lakes.

The funding will allow the Coastal Lakes Observing Network (CLONet) project to continue through the summer of 2023 and facilitate the purchase of handheld probes that enable volunteers to measure harmful algal bloom (HAB) levels in their community lakes. The grant has also made it possible for the UCI to establish a citizen science coordinator position to oversee the day-to-day management of CLONet, including the analysis and monitoring of sampling data, organizing coastal lake summits on campus, and guiding multiple CLONet lake groups and individual samplers.

Through CLONet, university scientists and students have trained and equipped community members to sample Monmouth County’s beach-adjacent lakes for properties such as temperature, salinity, clarity and dissolved oxygen levels, then file their readings into an online database. Since the summer of 2019, citizen scientists have been sampling Deal Lake, Fletcher Lake, Lake Como, Lake Takanassee, Sunset Lake, Sylvan Lake and Wesley Lake. Monmouth students and scientists have supplemented the data by regularly sampling the same bodies, along with Silver Lake, Spring Lake, Sylvan Lake and Wreck Pond.

With two years of data now on file, CLONet has determined a baseline of normal conditions for each lake that can be used to discern how recent developments such as weather events, waterfront construction projects or the implementation of new stormwater filtration measures are impacting the waters. The detection of sudden shifts in lake conditions can be used to predict, and perhaps thwart, the onset of HABs, according to Endowed Associate Professor of Marine Science and CLONet coordinator Jason Adolf.

The new probes being provided to samplers will enable them for the first time to collect data on HAB biomass that can be contributed to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (NJDEP) online HAB Interactive Map Reporting and Communication System. Prior, only Monmouth’s scientists and students had access to the equipment, limiting the collection of information.

“The HABs issue has received increasing attention in New Jersey in the last several years, particularly following the closures of Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake in 2019 that caused major losses in tourism revenue,” said Adolf, who co-leads a HAB Expert Team formed by Gov. Phil Murphy to provide input to the NJDEP. “Unfortunately, we expect climate change will make HABS all the more common in urbanized areas like the Jersey Shore by overheating our lakes and allowing more intense coastal storms that overload the waters with nutrients. The data collected by CLONet’s citizen scientists can help us get ahead of HAB events by spotting the warning signs instead of repeatedly reacting to them after they occur.”

The roughly 650 samples collected by the volunteers as of July have already provided insights into the conditions of the lakes, among them:

  • Poor Quality: On a four-tier scale ranging from oligotrophic (best) to hypereutrophic (worst) conditions, the lakes overall fell in the latter category. Typical characteristics of hypereutrophic water bodies include an abundance of nutrients that fuel HABs, low dissolved oxygen levels, occasional fish kill events, and the presence of thick scum and dense weeds.
  • Ideal HAB Conditions: Data shows the lakes are most susceptible to HABs from June through September. Links between rainfall and HAB occurrence are suspected and are being investigated using CLONet data.
  • Diversity of Lakes: Although they’re similar sized and only miles apart, the lakes vary significantly. Overall water quality (Takanassee consistently rated highest of the group), water properties and even water colors were distinct from body to body.
  • Warming Waters: Historic data on the lakes’ conditions is scarce, but measures taken in a study of Deal Lake in the 1970s indicate that its temperature is significantly higher today.

Those interested in joining a CLONet lake sampling team are encouraged to email Citizen Science Coordinator Erin Conlon at Volunteers will be provided free sampling kits and training and can conduct the work as their schedules permit.

“No one knows more about the lakes than the people who live in their neighborhoods, and that local knowledge has been an important asset for CLONet,” Conlon said. “It’s been a pleasure watching the project strengthen our volunteers’ bonds with the lakes and I believe that will go a long way toward protecting these waters in the future.”

UCI to Support Studies of N.J. Sea Level Rise Real Estate Impacts, Youth Climate Activism, Ecotherapy

The UCI has awarded three Faculty Enrichment Grants for projects that will research whether sea level rise has impacted Jersey Shore home values, how engagement in climate activism influences young people’s social views and identities, and the psychological benefits of experiencing nature.

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 summer round.

Counseling with Nature: A Qualitative Study of the Experiences of Ecotherapy Clients

Faculty researcher: Megan Delaney, associate professor, Department of Professional Counseling

Student researcher: Molly Malkinski

This research will continue work begun through a previous UCI grant exploring clients’ experience in ecotherapy (contact with the outdoors and nature as a method or element of therapy), including their connections with the natural world, connections to eco-grief and thoughts about climate change. Since many of the clients’ sessions will have been done in areas on and around the New Jersey coastline, the researchers will also explore if and how water affects their counseling experience.

Experiences of Youth Climate Activists

Faculty researchers: Alyson Pompeo-Fargnoli, assistant professor, Department of Educational Counseling and Leadership; Melissa Alvaré, lecturer, Department of Political Science and Sociology

The team will explore how engagement in climate activism impacts the development of youth and their broader understanding of social justice issues. The research questions guiding this study are: What is the developmental journey like for youth activists? What are their catalysts, supports, and impediments? Are these environmental youth activists making connections to other areas of social justice activism?

Sea Level Rise – Flood Risk, Property Values and Income Effects on New Jersey’s Coastal Communities

Faculty researcher: Gina McKeever, instructor, Department of Finance, Economics and Real Estate

Student researcher: Valentine Pane

To study the impacts of sea level rise on residential real estate values, an analysis will be conducted of 20 years of sales data for properties located within and outside of FEMA flood zones in coastal communities in Monmouth, Ocean and Cape May counties. The project will also seek to determine how income in these areas has changed and whether homeowners of low to moderate income are being priced out of their homes by rising flood insurance premiums and replaced with higher income buyers.

About the Program

The Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Scholars program is funded through the generosity of many corporate and private donors. If you would like to make a tax-deductible gift to the UCI, please click here. For more information, contact UCI Associate Director Thomas Herrington at



UCI Launches Faculty Advisory Council

The Urban Coast Institute (UCI) has formed a Faculty Advisory Council to provide it with guidance and new perspectives for enhancing academic and student engagement at Monmouth University. The inaugural council includes 13 members representing a broad spectrum of academic disciplines and departments across campus.

Among its roles and responsibilities, the council will assist in integrating the UCI more fully into Monmouth’s academic programs to initiate high-impact opportunities for teaching, scholarship, research and service, and to aid in student recruitment. The council will also serve as a liaison with Monmouth schools, departments, faculty and programs to increase understanding and support of the UCI mission.

It is anticipated that council members will help the UCI identify opportunities to contribute to program and course development, support in the delivery of academic programming and assist in identifying support for student research, internship/externships, service learning, community service and employment opportunities. The council will work with UCI to create, host and promote symposia and events on campus.

The faculty members below will join the council along with the UCI’s three current affiliated faculty members: Randall Abate, Rechnitz Family/UCI endowed chair in marine and environmental law and policy, Department of Political Science and Sociology; Jason Adolf, endowed associate professor of marine science, Department of Biology; and Eric Fesselmeyer, associate professor of economics, Department of Economics, Finance, and Real Estate.

  • Kimberly Callas, assistant professor, Department of Art and Design
  • John Comiskey, assistant professor, Department of Criminal Justice
  • Michael Cronin, associate professor, School of Social Work
  • Geoffrey Fouad, assistant professor, Department of History and Anthropology
  • Jeanne Koller, assistant professor, School of Social Work
  • Golam Mathbor, professor, School of Social Work
  • Tiffany Medley, lecturer, Department of Biology
  • Lindsay Mehrkam, assistant professor, Department of Psychology
  • Claude Taylor, director for academic transition and inclusion, Center for Student Success
  • Laura Turner, assistant professor, Department of Mathematics

The council was formed through an open process that encouraged all interested faculty to submit letters of interest in the spring of 2021. For more information about the Faculty Advisory Council, contact UCI Associate Director Thomas Herrington at

Adolf Pens Primer on Harmful Algal Blooms in Summer Issue of ANJEC Report

Monmouth University Endowed Associate Professor of Marine Science Jason Adolf contributed the article “What is a harmful algal bloom (HAB) and why do they form?” to the summer issue of ANJEC Report, published by the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions. The piece offers a scientific explanation of the types of phytoplankton that cause HABs and how these organisms can harm wildlife and humans who come in contact with them. Click here to read the article or here to view the full issue.

Adolf’s piece leads off a series of articles exploring the growing problem of HABs in New Jersey’s freshwater lakes, which has received increased attention statewide in recent years. The section includes a spread of photos provided by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection that shows what HABs look like.

Analysis of Pitch Data Shows Climate Change May Strike Baseball Umpiring

It’s hard enough to reach base when pitchers like Aroldis Chapman and Jacob deGrom throw the high heat. But what about when Mother Nature does?

A study by Monmouth University Associate Professor of Economics Eric Fesselmeyer finds that Major League Baseball (MLB) umpires call pitches less accurately in uncomfortable temperatures, with performance at its worst in extreme heat conditions. The analysis shows that the pitch-calling error rate is about 1 percentage point worse when temperatures are above 95 degrees, while accuracy is highest in games played in 80 to 90 degree weather. The results raise the prospect that America’s pastime could be impacted by climate change, as warming temperatures and more frequent heat waves threaten to cause a further decline in officiating.

“The drop in accuracy may seem small, but it is nontrivial for this high-revenue, high-stakes industry,” said Fesselmeyer, an affiliated faculty member of Monmouth’s Urban Coast Institute. “Moreover, high temperatures cause an even greater decrease in accuracy on close call pitches along the edges of the strike zone.”

The research was possible because MLB uses pitch-tracking technology that measures whether non-batted pitches are strikes or balls as they cross home plate.

When Fesselmeyer examined the accuracy of calls for 18,907 MLB games played between 2007 and 2017, he discovered a clear inverted U-pattern. Umpire accuracy was 86.3% when the temperature was below 50 degrees; 86.4% for temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees; 86.6% for temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees; peaked at 86.9% accuracy for temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees; and fell to 86.5% for temperatures between 90 and 95 degrees. Accuracy was lowest, 85.9%, when the temperature was higher than 95 degrees.

Could umpires have an unconscious bias toward calling strikes when it could end the game faster in uncomfortable weather? Fesselmeyer studied critical late inning situations when incorrect calls could shorten the duration of the game but found no significant difference. He also analyzed the data to see whether factors such the experience level, workloads and age of umpires, game attendance and duration, and other meteorological conditions could have been responsible, but found that they did not affect how umpires respond to heat.

Give that umpires err on over 15% of non-batted pitches, some might wonder why baseball hasn’t automated its pitch calling. According to Fesselmeyer, “MLB is indeed considering robo-umps, which would have the added benefit of eliminating the effect of high temperatures on pitch calling. But it is not clear whether the technology will be adopted because baseball purists prefer to preserve the human element in the game.”

Fesselmeyer’s research has implications beyond baseball. If workers as experienced and well-versed in their craft as MLB umpires are susceptible to the heat’s influence, the results are especially worrisome for industries that rely on less-experienced and lower-skilled workers such as agriculture, construction and manufacturing, which are likely less capable of mitigating the impact of rising temperatures.

A paper summarizing Fesselmeyer’s work will be published in a forthcoming edition of the Southern Economic Journal.

WATCH: June 11 Talk on Legal, Policy Responses to Climate Change and Harmful Algal Blooms

The Urban Coast Institute (UCI) hosted the virtual lecture “Climate Change and Harmful Algal Blooms: Legal and Policy Responses to Protect Human Health, Marine Environments, and Coastal Economies” with Professor Eric V. Hull of the Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law on June 11.

The discussion was moderated by Rechnitz Family/UCI Endowed Chair in Marine Environmental Law and Policy Randall Abate. An audience Q&A session followed Hull’s presentation. Scroll below for a presentation abstract and biography of the speaker.


Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) pose an increasing threat to human health, marine environments, and coastal economies. Warming, acidification, nutrification, and other human-mediated changes to marine systems work synergistically with naturally occurring environmental factors to increase the incidence, severity, and geographic range of HABs. This talk will address ways to mitigate the anthropogenic drivers of HABs using practical solutions and statutory tools available under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.

About the Speaker

Eric V. Hull currently serves as a visiting professor of law at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law. Professor Hull has published widely on animal law, environmental law, ocean and coastal law, and maritime law topics, with an emphasis on climate change and the impacts of pollution on ocean and coastal systems, human health, and the environment. His scholarship has been published in many of the leading environmental law journals and his work on the management of marine resources in U.S. waters is included in an international text on ocean and coastal governance. His article on ocean acidification was peer-nominated as one of a top environmental and land use law articles and was included in the seminal text on ocean acidification. Professor Hull teaches courses in administrative law, animal law, civil procedure, climate change law and policy, environmental law, environmental and toxic torts, environmental justice, ocean and coastal law, property law, and zoning. He has taught internationally in Costa Rica, France, and Korea. In addition to holding a juris doctor degree, he holds an undergraduate degree in biology, and graduate degrees in marine biology and coastal zone management. He also holds an LL.M. degree in environmental and land use law.