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Monmouth Alumni Weekend Beach Cleanup June 13

Register Today

Help keep our shore clean by registering for a Monmouth University Alumni Beach Cleanup on Sunday, June 13, in Long Branch. The event is being hosted by the UCI in celebration of World Ocean Month and Monmouth Alumni Weekend. Show your Hawk pride and wear your Monmouth gear!

The cleanup will take place from 9-10 a.m. at the beaches near the University Bluffs student apartments. Volunteers can sign in at our table in front of University Bluffs, located at Brighton/Ocean Avenue near the boardwalk, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Cleanup Details

  • Garbage bags will be available. Volunteers may also choose to bring their own reusable buckets/receptacles.
  • Disposable gloves will not be supplied. To eliminate single-use plastics, we encourage volunteers to bring their own gardening gloves or other reusable gloves.
  • Participants should take appropriate social distancing measures and not attend if feeling ill.

Click here for a full schedule activities taking place on Alumni Weekend. For any questions, contact Kristin Waring at

NJCRC Comments on State’s Draft Climate Change Resilience Strategy

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Earth Day released a draft of the state’s first Climate Change Resilience Strategy outlining recommendations to guide state and local government efforts to protect vulnerable communities, infrastructure, businesses, and the environment from the devastating effects of climate change. The New Jersey Coastal Resilience Collaborative (NJCRC), a partnership of stakeholders and interested parties from all sectors that is co-chaired by UCI Director Tony MacDonald, submitted a document with its comments on the strategy to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) on May 21.

In the document’s introductory message, UCI Associate Director Thomas Herrington noted, “We applaud the thoughtfulness that has gone into the Climate Change Resilience Strategy and imbedded Coastal Resilience Plan and appreciate the [NJDEP Climate and Flood Resilience] Program’s consideration and integration of many of the comments the NJCRC provided in response to the original vision of the Strategy and Plan.” Work on the Coastal Resilience Plan element of the strategy was first launched in the October 2018 New Jersey Coastal Resilience Summit held at Monmouth University.

Click here to view the New Jersey Climate Change Resilience Strategy in its entirety or learn more about public engagement opportunities.

Eight Students Receive UCI Summer Research Support

What will the Biden administration’s “30 by 30” conservation initiative mean for ocean areas in the Mid-Atlantic? What can trace genetic materials floating in the water teach us about turtle populations in New Jersey’s coastal lakes? These are among the many questions that eight Monmouth University student researchers will explore this summer with the support of UCI Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Scholars grants and research assistantships.

The Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Scholars Program offers competitive grant funding for students and faculty mentors of all disciplines whose work furthers the goals and mission of the UCI. The program supports hands-on research projects that provide real world experience to students while helping make a positive impact in coastal communities. For the first time this year, a grant will support one participant in the Monmouth University Provost’s Summer Scholars Living and Learning Community, which enables students to live on campus while conducting their research. The Summer Scholars faculty coordinator is Endowed Associate Professor of Marine Science Jason Adolf of the Department of Biology and the UCI.

The research efforts listed below will kick off in June.


eDNA as a Tool for Surveying Turtles in New Jersey’s Coastal Lakes

Student: Delaney Mestey-Jones

Faculty Mentor: Megan Phifer-Rixey, UCI Marine Genetics Faculty Fellow

The student will test the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) as a tool for detecting the presence of turtles in coastal lakes. In addition, the student will help develop the approach for use in teaching labs for undergraduate and high school students.


The Effect Hurricanes Have on Sustainable Tourism in the Bahamas and New Jersey

Students: Catherine Melman-Kenny and Sabria Smith

Faculty Mentor: Ken Mitchell, Chair, Department of Political Science & Sociology

The researchers will analyze the experiences of New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy and the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian to determine how differences in policy, sustainable infrastructure, planning and protocols influenced the recoveries of their tourism industries.


Exploring Salt Tolerances of Lichens in Coastal Ecosystems

Student: Emily Vasquez (UCI/Provost Summer Scholar)

Faculty Mentor: Associate Professor Pedram Daneshgar, Department of Biology

This study will test the salt tolerance of lichens growing in areas by the ocean in order to make predictions of how climate change and coastal flooding may alter lichen abundance and ecosystems in the future. Lichens in the field will be studied and digitally mapped, and different types of lichens will be grown in a greenhouse and subjected to saltwater exposure tests.


Female Labor Force Participation and Care of Children in Coastal New Jersey

Student: James T. Allan

Faculty Mentors: Assistant Professor Katerine Ramirez, Department of Economics, Finance, and Real Estate; Assistant Professor Geoffrey Fouad, Department of History & Anthropology

Drawing on federal and state data, the project will probe whether commute times from daycare facilities affect the labor force participation and job choices of women in Jersey Shore communities, and whether those figures differ from their partners’ by marital status or number and age of children.


New Jersey Coastal Resilience Collaborative Policy Analyst

Student: Samantha Pawlik (Research Assistant)

Faculty Mentor: UCI Associate Director Thomas Herrington and Director Tony MacDonald

The New Jersey Coastal Resilience Collaborative (NJCRC) is a partnership of stakeholders and interested parties from all sectors, including universities, nonprofit and for-profit groups, national estuary programs and reserves, advocacy organizations, state agencies and regional planning groups, established to foster sustainable and resilient coastal communities and ecosystems by generating informed action. The student will review present and proposed changes to the New Jersey coastal zone land use management rules, prepare a brief on the impact of the proposed rules, and aid the NJCRC in preparing recommended changes to the proposed rules for consideration by the state.


The “30 by 30” Initiative: Confronting the Threats of Biodiversity Loss and Climate Change 

Student: Kyra Velock (Research Assistant)

Faculty Mentor: Randall S. Abate, Rechnitz Family/UCI Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy

The “30 by 30” initiative (also called the America the Beautiful initiative) seeks to conserve and protect 30% of U.S. land and ocean areas by the year 2030. The student will focus primarily on ocean protection, presenting information on the political and economic challenges, and environmental benefits, associated with reaching this goal, and legal tools that will be essential for achieving it such as marine spatial planning and marine protected areas.


A Win-Win for Offshore Wind Energy in the Mid-Atlantic: Science and Policy Options to Mitigate Harm and Maximize Benefits to Marine Species and Biodiversity

Student: Riya Ajmera

Faculty Mentor: Randall S. Abate, Rechnitz Family/UCI Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy

The student will conduct research and interview experts involved in the Mid-Atlantic offshore wind regulatory landscape, including representatives from state and regional regulatory bodies, the offshore wind industry, environmental groups, marine scientists, the commercial fishing industry, and Native American leaders. The student will prepare a white paper examining science-based policy options that advance a “win-win” goal of promoting offshore wind development in a way that enhances protection of the marine environment through improved data and management, including marine protected areas and other area-based management tools. The paper will address the nature and scope of risks to the Mid-Atlantic marine environment and propose possible solutions to mitigate harm to marine species and promote marine biodiversity.


Fall Funding Opportunities

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

  • Faculty Enrichment Grants for the enhancement of existing curriculum, new curriculum development, research and scholarship, and team-teaching opportunities. Proposals will be accepted through Aug. 13, 2021.
  • Mini-Grants are also available to faculty and students for conference fees, symposia, guest speaker honoraria, equipment and supplies, and other needs to be determined on a case-by-case-basis. Applications can be submitted at any time and are reviewed on a rolling basis.

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

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

Meet the Mid-Atlantic’s Organizers of Black in Marine Science

What began as a Twitter thread has grown into an influential nonprofit dedicated to making the marine science field more diverse. Click here to read UCI Communication Director Karl Vilacoba’s latest MARCO Ocean Data Portal “Ocean Stories” feature profiling three Mid-Atlantic women at the core of Black in Marine Science’s success – Symone Barkley of the National Aquarium, Dr. Jeanette Davis of NOAA, and Dr. Camille Gaynus of UPenn. (Non-mobile device recommended for best view of scrolling data maps.)

Register for June 29 Tutorial on Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal

Are you a newcomer to the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal interested in a 101 session or a returning user who could use a refresher course? Then this webinar is for you!

Join UCI Communications Director and Portal Project Manager Karl Vilacoba on Tuesday, June 29, from 11 a.m. to noon for a guided tour of the Portal’s data, tools and features. Come with your list of questions and learn how to map the Mid-Atlantic in this interactive session.

This webinar is free, open to the public and will be provided via Zoom.

Watch: Mid-Atlantic Ocean Forum Poster Session

UCI Communications Director Karl Vilacoba moderated a virtual poster session at the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Forum on May 5 featuring student research on topics relevant to ocean science, policy and socioeconomics in the region. Visit the poster session page containing poster files, abstracts and author information. You can also visit the Forum home page to view videos of other sessions from the four-day event.

Jones, McClary and Ohleth Join UCI Advisory Committee

The Urban Coast Institute (UCI) Advisory Committee recently welcomed three new members who collectively hold over 50 years of experience in science and ocean policy fields: Kanesha Jones, director of global quality management for Amneal Pharmaceuticals; Dr. Marion McClary, professor of biology and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU); and Kris Ohleth, director of the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind, housed at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment. Scroll below to read biographies for each member.

Kanesha Jones

Kanesha Jones has over 17 years of experience driving quality improvement, continuous improvement, and operational excellence in the pharmaceutical industry. She is a graduate of the Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) and received her bachelor of science degree in biology with a concentration in molecular cell physiology from Monmouth University.

Jones currently serves as the first vice president of the Central Jersey Club of The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. (NANBPWC) and serves as the director of the club’s community programming. Additionally, she serves as the club’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Committee chairperson. The overall goal of the club’s focus on STEAM initiatives is to expose minority and underrepresented students to educational and mentoring opportunities, in hopes of increasing diversity and inclusion in STEAM-related professions. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for Hope Academy Charter School, which is a K-8 charter school located in Asbury Park, New Jersey; and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium.

Dr. Marion McClary

Dr. Marion McClary received his B.S. in marine science from Richard Stockton State College of New Jersey, now Stockton University, in 1990 and received his Ph.D. in zoology from Duke University in 1997. Dr. McClary serves on the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation Environmental Advisory Board, the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions Board of Trustees, and the Hackensack River Greenway Advisory Board. He is also chair of the Faculty Athletics Representatives (FARs) of the North East Conference (NEC) and is a member of the NCAA Division I Committee on Academics.

At FDU, Dr. McClary is the NCAA Division I Faculty Athletics Representative and is the coordinator of the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which is a grant that is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the purpose of doubling the number of minorities who earn B.S. degrees in STEM. Dr. McClary is a behavioral/physiological ecologist. He is interested in how behavior and physiology influence ecology and how the environment influences behavior, physiology, and ecology.

Kris Ohleth

Kris Ohleth has worked in the offshore wind industry for over 15 years, since the days of the industry’s inception in the U.S. Holding senior positions with offshore wind developers, NGOs, and state agencies, she has gained critical insights into the policy and regulations that shape offshore wind activities at the state, regional, and federal levels. She has extensive experience working with offshore wind stakeholders and has expert knowledge of such engagements, having worked on offshore wind and ocean policy issues at all levels.

In her current role as the director of the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind, she leads the organization on to develop strategies to support the responsible and sustainable development of the offshore wind industry. Originally from New Jersey, she is a Rutgers graduate, has a master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island, and currently lives in Morris County, New Jersey, with her husband and retired-racing greyhounds.

Read the 2020 UCI Annual Report

At a time when so many aspects of the traditional campus experience and daily life were upended by the pandemic, the Urban Coast Institute (UCI) continued to provide students access to invaluable opportunities for research, collaboration and engagement, while making important impacts in coastal communities. We’re pleased to present our 2020 Annual Report, which offers a snapshot of the UCI’s accomplishments throughout the unique and challenging year.

Use the links below to view or download a PDF version of the publication or view it in a digital flipbook format. Printed copies of the report are available upon request by emailing

Read the Report

Monmouth University Giving Days: UCI Earth Day Challenge

In celebration of the UCI’s 15th anniversary, we’re counting down the 15 days until Earth Day, April 22 – the kickoff of Monmouth University’s Giving Days 2021. Gifts to the UCI support student research and projects that explore and protect our coastal environments.

If 15 donors visit the Giving Days website and make a gift of any amount to a UCI fund on April 22 and 23, the UCI Advisory Committee has agreed to unlock an additional $2,725! Can you help us? The first 15 donors on those days will receive a magnet with the UCI logo.

Share Your UCI Memories on Social

Follow the UCI’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages over the next 15 days as we look back at some of our favorite milestones of the first 15 years. We’d love to hear from our students and partners, too! Join in and share your memories using the hashtag #UCIat15


Watch: ‘Global Fisheries Governance and Social Justice’ Online Panel

The Monmouth University Institute for Global Understanding (IGU) and Urban Coast Institute (UCI) hosted “Global Fisheries Governance and Social Justice” on April 8, 2021. The panel addressed the intersection of fisheries governance and social justice in different contexts around the world.

Panelists discussed the use of area-based management tools to support sustainable small-scale fisheries in Latin America, the response to illegal fishing in regional Indian Ocean governance, and how to promote social equity in ocean governance to help coastal indigenous communities adapt to environmental impacts to the oceans. The event was the latest edition of the IGU-UCI Global Ocean Governance Lecture Series, which assembles international experts to discuss scientific and policy issues that hold important implications for coastal and marine ecosystems.

The webinar featured presentations from University of Washington School of Marine & Environmental Affairs Research Assistant Professor Yoshitaka Ota, Environmental Law Institute Ocean Program Director Xiao Recio-Blanco, and University of Western Australia Professor of Environmental Law Erika Techera. The discussion was moderated by Rechnitz Family/UCI Endowed Chair in Marine Environmental Law and Policy Randall Abate, who also serves as director of the IGU. Scroll below for presentation abstracts and biographies for each speaker.

Abstracts & Bios

Fishspiracy: Is it Enough to Promote Conservation and Sustainability?

Dr. Yoshitaka Ota, Research Assistant Professor, School of Marine & Environmental Affairs, University of Washington

ABSTRACT: The divided views on fisheries management have greater implications than simply a difference in science or opinion. In the face of global environmental changes, such as climate change and a decrease of biodiversity, the failure of fisheries management causes catastrophic consequences on human well-being, including impacts on food security, ocean health, and economic opportunities among coastal communities. The urgent call for new approaches, such as the Blue Economy and Sustainable Development, inspires hope, but there are concerns about those platforms: Do those in power intend to change the way fisheries management is structured now? Is it enough to promote conservation and sustainability? If oceans are truly the ‘common heritage of humanity’ and belong to everyone, how do we ensure our policies reflect the diverse relationships with oceans, so that everyone has access to and benefits from the oceans equitably?

BIO: Dr. Yoshitaka Ota is a research assistant professor at the School of Marine & Environmental Affairs at the University of Washington. He has a background in social anthropology at the University College London. He has conducted ethnographic research on various coastal communities, including Palau, the U.K., Indonesia and Japan, studying the socialization and cultural meanings associated with fishing practices. For the last 10 years, he has been engaged in policy research involving coastal indigenous communities, marine spatial planning, and human security. Dr. Ota is also the director of the Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center, an international initiative comprising an interdisciplinary team of 20+ institutes. As an anthropologist conducting social and cultural research on various coastal communities, he was struck more by our similarities than our differences. One recurring theme he has witnessed across the world is the inequity between who has access to and benefits from oceans and who relies on oceans to live. We know that the human relationship with oceans under modern market systems is unsustainable, unstable and inequitable. We hear that in stories about overfishing and plastic straws and coral reef. What we do not often see are the human stories about the ocean communities that are already facing urgent ecological, social and political problems, even before complex environmental challenges are layered on. We are not in the rooms where scientists and leaders make political and societal decisions to the best of their ability, but without the capacity to not further disadvantage the marginalized and the disempowered. We need to create a new platform for ocean governance to identify the inequities that exist, develop knowledge-based solutions, and actually enact these changes to make oceans equitable for everyone. Thus, his core research interest is to understand how to strengthen social equity in ocean governance while we face global environmental changes. His unit consists of a team of cross-disciplinary scholars.

Galvanizing Community Participation in Small-Scale Fisheries Governance through Targeted Regulatory Reform

Dr. Xiao Recio-Blanco, Director, Ocean Program, Environmental Law Institute

ABSTRACT: About 90% of the world’s 120 million capture fishers are involved in small-scale fishing (SSF), making SSF the largest creator of marine jobs. Seeking to provide guidance on how to promote a more sustainable SSF sector, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations published the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries. Building on the connection between environmental sustainability and human rights in the small-scale fisheries context, ELI developed the Small Scale-Fisheries Law and Governance Toolkit. The Toolkit identifies useful regulatory approaches for SSF governance, and model legal language. Many fisheries laws have inserted the concept of “sustainability” without elaborating on how to translate that concept into governance institutions and regulatory procedures. The Toolkit focuses on creating and implementing fisheries co-management systems, along with two basic governance elements that strengthen co-management: (1) exclusive fishing rights for SSF communities, and (2) the creation of exclusive zones for SSF. Developing model legal language, however, is only one small step. For any policy to be successfully translated into regulatory action, lawmakers need to be knowledgeable about the challenges and opportunities of SSF governance, which is often not the case.

BIO: Dr. Xiao Recio-Blanco is the director of the Ocean Program at the Environmental Law Institute (ELI). He is a researcher specialized on the use of area-based regulatory tools in support of ocean governance, with a focus on small-scale fisheries governance and Latin America. His work has highlighted legal hurdles and enablers to the adequate organization of fishing-dependent communities. His research in Mexico also helped compile customary, area-based fisheries management rules and practices. At the ELI, he has authored research and guidance reports on marine spatial planning, marine protected areas enforcement, and small-scale fisheries governance, among other issues. He has been a lecturer on fisheries and ocean management at universities in Europe, Mexico, and the U.S. Before joining ELI, Dr. Recio-Blanco was a private equity attorney at Banco Santander in Madrid (Spain), an associate professor of international law at CIDE (Mexico), and a visiting attorney at Earthjustice in the District of Columbia. Between 2017 and 2020, he was the managing director of the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE). He holds a J.D. from the Complutense University of Madrid, and a scientia juris doctor (S.J.D.) from Duke University.

Illegal Fishing and Regional Indian Ocean Governance

Dr. Erika Techera, Professor of Environmental Law, University of Western Australia

ABSTRACT: The Indian Ocean region is rich in marine biodiversity including significant fish stocks. The region has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, led in part by a focus on blue economy goals. Yet as Indian Ocean nations seek to expand their fisheries sectors, they face several challenges including illegal fishing. Confronting this problem is critical if blue growth is to be achieved in sustainable ways, and if food security and livelihoods are to be secured. Despite the common focus on the blue economy, there are no pan-regional legal agreements and few whole-of-region initiatives. This provides an opportunity for the Indian Ocean Rim Association to play a leading role, but the way forward is not clear. This presentation explains the regional governance landscape in the Indian Ocean, explores the role that the Indian Ocean Rim Association can play in harmonizing fisheries regulation, and identifies ways in which the pressing problem of illegal fishing can be addressed.

BIO: Dr. Erika Techera is a professor of environmental law at The University of Western Australia (UWA). She is the former director of the UWA Oceans Institute. Erika specializes in international and comparative environmental law with a focus on ocean-issues: marine environmental pollution law, fisheries regulation, marine protected area law and policy, maritime legal history and cultural heritage protection. She has a particular interest in small island developing states across the Indo-Pacific region. Erika is a fellow and director of the Australian Academy of Law, and Australia’s National Focal Point for the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Academic Group. Prior to becoming an academic, Erika practiced as a barrister and worked as a company director. She holds an LL.B. (Hons), LL.M. and Master of Environmental Law, as well as a PG Certificate in Higher Education. Her Ph.D. explored the hybridization of customary law and domestic legislation in relation to marine conservation in the South Pacific.