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MU-RU Partnership

Through the Marine Science & Policy Initiative, Monmouth University and the UCI have engaged in a valuable partnership with Rockefeller University (RU). Since 2016, the universities have co-organized annual conferences (The Marine Science & Policy Series) on scientific and policy topics of regional and national interest, alternating between the MU campus and RU’s in New York City.

The partnership has extended to cutting-edge research projects on topics such as ocean noise, emerging marine exploration technologies and the use of environmental DNA fragments, or eDNA, to detect the presence of aquatic species (see below). In addition, Professor Jesse Ausubel, Director of RU’s Program for the Human Environment, has visited Monmouth’s campus on a regular basis to lecture and meet with students and faculty. The partnership will produce opportunities for MU students to work with Professor Ausubel as well as summer placement or other collaboration at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Another key feature of the Initiative will be support for ocean research projects organized and directed by Professor Ausubel and UCI Ocean Policy Fellow VADM Paul Gaffney, former president of Monmouth University.

Advisory Panel: Michael Kubin, RADM Richard Larrabee, Russell Pennoyer, Steven Ramberg, Howard Rosenbaum, Robert Sculthorpe

Recent News & Activities

  • A study by scientists from RU, MU and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection found that the amount of fish DNA in water samples collected during trawls closely corresponded to kilos of fish captured in the nets.
  • Gaffney and Ausubel published a May 2020 op-ed in The Hill that discusses why COVID-19 could provide an opportunity for struggling maritime industries contribute to ocean research initiatives of national importance.
  • DNA testing on Barnegat Bay waters indicated the presence of fish species never before detected as far north. The research was published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science in May 2020.
  • The National Conference on Marine Environmental DNA was convened at Rockefeller University on Nov. 29 and 30, 2018. The conference gathered 100 of the nation’s leading practitioners of eDNA science to share discoveries, state-of-the-art technologies and new methods. Read coverage from National Geographic.
  • The Mid-Atlantic Blue Ocean Economy 2030 forum was co-hosted by MU and RU at the Monmouth campus on Oct. 12 and 13, 2017. The forum assembled leading scientists, policymakers, conservationists, business and community leaders, and communicators to identify opportunities to promote, protect and prosper from the ocean. The forum focused on future trends influencing important ocean industries (transportation, energy, fisheries, natural resources and ecosystem services, and travel & tourism) and the impacts of changes in the ocean environment.
  • RU published a study in the journal PLOS ONE detailing the eDNA project. The news release was picked up by Reuters, Agence France Presse and media outlets around the world.
  • MU and RU co-hosted the 2016 National Ocean Exploration Forum, “Beyond the Ships: 2020-2025,” on Oct. 20-21 in New York City. The forum is the first installment in the Marine Science & Policy Series of four scientific conferences events to be co-hosted by Rockefeller and Monmouth annually on alternating campuses. View a final report summarizing the event or visit the forum web page for technical papers, news links and other related materials.
  • RU Professor Jesse Ausubel delivered a lecture on the science of eDNA at Monmouth University’s campus in September.
  • Students and faculty mentors at Monmouth University piloted research with eDNA in the areas of Wreck Pond in Spring Lake/Sea Girt/Wall and Lake Takanassee in Long Branch in the spring and summer of 2016.
  • RU Professor Jesse Ausubel and Senior Research Associate Mark Stoeckle visited MU in the fall of 2015 to share their work on the worldwide “re-wilding” trend and eDNA, respectively. Read the UCI newsletter for more information.

Areas of Study

The RU-MU partnership currently encompasses three areas of study: Aquatic eDNA, ocean exploration and the International Quiet Ocean Experiment (IQOE).

NYC and NJ Aquatic Vertebrate eDNA Project

Under the supervision of Dr. Mark Stoeckle, Senior Research Associate at RU, a series of eDNA water sampling experiments is being executed in and around New York City and coastal New Jersey waters. Project teams are being populated with graduate and post-doctoral students from RU and undergraduate students and masters candidates from MU, as well as select high school students.

Read Full Project Description: NYC and NJ Aquatic Vertebrate eDNA Project (PDF)

Ocean Exploration Policy

In 2012-13, RU Professor Jesse Ausubel and Vice Admiral Paul Gaffney, Monmouth University President Emeritus, led a Decadal Review of the U.S. Ocean Exploration Program. Professor Ausubel and VADM Gaffney are vested in the program and will advocate for increasing its size, focusing its efforts, facilitating greater cross-agency and public-private partnerships, and disseminating new technologies to make more U.S. oceanographic ships capable of exploration.

Read Full Project Description: Ocean Exploration Policy (PDF)

Noise in the Ocean and the International Quiet Ocean Experiment (IQOE)

Working with IQOE scientists, MU/RU will actively promote the IQOE concept, encourage more acoustic data collection and help facilitate the sharing of the (standardized) data among those who are pursuing IQOE and other interested parties. Further, MU/RU will help ensure the program maintains a neutral point of view that acknowledges and respects the competing interests involved, while making it advantageous for the many and varied stakeholders to participate.

Read Full Project Description: Noise in the Ocean and the International Quiet Ocean Experiment (PDF)