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March 2016 Newsletter

Urban Coast Institute Newsletter March 2016

Read the Urban Coast Institute 2015 Annual Report

From the launch of innovative student-faculty research projects to our work helping coastal communities prepare for future major storms, 2015 was an exciting year for the UCI. Take a look back at our team’s significant accomplishments in the UCI 2015 Annual Report.

Annual Report Cover

Read the Report

Digital Flipbook |
High-Res PDF | Low-Res PDF

Of course, many of the programs highlighted in this report wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of our donors. If you’re interested in making a tax-deductible contribution to support UCI activities in 2016, visit our Give a Gift Now page.

Marine Scientist, MU Students Bust ‘Ghost Fishing’ in Barnegat Bay

crab pots

The Barnegat Bay is haunted by an unseen but lethal menace. Scores of abandoned and derelict crab traps on its floor continue “ghost fishing” — luring, catching and ultimately killing marine animals such as crustaceans, terrapins and fish without any purpose.

Since December, UCI Marine Scientist Jim Nickels and Monmouth University students have been searching the bay for the traps and other harmful refuse using side-scan SONAR equipment and GIS technologies. The crews initially mapped the coordinates of each discovery and are now returning to pull up the debris with rope lines and grappling hooks. Before disposing of the traps, Nickels will take photos and note any organisms that were either captured inside or growing on them.

“They’re providing a habitat for some organisms – the ones small enough to get in and out – but killing others,” Nickels said. “And in the shallower waters, they can potentially damage a boat running into them.”

The winter months are an ideal time for the work because crabbing is prohibited between Dec. 1 and March 1, Nickels said. The project, which is being funded through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, will conclude in mid-April.

The UCI/Monmouth University team is searching the northern portion of the bay, from the Toms River area to the Point Pleasant Canal. Teams from Stockton University, Ocean County’s Marine Academy of Technology & Environmental Sciences, local commercial fishermen and other partners are also probing portions of the bay. The UCI also participated in Feb. 26 event in Waretown that raised awareness of Fishing for Energy, a partnership between the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Covanta, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Schnitzer Steel Industries which recycles the recovered crab traps and converts them to renewable energy.

View photos of Nickles and student crew members searching for the debris.

UCI Awards Spring Marine Science & Policy Initiative Grants; New Opportunities Available

From the Music City to the mangroves of the Bahamas, Monmouth University students and faculty members will soon be hard at work on innovative research and educational projects funded through the Marine Science and Policy Initiative. The UCI recently awarded four spring faculty assistance grants, two mini-grants and a graduate assistantship, and applications are now being accepted for summer, fall and year-round grant opportunities (see below).

striper research & website

The Initiative was launched in 2014 to create new opportunities for Monmouth University to conduct research and policy analysis, enhance student experiences in and out of the classroom, and support community stewardship of coastal and ocean ecosystems.

The following projects will be supported through the Initiative:

Automatic System for Collection of Physico-Chemical Parameters of Water for Assessment of Intertidal Coastal Ecosystems: This project will create a system to collect water salinity and temperature data at mangroves in the Bahamas, with the goal of modeling how the mangroves respond to the impacts of climate change.

Project leaders: Dr. Dmytro Kosenkov, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Physics; and Dr. Pedram Daneshgar, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology

Evaluating the Potential Habitat Use of the Endangered Atlantic Sturgeon in Sandy Hook Bay: Acoustic telemetry technology will be used to monitor the presence and behaviors of tagged fish in the bay’s inshore waters.

Project leader: Dr. Keith Dunton, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology

Understanding the Physiology and Behavior of Angled and Air-Exposed Striped Bass Using a Rapid Assessment Approach:  This project will build upon previously funded work to develop science-based best practices for the catch and release of Atlantic striped bass. Stripers in a saltwater tank will be observed for their responses to being caught and being lifted out of water for varying periods of time.

Project leader: School of Science Interim Dean John Tiedemann

eDNAeDNA Laboratory Protocols and Wreck Pond Sampling Project: In a collaboration with Rockefeller University, samples will be collected from the Sea Girt/Spring Lake area waterway and tested for the presence of herring and other aquatic vertebrates using cutting-edge environmental DNA (eDNA) technology.

Project leaders: Dr. Christine Thompson, Adjunct Professor, Department of Biology; and Dr. Martin Hicks, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology

Class Magazine Mini-Grant: An online publishing service will be used to create a magazine for environmental chemistry students to share their views on current issues in the field.

Project leader: Dr. Shirley Crenshaw, Instructor, Department of Chemistry and Physics

Hands-on foldscope Demonstration at the National Science Teachers Association Conference Mini-Grant: This grant will allow student Carleigh Engstrom to give a presentation on her UCI-funded 2015 summer research on the use of paper-based microscopes in Nashville, Tennessee, in April.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Judith Bazler, Professor, School of Education

Coastal New Jersey Small Business Website Graduate Assistantship: Graduate student Morissa Schwartz is developing, a website that highlights eco-friendly businesses in Jersey Shore area coastal downtowns.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Deanna Shoemaker, Director, Corporate & Public Communication (CPC) Graduate Program

New Opportunities Available

The UCI is accepting applications for summer, fall and year-round grant opportunities through the Marine Science and Policy Initiative. More information about the opportunities listed below can be found on the MyMU Portal (Monmouth University sign-in credentials required).

  • Funding is available for research projects developed and proposed by students with faculty mentors or by a faculty members with student support. Deadline: April 18.
  • Fall graduate assistantships are available for students to complete projects with a faculty mentor. Deadline: July 15.
  • Fall faculty enrichment grants are available to support MU faculty for enhancement of existing curriculum, new curriculum development, research and team-teaching opportunities. Deadline: July 15.
  • Mini-grants are available year-round to faculty and students for conference fees, symposia, guest speaker honoraria, equipment and supplies to further course curricula or other needs to be determined on a case-by-case-basis. (No deadline.)

For questions or assistance with applications or research and project ideas, contact Susan Kennedy, UCI Program and Project Director at or (732) 923-4592. These opportunities have been made possible through the generous support of Santander Universities and many other donors. If you would like to make a tax-deductible gift to the Urban Coast Institute, please use our Give a Gift Now contribution form.

Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Assessment Now Online

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Assessment (ROA), a virtual encyclopedia of scientific trends and facts pertaining to the region’s ocean ecosystem, uses and economy, is now available online at Urban Coast Institute staff served on working groups that helped develop this influential product over the last two years.

The ROA website contains a collection of entries that present narrative overviews of topics ranging from how climate change will impact ocean conditions to what the Panama Canal’s expansion will mean to the region’s ports. ROA entries include useful links to scientific reports and websites where users can explore the subjects in further depth.

The Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal, managed by the UCI and several partners, was instrumental in the creation of the ROA. The ROA site contains links to maps, pages and videos found on the Portal, and references the site in numerous sections.

The ROA will help inform an Ocean Action Plan being drafted for the five-state region extending from Long Island through Virginia in 2016. For more on the ROA, watch
this presentation from a Jan. 29 forum hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO).

Meeting to Focus on Upcoming Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan

beach sunsetKey steps will be taken toward the creation of a first-ever Ocean Action Plan for the region when the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body (MidA RPB) meets in Baltimore from March 22-24. UCI staff will join government agencies, technical experts, tribal representatives, members of the public and other stakeholders in collaborative discussions that are expected to lead to the release of a draft of the Plan in June.

An agenda for the meeting and several other informational materials have been posted online. During the meeting, the MidA RPB will discuss draft components of the Plan and next steps, including release of the draft Plan for public review and comment this summer.

The meeting will take place at the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards. All interested parties are welcome to attend.

Registration is encouraged for planning purposes, but is not required for the meeting. For more information, visit the
MidA RPB website or email

Strengthening the Jersey Shore’ Symposium March 29

The UCI’s Dr. Michael Schwebel will serve as a presenter at the March 29 coastal resilience symposium “Strengthening the Jersey Shore” in Wall Township. The event is being co-organized by the Monmouth-Ocean Development Council and Mott MacDonald.

boardwalk damage

Schwebel, a Community Resilience and Climate Adaptation Specialist for the UCI and the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, will discuss his work helping Shore area towns become better prepared for major coastal storms, sea level rise and other climate change impacts.

Additional presentations will cover topics including the COP21 climate change summit, adaptation initiatives in the U.S., sea level rise in New Jersey, and preparing for economic and infrastructure disruptions. A panel discussion will focus on the lessons from January’s Winter Storm Jonas.

The symposium will be held from 8 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. at the New Jersey Natural Gas office located at 1415 Wyckoff Road.

Enter the UCI’s 2016 Ocean Stories Photo Contest

The UCI invites Monmouth University students and alumni to enter its 2016 Ocean Stories Photo Contest. We welcome images that tell a story about the places, people and marine life on our Shore. Scenes from coastal beaches, bays, estuaries and the ocean are welcome.

ocean stories photo contest

Cash prizes of $300 will be awarded for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place. The top 12 images will be included in a 2017 UCI calendar, with proceeds from its sale funding student research activities.


  • No more than two images per entrant
  • Only Monmouth University students and alumni are eligible
  • Submissions should be horizontal high-resolution (300 dpi) images, 11″x8.5″ or larger
  • Professional photographers may not enter
  • Images MUST be original work of entrant and not bound by any publishing restrictions. Photographers will retain the copyright to their work. However, UCI retains the right to reproduce winning entries in print and online promotions related to the calendar.


Return this completed form with photos by April 24 to Winners will be announced by May 3. Questions may be directed to Karl Vilacoba at or 732-571-3688.

Apply Now for Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Summer Research Grants

The UCI is now accepting proposals for 2016 student-faculty research funding through the Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Summer Research Grant Program. Funding is available to support natural and social science, humanities, economic and public policy research involving faculty and students from any school or department at Monmouth University.

East River Oysters

Along with the Marine Science & Policy Initiative, the Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Summer Research Grant Program is one of two UCI funding vehicles that empower students to hone their craft through hands-on, real world work experiences. Projects have often exemplified the UCI’s commitment to coastal stewardship and made a positive impact in the communities where they took place.

Research projects should address issues that further the UCI’s mission and address one or more of the program and research areas outlined in
this application form. Special consideration will be given to projects that advance the University Strategic Plan and demonstrate relevance to coastal community needs, local community partnerships, and those that leverage other sources of support.

Grants are available to all Monmouth undergraduate and master’s students in good standing. Students submitting proposals must identify a faculty sponsor and mentor to oversee their research, and faculty submitting a proposal should identify sponsored students.

Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Summer Research Grants are given in her memory. A lifelong resident of the Monmouth County shore area, she loved to surf and spend time at the beach. Her father, Robert Sculthorpe, is a graduate of Monmouth University and a former Chairman of the University of the Board of Trustees.

Proposals should be submitted by April 15. Those submitted later will be considered on a rolling basis thereafter, pending the availability of funds.

[Note: UCI funding is also available to students through the School of Science’s Summer Research Program (SRP) and the UCI’s Marine Science & Policy Initiative. For those who applied for these other project awards, they will be considered separately. Please do not submit duplicate applications.]

Panel of Current & Former Students to Discuss UCI-Supported Projects

10 Year Icon

Join us during Student Scholarship Week to meet a panel of current and former Monmouth University students who engaged in UCI-sponsored research and special projects.

At the April 19 event, students will describe innovative work that are underway or were completed with UCI assistance and how they’re furthering their educational goals. The panel discussion will be followed by an audience Q&A with the students.

The panel will be held at the Magill Commons Dining Room from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It will be immediately followed by a light luncheon and opportunity to mingle with the panel in the adjacent Magill Hall Lounge. For more information, contact Susan Kennedy at

UCI Advisory Committee Member Appointed to Obama Administration Post

President Barack Obama has appointed UCI Advisory Committee member Raymond Bogan as United States Commissioner on the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

Bogan, a partner at the law firm of Sinn, Fitzsimmons, Cantoli, Bogan, West and Steuerman P.A, has served as an Alternate United States Commissioner on the ICCAT and has been a member of its Advisory Committee since 2003, along with a previous term from 1992 to 1996. He was a member of the original Highly Migratory Species Advisory Committee to the National Marine Fisheries Service and served on the New Jersey Fisheries Information and Development Commission from 2001 to 2007. He joined the UCI Advisory Committee in 2008.

Commenting on the appointment of Bogan and three other individuals to key Administration posts, Obama said, “These fine public servants bring a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their important roles. I look forward to working with them.”

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