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September 2018 Newsletter

Former Govs. Kean, Florio and Other Coastal and Ocean Champions to Be Honored October 9 at Monmouth University

The Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute (UCI) will honor two former New Jersey governors, Thomas Kean and James Florio, and four others who have worked to protect the shore and marine environments at the 14th Annual Coastal and Ocean Champion Awards on Oct. 9. The event, which is open to the public, will also celebrate the 40th anniversary of New Jersey’s Coastal Management Program and recognize several individuals who have made significant contributions to its success over the years.

The UCI will present its highest honor, the National Champion of the Ocean Award, to the New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance, represented by its honorary co-chairs, Govs. Florio and Kean. The Alliance was formed in 2011 as a network of partner organizations dedicated to enhancing New Jersey’s capacity to plan for and respond to a changing climate. The Alliance has focused on climate change preparedness in key impacted sectors, including public health, watersheds, rivers, coastal communities, built infrastructure, agriculture and natural resources.

In addition to his leadership on the Alliance, Kean was known as a strong advocate for New Jersey’s coast while governor from 1982-90. He led an effort to successfully oppose a federal proposal for offshore oil and gas development off the coast of New Jersey, signed legislation curbing overdevelopment in waterfront areas, and crafted a joint plan with then-New York Gov. Mario Cuomo to end ocean dumping.

Florio was an environmental leader as a member of Congress from 1975-90, authoring legislation that launched the Superfund Program and working ensure to the passage of the Medical Waste Tracking Act. As governor from 1990-94, he strengthened penalties for industrial water polluters and permanently ended the practice of dumping sewage sludge in the ocean.

“New Jersey is lucky to have had two true ocean champions serving during what may have been our beaches’ greatest hour of need,” said UCI Director Tony MacDonald. “Governors Kean and Florio worked tirelessly to combat pollution problems that posed serious threats to public health and the Jersey Shore’s economy in the 1980s and early 1990s. Today, their leadership of the Alliance will ensure protections for future generations and that New Jersey is prepared to adapt to climate impacts. Their actions have set a standard for all governors to work across party and state lines in support of healthy beaches and marine environments.”

The UCI will also present its Coastal and Ocean Leadership Award to David Kinsey and John Weingart, who were instrumental in the design, 1978 approval and early implementation of the Coastal Management Program; former New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Commissioner Mark Mauriello, who spent his career at the agency as an advocate for coastal conservation and management of coastal hazards; and Rutgers University Professor Emeritus Norbert Psuty, a coastal geomorphologist whose long and distinguished career helped build a greater understanding of the history and evolution of the Jersey coast, and the impact of development on its natural processes.

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 former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta, ocean explorer Robert Ballard, marine biologist Sylvia Earle, oceanographer Jean-Michael Cousteau, and former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.

The reception will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the historic Great Hall. The cost is $100 for individual tickets, with proceeds to benefit the UCI and student research scholarships.  Event information is available online or you may contact Doris Meyer at or 732-263-5662.


Monmouth U. Appoints Rechnitz Family UCI Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy

Monmouth University has named Randall S. Abate its inaugural Rechnitz Family Urban Coast Institute Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy. In this new position, Abate will conduct research and teach courses on environmental, climate change, marine and coastal, animal, and constitutional law and policy.

Abate will serve as a tenured professor in the Political Science and Sociology Department while also being affiliated with the Urban Coast Institute (UCI). He joins the Monmouth faculty with 24 years of full-time teaching experience at six U.S. law schools, most recently from 2009-2018 at Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando.

He will teach undergraduate level classes which he expects could draw a mix of students from science, social science, humanities, and business backgrounds. That is because climate change has become what he calls “the ultimate interdisciplinary topic,” impacting people’s lives on so many levels. He is eager to teach and mentor students who are considering law school and careers in environmental and public policy.

“Especially with what I teach, the earlier you get the message out, the better,” Abate said. “With climate change, you want to train tomorrow’s environmental leaders when they’re 18, not when they’re 24 or 25.”

Calling the opportunity at Monmouth “irresistible,” the Cheshire, Connecticut, native said he was thrilled to return to his roots in the Northeast. Prior to moving to Florida in 2006, he taught at Rutgers University School of Law (Camden), Widener University School of Law (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) and Vermont Law School, and handled environmental law matters at two firms in New York City. He obtained his juris doctorate and M.S.E.L. (environmental law and policy) degrees from Vermont Law School and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester.

Professor Abate has published five influential books, including “Climate Change Impacts on Ocean and Coastal Law: U.S. and International Perspectives” (Oxford University Press 2015). He has also written more than 30 law journal articles and book chapters on environmental and animal law topics, with a recent emphasis on climate change law and justice. He is currently working as the sole author on his sixth book project, “Climate Change and the Voiceless,” which will be published by Cambridge University Press in the summer of 2019.

“The book will address how the law is starting to consider ways to protect the vulnerable and marginalized who have no legal voice. The three categories I’m focusing on are future generations, or the unborn; animals; and natural resources,” he said. “Right now there’s a movement across all three of those domains to give them legal protections even though they can’t speak for themselves.”

Abate noted that animal law is a deep field of study that deals with how people interface with animals from societal and legal perspectives. It can encompass topics as diverse as how pets are treated by the courts in divorce proceedings, protection of marine endangered species, agriculture and food law and policy reform to promote animal protection, and veterinary malpractice.

The chair was endowed by a gift from Joan and Robert Rechnitz. Mr. Rechnitz is a professor emeritus of English and Mrs. Rechnitz a Monmouth graduate. Joan and Robert Rechnitz Hall on campus is also home to the University’s Department of Art and Design. In 2014, the Rechnitzes also made the initial donation that led to a successful $5 million challenge grant fundraising campaign to support the UCI’s Marine Science and Policy Initiative. The Initiative has since supported numerous student-faculty research projects, classroom innovation, and science and educational symposia in collaboration with Rockefeller University’s Program for the Human Environment.


Videos: Students Present Summer Research Projects

Twenty-one students who completed nine UCI-funded projects shared their work with visitors at the 2018 Monmouth University School of Science Summer Research Program Symposium on Aug. 9. The annual event provides students and their faculty mentors with an opportunity to stage exhibits and discuss their work with members of the public, faculty and their peers.

Scroll down to watch some of this year’s participants discuss their projects. A booklet with abstracts for all of this year’s Summer Research Program projects is available for download.

A Comparison of Phytoplankton and Water Quality in Two Estuaries in Neighboring Watersheds of Monmouth County

Erin Conlon and Sydney Lucas

Temporal Monitoring of the Endangered Atlantic Sturgeon in Sandy Hook and Raritan Bay

Troy Ohntrup

Collaborative Efforts to Evaluate the Demographics and Post-Release Movements of Sharks Captured in the Recreational Land-Based Surf Fishery

Lauren Kelly

Nutrient Bioassay Experiments in Deal Lake Find Nitrogen Limiting to Harmful Algal Bloom Growth in Summer Season

Katelyn Saldutti


Tony MacDonald Discusses Repetitive Flooding on Jersey Matters

What can be done to counter repetitive flooding in coastal neighborhoods? UCI Director Tony MacDonald sits down with the public affairs show Jersey Matters to discuss the issue as well as Monmouth University’s new research vessel and other student-faculty initiatives.


Gaffney Article Examines Connections Between Ocean Exploration and National Prosperity  

More Info on Fall 2018 Bridge (Ocean Exploration and its Engineering Challenges)The fall issue of the quarterly magazine of the National Academy of Engineering, The Bridge, features an article by Monmouth University President Emeritus and UCI Ocean Policy Fellow Paul G. Gaffney. In the article, America’s Ocean Observations: A Perspective, Gaffney notes that “America is the greatest maritime nation, a nation whose place in the middle of the global ocean system has enabled prosperous trade and a unique security situation. Yet that ocean system is still largely unexplored, under-surveyed, and sparsely observed.”


The Book of Ice: Multimedia Performance by Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky

Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, will visit Monmouth University on Oct. 2 to present his The Book of Ice—a multimedia performance and discussion he will stage with musicians from campus and the region. The free event, co-sponsored by the Center for the Arts and the UCI, will be held at the Pollak Theatre at 6 p.m.

Drawing on the Antarctica’s rich history of inspiring exploration and artistic endeavors, Miller has put together his own multimedia, multidisciplinary study of the continent. The Book of Ice is one aspect of this ongoing project. In this multimedia talk, Miller discusses his journeys to Antarctica, climate change, and the creation of The Book of Ice, using Antarctica-related data to create maps, graphics, sound, music, and multimedia performances. Learn more about this event.


Webinar: Mapping Marine Life on the East Coast

UCI Communications Director Karl Vilacoba will be among the presenters in a webinar Friday that provides a tour of roughly 3,000 interactive maps depicting fish, birds and marine mammals on the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portals. This free and public session will cover how the data was aggregated, demonstrate how to operate the maps on the Portals, and conclude with an open Q&A with the presenters. Learn more and register.