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Fall 2017 Newsletter

  • Greetings from the NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center!

    In this issue of the NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center newsletter, we are proud to share research co-authored by NOAA LMRCSC principal investigator at Oregon State University Jessica Miller, Ph.D., which was featured on the cover of Science magazine. Also, take a moment to “meet” the first cohort of students from our Fiscal Year 2016 award! Learn more about these impressive undergraduate and graduate students, their research, and career aspirations. We’re also excited to share the accomplishments of students and summer interns and announce the winner of new scholarship, which honors Scott B. Gudes, a longstanding supporter of marine resource management and education and former NOAA official who played a crucial role in the establishment of the NOAA Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI).

    Thank you,

    Paulinus Chigbu, Ph.D.
    Director, NOAA LMRCSC

    Research Highlights

    Research co-authored by NOAA LMRCSC scientist featured on cover of Science magazine

    Science MagazineJessica Miller, Ph.D., NOAA LMRCSC principal investigator at Oregon State University, co-authored research on tsunami-driven rafting that was featured on the cover Science magazine.  



    Student Highlights

    Stephanie Martinez-Rivera is the first recipient of the NOAA LMRCSC’s Scott B. Gudes Scholarship 

    Stephanie Martinez RiveraStephanie Martinez-Rivera, a NOAA LMRCSC doctoral student at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, earned the inaugural Scott B. Gudes Public Service Graduate Scholarship in Marine Resource Conservation.

    This one-year scholarship is awarded to a NOAA LMRCSC master’s or doctoral student pursuing a degree in a NOAA Fisheries related discipline whose research has a strong potential to contribute to the advancement of marine resource conservation and who has played an exemplary role in public service. 

    The recipient commits to working on collaborative research with NOAA or state agencies and to conducting outreach to and engagement with the commercial or recreational fishing community.

    Martinez-Rivera plans to develop a fisheries science education campaign targeted at students in grades 4 to 12, with the goal of educating them about the importance of marine resources and conservation. The primary product of this campaign will be a video story, available in Spanish and English, illustrating why scientists and the public need to understand the biology of marine species to improve conservation and generate solutions. 

    AFS Cleanup“Since the beginning of my graduate career I have been working closely with the commercial fishing community,” Martinez-Rivera said. “I found it very easy to relate with fishermen because fishing is also an important part of my culture. Growing up on a Caribbean Island, Puerto Rico, taught me the importance of marine resource conservation and public education.”

    Martinez-Rivera has also worked as a Marine Science Educator for Sea Grant Puerto Rico, which deepened her passion for outreach and working with communities that have a connection with marine resources and ecosystems. Martinez-Rivera also served as the American Fisheries Society UMES Student Subunit president, where she worked to revive the Annual Aquatic and Fisheries Science Symposium, an event for scientists, fishermen, and the public. 

    In summer 2018, Martinez-Rivera plans to work with Dr. Chris Long at the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center’s Kodiak Laboratory where she will learn about the wide range of research on various crab and shellfish species native to the Gulf of Alaska, the Bering Sea, the Arctic Sea and the Beaufort Sea. The Kodiak Laboratory’s Shellfish Assessment Program aligns closely with Martinez-Rivera’s research on red deep-sea crab reproductive biology and how understanding it can improve management.

    The Scott B. Gudes Public Service Graduate Scholarship was established in 2016 in honor of Scott B. Gudes who is an avid fisherman and a longstanding supporter of marine resource management and education. Gudes played a key role in the establishment of NOAA Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI). He served as Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Assistant Administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 1998 to 2003 and as the Acting Administrator/Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere throughout 2001. He is currently the Vice President of Government Affairs at the American Sportfishing Association.

    Photo caption: (Right) Martinez-Rivera with the AFS Student Subunit at the 2015 International Coastal Cleanup Day. 

    Three NOAA LMRCSC students earn Knauss Fellowships for 2018

    Knauss Fellows 2018 horizontalThree NOAA LMRCSC students will join the 2018 class of the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, sponsored by NOAA Sea Grant. Chante Davis, a doctoral alumna of Oregon State University; Ammar Hanif, doctoral student at University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology; and Noelle Olsen, master’s student at UMES, earned this competitive fellowship. 

    The Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship, named after one of Sea Grant's founders, former NOAA Administrator, John A. Knauss, matches highly qualified graduate students with "hosts" in the legislative and executive branch of government located in the Washington, D.C. area, for a one-year paid fellowship. The result is a unique educational experience for graduate students who are interested in the national policy decisions affecting ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources.

    Several LMRCSC alumni have received the award in prior years, including Rebecca Peters (2017), Symone Johnson (2016), Efeturi Oghenekaro (2016), Larry Redd (2016), Jhoset Burgos-Rodriguez (2016), Jeanette Davis (2015), and Emily Tewes (2014).
    The finalists will learn more about their positions and placements later this year. 

    Photo caption: From left to right, Noelle Olsen, Chante Davis, and Ammar Hanif. 

    Price Fenwick

    NSF REU Program trains rising sophomores in marine science

    After completing just one year of their degree, highly qualified undergraduates from across the country traveled to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) this summer to jumpstart their research careers. These student interns conducted research that will answer scientific questions about marine species, contribute to ongoing and more extensive research projects, and eventually influence fisheries management decisions. 

    Thirteen students hailing from universities such as the University of Puerto Rico, University of Texas at Austin, Hampton University (HU), and the University of Rhode Island, participated in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) in Marine and Estuarine Science program, which is directed by Paulinus Chigbu, Ph.D. and coordinated by Margaret Sexton, Ph.D. 

    REU interns not only built relationships with new mentors and conducted hands-on research, but also complemented their experience with professional development workshops and educational field trips. 

    The research projects interns conducted included topics such as a heavy metal analysis of ocean water in the Maryland Coastal Bays (MCBs), zooplankton distribution along a salinity gradient in the (MCBs), and the frequency of Vibrio parahaemolitycus and Vibrio vulnificus in blue crabs and seawater of the MCBs.

    Ileana Fenwick, a sophomore at HU, studied black sea bass with her graduate student mentor André Price and LMRCSC Distinguished Research Scientist Brad Stevens, Ph.D. Fenwick’s project compared fat content and body mass conditions of cultivated black sea bass with wild-caught fish near Ocean City, MD. Fenwick measured the fat/oil content, length, weight and liver weight, and processed her data using R Studio. The conclusions from the research will contribute to the aquaculture and management of black sea bass. 

    “Through this experience I got the chance to learn what it is like to work consistently with live animals,” Fenwick said. “I also learned about the hard work and diligence it takes to complete data collection and learn data analysis.”

    REU Symposium-Group“This program interested me, because it is a LMRCSC program and I come from an LMRCSC partner institution (HU),” Fenwick said. “This experience has shown me that fisheries management may become a part of my future career which I hope to be focused on marine policy and sustainable resource management.”

    Melati Tarrant, a sophomore at University of Rhode Island in Kingston evaluated fecundity estimation methods on Jonah crabs using digital image analysis, under the supervision of Stevens and Noelle Olsen, a graduate student in the Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences program at UMES.

    After being a part of the REU program, Tarrant said, “I want to stay in STEM, and marine biology. [Being a part of the program] has helped me decide what I may or may not want to do in the future. It has also given me more motivation to work very hard academically so that I can succeed in the future.”

    Tarrant credited the program for helping her improve her skills in reading and analyzing scientific papers, analyzing data, writing proposals, designing scientific posters, and creating presentations.

    “I was also able to experience more lab work that I had never done before… I was able to get an introduction on ImageJ software and got to learn a little bit about R studio. I was also able to make better connections with people in my field.”

    The interns also participated in a peer mentoring workshop with REU interns from the Maryland Sea Grant program, visited the NASA Wallops Flight Facility and the Paul S. Sarbanes Coastal Ecology Center, and conducted field work, data analysis and laboratory activities.

    Two REU participants were funded by the Quality Education for Minorities Network and four were funded by the NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center’s experiential training for rising sophomores initiative. The rest of the interns were funded by NSF award number 0453251.

    Photo captions: (Top) Ileana Fenwick, REU intern, and Andre Pricé, MEES graduate student at UMES; (right) REU interns at the program's final symposium in August 2017. 


    Elkins Award Rose JagusIMET's Rose Jagus awarded Elkins Professorship

    This story has been reprinted with permission from UMCES. Read the original story at

    Professor Rose Jagus of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) has been awarded the Wilson H. Elkins Professorship by the University System of Maryland for her contributions to increasing the diversity of scientists working in the marine sciences. She is the director of the Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center’s summer undergraduate internship program at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) in Baltimore.

    “Although the UMCES faculty have consistently been honored with Regents Awards, this is the first, highly selective Elkins Professorship that UMCES has ever received,” said President Don Boesch. “Under this professorship Rose will support and broaden the minority summer internship program at IMET that has been supported by the Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center.  I am sure this will be a big boost to our efforts to broaden participation in marine science.”

    The Elkins Professorship is intended to supplement an existing faculty program where there is an opportunity to make an important contribution to the teaching research and public service mission of the institution and the entire University System of Maryland.

    Since 2001, Dr. Jagus has served as Project Director of the Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center (LMRCSC) at IMET. The LMRCSC is a minority training program funded by NOAA's Educational Partnership Program and led by Dr. Paulinus Chigbu at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES). In the past, Dr. Jagus has received LMRCSC funds sufficient to support both undergraduate and graduate students. However, in the current funding cycle, 2016-2020, flexibility to support a summer undergraduate internship program at IMET has been lost. The $60,000 Professorship will allow her to continue minority undergraduate training at IMET while she secures alternate funding for the future.

    “The award is great recognition for Rose’s work over many years in leading the minority internship program at IMET,” said Russell Hill, director of the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology.

    In the last 15 years, the summer program has supported more than 150 minority undergraduate internships at IMET from a wide variety of institutions including the LMRCSC partners, UMES, Delaware State University, Hampton University, Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences (RSMAS), Savannah State University, as well as UMBC, College Park, Coppin University, University of Baltimore and Morgan State University and other institutions in the United States and Puerto Rico. Many of these students have gone on to further education and training in NOAA-relevant areas.

    This program has graduated three master's students, six Ph.D. students, and currently supports three Ph.D. students, as well as co-mentoring students from partner institutions. The co-mentoring of UMES students and the participation of UMES undergraduate interns in the summer program has also led to the development of research collaborations between UMCES-IMET and UMES faculty to the benefit of both our institutions. Dr. Jagus will be able to expand the scope to cover also marine microbial ecology, algal fuel biotechnology, and marine natural products.

    “As we have come to understand, all students from institutions of inclusiveness are better equipped to go out and function well in our diverse world,” said Jagus.

    Jagus received the University of Maryland Regents Award for collaboration in teaching in 2005 and was recently promoted to full professor at UMCES’ Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology.

    Photo caption: Elkins Fellowship recipient Dr. Rose Jagus with LMRCSC students, from left to right, Amanda Lawrence, Shadaesha Green, Ammar Hanif, and Malisa Smith. 


    Hunter HowardNOAA LMRCSC students dive into The Diversity Project

    NOAA LMRCSC students Hunter Howard, of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), and Nefertiti Smith, of Hampton University (HU), spent their summers snorkeling and diving on coral reefs off the island of Mo’orea as part of The Diversity Project, a “transformative international undergraduate research program that promotes diversity in the sciences.”

    As part of the project, Howard, Smith and seven other students spent 45 days at University of California (UC) Berkeley's Richard A. Gump South Pacific Research Station in Mo’orea, French Polynesia and four weeks in Los Angeles. The students earned their SCUBA diving certification and immediately applied their diving, snorkeling and swimming skills to field research projects. If admitted to a UC doctoral program, students will receive competitive funding packages offering at least four years of funding (tuition and fees and stipend/salary support).

    Howard, Smith and two other students worked as a group on a research project titled, "Macroalgal predictability, quantity, and species assemblage affect estimates of herbivory rate and herbivore selectivity on coral reefs," under the direction of Dr. Peggy Fong, UCLA; Dr. Caitlin Fong, UC Santa Barbara; Dr. Paul Barber, UCLA; and Dr. Sennai Habtes, University of the Virgin Islands.

    The group used herbivory assays, or assessments of how much algae is eaten in a given period of time, to understand which geographical areas continuously attract fish. The goal of this study was to assess the typical methods scientists use to study herbivory assays. 

    According to Howard, macroalgal growths can crowd corals in this area, so studying herbivory can help control the growth in the future. 

    Nefertiti Smith DivingHoward spent his mornings in Mo’orea collecting Padina, which is a type of algae, from the waters near the Gump Research Station. Then, the team would portion out a specific weight of algae and attach it to a rope using either clothespins, cable ties, or rope twists. The next step was to attach the algae to coral reef structures by tying the rope around the whole reef or attaching it to a nearby rock or rubble. The team would come back after several days to see what percentage of the algae had been eaten. 

    Both Smith and Howard said that they learned just how hard conducting field work in marine sciences is, but that they definitely would enjoy pursuing it as a career. 

    “The Diversity Project [has shown] me that I truly love to do field research in marine environments. My group (even during SCUBA training) had to go out in the field every day, rain or shine,” Howard said. “And still, I am mesmerized by the beauty of the scenery and the fish.”  

    Howard, who has been a part of the NOAA LMRCSC at UMES since 2014, added that being a part of the NOAA LMRCSC at UMES “prepared me for this program by granting me the knowledge of how to conduct oneself in the lab, how to work with advisors in formulating a plan for the future, and … how to record and organize data.” 

    Howard and Smith will soon be co-authors on a paper about the research, led by Dr. Caitlin Fong, and are preparing to submit an abstract to present their work in poster format at the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography meeting next year.  

    Photo captions: (Top) Hunter Howard, senior NOAA LMRCSC undergraduate scholar at UMES; (right) Nefertiti Smith, junior NOAA LMRCSC undergraduate scholar at HU

    Cohort One"Meet" the first cohort of NOAA EPP LMRCSC Scholars

    The NOAA LMRCSC is proud to introduce its first cohort of students in the FY 2016 NOAA EPP award. The cohort is made up of 21 students from the LMRCSC’s seven partner institutions. Five students are working toward doctoral degrees, seven are working on Master of Science degrees, and ten are working toward Bachelor of Science degrees. 

    Learn more about these students’ research and academic interests

    Photo caption: From left to right, NOAA EPP LMRCSC undergraduate scholars at UMES India Oliver, Nylah McClain, and Nakia Coit. 

    Geosciences-HeaderGeosciences Bridge Program gives rising freshmen head start 

    Eight rising freshmen spent six weeks of their summer exploring the geosciences, earning college credit and getting a head start on their college careers as part of the Geosciences Bridge Program funded by NSF and the NOAA LMRCSC at UMES. The program, established collaboratively by the directors of the four NOAA EPP Cooperative Science Centers, introduces students to fields within geosciences through lectures and workshops, STEM activities, field trips, hands-on group research projects, and for-credit coursework.  

    Geosciences-DealIsland(1)“The students in this year’s Geosciences Bridge Program had a very full summer. They devoted their time to exploring geosciences topics, learning about potential careers, participating in professional development activities, and getting a head start on college coursework,” said Geosciences Program Coordinator Onjalé Scott. “We hope that they left UMES well-acquainted with the wealth of academic and professional paths in science and with inspiration and preparation to have a successful start to their college career.”

    Student participants took a math or science course and the Freshmen Seminar course for college credit. They also went on field trips to the University or Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences Horn Point Lab Oyster Hatchery, the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, the Chincoteague Bay Field Station, and the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science Cooperative Oxford Laboratory. 

    “This program was a great experience. I was able to get started on classes, and was able to see how college life was going to be,” Genesis Mason, a program participant said. “I would recommend this program to any incoming freshman because you are able to learn and have a great summer all at once!”

    The students experienced field research methods such as collecting benthic invertebrates at particular sites in the Chesapeake Bay. They also went seining at Chincoteague Bay Field Station and fishing near Ocean City on the Bay Bee. 

    Geosciences-Desmond-2While on campus, they attended professional development sessions, 4-H activities, and lectures on GIS/Remote Sensing, marine and atmospheric science. The group also attended two classes with the AgDiscovery program, sponsored by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, to expand the students’ exposure to agricultural science fields and careers. 

    To conclude the program, students worked on a group research projects, which they presented to the faculty, friends and family at a final symposium on August 10, 2017. Five of the interns enrolled at UMES and began college in the Fall 2017 semester after completing the program. 

    The Geosciences Bridge Program will open applications for next summer in late 2017. Learn more about this program at

    Photo captions: (Top) Geosciences Bridge Program participants at their final symposium in August 2017; (top right) Research Assistant Professor Ozeum Oseji showing participants the parts of a niskin bottle before deployment; (bottom right) Desmond Love, Geosciences Program participant and NOAA EPP LMRCSC undergraduate scholar at UMES, displays an unknown species of jellyfish. 

    LMRCSC in the News

    Below is a sampling of NOAA LMRCSC students and faculty in recent news. A full list of news coverage is available upon request.

    A Day in the Life of Darius Sanford –  Field Fresh, a NEFSC blog
    August 2, 2017 – Darius Sanford, a marine science major at Savannah State University, served as a summer intern with the Sandy Hook Internship Program at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s Howard Laboratory in New Jersey.

    Shark Washes Ashore in Ocean City - Channel 47 WMDT, ABC Affiliate
    July 25, 2017 – Eric May, Ph.D., a NOAA LMRCSC scientist at UMES, provides information on the type of shark that washed ashore in Ocean City this summer. 

    From Beaches to the Bottom of the Sea, Microplastics Are Everywhere - NOAA Fisheries
    July 3, 2017 – NOAA LMRCSC scientist Ashok Deshpande, Ph.D., describes his research with Beth Sharack of the NEFSC’s Sandy Hook Lab on the impact of chemicals in the marine environment, particularly microplastics.  

  • NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    University of Maryland Eastern Shore (Lead Institution)
    (410) 651-7870
    Award numbers: FY 2016 Award #NA16SEC4810007 
    Funding Agency: NOAA Educational Partnership Program with Minority-Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI)
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