Through innovative education of talented graduate, undergraduate, and high school students, the I/UCRCs are providing the next generation of scientists with a broad, industrially oriented perspective on research and management practices.

SCEMFIS Funded Students

Samantha Alaimo: Graduate Student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Samantha (Sam) Alaimo is a PhD student studying oceanography at Rutgers University under Dr. Josh Kohut. Working with Dr. Jeff Burst and his colleagues at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.  Sam hopes to better assess decadal and seasonal trends of frequently caught species compared to trends in oceanographic features, such as the cold pool. Comparing fish abundance and biomass to changes in the cold pool over time would identify key environmental factors that influence fish distributions and allow for a baseline to be established prior to the construction of offshore wind.

Garrett Bellin: Undergraduate Student at William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia

Garrett Bellin is a sophomore at William & Mary studying applied statistics and data science. He is a researcher for the William & Mary Center for Geospatial Analysis, performing GIS analyses for various clients. Currently, he is working with Dr. Roger Mann using GIS mapping to find cod spawning locations and determine how they are affected by ocean warming trends. Using the DOPPIO and GLORYS ocean temperature datasets, ideal temperatures for cod spawning will be ascertained and overlaid with substrate and cod location data. Garrett hopes to be able to create GIS models that can predict future cod spawning grounds as ocean temperatures continue to rise. Policy changes could ultimately be affected which address the location and boundary of the Great South Channel Habitat Management Area near Nantucket.

William & Mary News Article: No more cod on Cape Cod?

Reid Calhoun: Graduate Student at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, William & Mary, Gloucester Point, Virginia

Reid Calhoun is a master’s student working with Dr. Andrew Scheld to study questions related to human use and management in fisheries and aquaculture. Reid is actively engaged in a variety of research projects that are aimed at understanding the impacts of offshore wind energy development on the seafood industry. These projects include assessing the potential for stranded capital and capital devaluation from reductions in fishing activity due to offshore wind energy development. Additional projects include researching the economic viability of multi-trophic aquaculture within offshore wind energy areas and a quantitative assessment of fishing behavior in scallop, Atlantic surfclam, and ocean quahog fisheries impacted by offshore wind energy development.

Olivia Cohn: Undergraduate Student at William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia

Olivia (Livvie) Cohn is an undergraduate student U.S. Coast Guard veteran studying biology and marine science at William & Mary and is working with Dr. Roger Mann and Alex Marquardt as a Laboratory Technician in the VIMS Molluscan Ecology Lab. She has been assisting Alex in her PhD research by using image analysis to help track early growth and death rates of oyster spat. Livvie hopes to eventually take on individual research, gain more experience engaging with the local community, and fisheries management.

Emma Coltman: Graduate Student at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Emma Coltman is a master’s student studying coastal sciences under Dr. Eric Powell. Her main research is located in the western region of the Mississippi Sound centered around modeling Eastern oyster larval performances. The model is based on environmental and food influences surrounding growth and development of Eastern oyster larvae. Emma hopes that research will demonstrate the importance of re-establishing Eastern oyster populations in response to recent declines within the Mississippi Sound; therefore, predicting future generations of successful metamorphosis and settlement of larvae. 

Emily Gaudet: Undergraduate Student at Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, Louisiana

Emily Gaudet is a undergraduate student at Nicholls State University majoring in Biology Pre-med. She is currently working with Dr. Justine Whitaker as an REU student on a coastal predatory diet study. Emily is focusing on speckled trout Cynoscion nebulosus collected from all five coastal study areas in Louisiana. She is using sequencing to identify prey that in conventional diet studies might be labeled as unidentified with the hope of providing a more complete picture of the speckled trout diet.  

Nathan Kennedy: Undergraduate Student at the University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas

Nathan Kennedy is a senior civil engineering major at the University of Texas at Austin. He is working with the Ocean Engineering Group at UT as an undergraduate research assistant, using CFD software to model and analyze the performance of a clam dredge. His focus lies in optimizing the design of the manifold by minimizing the energy losses of fluid flow through it, which he achieves by using programs like Fluent and Tecplot 360 to model the velocity and pressure distributions of various manifold designs.

James Klein: Graduate Student at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, Mississippi

James Klein is a master’s student studying coastal sciences under Dr. Eric Powell. His primary research revolved around modeling Eastern oyster larval performance in the Mississippi Sound and Delaware Bay. James hopes to provide insight on how in situ environmental and food conditions influence larval development, survival, and ultimately recruitment limitation and population recovery in the western MS Sound following recent mass mortality events. Additionally, James is working with Cape May Salt Oyster Farms (associated with Atlantic Cape Fisheries) in Port Norris, New Jersey, to compare the performance of various triploid oyster genetic lines in novel subtidal aquaculture gear. His research will identify oyster lines that exhibit favorable traits for the aquaculture industry and half shell market, such as fast growth, high survivorship, adequate meat content, and uniform shell shape. 

Thais Lobo-Emond: Undergraduate Student at the University of Texas at Austin, TX

Thais Lobo-Emond is a senior Civil Engineering student at the University of Texas at Austin. She has been working with the Ocean Engineering Group on Computational Fluid Dynamic modeling, under the supervision of Dr. Spyros Kinnas. In her position as an Undergraduate Research Assistant, Thais has learned to work with software such as Ansys, SolidWorks, and Fluent to model flows and analyze velocity, pressure, force, moments, and other flow characteristics. Thais has been using these software to improve the design of the jets of a clam dredge for better overall performance.

Whitney Morgan: Undergraduate student at William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA

Whitney Morgan is a junior at William & Mary studying economics and mathematics. She is a research assistant for Dr. Andrew Scheld and is working on a project exploring the seasonality of fisheries in Virginia bodies of water over the past 30 years. The research involves analyzing time series data of the landings and prices to determine annual peaks and trends. The goal of the project is to investigate the impact of warming water temperatures on the phenology of certain species, as well as the economic implications.

Autumn Moya: Graduate Student at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Autumn Moya is a master’s student studying Coastal Sciences at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is working with Dr. Eric Powell to better understand the effects offshore wind energy developments could have on the future of the Atlantic surfclam fishery. Her research is focused on the Northeast US Continental Shelf, where near-term offshore wind energy areas are projected to overlap with commercially important species of clams. Autumn is modeling the potential habitat distribution of these clams for different scenarios of the offshore wind projects. This will be further analyzed for future impacts on the Atlantic surfclam fishery with the Spatially Explicit Fishery Economics Simulator (SEFES). She is interested in the implications of ocean multi-use with respect to the sustainability of marine fisheries and how these industries can successfully work with renewable energy developments.

Brett Renken: Undergraduate Student at the University of West Florida, Pensacola, Florida

Brett Renken is from Oak Lawn, Illinois and is currently an undergraduate student at the University of West Florida, majoring in Marine Biology. He is working with Dr. Justine Whitaker as an REU student in the Coastal Genomics Lab at Nicholls State University. Brett’s project is part of a larger diet study and he is focusing on Spanish mackerel Scomberomorus maculatus. He is performing dissections to remove gut contents, extracting DNA from the contents, and then sequencing to identify the contents to the lowest taxonomic level. He has also assisted with field work for other graduate students at Nicholls State, ranging from terrapin surveys at Grand Isle, Louisiana, collecting environmental DNA samples for mussel and fish species at sites in the Sabine and Calcasieu basins.

Austin Sanchez: Undergraduate Student at the University of Texas at Austin, TX

My name is Austin Sanchez and I am a 2nd year student majoring in Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas. I joined the Ocean Engineering Group’s research team in the spring of my 1st year and I’ve been working with them since then. My role is on the experimental side. I’ve been working a project in which we are trying to optimize jet speeds in a clam dredge. I’ve been designing the clam dredge manifold and jets with 3D software and 3D printing them here on campus. There have been many challenges and logistical obstacles along the way; however, participating in this research has been a great opportunity for me and I’ve experienced a lot of growth because of it.

Molly Spencer: Graduate Student at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Molly is a master’s student at the University of Southern Mississippi working with Dr. Eric Powell on the effects of climate-induced benthic warming on the commercially important Atlantic surfclam and the ocean quahog in the Mid-Atlantic Bight. Her research includes modeling the future habitat distribution of clams along the Northeast Continental Shelf as warming temperatures on the bottom seafloor force both the ocean quahog and Atlantic surfclam into a rapidly expanding ecotone. The implications of this ecotone are further studied in the Spatially Explicit Fishery Economics Simulator (SEFES), where she analyzes potential fishery impacts of the projected geographic range shift in Atlantic surfclams. Molly is advancing the application of her research, through the support of SCEMFIS and NSF, by collaborating with the National Marine Fisheries Service-Northeast Fisheries Science Center to work with the Atlantic surfclam federal stock assessment team in addressing the impact of climate change on survey design.