Corbett's Corner

As the sun sets on summer, the transition often brings a full schedule with the new fall semester, recruiting for our spring Semester at the Coast program, increased engagement at our Greenville campus, and hosting many different community events on our coastal campus. As we move from summer to fall, the OBX may be slowing just a bit, but we are bustling with activity on the Outer Banks Campus!

This fall is no different, and I even added several invited afternoon and evening lectures to my calendar. From the OBX, Greenville, Wilmington to Pinehurst, I have taken my passion for resilience and the coast on the road, and it has reminded me how important it is that we, the scientific community, translate our science and speak about it as often as possible. My recent lectures have reminded me that people are inherently curious and truly want to better the world in which we are so dependent. Yes, communities are interested in the science- how and why the climate is changing and its influence on the coast; but they also want that packaged with some solution-oriented ideas. I was thrilled by the response to these presentations and the conversations that followed.

One of the key messages I try to end on is that the challenges we face are serious, but certainly solvable. We have the understanding and the tools we need to start making changes…like most things, it starts with your voice and your choice! We need to talk to each other about the challenges, our concerns, and ideas for improvement. Our own choices in our individual lives do make a difference and will influence others.

I am proud of all the research we are doing across coastal systems in NC and around the globe. Our students are making incredible impacts with the work they do through internships and their own research. We hope you will share our story with a friend, participate in one of our upcoming events to learn more, or invite us to one of your events so we can continue the conversation!

As always, I thank you for your continued support and look forward to our next discussion.

Reide Corbett

Student Section

Summer Camp Summation

Lunch boxes, water shoes, sunscreen, and more… All of these are items that summer campers at the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) know to pack daily. An unexpected guest speaker, an afternoon storm, or even the spontaneous consideration for group preference, could mean a change in the schedule at the drop of a hat. While that may sound seemingly disruptive, truly, it only adds to the summer camp excitement each day.

This particularly ambitious group of campers made time to create a work of art all their own. Some of the organisms pictured were kinds studied that week while others were added simply for their beauty.

During the fall and spring semesters on the ECU Outer Banks Campus, the halls are usually quieter as undergraduate pupils attend lectures and organized school groups participate in educational K-12 programming. Summers, on the other hand, feel a bit different at CSI. Children ages 10-15 years old fill the building with their boisterous chattering as they anxiously await to hear each day’s plan.

What will they study? Where will they go? Is it a boat day? The answers to these questions usually depend on the theme of the week. Over the course of each summer, CSI hosts eight weeks of camp with four different foci - coastal and marine biology and ecology; shipwrecks and maritime archeology; art and science; and oceanography, engineering, and sustainable coastal living. Each theme is offered twice during the eight weeks.

During Coastal Kingdoms, a biology and ecology-focused camp, campers explore Outer Banks ecosystems while they learn about local ecology and the interconnectedness of these marine systems. On the first day they learn about phytoplankton which are the primary producers and basis of the food web in many marine ecosystems. With plankton and their unique adaptations set as the foundation for the week, students then learn about other organisms and ecosystems. They visit the NC Coastal Federation for a lesson about oysters and living shorelines, hear from CSI scientists about fish adaptations and habitats, and take samples of local fish populations through various techniques including traps, seine nets, and hook-and-line fishing. Anywhere they travel, they take water quality readings and consider what makes healthy aquatic habitats. Finally, the campers round out their week by visiting Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge to search for bears, kayak the paddling loop, explore a freshwater wetland, and hopefully lay eyes on an elusive alligator or two.

Campers in the first session of Coastal Kingdoms had a special opportunity to work with folks from the NC Coastal Federation and Jockey's Ridge State Park. Lots of fun was had while planting vegetation to protect the shoreline.

Legends of the Atlantic, our shipwrecks and maritime archeology-focused camp, tends to draw a crowd of young history lovers and diving enthusiasts. While campers do not dive on a real shipwreck while in the care of CSI staff, the week is still immersive. On the first day, campers become familiar with the local boat-building history and industry, then design and build their own model boats to race. As the week progresses, they learn to search for identification clues on a mock wreck and can even make a wreck map of their own. Thanks to many CSI partners, campers have also had opportunities to connect with experts from NOAA’s Monitor Marine Sanctuary, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, and the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab. And what’s a ship-centric camp without boarding one for themselves? Not only will the campers cruise the Croatan Sound one day, but if they’re lucky, some of them may even get a chance to hop on a vessel in progress while visiting Bayliss Boatworks!

Campers work together to gather clues in hopes of identifying the mock wreck laid before them. The 2D wreck is a one-tenth scale map of the Oriental- known to many as "The Boiler"- which lies just off the beach of Pea Island.

Shapes in Nature is the camp for those who see artistic beauty in the natural environment. Campers break out the paint and all sorts of mixed media to create science-inspired works of art. Each day in the Shapes in Nature camp begins with a short lesson about ongoing research at the Coastal Studies Institute and is usually followed by a field trip and a hands-on project. From the physics of ocean waves to the complex connections of food webs, campers find artistic ways to represent it all through methods like sculpture, photography, dance, and other visual arts. The week comes to a close with an art gallery showcasing all of the creativity and new knowledge gained throughout the week. Campers get the opportunity to show their parents and guardians, CSI faculty and staff, and visiting students around the gallery to explain their projects and detail the activities and lessons of the past few days.

A camper points out her contributions to the group mural which illustrates a Gulf Stream food web. Each participant was assigned an organism to research before creating a multi-media rendering. Their final product was displayed at the end-of-week gallery.

Last but certainly not least, Sustainable Seas is a popular choice for campers interested in nature-based infrastructure, engineering and renewable energy. While it is good to help young minds understand scientific advances in coastal-related fields, it is even better to frame these findings in the context of sustainable living and fostering environmental stewardship. Over the course of the week, Sustainable Seas attendees learn what it means to be a resilient coastal community in the face of a changing climate and intensifying storms. Activities for these participants include building lots of hands-on models including engineered shoreline stabilization methods, wave energy converters, wind turbines, and microgrids. They even learn about decision-making at both the personal and community levels.

Campers enrolled in Sustainable Seas learned about renewable energy sources and then designed their own sustainable community complete with a microgrid demonstration made of 9V batteries, small LED lights, and salt dough!

From budding marine biologists to archaeologists, artists, and engineers, Coastal Studies Institute summer camps offer an experience for every student.

“The experiential nature of our summer camps really sets them apart,” says Lauren Kerlin, CSI Outreach Associate and summer camp instructor. “Every lesson has a hands-on activity or field trip to follow which makes the learning experience that much more rich.”

In 2023, ninety-three individuals participated in camp programming. Some only came for one week, others came for four to ensure they saw it all. Some came from Dare County, and others traveled from as far away as the West Coast. Though each week and group looks different, some elements never change. Coastal Studies Institute summer camps offer a fun, inclusive, and exciting environment to make new friendships and learn about the coastal systems and habitats of the Outer Banks.

NSF REU Participants Flourish While on Coastal Campus

Nine students from all over the country gathered at the ECU Outer Banks Campus to participate in the C2C REU program over the summer.

Coastal communities and coastlines around the world are increasingly facing problems such as extreme weather, sea level rise, and population growth. While people may not see eye-to-eye when it comes to the drivers of these changes, most will agree that coastlines are transforming nonetheless and threatening humanity’s current way of life at the coast.

What can communities do to combat these changes? How might they adapt to become more resilient? These were some of the general questions tackled by students participating in the third year of the Resilience and Adaptation to Coastal Change Across Communities (C2C) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) this summer at the Coastal Studies Institute.

The C2C REU program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and hosted jointly by East Carolina University, Clemson University, and the University of Puerto Rico- Arecibo, brought nine students from all over the country to the Outer Banks for a summer season of intensive learning and research. Through the program, they studied both natural and human-made environments from the perspectives of the natural and social sciences, as well as engineering.

While the students had the opportunity to experience life on the Outer Banks through guided trips to Nags Head Woods, Jennette’s Pier, the NC Coastal Federation, and various municipal facilities, as well as a sunset kayak tour, the C2C program’s main goal is to give undergraduate students opportunities for research. Each of the students was paired with a faculty mentor from one of the three host schools. Some had mentors with whom they could meet regularly in person, but others coordinated with their advisors virtually. Remote collaboration added an extra challenge for some students who were only conducting research for the first time; however, according to C2C Program Coordinator Julie Kirn, all were able to overcome and have a successful experience.

C2C participants examine a sediment core taken from the marsh of a nearby island.

“In just ten short weeks I saw a group of college students transform into young scientists. They were really devoted to their projects and worked so hard to overcome various challenges, including remote mentoring and learning new software. There were some students that arrived at the program not knowing how to use a software that was necessary for their project, and ten weeks later they were practically experts,” shared Kirn.

A few students among the 2023 C2C cohort were particularly motivated and found extra success in addition to completing program requirements by the end of the season. While all nine students attended the Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium (SURS) on ECU’s main campus in Greenville two weeks before their own symposium at CSI, program participants Leonardo Rosario, a student from University of Puerto Rico- Arecibo who studied the impacts of Hurricanes Maria and Fiona on two streams in Puerto Rico, and Matthew Mair completed their research ahead of schedule and were able to present at SURS too.

Mair, an economics student at Appalachian State University, studied the factors that impact farmers’ willingness to participate in conservation programs. Participating in not one, but two, research symposiums this summer was important to him because he gained critical insight into the importance of science education. Particularly at SURS, Mair presented to a wide audience of undergraduates, including many with little to no environmental science background.

Matthew Mair chats with a poster session attendee about his summer research.

Elaborating on his overall experience, Mair shared, “The REU program has been one of the most transformative experiences in my undergraduate career. I gained hands-on experience with the research techniques that I will use during my graduate school and beyond. In fact, I am planning to develop my undergraduate Honors thesis based on the research I conducted this summer. I am beyond grateful to my mentors, CSI, ECU, and NSF for supporting me during this experience!”

Kate Lamkin is another student whose summer REU research has extended well past the ten weeks spent at CSI. Lamkin attends Colorado College and studies environmental science. Over the summer she researched the effects of soil properties and crop species on crop yield and nitrogen loss. She, like Mair, will turn her summer research interest into a thesis, and she is also excited to continue working with her summer mentors from ECU- Drs. Ariane Peralta and Randall Etheridge, as well as graduate student Mahesh Tapas- to hopefully publish a paper later this year.

All the students put a tremendous amount of work into their studies, and this was evident at their own research symposium at CSI in August. Not only did each student produce a poster to share their findings with program mentors and CSI faculty and staff, but they also prepared team videos and spoke on a panel. The videos they created in small groups gave them a chance to produce a mock research proposal on the topic of their choice related to the Outer Banks. While this assignment encouraged teamwork and collaboration throughout the summer, the panel was not something for which they could fully prepare.

During the research symposium at the end of the summer, the students fielded questions from their mentors and CSI faculty and staff as part of a panel discussion.

“This was the first time many of these students had ever been ‘put on the spot’ in front of an audience to speak about research work they’ve done, and they all held their own. The young researchers were being asked in-depth questions from experts in their fields of research, and they all gave quality, thoughtful answers,” noted Kirn.

The panel also brought to light some of the challenges young researchers face, including the obstacles involved with remote work, research, and collaboration. Overall, though, the students were delighted by the opportunities they received this summer through the C2C REU program.

OBXFS Welcomes New Cohort of Students

By Nijah Pope, OBXFS student and CSI photojournalism intern.

CSI has begun a new semester for its ongoing Outer Banks Field Site (OBXFS) program hosted in partnership with the UNC Institute for the Environment. Each fall, a small group of undergraduate students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill take part in this semester-long program in which they have the opportunity to learn about the numerous coastal ecosystems of the Outer Banks as part of the environment and ecology-focused OBXFS curriculum.

Typically, the group of students that participate tend to major in environmental science, environmental studies, or something similar. Linda D’Anna, Associate Director of the OBXFS and Research Associate at CSI, says that in terms of the students who participate in the program, there are similarities between the groups from year to year. However, every group also has its unique characteristics and essence.

“I think what makes the group so interesting to work with,” says, D’Anna, “ is that their interests are varied, the things that they’re studying are sort of different, but it all kind of comes together here, which is fun for me.”

This year, twelve students have joined the program and will be taking classes together on ECU’s Outer Banks Campus. Coursework for the program is split between classes, internships, laboratory exercises, fieldwork, and field trips. In their classes, students will study laws and policies concerning coastal issues, as well as ecological processes and sustainable coastal management. Furthermore, students will complete a group research project, or Capstone, in which they study and research a topic to present their findings on at the end of the semester.

The topic of this year’s Capstone is focused on human perceptions of artificial light at night (ALAN), and its ecological consequences on the coast of the Outer Banks. The students will evaluate environmental factors; gather the opinions and attitudes of the Outer Banks community; and ultimately answer the questions of how ALAN has changed along coasts and in marine systems, its consequences for coastal systems, how people view ALAN and light pollution, and how it can be reduced if seen as a problem.

The students are looking forward to the experiences and opportunities that OBXFS has to offer. Abigail Montes de Oca, a sophomore biology major from UNC, says that being at the Coastal Studies Institute has given her a chance to step outside of her comfort zone and form connections with new people.

“It just honestly plays a big role in your character development to just go out and do something completely brand new,” says Montes de Oca, “and as for my education, it’s just teaching me more about a field that I’m interested in.”

She is also excited about her internship with the horticulture department at the North Carolina Aquarium. The Horticulture Department is responsible for taking care of and maintaining the native plants on aquarium grounds.

Montes de Oca is particularly focused on monarch butterflies and other pollinators that utilize the vegetated area. Her work includes pollinator surveys- where she looks in one specific area for any pollinators that may land on and pollinate a plant- or computer work- where she logs pollinator sightings to examine if any trends are present among the pollinated plants.

“I really wanted to take this semester to learn more about conservation and biodiversity, another one of my interests, so that when I do decide on a career path, I am satisfied that I gave everything I wanted to a try. So far, this experience has left a positive impact and honestly might make my decision a little harder in the future because I really do enjoy this type of work,” she shares.

Aside from the internships, academic experiences, and other opportunities offered to OBXFS students, there is plenty to look forward to outside of the classroom, too. As a part of their class field trips, the students have, so far, hiked several locations including the Nags Head Woods Preserve and Jockey’s Ridge, and they also took surf lessons at Jennette’s Pier. Many of them have enjoyed the beauty the Outer Banks has to offer, and thanks to the CSI’s location on Roanoke Island, there is plenty more to explore!

Facutly Highlights

Dr. Qubin Qin

A Doctor for the Ecosystem

Traditional Chinese medicine and ecological modeling… seemingly not two things that have a lot in common. However, Dr. Qubin Qin can draw parallels between his hobby and his profession, respectively. Qin is an ecological modeler and coastal oceanographer by day, but, in his free time, he enjoys finding the science behind the holistic approach of Chinese medicine. His fascination with combining multiple facets to make a whole is something reflected in his career choice too.

Qin joined Integrated Coastal Programs faculty in August, but his journey to living on the coast took almost two decades. Qin grew up approximately five hours outside of Shanghai and did not lay eyes on the ocean until he was ten years old. In college, he studied geographical science and realized there were still so much more to discover about the ocean. Thus, he was inspired to enroll in a master’s program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). Particularly satisfied with coastal living, he later pursued a Ph.D. at VIMS and remained there for a postdoctoral opportunity. As if it were fate, Qin finally landed at the ECU Outer Banks Campus in the summer of 2023. He recalls that the Outer Banks was the first place he visited when he arrived in the U.S. for his master’s program at VIMS.

Qin’s time at VIMS shaped much of his research. There he studied how estuarine hydrodynamics impact water quality in the lower Chesapeake Bay and was introduced to ecological modeling. The modeling process requires gathering relevant historical and current data, as it is generated, to fill equations that help predict natural processes and effects of events in the future or simulate past occurrences. Modeling is a “tool to help answer ‘what if’ questions,” says Qin; and it integrates physical, biological, geological, chemical, and environmental factors.

According to Qin, his research can be divided into four categories

  1. Estuarine physics, including circulation, tides, material transport, and more;
  2. The interactions between physical and biological processes within coastal environments;
  3. Coastal water quality issues and management implications, including eutrophication, hypoxia, harmful algal blooms, saltwater intrusion, pathogen pollution, stormwater pollution, and habitat degradation;
  4. Model development, which ranges from analytical models and process-based models to habitat models, particle-tracking models, and data-driven/machine learning models.

As a self-proclaimed “doctor for the ecosystem”, it is his job to evaluate all sorts of coastal and environmental issues (through data collection and modeling) and then give the best prescriptions (science-driven suggestions) to environmental resource managers.

While most of Qin’s research has revolved around the lower Chesapeake Bay, Qin is confident that his work will transfer well to northeastern North Carolina. Despite the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System shares different characteristics from the Chesapeake Bay, Qin’s methodology will remain consistent. However, it's expected that the results and conclusions may vary between the two coastal ecosystems.

The example above is just one illustration of Qin's modeling work. It is a conceptual model of responses of phytoplankton production to physical transport in river-dominated systems. (A) shows a positive relationship between phytoplankton production and transport time if the phytoplankton growth is only under light limitation, (B) shows a non-monotonic relationship if the phytoplankton growth is only under nutrient limitation, and (C–F) show the four patterns of non-monotonic relationships under various environmental conditions. The gray arrows point out the direction of the increase in the values of the parameters. The blue arrows in (A) and (B) indicate that the detailed curves vary with the environmental conditions. The yellow area in (A) indicates the reduction of phytoplankton production due to the attenuation by suspended substances. Note that transport time is negatively correlated to river discharge in river-dominated systems. Modified from Qin and Shen (2021).

Though still settling in, Qin has some ideas for the direction of his research and the “what if” questions he would like to tackle.

“If a hurricane were to open a new inlet, how would the salinity of the estuarine system change and then impact the environment?”, he queries as an example.

The questions like this that Qin raises are important ones. His approach, with a focus on water quality in the Albemarle-Pamlico, can have implications for ecosystem and human health, fisheries, recreation, tourism, and health… essentially, life on the Outer Banks as we know it.

For Qin, that makes it even more personal. Not only is this the career he has chosen, but he, just as many others who call the Outer Banks home, is especially appreciative of the weather and beautiful views these barrier islands have to offer. He feels fortunate to live and work here. He is excited to collaborate with those around him. And he looks forward to putting the pieces together one-by-one with others to produce a holistic approach to modeling and management.

Dr. Rosana Ferreira

A Visionary Program Director

Integrated Coastal Programs (ICP) is pleased to announce Dr. Rosana Ferreira as the next director of the Integrated Coastal Sciences (ICS) Ph.D. program. The ICS program equips students to solve complex coastal problems through multidisciplinary training, and, as an atmospheric scientist, Ferreira will bring yet another perspective to this approach.

Ferreira began her career at ECU in 2007 as a faculty member in the Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment (DGPE) and has a proven record of leadership and advocating for students. In her time at ECU, she has served as the Graduate Director of the ECU M.S. in Geography, the ECU Faculty Senator for Geography, Planning, and Environment, and on various other committees. Additionally, as an international, first-generation college student herself, Ferreira is “aware of the academic challenges faced by first-generation students, students with multicultural backgrounds, and international students.” She is organized, proactive, and ready to take on new challenges, all while maintaining compassion for students and their academic journeys.

Dr. Ferreira is eager to begin her work as ICS Director and, thus far, has enjoyed meeting ICS students and affiliated faculty.

"I am thrilled to be the new director for the Integrated Coastal Studies PhD program. This is an exciting opportunity to lead and contribute to the advancement of coastal research and education, and I look forward to working with students, faculty, and staff to explore the complex challenges and opportunities of our coastal environment, ecosystems and communities."

In the future, she hopes to add more atmospheric sciences into the ICS curriculum and mentor atmospheric science PhD students in the program. Her research, which focuses on the integration of observations and models of the atmosphere to study changing climate, is well-suited to fold into the interdisciplinary nature of the ICS program and has the potential for collaboration with other ICS faculty and students.

In the meantime, she is excited that ICS students will have the opportunity to fulfill one elective requirement through a course called Coastal Storms this spring. She and other faculty in DPGE and in the Department of Coastal Studies, will teach this course which will examine the meteorology of coastal storms and their social and ecological impacts on the North Carolina coast.

Whether it be funding, connections, research, or student support, Dr. Ferreira has her sights set on increased opportunities, and with that, the new growth for the Integrated Coastal Sciences Ph.D. program.

Research Focus

Making Sense of Remote Sensing: An Overview from the Ground Up

Whether realized or not, remote sensing is now something ingrained into everyday life. Remote sensing technologies are utilized in self-driving cars and iPhone cameras among other things. In many ways, it makes life easier without some people ever noticing. However, the curious mind might wonder what this non-descript term implies.

In its most simple terms, remote sensing is the capability to measure something somewhere without being on-site. This broad definition includes technologies on a variety of scales. For example, a microscope allows someone to see something so tiny they could not otherwise visualize it with the naked eye. On the other hand, satellite imagery collected from Outer Space can provide insight about a specific location while someone views it from a computer on the other side of the world. In addition to microscopes and satellites, remote sensing tools include drones and autonomous vehicles. Various sensors, or payloads, can be fixed to the preferred method of transport to accomplish the desired task.

At the Coastal Studies Institute, scientists use remote sensing as an aid for their research methodologies. “You can collect massive amounts of data in short periods of time,” explains Department of Coastal Studies Chair and CSI scientist Dr. Stu Hamilton. “Instead of having to go measure the temperature in one thousand locations, a satellite can sense the temperature in those places [for you].”

The Z-Boat is like a drone, but instead of flying through the air, it skims over the water. It, too, can cover pre-programmed tracts, and it is a helpful tool for accessing areas with safety or accessibility concerns for personnel.

Not only does remote sensing save researchers the time of traveling to all sites, but it can also save them money. While initial costs for gear or online access may be high, operation costs are heavily decreased in the long run. The use of remote sensing tools can also decrease safety concerns by keeping the investigators at a distance from dangerous environments; and along those same lines, accessibility to hard-to-reach areas is increased. Finally, thanks to the autonomous and programable nature of some tools, it is much easier to replicate data collection over the same areas when needed.

Satellites and drones are two overarching categories of remote sensing technologies used by researchers at CSI. Satellites such as those from the Sentinel, Landsat, or WorldView missions are outfitted with different instruments. Drones can be used for some of the same kinds of projects; however, they are usually flown over smaller swaths of land and are advantageous because they provide data at a higher resolution.

Payloads that emit and receive light waves can measure the abundance of chlorophyll-A, an indicator of phytoplankton biomass, in bodies of water which helps scientists monitor water quality. These types of instruments can also provide researchers with information about Gulf Stream positioning by measuring ocean temperatures via thermal emissions and infrared. Satellites, which are often deployed for extended periods of time, also collect aerial imagery from all over the world and can help scientists assess environmental changes over time.

In fact, this is the idea behind one of Hamilton’s ongoing projects. “I use remote sensing to track change over time in coastal forests. My particular specialty is that I can go back a long time. I can track changes back to the 1970s to establish trends and hotspots,” he explains.

“Remote sensing does a really good job of telling us what but not how something is happening. Further investigation is often needed to understand the why.” This is part of the reason Hamilton visits his sites every so often to collect “on the ground” data and verify his results. His work often has implications for environmental management practices which highlights the need to integrate remote sensing with other methods of study to produce the whole picture.

For Johnnie Sabin, a doctoral candidate in the Integrate Coastal Sciences program, remote sensing is just one piece of the puzzle for his dissertation. He is using a drone to collect aerial images which will help him to conduct a geospatial analysis in the Everglades.

Sabin captured this aerial image of himself with the drone he used for fieldwork in the Everglades.

Environmental managers have established “conservation buffers” at sites that were at one point developed adjacent to Everglades wetlands. They now desire to restore some of these land parcels back to their original state to better conserve the Everglades ecosystem. Through his work, Sabin is in the process of determining how well the buffer sites are progressing toward the intended goal both through naturalization and human efforts.

While he may infer land use or type from satellite imagery, the drone can provide sharper, higher-resolution pictures to more accurately see how the sites are changing. Aerial imagery from both sources can be virtually stitched together to provide 3D models of the sites in question.

The figure above highlights imagery from one of Sabin's study sites. Image (a) was taken with the drone and has much more detail. Image (b) was captured via satellite and has less detail, making it harder to distinguish the variable land characteristics.

These models- though not perfect, acknowledges Sabin- can “afford access to knowledge [of the lands] that is unparalleled” given the terrain and remoteness of some sites. When his work is complete, he is excited to share his models and results with Everglades stakeholders. Earlier in his research, Sabin had met with many who shared with him their experiences in the Everglades and in South Florida and their views of its uses. He hopes his final products will provide better details about the sites and help bridge conversations between environmental managers and members of the public when it comes to the topics of conservation and land use.

Above is a screengrab from one of the 3D Sabin has generated with thousands of aerial images from one of the sites.

The field of remote sensing has drastically expanded in the last few decades, and it has found its way into everyday life. Should one take time to consider how it impacts their daily tasks, they may then share the enthusiasm for remote sensing as reflected in discussions with both Hamilton and Sabin. Not only can remote sensing technologies make mundane tasks seem more exciting, but they can also, quite literally, change the way the world is seen and understood.

North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program (NCROEP) News

Radar Work

Members of the Oceanography & Marine Hyrdrokinetic Energy Lab recently ventured to Ocracoke to install a high-frequency radar transmit antenna. Once the radar is fully online with their network, the lab expects to have outstanding Gulf Stream Coverage every hour. The data received from this additional tower is crucial to understanding the Gulf Stream off of Cape Hatteras, and in turn, is highly valuable information for ongoing lab studies as well as NCROEP as a whole. In the long run, the expanded Gulf Stream coverage will help to make global climate models and predictions more accurate.

UMERC Conference in New Hampshire

NCROEP was well represented at the University Marine Energy Research Community (UMERC) Conference at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in early October.

  • ECU students Jillian Eller and Cora McQuaid presented a talk and poster, respectively.
  • George Bonner (NCROEP Director), Linda D'Anna (ECU), and Lindsay Dubbs (NCROEP Associate Director) led workshops on various topics.
  • Mike Muglia (NCROEP Asst. Dir. of Science & Research), Wes Williams (NCSU), and Safeer Kahn (UNC-Charlotte) each gave presentations.

While in the area, they also visited UNH's Living Bridge Tidal Turbine (pictured). The trip provided great opportunities to share research with colleagues from other universities and members of the Atlantic Marine Energy Center, of which CSI is a founding partner.

Renewable Energy Representation

The Coastal Studies Institute Education and Outreach team has traveled near and far to share about renewable ocean energy.

In July, Parker Murphy attended the 2023 National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) Conference in Bellingham, WA, where she led a workshop entitled Electric Currents & Energizing Waves. Workshop participants built model wave energy converters using basic parts and received instructions for implementing the activity into their own renewable energy lessons.

In October, Lauren Kerlin, along with Murphy, spent a day in Roanoke Rapids, NC, at the Center for Energy Education's Solar Fest. There they talked to elected officials, industry professionals, and school children (pictured) about NCROEP and different types of renewable ocean energy technology.

CSI Education and Outreach team members enjoy teaching those both young and old, and they look forward to upcoming opportunities at CSI and in other communities.

Fresh Faces

Introducing Samantha Hamilton

Samantha Hamilton started her position as an administrative assistant at CSI in May. For the previous five and a half years, she served as the assistant to the undergraduate director of the ECU English department where she worked closely with advisors and students. Samantha has a passion for history and classical literature, and one can often catch her sitting outside and reading most days during her lunch break.

Samantha grew up in Las Vegas and is the third of ten children. She joined the Army Reserve while still in high school and switched to active duty about a year later. She spent 12 years in the military as a logistics manager and moved to Greenville in 2017 after leaving the Army.

Samantha has a 10-year-old son named Tobias, a dog named Ichabod, and three cats- Leonidas, Gorgo, and Jubilee. She loves being out in nature and makes Tobias come along most of the time. Together they run, hike, camp, and head to the beach as often as possible.

Community Calendar

Family Programs

Extend the fun of NC Oyster Month past October with CSI as we continue to offer family-oriented programs during the months of November and December. Exploring Oyster Ecology is an educational opportunity for families with children aged 5 and older to learn about the Eastern Oyster and its vital role in our estuaries. Participants will get an up-close look at live oysters, investigate the organisms they interact with, and head home with a craft, too! This program will finish with time to decorate an oyster holiday ornament. Events will be offered on November 15 and December 13 from 3:30 to 5:30 PM at the Coastal Studies Institute. The cost of the program is $10 per participant and pre-registration is required.

ECU Outer Banks Campus Tours

Guided tours of the ECU Outer Banks Campus and Coastal Studies Institute are now offered on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM. Visitors will be guided through the main Research Education & Administration building to get an overview of our unique academic programs, education and outreach initiatives, campus, and diverse research laboratories and their current projects. The cost of the tour is $5 per person and pre-registration is required.

Science on the Sound

Science on the Sound Lecture Series returned in September for the academic year, and Kathie Dello, State Climatologist and Director of the NC State Climate Office at NC State University, gave the first presentation entitled, It’s Hot Y’all: Data-Driven Decision Support from North Carolina’s State Climate Office. Science on the Sound is a free event series hosted on ECU Outer Banks Campus and the public is encouraged to attend. The programs are also always live-streamed on our YouTube channel. Save the dates now for our upcoming lectures on December 14, January 18, February 15, March 21, April 25, and May 23, each at 6 p.m.

North Carolina Renewable Energy Challenge

The Coastal Studies Institute, in conjunction with Jennette's Pier, is excited to once again host the annual North Carolina Renewable Energy Challenge. This year the event will be held on March 23, 2024. This day-long competition will feature both wind and ocean energy divisions for upper elementary (grades 4 & 5), middle, and high school student teams. Both wind and ocean energy divisions will compete in device testing, present to a panel of judges, and take part in renewable energy instant challenges.

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