Funded by the NOAA Educational Partnership Program with Minority-Serving Institutions Cooperative Agreement Award #NA16SEC4810009

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Fall 2017 NERTOs


Philip Bellamy

NERTO Project Title: Determining Trends in Water Quality Using High Resolution Land Use Data

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Christopher Kelble, AOML, NOAA OAR


Shan Guruvadoo

NERTO Project Title: Investigating Causes of Changing Tidal Range and Timing in U.S. Harbors

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Gregory Dusek, CO-OPS, NOAA NOS

NOAA NERTO Co-Mentor: Dr. Chris Zervas, CO-OPS, NOAA NOS


Summer 2018 NERTOs


Mallory Brooks

NERTO Project Title: Implementing Ecosystem-based Management in the U.S. Caribbean

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. William Arnold, Southeast Regional Office, NOAA NMFS


Rebekah Hernandez

NERTO Project Title: East Flower Garden Bank Photostation Coral Species Identification and Historical Coral Cover Analysis for CSC Graduate Student

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NERTO Mentor: Dr. Michelle Johnston, ONMS, NOAA NOS


Nigel Lascelles

NERTO Project Title: Chemical Characterization of Microplastics Polymers

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Ashok Deshpande, Sandy Hook Laboratory, NOAA NMFS

Abstract: Marine plastic pollution is a growing environmental concern, with plastic production and use increasing worldwide. Plastics are the most prevalent type of marine debris found in the oceans. In the environment, plastics can become brittle and fragment into small particles called microplastics. Microplastics have been found in a variety of marine organisms, but major knowledge gaps remain about their distribution and impacts in coastal and estuarine environments. In many cases, microplastics may enter coastal waters through a variety of anthropogenic activities. Microplastics may enter the organisms through dietary pathways, suggesting filter feeders, and other organisms that consume these, may be at particular risk. Existing programs, such as NOAA’s Mussel Watch, use shellfish as sentinels of coastal pollution, although plastics have not historically been monitored in these animals. We focus on the chemical identification of microplastics that allow us to understand where these plastics originated from, how they ended up on our coast and how the shellfish and the aquatic food webs might be impacted. Also, the recent work suggests that microplastics may accumulate and concentrate persistent organic pollutants and serve as potential vectors to transfer these to the consumers. A goal of this work is to understand if microplastics and associated persistent pollutants have an impact on the ecological and human health.


Anthony Lima

NERTO Project Title: Evaluating Indicators of Regulatory Complexity to Understand the Cost of Compliance

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Scott Large, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, NOAA NMFS

Abstract: All industries in the United States are governed by some capacity by the Federal Government through the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR). Predictability and stability are prerequisites for profitability within any sector. Although the drastic increase in the sheer length of the CFR is evident, determining the benefit or harm is still up for debate between policymakers, economists, and scientists. Regulatory complexity is the ill-defined term used to describe policy changes, although few studies set out to determine a quantifiable system. We look at regulatory complexity as a collection of dimensions (length, frequency of change, purposefulness and unintended consequences, etc.), rather than one concrete aspect.

Within natural resource management, fisheries are perhaps the sector with most annual volatility. Fisheries exist as a replenishable natural resource, but only remain so with management that prohibits over exploitation. Ecosystem-based fishery management (EBMF) seeks to use responsive management to address multiple aspects of marine ecosystems. Managers must balance between overall ecosystem sustainability, while striving for optimal catch yields.

Developing a complete tool for measuring and tracking regulatory complexity is beyond the scope of this study. However, this study does investigate some existing software, as well as a basic R package to conduct some preliminary analysis of the CFR. Additionally, a brief review of case studies from American fisheries can provide insight and detail that may not be attainable via text mining. It is necessary to use several metrics due to the intricacies and complications from regulatory, socio-economic, and ecological attributes of fishery management.


Cristina Madrid

NERTO Project Title: Gray, Green, and Cultural Infrastructure Solutions to Enhance Coastal Resilience

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Kimberly Penn, OCM, NOAA NOS

NOAA NERTO Co-Mentor: Dr. Melissa Kenney, CICS-MD

Abstract: The Eastern Shore of Maryland, along with several coastal communities, is susceptible to coastal hazards and climate change impacts such as sea level rise and salt water intrusion. The Sustainable Adaptive Gradients in the Coastal Environment (SAGE) is focused on helping communities become more resilient to coastal hazards and climate change impacts. SAGE is an effort focused on advancing coastal resilience solutions by considering gray, green and cultural infrastructure solutions. The efforts are composed of a wide array of Federal, State, and Local Agencies, non- governmental organizations, academic institutions, engineers, and private businesses. The objective of this work was to identify solutions and build community buy-in for coastal adaptation and resilience strategies. This stakeholder engagement effort will focus on understanding the needs of communities and considering a range of potential solutions beyond the traditional built/gray infrastructure approaches.


Fall 2018 NERTOs


Taylor Eddy

NERTO Project Title: Meta-analysis of West Coast MPA Performance

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Charles Wahle, NOAA NMPAC, NOAA NOS

Abstract: Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an important ecosystem-based management tool. Along the West Coast of the United States there are many types of MPAs that work together to protect economically and ecologically important species. In this study, we assess the effectiveness of MPAs, including rockfish conservation areas (RCAs) and the network of MPAs created through the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) in California on rockfish populations in this region, and whether habitat type plays a role in the protection of the genus. To assess rockfish catch, we used data from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center’s (NWFSC) groundfish trawl program from 1977 to 2017 and used ArcGIS hot spot analysis. We found that since the implementation by NOAA Fisheries of Rockfish Conservation Areas in the early 2000s there has been an overall increase in the relative abundance of rockfish, as reflected in their catch rate by the surveys. Additionally, we found that hot spots – areas of higher than expected abundance – have become more widespread along the coast, rather than being restricted to small areas. Further, we document significant increases of catch rate of the species that the RCAs were specifically designed to protected (i.e. Cowcod rockfish, p = 0.0310; Darkblotched rockfish, p = 0.0434; and Pacific Ocean Perch, p = 0.0012), and trends of increase in other species in the rebuilding plan (i.e. Yelloweye rockfish, Boccacio rockfish, Canary rockfish, and Widow rockfish). Aside from the RCAs in the region, the California MLPA was established and the California Network of MPAs was created. Since many of these MPAs have been implemented recently, we saw no significant change in the catch of rockfish- a genus with slow growth and late reproduction – but there seem to be an increasing trend in the population after implementation. Finally, the survey catch rates of rockfish were higher in sandy canyons, along ridges, shelf and slope habitat than on the sandy basin (p = 0.0009). These hotspots were often observed along the sh elf break and near canyon heads. While there are many factors that could be contributing to the increase in rockfish abundance, it seems that the RCAs have had a positive effect on the populations, consistent with their initial purpose. Continuous monitoring of this important group of species is needed to understand the contributors to annual variability and how climate change will play a role in the distribution and abundance of the genus.


Lauren Parker

NERTO Project Title: Meso-photic reefs of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Andrew DeVogelaere, MBNMS, NOAA NOS

Abstract: Lauren Parker has completed a NERTO internship with NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). Her internship included participation in the review of the current Sanctuary Management Plan with an emphasis on relating the study of meso-photic reefs to resource management; development of an interactive method to improve communication between resource managers and scientists in the Monterey Bay region using activities outlined in the draft Sanctuary Management Plan; development of skills to edit and “stitch” together underwater images to create 360-degree virtual dives into sites within the MBNMS; and gaining an in-depth understanding of the role of MBNMS research and monitoring partners in the Monterey Bay region while actively participating in all sanctuary Research Team activities. She also participated in a research cruise aboard the E/V Nautilus in October 2018 to map and characterize unexplored seafloor habitat within the Davidson Seamount Management Zone. Proposed research to characterize meso-photic reefs of the MBNMS and incorporate this work into the MBNMS Management Plan was presented at the Western Society of Naturalists in November 2018. MBNMS Management Plan “Research Needs” ideas and documents were presented at the U.S. West Coast Biological Observing Workshop in November 2018.


Spring 2019 NERTOs


Brianna Alanis

NERTO Project Title: Patterns of Pelagic Primary Productivity in South Florida Coastal Waters for CSC Graduate Student

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Christopher Kelble, AOML, NOAA OAR

Abstract: NOAA has been involved in Everglades Restoration since its inception in the 1990s. NOAA’s primary interest is to ensure the improvement of Everglades Restoration conditions in coastal ecosystems, including NOAA trust resources. The coastal ecosystems surrounding the Everglades are predicated upon oligotrophic conditions with low nutrient input, and a high ratio of benthic to pelagic primary productivity. Thus, it is important that we understand how runoff from the Everglades affects pelagic primary productivity and grazing in nearshore coastal ecosystems.

NOAA has been conducting research cruises to survey water quality in the coastal ecosystems of south Florida since 1998. These cruises have measured temperature, salinity, nutrients, and chlorophyll a since their inception until present day. Pelagic Primary Productivity in coastal ecosystems is driven by the availability of light and nutrients. The amount of standing stock biomass in phytoplankton is controlled by the balance between productivity and grazing. Before investigating pelagic primary productivity and grazing we need to better understand how chlorophyll a, nutrients, and light attenuation vary in response to freshwater runoff in the coastal ecosystem. The primary goal of this internship project was to do just that, to view the effects of river discharge on nutrients, chlorophyll a, temperature and salinity. Additional goals for this internship include (1) participating in research cruises and sampling trips, (2) conducting grazing and productivity incubations on the cruises, (3) conducting CTD casts and processing samples and (4) expanding previous knowledge of R, R studio and the R markdown plug-in to conduct statistical tests for data comparison.


Diana Del Angel

NERTO Project Title: Improving Coastal Resilience through the Use of Natural and Nature Based Features

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Mary Culver, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, NOAA NOS

NOAA NERTO Co-Mentor: Dr. Rebecca Allee, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, NOAA NOS

Abstract: Green Infrastructure includes natural and nature-based features that can be integrated into planning activities to reduce flood risk and increase community resilience. During this NERTO the fellow synthesized data regarding methods to assess the benefits of green infrastructure and assessed models for coastal habitat change in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, the report highlights other activities the fellow participated in during the NERTO.


Keenasha Minor

NERTO Project Title: Geospatial mapping of flood extent for river basins in the Jackson, MS NWS forecast area – For CSC Student

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Chad Entremont, NOAA NWS


Elizabeth Murphy

NERTO Project Title: Patterns of change in the fish assemblages of Biscayne Bay mangroves

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Joseph Serafy, SEFSC, NOAA NMFS


Samuel Mwenda

NERTO Project Title: Identification of cost-effective salt marsh restoration opportunities along the South Atlantic coast for CSC Student

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Lisa Vandiver, NOAA Restoration Center, NOAA NMFS

NOAA NERTO Co-Mentor: Leslie Craig, NOAA NMFS


Miya Pavlock-McAuliffe

NERTO Project Title: Geospatial Data Collection and Visualization to Enhance Resource Manager/Scientist Collaborations

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Andrew DeVogelaere, MBNMS, NOAA NOS

Abstract: Miya Pavlock-McAuliffe completed a NERTO internship with NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). Her internship included at-sea data collection and analyses of physical oceanography information from the Davidson Seamount Management Zone; development of an interactive geographic information system collaboration between NOAA and California State University at Monterey Bay; and active participation in all sanctuary Research Team activities. While developing applied science skills needed to work for an organization like NOAA, Miya learned about MBNMS and regional science cultures and positively contributed to this highly collaborative and large science community.


Ra'Teema Stanley

NERTO Project Title: Rip Current Model Validation

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Michael Churma, OSTI MDL, NOAA NWS


NOAA NERTO Co-Mentor: Parks Camp, NOAA NWS

Abstract: Rip currents are dangerous coastal hazards that occur in water. It has strong and narrow currents of water that move away from the shore. With the direction and speed of the rip currents, it makes it difficult for swimmers to swim out of them. Being able to predict when and where rip currents occur could help save many swimmers from drowning. There are few research papers have been targeted in predicting the rip currents in Florida.

In this thesis, the NWPS (Nearshore Wave Prediction System) Model used by the NOAA National Weather Service, is based on collecting data from the Florida coastal ocean and analyzing the data. This model could help us decrease the number of deaths and recuse due to rip currents. The model uses data collected by lifeguard observations on a daily basis. A novel method will be developed using imaging visualization via archived webcam WebCAT. These archive videos will be analyzed from SECOORA using an online GUI tool call Labelbox. Once the data is collected, we will compare the lifeguard observation, and imaging visualization via archived webcam WebCAT with the NOAA NWPS (Nearshore Wave Prediction System) Model to see which method will be the most accurate and effective in Miami, Florida. Time Series: Observation and Images graph, Imagery and Observation Distribution Chart ("4x4"), Imagery and Observation Distribution Chart ("2x2"), Time Series: Images Visualization and NWPS Model output, and the Time Series: Lifeguard Observation and NWPS Model output graphs will show the comparisons between lifeguard observation, imaging visualization, and the NWPS model. After evaluating the graphs, the correlation between the lifeguard observation and image visualization with the NWPS RIP probabilities percentage will be calculated. The preliminary results for those computational experiments will be shown in this thesis.


Summer 2019 NERTOs


Elizabeth Del Rosario

NERTO Project Title: Low Flow Reservoir Release Predictions for the National Water Model for CSC graduate student

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Trey Flowers, Office of Water Prediction, NOAA NWS


Meghan Martinez

NERTO Project Title: Data Needs for Planning and Assessment of Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) Restoration in the Northern Gulf of Mexico under the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA Mentor: Dr. Dionne Hoskins-Brown, NOAA NMFS

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Eric Weissberger, Office of Habitat Conservation, Restoration Center, NOAA NMFS

Abstract: The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill in 2010 was the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The oil spill produced an ecosystem-level injury that covered more than 1,300 miles of shoreline habitats and severely impacted ecosystem processes and linkages, and specific natural resources to include nearshore and subtidal oysters across all five Gulf states (DWH Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustees, 2016). In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), both federal and state natural resource trustee agencies (Trustees) prepared a Final Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration and Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PDARP/PEIS, 2016) to assess injuries of natural resources in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM). As a result, comprehensive restoration planning and strategies are being developed under an ecosystem context by Trustees to make the public whole for those injuries. During this NERTO, the EPP intern inventoried and synthesized information that would support future oyster restoration evaluation and planning. In addition, other relevant activities that the fellow participated in are highlighted. 


Javier Navarro

NERTO Project Title: The distribution and composition of estuarine nekton species assemblages in a changing salt marsh-black mangrove landscape for NOAA EPP Graduate Student

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Jennifer Doerr, SEFSC Galveston Laboratory, NOAA NMFS


Andrea Pugh-Kelley

NERTO Project Title: Numerical Simulation of PFAS in the Great Lakes for NOAA EPP Graduate Student

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks



Queriah Simpson

NERTO Project Title: Linking habitat suitability models for deep-sea corals with exploration to discover unique microbiota on the west Florida slope for CSC graduate student

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: John Christensen NCCOS, NOAA NOS


Alexandra Thomsen

NERTO Project Title: Developing a remote sensing approach for monitoring estuarine restoration to inform Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary science and management

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Steve Lonhart, MBNMS, NOAA NOS


Julian Venable

NERTO Project Title: Characterization of microplastics collected from the beaches, for CSC Graduate Student

NERTO Duration: 13 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Ashok Deshpande, Sandy Hook Laboratory, NOAA NMFS


Prian Vidal

NERTO Project Title: Re-immersion time for reduction of Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus to ambient concentrations in Eastern Oysters

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: John Jacobs, NCCOS/Oxford, NOAA NOS


Fall 2019 NERTOs


Patricia Cockett

NERTO Project Title: Temporal and Spatial Comparison of Intertidal Community Dynamics Within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Randall Kosaki, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, NOAA NOS


Angelique Rosa-Marin

NERTO Project Title: Exploring the Use of Foraminifera as a Bioassay Organism for Coral Reef Environments

NERTO Duration: 12 weeks

NOAA NERTO Mentor: Dr. Cheryl Woodley, NCCOS, NOAA NOS