NOAA Center for Coastal & Marine Ecosystems
Spring 2021 Newsletter
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NOAA Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems

To the NOAA CCME Community

Message from the Director

Happy New Year! As we reflect on the past year at the NOAA Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems we are pleased to share some of our accomplishments, particularly those of our NOAA CCME Scholars who persevered in their education and research despite facing setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through virtual NOAA Experiential Research and Training Opportunities; web meetings with advisors, mentors and peers; and a keen focus on their studies, our students demonstrated unprecedented resilience during difficult times. We must also acknowledge our faculty and staff who supported these students during these challenging times as well.

FAMU President and NOAA CCME Lead PI Dr. Larry Robinson

FAMU President and NOAA CCME Lead PI Dr. Larry Robinson

On March 11, 2020 the Center and NOAA EPP/MSI made the difficult decision to postpone the Tenth Biennial NOAA EPP/MSI Education and Science Forum. As we make plans for the new year, NOAA CCME is working closely with the NOAA EPP/MSI team to bring the Forum activities to a wide audience in a virtual format April 8-9, 2021. Sign-up information will be shared with previous registrants and posted on the Forum website The Center hopes to host an in-person, “Phase 2” of the Forum later in 2021in order to meet award requirements.

In October 2020 our faculty, staff, students and alumni participated in a Fourth Year External Review conducted by the Independent External Review Team. The Review Team concluded the NOAA CCME met or exceeded all expectations of award performance. The NOAA Grants Management Division conducted an Administrative Review and recognized NOAA CCME and the Florida A&M University Office of Research staff for their knowledge, responsiveness, and transparency in managing this award and declared there were “no adverse findings.”

The NOAA CCME team looks forward to sharing many new successes in the coming year.

Dr. Larry Robinson

Larry Robinson, Ph.D.
NOAA Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems

Upcoming Events

Tenth Biennial NOAA EPP/MSI Education and Science Forum

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, for the health and safety of all attendees, sponsors, and staff, NOAA CCME has decided to cancel the in-person portion of the Education and Science Forum and move towards hosting the Forum in a virtual environment. We are working tirelessly to ensure that all those attending will still get as close to the same experience as they would if the event was held in person.

The Forum will be held in a two-phase format, with Phase 1 to be held virtually on April 8 - 9, 2021 and Phase 2 to be held virtually and in-person from October 25 - 27, 2021.


Center-Wide Core Competency (CWCC) Course
July 25th - 30th, 2021

This year's theme, "Coastal wetland restoration from dragline ditches, impoundments, and spoil islands", will have students participate in more hands-on experiences and field/lab work than previous years. The majority of the CWCC will be hosted at The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, located in sunny St. Augustine Florida.

The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience

Faculty Spotlight

NOAA CCME Institutional PI Dr. Richard McLaughlin retired at end of Fall 2020 Semester

Dr. Richard McLaughlin has served as the Institutional PI for TAMUCC since the inception of CCME in 2016. In his last days, he supervised two Ph.D.-level CCME Student Scholars, Elizabeth Del Rosario, who is researching how freshwater environmental flows into Texas Bays are being managed; and Anthony Lima, who is examining policies and planning efforts relating to oyster aquaculture in Texas. In addition to participating in the Coastal Resilience, Place-based Conservation, and Social Sciences Focus Areas, he has helped organize and served as a faculty member at the Center-wide Core Competency Courses in Ocean Springs, Mississippi in 2017 and South Padre Island, Texas in 2019.

He also served as a Co-Convener of a session that highlighted CCME students and faculty entitled Educational Partnerships in Coastal and Marine Science at the 25th Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) Conference, Mobile, Alabama, November 3-7, 2019. He retired at the end of the Fall 2020 semester and plans to move to his family home in San Diego, California. He will continue to serve on several graduate committees and collaborate with colleagues at CCME and elsewhere across the globe.

Dr. McLaughlin has been instrumental to the success of students at TAMUCC and across CCME as well. He provided intelligent prospectives and insights that contributed to the growth of CCME and could be counted on for his active engagement.

Dr. Richard McLaughlin

Dr. Richard McLaughlin

FAMU President Robinson Named to Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Leadership Council

Dr. Larry Robinson

Dr. Larry Robinson

Florida A&M University (FAMU) President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., is the newest member of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (JOCI) Leadership Council, a bipartisan group of senior leaders who work with local, state, and regional leaders to develop actions toward meaningful ocean policy reform.

Robinson, whose work as a scientist and on the environment impressed the group, participated in his first Leadership Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

The 20-member Leadership Council is co-chaired by former EPA administrator and ex-New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman and former California Congressman Norman Mineta and includes former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

The group’s Ocean Action Agenda details ocean and coastal policy actions that should be taken by the Trump Administration and Congress. JOCI leaders assert that taking these actions will allow present and future generations of Americans to benefit from the jobs, food, health, recreation, and overall well-being America’s oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes provide.

Robinson’s work as an academic and a scientist addresses the fate of the waterways. He is the director and principal investigator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems (CCME).

The CCME is a partnership among six universities committed to making major impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems and communities by educating underrepresented minorities in NOAA relevant science and policy.

Robinson is also a member of the U.S. Congress authorized STEM Education Advisory Panel which was established “to provide advice and recommendations to the Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education (CoSTEM),” among other responsibilities.

During the Obama administration, Robinson was an assistant secretary of Commerce for Conservation and Management at NOAA.

NOAA CCME's Dr. Corey Garza welcomed as one of The California Academy of Sciences new Academy Fellows

The California Academy of Sciences is pleased to announce that 14 new members joined the ranks of the Academy Fellows, a governing group of more than 450 distinguished scientists and other leaders who have made notable contributions to science or science education and communication.

Nominated by their colleagues and selected by the Board of Trustees, the Academy Fellows are partners and collaborators in the pursuit of the Academy mission to explore, explain, and sustain life.

The new members were inducted during the Fellowship's virtual meeting on October 13, 2020. They joined such well-known Academy Fellows as Sylvia Earle, Paul Ehrlich, Jane Lubchenco, Zeray Alemseged, John McCosker, Jill Tarter, and Andrea Ghez.

Dr. Corey Garza

Dr. Corey Garza


Student Spotlight

Congratulations to last year's graduates

Spring 2020

  • Terrius Bruce - BS in Environmental Studies, FAMU
  • Kennedy Jones - BS Biology, JSU
  • Miya Pavlock-McAuliffe - MS in Marine Science, CSUMB
  • Shaquila Rolle - BS in Environmental Studies, FAMU
  • Miracle Vance - BS in Biology, JSU
  • Natalie Vaughn - BS in Environmental Science, Technology, and Policy, CSUMB
  • Ki'Anna Watson – BS in Chemistry, BCU
  • Miranda White – BS in Environmental Science, BCU
  • Riley Young - BS in Marine Science, CSUMB
Kennedy Jones

Kennedy Jones, BS in Biology, JSU

Summer 2020

  • Edith Gonzalez - BS in Marine Biology, UTRGV
  • Javier Navarro - MS in Environmental & Marine Sciences, UTRGV
  • Queriah Simpson - MS in Environmental Science, FAMU
  • Alexandra Thomsen - MS in Environmental Science, Technology, and Policy, CSUMB
Alexandra Thomsen

Alexandra Thomsen, Environmental Science, CSUMB

Fall 2020

  • Mallory Brooks - MS in Environmental Science, BCU
  • Brian Coogan - BS in Civil Engineering, FAMU
  • Mario Molina - BS in Biological Sciences, UTRGV
Brian Coogan

Brian Coogan, BS in Civil Gngineering, FAMU


NOAA CCME Awarded NOAA Planet Stewards Stewardship Project

NOAA Planet Stewards


The four living shorelines research projects will be assessed for potential impacts related to:

  1. Sea Level Rise – effects in target areas, effects of proposed shorelines;
  2. Impact on local economies – oyster industry, economic impact, water quality, flooding;
  3. Mitigation – flooding, extreme weather events, erosion; and the
  4. Intersection of these ecological and economic impacts.
The three sub-watersheds within the Nova canal watershed in relation to the Halifax River (image source: St. Johns River Water Management District)

The three sub-watersheds within the Nova canal watershed in relation to the Halifax River (image source: St. Johns River Water Management District)

Student activities

With guidance from NOAA CCME faculty and the use of the NOAA Restoration Atlas tool selected student participants will:

  • Investigate local sites for living shoreline green infrastructure
  • Investigate and identify current site-specific physical and social vulnerabilities of thetarget coastal communities
  • Measure local ecological effects of living shoreline green infrastructure
  • Assess potential socioeconomic effects of living shorelines in each location
  • Analyze the effectiveness of living shorelines in mitigation of sea level rise, erosion,nutrient loading, extreme weather event impacts, and assess potential impacts on the localeconomy through modeling and data analysis.

Upcoming Deadline

2021 EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship Program application open until February 1, 2021

The EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship provides funds for two years of undergraduate study to rising junior undergraduate students majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields that directly support NOAA's mission. Participants conduct research at a NOAA facility during two paid summer internships. Since 2001, over 186 students have completed the program and over 75% go on to graduate school.

Students attending Minority Serving Institutions as defined by the US Department of Education (Hispanic Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaskan-Native Serving Institutions, and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions) are eligible to apply for the program.

Important update: Starting in 2019, U.S. nationals are eligible to apply for the EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship Program.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, internships and planned events, such as scholar orientation and the scholar symposium, may be held virtually. The Office of Education will review precautionary guidelines provided by the CDC in advance of events and internships, and will notify scholars when a decision is made whether to hold them virtually or in person.

To learn more about the opportunity, view the video from NOAA CCME below.

2021 EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship Program application open until February 1, 2021