How do natural coastal dune ecosystems ecologically respond to & recover after a major stochastic event (i.e. storms) & how can we apply these findings to management decisions to better fortify our coasts?
I am a fifth year PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania studying coastal dune ecology in the Casper Lab (August 2019 expected defense). I am most interested in ecological questions with relevance and applicability to nature-based management. My main field site is Island Beach State Park on Barnegat Bay in New Jersey. If you see someone clad in neon or tan field clothes on the dunes with a copper colored dog field hand (my dune dog) in tow, then it's me, the Dune Goon! I am also studying other pristine dune systems along the Mid-Atlantic US region such as Delaware State Seashore.
02.26.19 - Spoke remotely to the 2nd grade classes at Shaw Avenue School in Valley Stream District 30, NY today all about dunes through Skype a Scientist!
02.06.19 - Had a great audience today at the Stevens Institute of Technology speaking to the Stevens Student Chapter of ASBPA about the wind tunnel research & its capabilities!
02.04.19 - Today I went to Brick, NJ to the Emma Havens Young Elementary School & spoke to five great 2nd classes about science & dunes! What a wonderfully inquisitive & enthusiastic group of future leaders of tomorrow!
12.01.18 - Nationwide air of FOX syndicate show Awesome Planet Science Communicators episode for which I am one of the featured scientists at the wind tunnel & on the dunes! My chunk is at the end of the episode! Check it out on Amazon or on Xploration Station.
11.02.18 - Presented at the 2018 ASBPA National Coastal Conference in Galveston, TX. Presented in 7F — Climate Smart Planning & Adaptive Management - "From the sand they rise: The recolonization of coastal dune blowouts post-storm"
10.16.18 - Press release for the fun, informative, & universal beachgrass planting video that I mentored a biology undergraduate senior, Yoni Gottlieb, to create! The video is funded by the Friends of Island Beach State Park. It is a freely available resource & we hope that you will use it & share it to improve dune/beach planting efforts for management! Please email for the video in 4K file to use for your planting effort!
10.11.18 - Check out an interview I was lucky enough to do with The Roving Naturalist. I met the host & creator, Sheryl, a fellow grad student, at ESA this summer & she interviewed me about my research, outreach, my path, & being a woman in science!
09.25.18 - In Atlanta, GA as a selected participant at the NSF’s Coasts & People (CoPe) scoping session.
09.24.18 - Today I officially collected the last of my fall thesis data for my thesis!
08.29.18 - We had great high school crew of volunteers at the wind tunnel today measuring plants with me - 5 MATES high schoolers helping me get ready for our experiments. 26/36 replicates measured & they put in 35 hours of work!
08.24.18 - Filmed at my field site, the wind tunnel, & back at UPenn for the Fox syndicate kid's nature show Awesome Planet's science communicators episode that will air this winter in their 5th season!!
08.21.18 - New publication out in Shore & Beach, first research out from the wind tunnel Wind tunnel tests inform Ammophila planting spacing for dune management DOI: 10.31223/osf.io/aeuhb
07.31.18 - Represented ecology at the International Conference of Coastal Engineering (ICCE) on behalf of USACE ERDC in Baltimore, MD; innovative solutions require a multi-disciplined perspective for success & our government researchers are working towards that! Spoke about my wind tunnel work in the Aeolian Sand Transport section, talk 1764 "Wind Tunnel Tests of How Plants Feed Back on Dune Shape."
07.24.18 - Was an invited speaker at the International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS) 61st Annual Symposium in Bozeman, Montana for the Special Session: Invasive species on coastal dunes. I spoke about our invasive Carex - "The shifting extent & surprising mutualism of an invasive dune stabilizer post-Hurricane Sandy along the mid-Atlantic coast of the USA."
07.16.18 - Lights, camera, ACTION! Completed a day of shooting with new senior UPenn undergrad mentee Yonatan Gottlieb. We're merging science, management, & videography filming a beachgrass planting how-to video with the Friends of Island Beach State Park for broad use.
07.15.18 - Awarded a student travel award from the Applied Ecology Section of the Ecological Society of America for the upcoming NOLA conference.
06.07.18 - Visited the Izquierdo Lab at Hofstra to learn how to extract DNA from soils & learned in the process that seq-prep work is not as scary as I thought! They'll be extracting & sequencing cores from my thesis to look at spatially referenced & linked bacterial assemblages in dunes.
05.31.18 - Perhaps you thought you saw an eBee fixed wing or drone in the air at Delaware State Seashore...you would be right on both accounts.
05.28.18 - It's Memorial Day, which means it's beach season! If you go to the Seaside Heights Surf Taco then be sure to pop in by the bathrooms & check outthe new awesome pic & tidbit about my research! Life goal achieved: Get on the surf taco wall!
05.25.18 - Mentoring a rising MATES senior in Bella Yedman! Maybe you saw us at IBSP today on the beach or dunes struggling to take sand cores!
05.25.18 - American Beachgrass physiology collaboration with Fordham U. spearheaded by my mentee Colleen is officially underway.
05.24.18 - Had some great high schoolers at UPenn today for High School Science Day. We keyed out a tulip tree as a lesson in botany!
05.05.18 - Spoke at the annual grad student conference held with Princeton, Rutgers, Columbia, & UPenn (PPRC).
04.23.18 - Today I went to Brick, NJ to the Emma Havens Young Elementary School & spoke to four 2nd classes about science & dunes! The invite came about after a wonderful 2nd student, Ambur, emailed me out of the blue with some great questions about dunes! Thanks for the invite Ambur!
04.07.18 - Attended the ESA Mid-Atlantic Chapter Conference at Rutgers New Brunswick.
03.20.18 - Attended the ASBPA Coastal Summit, the 20th to the 22nd in Washington, DC!
03.15.18 - Spoke about my wind tunnel research at USACE Coastal Engineering Research Board (CERB) Executive Session at the FRF in Duck, NC.
02.28.18 - Judged Marine Academy of Technology & Environmental Science (MATES) Freshman Research Expo in Botany section.
02.21.18 - Coastal Ecology Module that myself & Elsemarie deVries Mullins created for ASBPA is publicly available for use here on FigShare. Feel free to download & use to teach others about our coasts!
12.12.17 - Completed my Teaching & Learning Certificate though UPenn!
12.02.17 - Many hands make light the work. 30,000 American Beachgrass planted at Island beach State Park, NJ.
10.26.17 - Presented at the 2017 ASBPA National Coastal Conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Presented in 5B — Dune Management Challenges on a Developed Coast (Dedicated Session) / Session II - “Wind Tunnel Tests of How Plants Feedback on Dune Shape & Erodability.”
10.24.17 - Co-lead Coastal Biology & Ecology short course as part of ASBPA's Certified Coastal Practitioner (CCP) credentialing program with fellow PhD candidate Elsemarie DeVries of UNC. Lectures take a really long time to make, way longer than a conference presentation; we've been working on this for months & it feels good to have finally presented it! We'll make the lectures publicly available in the coming months.
10.06.17 - Named the 2017 ASBPA Student Coastal Advocate Intern! Excited to spend the year learning more about coastal policy!
09.05.17 - After over 1 yr of organizing the construction, & workings of my wind tunnel research, I am proud to say that we finally had our 1st data collection.
08.30.17 - Had 9 students from MATES donating their time helping measure plant morphology at the wind tunnel. All together, we measured about 475 plants for a combined 50 hrs of hard work!
08.29.17 - First day of Fall semester. I am TAing BIO 325, Marine Biology for Dr. Katie Barott.
08.17.17 - Officially passed my airman certification exam. I am now a legal FAA Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS - drone) Remote Pilot!
08.07.17 - Presented at the 2017 ESA Meeting in Portland, OR - COS 17-1 in Mycorrhizae, Spatial heterogeneity of AMF infectivity for post-storm coastal dune recovery in the frame of succession.
08.04.17 - The 2017 Save Barnegat Bay Student Grant Program summer researchers presented their research in Toms River, NJ today. My mentee, Colleen Cochran, & all the students involved, did an incredible job presenting their findings. Colleen was looking at Ammophila breviligulata recolonzation via the rhizomes in bowls created by high winds from Hurricane Sandy; the study will continue into October & maybe beyond.
07.24.17 - It's alive!!! Had the first test run with the wind tunnel & live plants today. It works like a charm! Lots of troubleshooting & learning ahead as Murphy's Law inevitably looks to rear its ugly head! I'll be posting info on how anyone can get involves once I have all the bugs worked out!
05.31.17 - Today was UPenn's High School Day of Science! A group of grad students & myself ran a board game style workshop to teach high schoolers about climate change & the challenges of farming!
04.27.17 - Gave a guest class talk for Dr. John Wnek's sophomore high school Field Research course at MATES.
04.21.17 - Let the good times continue to roll! A big congratulations to Colleen Cochran who was selected for an independent summer research project with the Save Barnegat Bay Student Grant Program! She will be studying American Beachgrass colonization mechanisms under my mentorship!
04.18.17 - Selected to give a talk at ESA's national meeting this August in Oregon. I'll be in the Mycorrhizae group: Spatial heterogeneity of AMF infectivity for post-storm coastal dune recovery in the frame of succession
04.13.17 - Gave a talk at UPenn Biology's weekly Plant Seminar meeting.
03.27.17 - Quoted in a great article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about a recent beach grass planting event at Island Beach State Park - 30,000 plants!
03.17.17 - Gave a TED-style talk at UPenn's Grad Student BEN Talks Competition, you can find all of them here to watch.
03.16.17 - Short article about my research story written by a motivated freshman in the UPenn student newspaper The Daily Pannsylvanian!
03.15.17 - When you go to Island Beach State Park this spring & summer, be sure to check out the new visitors guide! It will feature a small tidbit about my research to promote the Science of the Shore column & get people thinking & motivated about the science happening on our coasts!
02.08.17 - Interview with WHYY NewsWorks Dave Heller regarding my recent publication was aired today. Check out the story here!
02.04.17 - Volunteered at the 17th Annual NJ Shore Bowl held at Rutgers University by the National Ocean Shore Bowl (NOSB) & Consortium for Ocean Leadership as a Rules Judge. Those kids really knew their oceanography!
01.25.17 - New publication out! It is the heart & soul of my master's thesis & it is published in The Journal of Applied Ecology - A species effect on storm erosion: Invasive sedge stabilized dunes more than native grass during Hurricane Sandy. You can download it here! UPenn press release here& journal blog post is here!
01.19.17 - The wind tunnel officially turns on & functions! I am now working out all the minor details, but max speed is 27 mph!
12.08.16 - NPR's WHYY aired parts of my interview with Irina Zhorov on the radio this morning! Record it for me if you hear it becuase I missed it! They produced a short article available here as well!
12.07.16 - Had an impromptu phone interview with NPR WHYY's Irina Zhorov about my coastal research the wind tunnel! If you hear me on your radio then you're not crazy!
12.05.16 - Panelist for UPenn's Program in Environmental Studies (PPEH) EcoTime Film Series screening Ben Kalina's coastal documentary, Shored Up.
11.02.16 - Presented GIS ecology work at GIS Day at Rowan College at Burlington County, Mt. Laurel NJ. I learned so much about point cloud data collection & post-processing for DTM! Geospatial work is awesome!!
10.27.16 - Presented two presentations at ASBPA's Lighting the Way National Coastal Conference, Long Branch NJ. Section 1B — Dune Processes & Monitoring, “Documenting the Ever-Changing Topographical Facade of Coastal Dunes” & “Plant Species Effects on Superstorm Sandy Erosion”
10.26.16 - My incredible mentee Colleen Cochran, presented a phenomenal poster at the ASBPA National Coastal Conference, Long Branch, NJ. She did an outstanding job representing herself, myself, & Dr. Christine Avenarius on on-going social science work that the three of us have been carrying out for the last two years - "Facts & Opinions Surrounding the Protection & Management of Developed Coastal Communities."
10.25.16 - Attended ASBPA's Certified Coastal Practitioner Coastal Engineering course, taught by John Miller & Tom Harrington of the Stevens Institute.
10.14.16 - Manuscript on a species-effect on dune erosion during Superstorm Sandy accepted for publication in The Journal of Applied Ecology!
10.13.16 - Presented at MAC URISA GIS Conference in Atlantic City, NJ in Flood Mapping/Shoreline GIS TechSpo, Using GIS, Aerials & Ground Truthing to Uncover Superstorm Sandy Erosion.
09.27.16 - Presented a poster at the Start Talking Science Symposium, at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Start Talking Science is a public symposium of posters about a myriad of scientific topics to get Philadelphians of all ages engaged with the science happening around them!
08.23.16 - New publication out in Shore & Beach in a dedicated Lesson's of Sandy Issue "Research Letters: Reactionary fence installation for post-Superstorm Sandy dune recovery" Email me for a copy!
08.15.16 - Research is front & center for UPenn on the University's homepage! Check it out, at UPenn.edu, you can't miss it once you navigate to the site! The story will likely only be on the homepage for a couple of days, but the story link will live on here!
07.25.16 - New publication out in Journal of Environmental Management about roots & shoots on coastal dunes. Email for a copy!
07.21.16 - Find out more about my work in this great multimedia piece (article & video)! Video filmed on a hot day at my field site, Island Beach State Park, 06/21 on an all day outing with videographer Alex Schein!
06.09.16 - Gave one of 12 lightning talks at the NJOIT quarterly meeting in Trenton, NJ.
06.09.16 - Received official word that I passed my qualifying exam & am now a doctorate candidate instead of student!
06.08.16 - Spoke to Cedar Grove Elementary's 5th grade classes about dunes! What well behaved & bright kids!
06.02.16 - Ecology of Coastal Dunes article in ASBPA's Coastal Voice June/July newsletter highlighting my research - pg 12.
06.01.16 - Took my candidacy/qualifying exam.
05.20.16 - Paper on post-Superstorm Sandy fence aided recovery accepted for publication in Shore & Beach
05.12.16 - Officially granted USACE funding contract to build a big wind tunnel to test how plant morphology feedback on dune morphology.
04.28.16 - Gave a guest class talk for Dr. John Wnek's high school sophomore Field Research course at MATES.
04.25.16 - New monthly column about the ecology of our coasts (The Science of the Shore) went live today with Friends of Island Beach State Park. Check out the first month's article here
04.13.16 - Judged Marine Academy of Technology & Environmental Science (MATES) Freshman Research Expo.
04.05.16 - Was a leader for a Manchester Middle School beachgrass planting & beach cleanup outing for 300 7th graders. 7th graders are tough!
03.26.16 - Beachgrass planting at Island Beach State Park, NJ was a great success, over 100 volunteers (me included) & 10,000 plants planted!
03.20-23 - Visited West Virginia University, specifically the lab of Dr. Joseph Morton & his International Culture Collection of (Vesicular) Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (INVAM). Dr. Morton taught me a lot about mycorrhizal fungi & how to identify them with different techniques. He & his wife Sunny hosted me & I had the best time at their lovely home!
03.19.16 - My mentee Colleen Cochran, a junior from the Marine Academy of Technology & Environmental Science (MATES) won the Jersey Shore Science Fair in the Behavioral & Social Science Category! The science fair was held at Stockton University, NJ, & she presented a poster on part of an ongoingstudy she is carrying out with Dr. Christine Avenarius (ECU) & I about facts & misconceptions behind coastal management!
03.14.16 - Attended & presented a poster at the Society for Ecological Restoration's Mid-Atlantic Chapter Annual Conference in Galloway, NJ
02.29.16 - New paper accepted pending minor revisions in Journal of Environmental Management "Above vs. belowground plant biomass along a barrier island: Implications for dune stabilization"
02.18.16 - Guest spoke at a Surfrider Jersey Shore Chapter in Belmar, NJ meeting.
01.08.16 - ASBPA Dune Management Challenges on Developed Coasts workshop selected Wind Tunnel proposal for USACE ERDC contract consideration.
09.24.15 - Winner of the 2015 Nicholas Kraus Coastal Scholar Award from American Shore & Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) more here
07.31.15 - New paper out in Research Journal of Botany. "Greenhouse Growth of Native American Beachgrass (Ammophila breviligulata) & InvasiveAsiatic Sand Sedge (Carex kobomugi) Under Competition." DOI: 10.3923/rjb.2015.61.72
07.31.15 - Presented at the 2015 ESA Meeting in Baltimore, MD - COS 127-5 in Marine Systems.
04.03.15 - 2014-2015 Society of Women Environmental Professionals (SWEPS) Graduate Student Scholarship winner
04.01.15 - Awarded National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship sponsored & funded by the Department of Defense (DoD)
03.15.15 - Presented at Atlantic Estuarine Research Society Conference in Outer Banks, NC - runner up for best student presentation award