Category Archives: Maritime Studies

ECU graduate student awarded fellowship for work with marine parasites

East Carolina graduate student Christopher Moore was selected as a 2018 North Carolina Sea Grant and N.C. Coastal Reserve Coastal Research Fellow, allowing the Winston-Salem native to fund his marine-life research.

Graduate student prepares crab condo

ECU graduate student Christopher Moore prepares a crab condo as Goose Creek State Park as part of his work with the Blakeslee Lab. Moore was named a 2018 North Carolina Sea Grant and N.C. Coastal Reserve Coastal Research Fellow, which will fund his research at the Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

The fellowship is designed to advance research that addresses coastal management issues at one of North Carolina’s 10 coastal and national estuarine research reserve sites. Moore’s research will be focused at the Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort.

The project, titled “Parasites as Novel Indicators of Biodiversity in Restored Coastal Habitats,” will focus on the positive information parasites can relay to scientists in a coastal ecosystem.

“We don’t really think of parasites as beneficial, but actually they can be strong indicators of biodiversity and ecosystem health,” Moore said.

The interdisciplinary doctoral student’s research will track the life cycle of certain parasites at the Rachel Carson Reserve and record the host animals that carry them.

“The way we think it works is that certain types of parasites require multiple hosts to complete their lifecycle,” Moore said. “For example, the Trematoda’s (a type of parasitic flatworm) larval form begins in a mussel or snail. Then, its next lifecycle stage takes place in a small fish or crustacean, like a mud crab or a blue crab. Sometimes the life cycle ends there and other times a late-stage is required, like a larger fish or a bird.

“What I’ve found in my work is that in degraded landscapes, or areas with a lot of development, those late-stage hosts will not be there, so those parasites will not be there,” he said. “As biologists, we can spend a lot of time looking for these late-stage hosts that can be elusive, but if you can find the parasites instead, which are a lot easier to collect and are often very host specific, then that can potentially be an easier way to learn more about an ecosystem and the diversity of organisms it contains.”

Moore said his project will involve capturing early-stage hosts to measure the success of different restoration techniques used by the Rachel Carson Reserve.

“I’m attempting to use parasites … to measure the success of different restoration techniques and how they restore biodiversity,” Moore said. “We won’t be setting up big trap nets to pick up all the fish that are moving through an area. Instead, we hope to sample the easily collectable organisms that serve as early-stage hosts of parasites – so the snails or small goby fish. Those are much easier to capture and collect.

“By looking at the parasites early-stage hosts contain, we can draw some conclusions about not only the health of the landscape, but potentially which restoration projects are working more efficiently.”

Moore looks for crabs on piece of wood

Moore looks for crabs on a piece of wood at Goose Creek State Park.

Moore believes his project could eventually save coastal researchers time and labor.

“I come from an environmental monitoring background,” Moore said. “It’s very time and labor intensive, as well as a stress financially, to collect this data. I’m hoping we can create a new method of scoring environmental health. In our field, we score environments using the Index of Biological Integrity (IBI). The idea of this scale is that certain organisms are weighted to different degrees in an ecosystem based on how they react to pollution. That tells us how healthy a body of water is.

“It would be interesting to develop a parasite-specific IBI from this research,” he said. “Some parasites are not host specific and can live anywhere – they would be rated relatively low on the scale. But some parasites are very host specific and require more sensitive late-stage hosts. They would receive a higher score. Potentially this work could go into developing that scale and offering an index that saves labor and financial costs in larger bodies of water.”

Moore said the fellowship will help fund his project by allowing him to construct “crab condos” which are used to catch first-host organisms. Additionally, he plans on hiring an undergraduate assistant to help process the project’s data.

Moore is a member of the Blakeslee Lab, led by Dr. April M.H. Blakeslee, ECU assistant professor of biology.

The Sea Grant and the Coastal Reserve anticipates awarding $10,000 to fund Moore’s work.

 

-by Matthew Smith, University Communications

Dr. Michael Piehler named interim executive director of UNC Coastal Studies Institute

Effective July 1, Dr. Michael Piehler assumed the role of interim executive director of the UNC Coastal Studies Institute (UNC CSI).

Piehler has been an integral part of the growth and success of UNC CSI, serving as the head of the estuarine ecology and human health research program since 2004. Piehler assumes the role following the retirement of Dr. Nancy White, who served 14 years as the founding executive director for UNC CSI.

Dr. Michael Poehler (Photos by Mary Lide Parker)

Dr. Michael Poehler (Photos by Mary Lide Parker)

The UNC Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-university institute located in Wanchese and administered through East Carolina University.

ECU Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Dr. Ron Mitchelson selected Piehler as the interim executive director.

“Mike is an accomplished scholar with impressive leadership qualities,” Mitchelson said. “Dr. Piehler has been part of the CSI team for many years and that experience will be crucial in the upcoming year. I look forward to working with Mike as we grow key coastal programs at CSI.”

Dr. Michael Piehler prepares samples in the lab.

Dr. Michael Piehler prepares samples in the lab.

Piehler received his Ph.D. in environmental science and engineering from UNC Chapel Hill, and since 1998 has been a member of the faculty at UNC Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Science. Piehler’s research occurs at the coastal land-water interface and is focused on quantifying the transport and transformation of nutrients. His research is funded by federal, state and regional sources and he serves on scientific advisory panels for governments, non-government organizations and industry.

Piehler is excited about this next stage in the growth and development of the institute. “I am honored to have been tapped by Provost Mitchelson to lead during this important period in the development of the Coastal Studies Institute.  We have remarkable people and facilities, and I look forward to helping us excel,” said Piehler.

For more information, visit www.coastalstudiesinstitute.org.

 

 

-by John McCord, Coastal Studies Institute 

 

ECU’s Maritime Studies Program Accepted into International Network

East Carolina University’s Program in Maritime Studies recently was named a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNITWIN Network for Underwater Archaeology. ECU joins as a full member with other universities including Texas A&M University, Southampton University, University of Southern Denmark and Alexandria University.

Associate Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies Dr. Jennifer McKinnon travelled to Paris, France, the last week of May to attend the network’s annual meeting and present ECU’s application.

McKinnon (center-right, turquoise pants) poses with a group of UNESCO UNITWIN Network members and meeting attendees. (Photo by Jonathan Benjamin.)

McKinnon (center-right, turquoise pants) poses with a group of UNESCO UNITWIN Network members and meeting attendees. (Photo by Jonathan Benjamin.)

“Joining this network has the potential to further the program’s existing international contacts and partnerships, providing both faculty and students with opportunities to collaborate, research and study abroad,” said McKinnon. “It also speaks to our Chancellor’s vision for global impact and becoming a national model.”

Established in 2012, the objective of the cooperative program is to promote research, training, information and documentation in the field of archaeology related to underwater cultural heritage.

“Maritime Studies’ membership in the UNESCO UNITWIN Network for Underwater Archaeology is a prime example of the university’s commitment to expanding its global impact in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field,” said ECU Executive Director of Global Affairs Dr. Jon Rezek.

ECU’s Program in Maritime Studies, established in 1982 and housed in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Department of History, is the second oldest and one of the largest of a few graduate programs in the United States that teach students in underwater archaeology. It has a national and international reputation working in areas around the world from Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, Caribbean, Africa and Latin America.

“The Department of History is committed to expanding our international footprint,” said Dr. Christopher Oakley, chair of the department of history. “We look forward to partnering with UNESCO UNITWIN to enhance our research collaboration with other prestigious universities across the globe.”

For additional information about the UNESCO UNITWIN Network, visit www.underwaterarchaeology.net.

 

 

-by Lacey Gray, University Communication

Professor to appear on UNC-TV’s Exploring North Carolina

East Carolina University professor Dr. Stan Riggs will appear in two episodes of the UNC-TV series, “Exploring North Carolina,” in January. Hosted by Tom Earnhardt, the show focuses on the natural features of the state.

ECU professor, Dr. Stan Riggs, will appear in UNC-TV’s “Exploring North Carolina” this month. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

ECU professor, Dr. Stan Riggs, will appear in UNC-TV’s “Exploring North Carolina” this month. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Riggs, a distinguished research professor of geology, said he worked with Earnhardt to determine what topics were exciting and important to the show’s viewers. Each program required three to five days on location collecting video footage and interviews.

“The purpose of the programs is educating the public – how the cultural history is dependent on the coastal system,” said Riggs.

The first episode, “Canals of Northeastern North Carolina,” features the role of slaves who were brought to the state to dig the original canals that changed the landscape in the region. Riggs discusses the geology of the lakes and swamps and their significance.

The second program, “Long Parks,” tells the story of how two very different national parks –Cape Lookout National Seashore and the Blue Ridge Parkway – display the natural wonders of eastern and western North Carolina. Riggs speaks about the unique geological aspects of each park.

“Canals of Northeastern North Carolina” will air Thursday, Jan. 12 and “Long Parks” will be shown on Thursday Jan. 19 at 8:30 p.m.

Riggs said the episodes, along with others in the Exploring North Carolina series, will be made available to area schools after airing on UNC-TV.

In addition to his role at ECU, Riggs is chair of the board of directors of North Carolina Land of Water (NC-LOW), a non-profit group that partners with ECU and co-sponsored the Exploring North Carolina programs. NC-LOW’s website says the mission of the group is to contribute to long-term, sustainable economic development based on the natural resources and cultural history of the region and enhance the quality of life for residents. ECU geology faculty Dr. Dorothea Ames and Dr. Steve Culver and ECU Chief of Staff Jim Hopf also serve on the organization’s board of directors.

“NC-LOW looks at how we can build sustainable jobs for the future in a region that’s changing due to environmental factors like storms and flooding,” said Riggs.

More information about NC-LOW can be found at http://www.nclandofwater.org/ and Exploring North Carolina, http://www.unctv.org/content/exploringNC

 

-by Jamie Smith

ECU produces most archaeology, maritime professionals

For the third consecutive year, East Carolina University has produced the highest number of new registrants to the Register of Professional Archaeologists.

ECU is one of only a few graduate institutions in the U.S. offering an interdisciplinary master’s degree in maritime history and nautical archaeology, a key reason ECU continues to produce the highest number of applicants to the RPA. In fact, according to the article on the RPA web site, “In 2015, of the 313 applications received by The Register, 14 were recipients of Master’s degrees in Anthropology and Maritime Archaeology from East Carolina.”

ECU Still on Top_1 Digging along Tar River[2]

“The success of the Program in Maritime Studies is due in large part to the quality of our students,” said Dr. Bradley Rodgers, director of the program, housed in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Department of History. “They are self motivated, ambitious and high energy; you have to be to dive in some of the places we visit, which are seldom ‘Club Med’ environments.”

Researchers in the field of archaeology must apply to become members of the RPA, though not all applicants are accepted. The RPA expects its members to have high standards of research performance and adhere to a specific code of conduct.

Dr. Randy Daniel, chair of the Department of Anthropology said, “The fact that many of our MA archaeology grads are applying to RPA confirms that the training they receive at ECU meets the professional standards required to be listed on the register. Prospective employers of archaeologists, including state and federal agencies as well as private companies, look to the register to identify those archaeologists that meet established professional standards.”

ECU Still on Top_2 biscayne Jeneva and charlie[2]

Alumni of the ECU anthropology program accepted into RPA are Kathryn Parker and Kate Thomas. Alumni accepted into RPA from the ECU program in maritime studies include Jeremy Borrelli, Daniel Brown, Kara Fox Davis, Chelsea Freeland, Stephanie Gandulla, Thomas Horn, James Pruitt, William Sassorossi, Lucas Simonds, Greg Stratton, Jeneva Wright and Caitlin Zant.

For additional information about ECU’s programs in anthropology, visit www.ecu.edu/anth. More information about the program in maritime studies is available at www.ecu.edu/maritime.

–Lacey Gray

ECU professor to serve as Steffy Lecturer

ECU maritime studies professor Dr. David J. Stewart was asked by the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) to serve as the 2015-16 J. Richard Steffy Lecturer.

David Stewart

David Stewart

The lecture was established in 2008 to commemorate Mr. Steffy’s work in ship reconstruction and the interpretation of wooden ships.

Stewart will deliver a series of presentations to AIA societies on the Kyrenia Ship, Steffy’s most notable reconstruction achievement. The ship, which sank off Cyprus in about 285 B.C., is the best preserved ancient Greek hull available.

In 2011, Stewart led a team that conducted a complete 3D recording of the hull in Kyrenia Castle. He has been using computer modeling to gain a better understanding of the ship’s shape than was possible without the technology.

The ECU program in Maritime Studies is housed in the Department of History in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.

ECU researcher’s wedding held in SeaWorld’s penguin habitat

ECU's Susanne Grieve and new husband Jeff Rawson celebrated their wedding in SeaWorld's penguin habitat this month. The couple met while completing research in Antartica. Photo by Jason Collier/SeaWorld Orlando

ECU’s Susanne Grieve and new husband Jeff Rawson celebrated their wedding in SeaWorld’s penguin habitat this month. The couple met while completing research in Antarctica. Photo by Jason Collier/SeaWorld Orlando

A SeaWorld wedding between East Carolina University’s director of conservation Susanne Grieve and Jeff Rawson, who met during a 2012 trip to Antarctica, is featured on the Orlando Sentinel and the local station, WFTV9.

The two were wed in the 32-degree penguin habitat at SeaWorld in Orlando, attended by 250 penguins inside SeaWorld’s Antarctica exhibit.

Read complete article at wftv.com.

Read coverage in the Orlando Sentinel.

 

 

ECU professor emeritus receives lifetime achievement award

Dr. William Still

Dr. William Still

ECU professor emeritus Dr. William N. Still, founder and former director of the ECU Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology program, was honored with a Knox Naval History Lifetime Achievement Award for lifetime achievements in the field of naval history.

Still was one of three recipients recognized at the McMullen Naval History Symposium, held last month at the U.S. Naval Academy. THe presentation included a video highlighting each recipients’ career, and each recipient received a medal commemorating their achievement.

The award recognizes contributions to naval history through scholarship, mentorship and leadership.  For additional information, visit http://www.navyhistory.org/2013/09/three-recipients-knox-naval-history-lifetime-achievement-award/.

ECU graduate students receive national awards for work on coastal issues

Two East Carolina University students in coastal resources management received 2012 Walter B. Jones Memorial Awards for Coastal and Ocean Resource Management.

Michelle Covi and Jennifer Cudney-Burch were selected to receive Excellence in Coastal and Marine Studies awards, presented by the National Ocean Service, a department of the national Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. The Jones awards recognize “innovation, resourcefulness, leadership and a commitment to balancing the human use of America’s coastal and ocean resources with the needs of the resources themselves,” according to the NOAA award web site.

Jennifer Cudney-Burch is a doctoral student with ECU professor Roger Rulifson at ECU’s Institute for Coastal Science and Policy. She served as a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow in Washington, D.C. for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, where she connected fishermen and policy makers. Her research on spiny dogfish management and migration along the U.S. East Coast and Canada, led to a new paradigm in spiny dogfish management plans recognized at both national and international levels. A summer 2010 article in “Coastwatch,” a N.C. Sea Grant publication, highlighted Cudney-Burch’s use of acoustics to track fish movement.

Ph.D. candidate Michelle Covi’s graduate work involves engaging rural communities in determining and planning for impacts of sea level rise on the region. Her research is addressing the significant need for citizen education, collaborative planning and effective policy making processes. Covi said she is gratified that the “work has received national recognition. This work would not be possible without the support of the Coastal Resources Management program, RENCI at ECU and my mentors,” Covi said.

Covi also works as the director of communication and outreach for the RENCI at ECU Engagement Center.

The awards were named for Walter B. Jones, Sr., who represented North Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1966 to 1992, including many years chairing the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries. He established the award program to recognize contributions for maintaining healthy coastal and ocean resources.

Ten graduate student awards are presented nationally every other year. Of those ten, six recipients came from North Carolina universities. Represented in addition to ECU were Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and Wilmington. Other winners hailed from the University of Virginia, Oregon State University and Florida Gulf Coast University. The town of Plymouth, N.C. received an award for excellence in local government for position change in the field of coastal management.

For additional information, visit http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/programs/ocrm/jones-noaa-awards.html.

Jennifer Cudney-Birch (Contributed photo)

Michelle Covi (Contributed photo)

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