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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