Fall 2021 Newsletter

Message from the Director

Gayle Zydlewski on a rocky shore in front of evergreens under a blue skyAs we welcome the hope that lengthening of days brings in the following weeks, we look forward to the opportunities Maine Sea Grant brings for the future generation of marine scientists, policy-makers, and practitioners in Maine and beyond. In this newsletter, we are excited to highlight student successes, stories, and opportunities. We are also excited to welcome our new Assistant Director for Research who will be focusing on building diverse opportunities and enduring career pathways for this and future generations to support the responsible use and conservation of coastal resources in order to sustain thriving coastal communities and ecosystems. Enjoy the newsletter and beauty of our Maine winter.


General Updates

Outdoor portrait of Jessica JansujwiczWelcoming new Director of Research

Jessica Jansujwicz has transitioned into a new role as the Maine Sea Grant Assistant Director for Research. Jansujwicz will lead the administration of Maine Sea Grant’s research program, advance the program’s research-related activities, and assist in developing research partnerships, serving as a liaison between our Marine Extension Team and Sea Grant-supported faculty, students, and staff at UMaine and other research institutions.


Undergraduate Internships in Diadromous Ecosystem Research Program

During summer 2021, seven undergraduate students were paired with mentors from University of Maine, Penobscot Nation, Maine Department of Marine Resources, USGS Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and Maine Sea Grant for a research-focused internship. The internship provided students hands-on learning experiences and the opportunity to work with scientists and resource managers who operate outside of the university setting. Stay tuned for a new round of internships in the new year. 

National funding for lobster research awarded

National Sea Grant announced $2 million for the American Lobster Initiative. The funding will support six research projects and the Northeast Regional Lobster Extension Program. Three of the six projects receiving funding are based at Maine institutions

New collaboration aims to repurpose plastic 

A collaboration between Maine Sea Grant, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and Latitude 43 Designs received a $17,000 grant from the Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection, through their Solid Waste Diversion Program.  At Haystack, Dr. James Rutter will oversee construction of specialized plastic recycling equipment, and will use retired shellfish-farming equipment as feedstock in fabricating prototype oyster grips—an aid in shucking oysters—per the design of Latitude 43.  Latitude 43 will then test-market their product for performance and customer acceptance.  Dana Morse at Maine Sea Grant is the overall project coordinator and will carry out extension duties with members of Maine’s shellfish aquaculture industry. 

A lobster larvae on a black background.

What baby lobsters eat and why it matters

University of Maine graduate student Evie Layland wrote a blog post about the diets and feeding habits of lobsters during early life stages. Layland is working with Drs. Rick Wahle and David Fields on a research project funded through the National Sea Grant American Lobster Initiative.

Collaborative Chats continues through fall

Maine Sea Grant, the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute are hosting a second series of webinars focusing on collaborative research efforts in the lobster industry. The series started in October and will run through early 2022. Keep an eye out for upcoming dates on the ALI Events page. To watch recordings of last year’s Collaborative Chats conversations, visit the ALI website.

Extension and Community Engagement 

State-of-the-Beaches webinar shares volunteer-collected data

The Beaches Conference logo - Our Maine and New Hampshire Beaches and CoastAlthough the Beaches Conference was unable to meet in-person in 2021, event organizers held a State-of-the-Beaches webinar. Geologists from Maine and New Hampshire shared updates on data collected by beach profiling volunteers in 2020 and 2021. Highlights focused on the impacts of human activities, including dune restoration, dune creation, beach nourishment, and nearshore placement of sand. Watch a recording of the webinar. Now, the conference is gearing up for an in person conference, to be held June 10, 2022 at Berwick Academy. To learn more about the Beaches Conference and for updates, visit the website.

Winter workshop series to focus on the business of aquaculture 

Aquaculture in Shared Waters will be holding four winter workshops titled “The Business of Aquaculture.” The first was held in-person at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick over the course of three nights and was open to existing sea farmers as well as others in the aquaculture supply chain (small business owners, lenders, insurance agents, etc). There will be three more, species-specific workshops in the coming months: Seaweed in December, Oysters in January, and Shellfish in February.

From the sea up logo, blue waves with a stylized representation of a radio signal

From the Sea Up stories featured on Coastal Conversations

Coastal Conversations, a Maine Sea Grant-supported radio show, is teaming up with The First Coast and the Island Institute for three episodes to feature stories about the people and products that make Maine seafood so incredible. Perfect listening to inspire your holiday feasts! The stories are part of a series called From the Sea Up, produced by The First Coast and Island Institute. You can listen to the first episode in the WERU archive

Alliance hosted virtual cooking demonstrations

The Alliance ended its seafood cooking tour this fall with a demonstration on how to prepare Maine “gold” mussels. Previous demonstrations included cold cracked lobster, sea scallops, oysters, and Atlantic salmon. Chef Rob Dumas led the culinary adventures alongside the trail-blazing fishermen and farmers behind the innovative seafood products. Participants saw how Alliance investments in new technologies, equipment, and infrastructure are transforming Maine’s marine economy. You can watch the demonstrations on Maine Sea Grant’s Facebook page.  

Sea Grant and partners’ work shared at COP 26 

Maine Sea Grant’s Parker Gassett authored two of the papers in a special issue of the journal Coastal Management that focused on the science, stewardship, and politics of tackling ocean acidification. The International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification made copies available at a panel session they hosted on building coastal resiliency at the UN Climate Change Conference. You can hear Parker talk more about this work on the Coastal Conversations Radio Program.


Education and Workforce Development 

Aquaculture, ME! project receives funding 

Maine Sea Grant and partners received an Aquaculture Literacy mini-grant from the North American Association of Environmental Educators and NOAA to continue development of Aquaculture, ME!, a collaborative network of educators and aquaculturists. Aquaculture, ME! provides educators the tools, resources, and commercial connections to advance aquaculture education in the classroom. The network started in 2019 and has grown to include over 25 middle and high schools, from over 17 school districts across the state, as well as 10 commercial sea farms and educational partners. The new funding will provide in-person professional development opportunities for teachers, direct technical support for classrooms with aquaculture systems, and industry demo-days at educational learning institutions, including the the Children’s Museum of Maine and the Boothbay Sea and Science Center.

Graduate student scholarships and fellowships now open

Applications have opened for multiple graduate  scholarship and fellowship opportunities. Please, share with graduate students and prospective graduate students in your network. 

        • Application deadline: January 27.
        • Eligibility: At the time of application, prospective fellows must be admitted to a Ph.D. degree program at a U.S. accredited university in population dynamics, ecosystem dynamics, resource or environmental economics, or a related field. Open to U.S. citizens. 
        • Focus: Population and ecosystem dynamics involve the study of fish populations and marine ecosystems to better assess fishery stock conditions and dynamics.
        • Application deadline: January 21. 
        • Eligibility: Post-graduate students. Any U.S. citizen who will complete a master’s or other advanced degree at an accredited U.S. university between August 1, 2020, and July 31, 2022.
        • Focus: Coastal resource management and policy.
        • Application deadline: February 18.
        • Eligibility: Any student, regardless of citizenship, is eligible to submit to this opportunity if the student is enrolled towards a degree in a graduate program at any point between the onset of the 2021 Fall Term and February 18, 2022; and the graduate degree will be awarded through an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or U.S. Territories.
        • Focus: Ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources.
        • View informational webinars about the Knauss Fellowship
        • Maine Sea Grant is hosting a Knauss alumni panel on December 15, 2021. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jessica Jansujwicz for more information. 

Undergraduate student scholarship now open

Applications have opened for the Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship. Please, share with undergraduate students in your network. 

        • Application deadline: January 31.
        • Eligibility: Any U.S. citizen who is enrolled as an undergraduate at an accredited college or university within the U.S. and is in their second year (of four) or third year (of five).
        • Focus: The internship between the first and second years of the award provides the scholars with hands-on, practical experience in NOAA-related science, research, technology, policy, management, and education activities.

In the News 

    • Marine Extension Professor Esperanza Stancioff was quoted in a Knox VillageSoup article reporting on a public event about proposed changes to Megunticook River dams.
    • The Maine Oyster Trail was featured in Downeast magazine. 
    • The Portland Press Herald, Ellsworth American, Bangor Daily News, WABI TV, Westport News, Undercurrent News and others reported on NOAA’s funding the American Lobster Initiative, which includes six research projects based in Maine. 
    • The MDI Islander and Portland Press Herald reported that Maine Sea Grant and partners are seeking input to develop new seafood-related training opportunities through the Young Fishermen’s Development Act. 
    • Assistant Director of Research Jessica Jansujwicz was quoted in a MDI Islander article reporting on the 12 undergraduate scholarships awarded in 2021. 


Mark Your Calendars 

Tune in to WERU Community Radio (89.9 in Blue Hill and 99.9 in Bangor) from 4:00 to 5:00 PM the fourth Friday of each month for Coastal Conversations, a public affairs program hosted by Marine Extension Associate Natalie Springuel that explores current issues facing Maine’s coastal communities through conversations with people who live, work, and play on our coast.