The Island View
Monthly Newsletter
September 2018
Dear Shoals Community,

As Hurricane Florence hurdles its way towards the US, I cannot help thinking about an underlying message with this storm: warming oceans are creating bigger, more intense hurricanes. If there was ever time to insure that we have a steady and ready source of marine scientists that will bring more understanding and strategies for addressing a warming ocean, it is now . A 2018 publication by the National Academies Press states that the U.S. dominance in science is threatened by many factors, and that as a nation, we need to produce about one million additional college graduates with science-related degrees over the next ten years. The report goes on to emphasize the need for more women and other underrepresented students. Finally, the authors highlight the importance of undergraduate research experience for the critical role it plays in educating young scientists.

At Shoals Marine Laboratory we take these national calls to action to heart! As the largest undergraduate-focused marine laboratory in the country, we focus on world-class immersive science education with a wide array of research opportunities for our students. We are proud that the majority of our students are women and continue to work with partners to increase our services to underrepresented students as a whole. Undergraduate research is the arena where SML truly excels. Our courses and internships offer students research opportunities in a spectacular field setting with exceptional scientists! In this newsletter, we’ll shine a spotlight on a few of the amazing programs from the 2018 season.
With deep appreciation and warm wishes,
Jennifer Seavey, Ph.D.
Kingsbury Executive Director
Shoals Marine Laboratory
Highlights from SML's 52nd season!
While the island staff spends this week closing facilities and wrapping up operations on Appledore Island, we are thrilled to reflect upon another amazing summer at Shoals Marine Laboratory. Here are some of the highlights from our 2018 season:

Student education
  • 17 credit courses offered, including new courses in genomics, sharks, marine parasites, and climate change
  • 209 enrollments! (this is a 51% increase from 2017)
  • Over 550 students expressed interest in SML (we need more scholarships to get these students to SML!)
  • SML gave out nearly $300,000 in scholarships (81% of our students received financial support)
  • 6 Artists-in-Residence worked with SML science courses
  • 2 Scientist-in-Residence Fellows expanded research mentoring and field science at SML
  • 12 excellent speakers presented at SML’s weekly Seminar in Marine Science series

  • 18 undergraduate research interns in 8 biology and engineering internship programs
  • Shoals Research Apprenticeship program enrollment grew 50%
  • Continued to build the SML Tern Conservation Program (watch video here!)
  • Dozens of visiting researchers from institutions across the country: Cornell University, University of New Hampshire, Dartmouth College, Canisius College, UMass Boston, Tufts University, Northern Essex Community, University of Connecticut, Center for Coastal Studies, Eastern Carolina University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and more!

  • Over 1,200 participants enjoyed our outreach programs
  • 214 participants in visiting groups, from excellent programs like Sea Grant, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, NH Audubon, and local schools
  • 700 people participated in 10 Garden Tours & many Appledore Island Walking Tours led by UNH Marine Docents
  • 9 Adult & Family Programs brought over 120 participants to Appledore
  • Two International program partnerships with students from Pakistan and China
  • A visit from UNH’s new president, Dr. James W. Dean Jr.!

In all, over 1,500 people enjoyed the magic of Appledore Island and Shoals Marine Laboratory this summer! We know that the impact of the SML experience is impossible to capture with statistics, but we are honored to share SML with you and our ever-expanding community! 
Marine Environmental Science 2018,
on the rocks
Field Animal Behavior 2018 class photo
Plastics and Seabirds in the Gulf of Maine
Summary of a recent article that appeared in

SML students, interns, and faculty mentors have been monitoring and researching seabird populations on Appledore and neighboring islands for decades. In recent years, we've been noticing a disturbing trend: the presence of plastic debris in the colonies, around nests, and even entangling birds.

This summer, SML launched a pilot study to begin to quantify the amount and type of plastic found in the environments of the gulls on Appledore and terns on Seavey and White islands. The ultimate goal of the research project is to better understand how plastic pollution in the Gulf of Maine is affecting seabird ecology.

Aliya Caldwell (Rutgers University '20) was SML's 2018 Seabirds and Plastic Pollution Intern , mentored by Dr. Jennifer Seavey and Dr. Liz Craig. Over the course of her 10-week internship , Aliya found fragments of hard plastic, fishing line, fibers from items such as clothing, polystyrene and “nurdles” (tiny balls of plastic that serve as the raw material to manufacture items) among the gulls and terns. The most prevalent plastic identified was from single-use bags.

SML was able to highlight these efforts for local media outlets in order to bring more attention to this pilot study and to increase awareness about marine plastic pollution. Read the article here!
To search for plastics in her samples, Aliya Caldwell (SML's 2018 Seabirds and Plastic Pollution Intern) would break up regurgitated pellets and wash the material over a 1mm mesh. The remains were identified and sorted under a dissecting scope. “A lot of times, you can see by eye a piece of plastic bag. For the smaller ones, there are rules about color and texture and edges that give them away. If I still can’t tell, I’ll dye the contents with a pink dye that stains the biological material. And if I’m still not sure, I touch it with a hot poker and smell it.”

Researcher and Alumni spotlight: Dr. April Blakeslee
There and Back Again: A Shoals Tale

My first Shoals experience was in high school, where I spent one week at SML learning about marine organisms and environments for a summer course (“Oceanography of the Gulf of Maine”). That was in 1993. Over the past 25 years, I have returned to Shoals a number of times in various roles: as student, researcher, and mentor. This latter role is especially rewarding because I can share with current undergraduate students the fascination I feel every time I go back to Appledore Island. This summer, I co-mentored (with colleague Dr. Amy Fowler) a Parasite Ecology Intern , Hyejoo Ro from the University of Washington. We investigated behavioral influences of parasites in an invasive green crab ( Carcinus meanas ), common along the island’s shores.

Given the strong hands-on and independent nature of working at a marine lab (and an island, no less!), it is clear that Shoals internship experiences are incredibly rewarding to young researchers. Shoals has been especially important to me as a female scientist, with research performed there resulting in multiple published papers. Undoubtedly, this summer’s work with Hyejoo at the helm will also become a valuable contribution. Shoals is a special place I always look forward to: 25 years and counting!

Dr. April Blakeslee
Assistant Professor
Biology Department
East Carolina University
Photo from the 2018 SML Research Symposium (left to right): Dr. Amy Fowler, Hyejoo Ro, and Dr. April Blakeslee formed SML's Parasite Ecology Internship team this summer!
Catch SML in the current issue of Yankee Magazine!
Our public outreach programs have concluded for the season, but to give you a taste of the outstanding experiences we offer on Appledore Island for adults and families every August and September, check out the recent article in Yankee Magazine about "Take a Bite out of Appledore: An Eco-culinary Island Retreat." Ecologists, foodies, artists, archaeologists, writers, and more enjoy the magic of Shoals Marine Laboratory during these unique and innovative programs each year!

Onwards and upwards!
With mixed emotions, we'd like to announce that our External Relations Coordinator, Alexa (Hilmer) Brickett, will be departing SML for a new opportunity. Alexa has been a member of the Shoals family since 2010 when she enrolled in her first SML course as a Cornell undergrad. Many of you will remember her as the SML Island Coordinator (2014-2015) before joining us in her current role. As SML’s External Relations Coordinator, Alexa created a voice for SML that really engaged our community and helped foster support for the lab. We are going to miss Alexa very much, but we are excited for her to take the next steps in her career as Assistant Director of Communications at NH Sea Grant, one of SML's strongest collaborators here at UNH.

Looking forward, we have a job opening for a similar but revised position: SML Communications and Community Relations Coordinator.

You can view the job positing here. Please help us share this opportunity and grow our team!
For more info about the SML Communications & Community Relations Coordinator position, click on the graphic above!
Already thinking about summer 2019!
Now that the fall semester is underway on college campuses across the country, we are already gearing up for summer 2019. Dr. Gregg Moore (SML Academic Coordinator at UNH) recently brought a group of intrepid UNH undergraduates to tour Appledore Island in anticipation of next summer. We hope to see some of these students in SML's 2019 courses and research programs. Thanks for visiting!
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Shoals Marine Laboratory is a joint partnership between
Cornell University and the University of New Hampshire.