KEYPORT, NJ - New Jersey City University (NJCU) biology students, NaVonna Turner and Christian Bojorquez, were awarded top prize for their research posters at the Garden State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Conference October 9th at Rutgers University.

Bojorquez researched the biodiversity of marine life within a Bronx River oyster restoration reef. The reef, located along Soundview Park, is frequently monitored for survivorship and growth by NY/NJ Baykeeper volunteers and partners. Turner examined mussels at a Fresh Kills salt marsh restoration site. Three additional student posters were well received, including Bill Surena's project on the reproductive potential of Soundview Park oysters. Kaylee Saltos and Naysha Angelucci were also acknowledged for their examination of the succession and fouling at NY/NJ Baykeeper's oyster reef at Naval Weapons Station Earle. 

Research was completed under the guidance of Dr. Allison Fitzgerald, Assistant Professor of Biology at New Jersey City University and New York Oyster Restoration Program Coordinator at NY/NJ Baykeeper.

“The benefits of having field restoration sites like the Soundview oyster reef are immeasurable to the success of our future generations, especially those in underprivileged areas. Students with this research experience are able to graduate with a competitive factor,” said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald encourages her students to actively participate in oyster restoration and research. Students examine how oysters filter water, increase biodiversity, and strengthen shorelines by participating in a hands-on data collection experience.

Meredith Comi, Oyster Restoration Program Director at NY/NJ Baykeeper hopes to bring similar oyster restoration programs back to New Jersey. “The NJ Department of Environmental Protection banned shellfish research in 2010. Since then, New Jersey students haven't been able to complete their research requirements within their own state,” said Comi. “We urge the NJDEP to reverse the ban so we can better understand how oysters can protect our coasts from storm damage.”      

About LSAMP

The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program was initiated by the National Science Foundation. The program was designed to greatly increase the number of professionals in STEM fields from minority groups who are traditionally underrepresented. The idea is to provide support services at many levels to help interested students be successful in STEM majors. The program now has 41 LSAMP alliances and is considered one of the most successful of its kind. The Garden State LSAMP will continue this tradition. To learn more, click here

About NY/NJ Baykeeper

NY/NJ Baykeeper is the citizen guardian of the NY-NJ Harbor (Hudson-Raritan Estuary.) Since 1989, we’ve worked to protect, preserve, and restore the environment of the most urban estuary on Earth – benefiting its natural and human communities. Through our Estuary-wide programs we seek to end pollution, improve public access, conserve and restore public lands, restore aquatic habitats, encourage appropriate and discourage inappropriate development, carry out public education, and work with federal and NY/NJ state regulators and citizen groups as partners in planning for a sustainable future for the Hudson-Raritan Estuary watershed. To learn more, click here

For photos, contact Sandra Meola 732-888-9870 x7 or Sandra@nynjbaykeeper.org