Florida A&M University (FAMU) received $3.36 million in federal funds to continue important research that supports healthy oceans and resilient and vibrant coastal communities.
This is the fourth year of a five-year award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Educational Partnership Program that funds the Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems (CCME) led by FAMU.
FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., serves as the Center’s director and principal investigator. He said hurricanes like Michael and Dorian are a reminder of the importance of resilient coastal communities and ecosystems, which are a key focal point of the Center’s work. The Center has awarded 76 scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students since 2016.
“We are especially appreciative of these funds that will allow us to continue to work in the Center and address critical issues in Florida and coastal communities throughout the Gulf of Mexico,” said Robinson. “It’s particularly noteworthy that this award will allow us to continue to support students who will be the next generation of innovators and problem solvers in these critical areas.”
Most of the Center’s research is throughout the Florida Gulf Coast, specifically Apalachicola Bay. Partners include Bethune-Cookman University, California State University -Monterey Bay, Jackson State University, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi and the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.
In a statement about the NOAA funding, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said: “People from across the world come to Florida because of the state’s natural beauty. Throughout my eight years as governor, we worked to increase Florida’s annual investments to preserve the environment by $1 billion. This $3.36 million grant will help FAMU students and researchers build on our efforts to make sure future generations can enjoy all that Florida has to offer.”
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson Jr., D-Tallahassee, highlighted the significance of the Center’s mission.
“This grant is particularly important given the many unique challenges we are seeing in our environment and climate. FAMU has been doing phenomenal work to train the next generation of minority scientists to address the issues confronting our state and nation, particularly our marine and coastal communities,” said Lawson. “FAMU’s efforts have helped lead us to an increased knowledge and awareness toward tackling some of the many issues facing our environment.”
The Center focuses on three research areas: Placed-based conservation, coastal resilience and environmental intelligence, which uses data to make informed decisions in coastal communities.
For example, NOAA CCME Scholar Nigel Lascelle is close to completing his master’s thesis at FAMU. His research is focused on the massive amount of plastic in the ocean and trying to find ways to clean up microplastics – plastics broken into tiny particles that are ingested through the aquatic food chain and potentially enter humans.
The work of the Center will be prominent at the upcoming biennial NOAA EPP-MSI Education and Science Forum, which will be hosted by FAMU in Tallahassee March 29 through April 1, 2020.
For additional information about the Center and its research, visit ccme.famu.edu.