Five UNH research projects to be funded by the New Hampshire Sea Grant

By LAUREN SAUCIER
On February 20, 2012

Five research projects based at the University of New Hampshire were chosen to receive funding from the New Hampshire Sea Grant. The projects were given $2 million for the next two years to conduct their research.

The New Hampshire Sea Grant, which is based at UNH, received the grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In addition to research projects, the grant will help fund marine education and Cooperative Extension activities.

The director of the N.H. Sea Grant, John Pennock, explained that there were 13 full proposals written for the funding, but only five were chosen. He says these projects will contain significant scientific research.

Pennock said that the N.H. Sea Grant is based at UNH, which he called a great testament to the university's priorities. Pennock said that the grant's main goal is to be a impartial purveyor of good science.  

UNH zoology professor Win Watson is working on researching lobsters in Great Bay. Professor Watson and his team of researchers are testing the hypothesis that the lobsters walk to or are carried to Great Bay from the coast.

Professor Watson is working on this project with one of his graduate students, Jason Goldstein, in addition to undergraduate students who he will work with this summer.

Another research project will be conducted by Vaughn Cooper and Cheryl Whistler, who are both UNH associate professors of molecular, cellular and biomedical science. Their goal is to study how the changes in temperature and climate variability influence the responsiveness of the oyster microbiome to higher salinity conditions.

Whistler said that their project will study how microbial interactions with the environment influence the presence of potentially human pathogenic Vibro species.

Cooper said that they are collaborating with Clean Air Cool Planet, a nonprofit education and advocacy group, to help understand the implications of climate change. Cooper also said that the grant will provide $145,000 in support for the project.

Sophomore environmental science major Sarah Neely said that this funding can benefit the university by gaining recognition through the publication of the research results. Neely said that funds shorten the amount of time that research projects require as well.  

Another project that will be funded by the N.H. Sea Grant is David Berlinsky's project with alewives, a forage species in the Gulf of Maine. Berlinsky, an associate zoology professor, will be studying the alewives in streams in the Great Bay estuary to provide accurate population estimates.

Wilfred Wollheim and William McDowell, UNH assistant professors of natural resources and the environment, plan to put in situ sensors on the Lamprey River to measure and monitor the nitrogen and organic carbon fluxes across storms, seasons and years.

Lastly, Charlie French will analyze different consumer surveys to find the best ways for tapping into local and regional alternative markers for local and sustainable seafood. French hopes that this will help the NH. commercial fishing industry adjust to regulatory changes and competition.

French is a UNH Cooperative Extension associate professor and a specialist of community and economic development.

Whistler said that the N.H. Sea Grant is the only type of funding for this project. She explained that the funding covers all research supplies and supports a graduate student to help with the project.

Pennock said these projects are "opportunities for researchers to come up with good ideas so we can know more about things we don't know much about. That is great stuff."


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