Newsletter of the SEAS Islands Alliance 
October 2021

Alliance Happenings: Puerto Rico Field Workshop 

In August, the Puerto Rico Hub conducted a five-day field workshop in Puerto Rico with 7 participants from Universidad Ana G. Méndez (UAGM) that were recruited in Fall of 2020. The workshop was held in Vieques and Fajardo, and included field and laboratory experiences, cultural exchange events, and professional development activities. Students worked with partners at Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust, and Para La Naturaleza to learn about ecological monitoring in mangroves, lagoons, and coral reefs. Students also used the time to start developing their own monitoring program for Laguna Grande, a bioluminescent lagoon in northeast Puerto Rico. There was a musical demonstration of the Puerto Rican cuatro instrument, courtesy of Orlando Berrios, a musician from the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico. This event was planned by the workforce fellows and provided a basis for cultural exchange between students and instructors, and it was promptly followed by salsa dancing lessons (for the instructors)! 
SEAS Spotlight: Patricia Vidal & Ninoshka Betancourt Gómez
The Puerto Rico hub is proud to announce that this year’s new Workforce Fellows will be Patricia Vidal (left) and Ninoshka Betancourt Gómez (right). 

My name is Patricia Vidal I am part of the Workforce Fellow with the SEAS Islands Alliance. I graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor’s in Biology. I was part of the TORTUGA project since my first year at the UAGM university, and was part of the 2021 SEAS Islands Alliance Bridge program. The opportunities given by this project allowed me to find my true passion in science.

Hello! My name is Ninoshka M. Betancourt Gómez and I am a proud Puerto Rican who loves the outdoors and the adventure. Since a young age I was fascinated with the idea of the unknown and loved being in the water and surrounded by animals of all kinds. Because of that I entered UAGM university, recinto Cupey to study biology and officially graduated in 2021 with a bachelor’s in biology. Throughout my years of college, I was part of the TORTUGA project which allowed me to improve the skills already given and allowed me to explore the wonders of oceanography. Now I am a work fellow for the SEAS Island Alliance and currently interested in a graduate program in marine biology with a focus on mammals.

CERF 2021 Starts November 2! A Note from Lora Harris

Some of you know me as a member of the Puerto Rico Hub, but I’m writing this note for the newsletter in my capacity as co-chair of CERF 2021 - the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation’s 2021 Conference.  For the past two years I have been leading and working with a team of 70+ volunteers to organize this biennial conference, transitioning to a virtual venue, and innovating new approaches to providing CERF members an opportunity to gather and share in our science, management, policy, and education research. This year’s theme celebrates our 50th anniversary as a federation, creating space to consider our history and chart the future.  I am so excited that SEAS Islands Alliance members are a part of the CERF Future!

I have been attending CERF meetings for the past two decades, beginning with a talk I gave in 2001 at St. Pete Beach, Florida as a graduate student.  That was so long ago there isn’t a pdf of the conference program (gasp!). I remember showing up at the meeting, collecting my paper program booklet, and highlighting the talks by hand that I wanted to attend. It is almost mind blowing that this year we will be meeting virtually! Of all the conferences that I attend, I consider CERF to be my science “home”.  My CERF colleagues feel like family and I love the focus on presenting both basic research and management applications. It is just as common to meet a coastal manager at a CERF meeting as it is to come across fellow academics. I came to oceanographic research because I love solving problems, and CERF is a place where you feel an energy in the work that we are doing around urgent estuarine and coastal environmental challenges. It is also a place where dedicated members, including many who are leaders in the SEAS Islands Alliance, have been showing up to push CERF to create a scientific culture that values the importance of integrating issues of social justice, representation, and inclusion. 

Please take advantage of the CERF meeting to experience and be inspired by the keynote (Dr. Ayana Johnson!) and plenary speakers, including an amazing science communication plenary where SEAS member Howard Forbes Jr. will share the stage with “DeepSea Dawn” - ESRI Chief Scientist Dr. Dawn Wright and NPR’s Chris Joyce. Look here for a full list of presentations by SEAS Islands Alliance members.  Participate in all of the student offerings - the professional networking effort is going to be GREAT! And stay tuned for a note on how to meet up in the “GatherTown” poster hall for a virtual SEAS meet-up and tour of the SEAS posters!

Making Waves

All 5 Guam Hub undergraduate Fellows have been accepted to present at the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and CERF conferences this year!

Anela Duenas and Gabrielle Prelosky from the Guam hub were two of the five students  awarded the local More Like Jimmy Scholarship. The scholarship, which is privately funded by an anonymous donor, is named after Jimmy Hall, a passionate shark lover who died in 2007. Since 2018, the scholarship has awarded $34,000 to help students of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and other parts of Micronesia to continue their higher education.

Jackeima Flemming (Emerging Caribbean Scientists (ECS) Program 2021), from the USVI Hub, was approved by the ECS Committee to receive funding through the ECS Honors Fund, to continue her summer research on sargassum! The ECS Honors Fund provides unrestricted funds to support undergraduate STEM student research and other research training activities like travel awards to conferences and summer research. Jackeima also placed 3rd in the 2021 University of the Virgin Islands’ Hybrid Fall Student Research Symposium. The student winners will receive certificates of recognition at the Spring Academic Awards Ceremony. Congratulations!

USVI Hub SEAS Graduate student Shamoy Bideau and Kristin Grimes were both invited to be speakers for the NOAA in the Caribbean Meeting on September 22, 2021.

The USVI Hub welcomes new Workforce Fellow, Delsabriana Gonzalez, this month. Delsa will be working with The Nature Conservancy on St. Croix in their coral restoration program and will work closely with SEAS graduate student, Shamoy Bideau, on his thesis, as well as future SEAS undergraduate student interns.

Congratulations to Tiffany del Valle and Ana Elena Rios Morales, who will have their Bridge research projects featured at the 2021 Center for Pollinator Research Symposium at Penn State University.  Both of their projects examined the behaviors and development of Blue Orchard Bees.  

In August Co-PIs for the Puerto Rico Hub, Maria Fernanda Barberena and Pedro M. Maldonado Rivera transitioned to new positions at Interamericana University, Facultad de Ciencias y Tecnología. The PR Hub team has been working to facilitate the transition for workforce fellows and TORTUGA students to the new university setting.  

Israel Popo (Youth Ocean Explorer (YOE), St. Croix, 2021) has just started his scuba training at the Cane Bay Dive Shop. Israel is already zipping through the online coursework and is extremely excited to start the course. (Top left photo: Israel (right) with Dive Safety Officer Ken (Left)).

A number of USVI hub students -- including Maura Richardson, Gabrielle Quetel, Elyse Ayala, Gianni Ayala, Ja’Mouri George, Jarelle Berkely, Vivia Lionice Webster, Colum Morgan, and Israel Popo -- participated in the Brewers Bay Coastweeks cleanup on Saturday, September 18. (Top right photo: Gianni Ayala in the back row (left)).

YOE St. Croix student, Maleyah Navarro, is now rescue certified and continues to work with the Cane Bay Dive Shop. She is 15 now and is greatly enjoying the opportunity to have gotten scuba certified as she is interested in pursuing a career in marine science. (Bottom left and right photos).

On The Horizon

October 25-29 - SACNAS Conference

October 29 - Guam hub undergraduate Fellows application deadline

November 2021 - Bridge applications open

November 1-4 & 8-11 - CERF 2021

Early Spring 2022 - Emerging Caribbean Scientists applications open

The SEAS Islands Alliance is an NSF INCLUDES Alliance funded by the National Science Foundation Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (NSF INCLUDES). 

Visit our website at for more information. Please reply to this email if you have any questions, if you are interested in getting more involved with the SEAS Islands Alliance, have information you'd like to share in an upcoming newsletter, or If you would like to be removed from the email list.

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