MARINE BIOLOGY RESEARCH & SEALS 2018-19: SPRING SEMESTER IN REVIEW

MBRP class of 2019! (Selfie credit: Rosalia Elslamony)

Every graduating class has a personality of its own molded by each individual and the particulars of the school cohort. This year’s graduating class was characterized by many unique and strong personalities. What they all had in common though was honesty. I have never met so many young MBRP scholars in tune with themselves and the spirit of the times. I’m most grateful to this particular group for having embodied a crucial component of the program which is independence. This characteristic allowed them to pull through and manage the many aspects that running a high school research program requires. From maintaining our various recirculating lab systems, managing the 8th Annual Marine Science Symposium, competing in the New York City Science and Engineering & Urban Barcode Research Program fairs, completing professional maps using ArcGIS, working thousands of internship hours, earning dozens of college credits, and, most importantly, enhancing environmental awareness of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary, this group of graduating scholars will be making big waves in our world for the better in the years to come. To get to know our graduating MBRP Class of 2019 better, click here to view their ePortfolios.

8th Annual New York Harbor School Marine Science Symposium (Photo credit: Mauricio González).

On May 15 the New York Harbor School hosted its 8th Annual Marine Science Symposium. We had over 50 projects on display and over 30 volunteers from various industry & post-secondary institutions. Among the volunteer judges of the student projects was a team from Con Edison, which has generously supported Marine Biology Research at Harbor School for several years. This year’s theme was the Oroboros- a symbol of chaos and order. The inquiry process, which lies at the heart of research, involves the brave act of taming the chaos inherent in the unknown to try to extract some kernel of truth only to realize that new questions have sprung up and the process continues. Research requires the delicate balancing act between finality and infinity, end and renewal.

8th Annual New York Harbor School Marine Science Symposium group shot (Photo credit: Anita Morawski).

This year’s winner of the MBRP Trident Award of Excellence was bestowed to Marcus Charles (Class ’18). The Trident Award is given to a MBRP graduate that has accomplished all three of the following feats: 01) has earned all the possible college credits offered by the MBRP, 02) has competed in the NYC Science and Engineering Fair or obtained GIS SPACE certification, and 03) has assumed a leadership position in the Harbor SEALs Citizen Science after school team. To view the Symposium Booklet with the complete list of volunteers, senior autobiographies, project titles, and Symposium results click here.

Prof. Henry Bokuniewicz from SUNY Stony Brook mentoring our 10th Grade MBRP scholars Gabriel Castro and Emily Lysakova (Photo credit: Mauricio González).

Our work is not possible without the ongoing support of industry and Post-secondary partners such as ConEdison, SUNY Stony Brook, Bronx Community College, BMCC, Urban Barcode Program, Roger Williams University, SUNY Albany, NYC Department of Education, New York Harbor Foundation, and Rozalia Project, to mention just a few. The opportunities they grant our scholars serve to enrich their education and help make them college and career ready.

Emily Lysakova and Gabriel Castro present at the 2019 Conference on the Geology of Long Island and Metropolitan New York (Photo credit: Lysakova family).

An example of the benefits of the synergy between our partners and the MBRP is our yearly completion of long term research projects, many of which compete at the New York City Science and Engineering Fair with NYC’s brightest STEAM students. We had four competitors in this year’s regional fair with our MBRP research scholar, Cyd Bloomfield, placing third in the category of Earth & Environmental Science. Thank you to Dr. Elizabeth Burmester for mentoring many of this years projects. Go New York Harbor School Science!

New York Harbor School at the 2019 NYC Science and Engineering fair.

In the field, our young Harbor SEALs scholars have been hard at work. Our Microbiology/Plankton and Phys-Chem teams have been monitoring the health of our Harbor waters. Our Biodiversity team has been preparing Econcrete tiles to deploy off of Governors Island for long-term monitoring. And our freshmen and sophomore scholars have been hard at work learning the ropes to take over leadership of their teams next school year.

Harbor SEALs team Plankton. Left to right: Kate Mumford, Taina Berrios, Sunita Pearson_Siegel, Luke Samton (Photo credit: Mauricio González).
Harbor SEALs team Phys-Chem, Right to left: Adult mentor Sean Lynch, Malik Ford, Dakota Rogers, Brian Mejia, and, visiting scholar, Jasmine Mendoza (Photo credit: Mauricio González).
Harbor SEALs team Microbiology/Plankton, Left to right: Kate Mumford, Prophet Davison, Aelish Mullaney , and Mimi Katz (Photo credit: Rosalia Elslamony).

Our alumni have been graduating from college and many continue to visit throughout the year. This past month I attended two graduation ceremonies. Our scholars report that college is not easy. Many struggle to adapt to the rigors of academic expectations and many are also the first to go to college in their families. I am pleased to also mention that colleges are starting to support our minority students by creating special associations that our students can go to for guidance. These associations also provide career assistance after graduation. Common themes I heard in our various conversations were 01) don’t be afraid to ask for help from your professors, 02) take advantage of office hours, 03) go the extra mile so your professors take you under their wing, 04) completing research in the MBRP opened doors for students, 05) don’t let impostor syndrome creep in, you’re not alone! Again, ask for help.

Violeta González, Jade Gonzáles, Andrew Sommer, and Tahirah Abdo, MBRP Class of 2015, graduate from SUNY Oswego.
Violeta González, MBRP Class of 2015- my daughter:) (Photo credit: Anita Morawski).
Nicole Martinez, MBRP Class of 2015, graduates from Columbia College (Photo credit: Anita Morawski).
Katha Conklin and Jared Rosin, MBRP Class of 2017, visiting during our Symposium.

It has been an honor for me to have been awarded the NYC Big Apple Award for the 2018-19 school year. As a part of this recognition, I’ve had the privilege of participating in advisory meetings with Chancellor Carranza and his talented staff. I have also been a part of Academy for Teachers Master Classes that have enriched my intellectual growth. I’d like to end this update by dedicating it to my late mentor, Dr. Gregory Hodge, who passed in February 2019.

Academy for Teachers: Three-Day Master Class on the Hudson River Valley: Art, History, Ecology
(Photo credit: Academy for Teachers).
Big Apple Award: DOE Chancellor, Richard Carranza, Founder and Director Marine Biology Research Program & Harbor SEALs Citizen Science, Mauricio González, and UFT President, Michael Mulgrew (Photo credit: NYC DOE).
My late mentor, Dr. Gregory Hodge , circa 2009 (Photo credit: Anita Morawski).
My wife Anita Morawski’s “love cakes” for the Harbor SEALs (Photo credit: Elizabeth Burmester).