Cindy Isidoro, Intermediate Marine Research scholar, has begun executing an experiment to test for the effects of various natural/organic fertilizers on the health of radish plants. One of her treatments is compost tea, a brewed mixture created with compost from food scraps at the New York Harbor School and live water from the recirculating aquaculture systems in the Marine Science lab where we grow Tilapia. Cindy will compare the performance of the plants with this tea, plain compost, and plain soil, among other treatments. This project is critical in order to understand new agricultural technologies that address food and environmental justice. As organic products are increasingly sought after to avoid agro-business’ questionable food safety practices and environmental degradation caused by over fertilization with industrial chemicals, compost tea may be a solution for a better planet and healthier lives. Stay tuned for her results! We’d like to thank our awesome project partners and Professional Advisory Committee members from Earth Matter, Infinitae Stockton, Marisa DeDominicis, and Andrea Lieske for all their support!
This was a big week for Marine Biology Research Scholars. On March 6 four of our advanced marine research scholars presented at the NYC Science and Engineering Fair. Competing with over four hundred of the City’s brightest science scholars, Cezanne Bies, Zain Bin Khalid, Marc Jimenez, and Luca Goldmansour showcased their long term research projects to judges from NYC’s top research institutions.
On Friday, March 4th, four of our intermediate research scholars presented their research to their partners CIVITAS, the Hudson River Foundation, and the Environmental Defense Fund. Led by Melanie Smith (Project Manager) and team members Grace Carter (biodiversity team leader), Katha Conklin (plankton team leader), and Cindy Isidoro (benthos team leader) they successfully presented the project’s final Quality Assurance Project Plan for approval.
And finally, on Monday, February 29, the Department of Education’s Office of Post Secondary Readiness recognized our Professional Advisory Committee member Captain and Scientist Matthew Leahey from NGO Seasavers and the Coast Guard Auxiliary with a plaque of recognition for his outstanding support of the Harbor School and the Marine Biology Research Program specifically. Captain Leahey got our team started on monitoring plastics in the NY Harbor before any other organization on the City was doing so. He led the MBRP on multiple expeditions aboard his vessel, the Nomad. He also custom built a manta tow to perform the sampling at the Verrazano narrows. When not on the water, he was leading workshops at our lab on water resources, plastics contamination, and the difficulty of environmental measurements for monitoring. We’d like to thank all our Professional Advisory Committee members and partners for making all these accomplishments possible. And a special thank you goes out to Captain Leahey for his amazing dedication to our future scientists and our city at large. Go Harbor School Science!
This map was completed by Ivan Carrasquillo, class of ’16, as part of the GIS curriculum of the Marine Biology Research Program.
Whenever the question “where” is asked Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are used to get the best answer. One of the major components of the Marine Biology Research Program is our GIS lab. Marine Biology Research scholars begin with introductory lessons on the importance of maps, the use of Global Positioning Systems for geo-referencing places & geocaching, and the differences between coordinate systems. Our scholars then begin implementing Digital Quest’s STEM aGIS curriculum of which the above map is one example. Our students are also required to begin a GIS project from scratch. We’ve had very diverse projects come out of our lab over the years ranging from Stop and Frisk to coastal land use. This year two of our scholars, Julia Montilla and Maria Giraldo are embarking on the Program’s first consulting project to map the American Chestnut trees that have been restored in Green-Wood cemetery and Prospect Park, NYC, by our Professional Advisory Committee (PAC) partner Bart Chezar and his team. We couldn’t have offered these wonderful opportunities if it wasn’t for the generous support of our PAC partner Jim Hall who has provided us with ArcGIS licenses over the years and the folks at ESRI, the makers of ArcGIS. It is important to note that ArcGIS is the industry standard software in GIS. We have been working to acquire the 2nd and 3rd parts of the curriculum in order to offer our scholars the possibility of obtaining Digital Quest’s GIS SPACE credential. The GIS field is a up-and-coming STEM field and a great 21st Century skill set for our scholars to add to their ePortfolios.
On February 6, 2016, a team of five Marine Biology Research scholars set out to sequence the genetic barcodes of marine organisms from the Hudson-Raritan Estuary in order to monitor its biodiversity. Part of our larger CIVITAS project (see previous post), these scholars have collected samples of algae and invertebrates from our Harlem River expeditions to create a baseline of what’s living there today. This type of work requires tedious pipetting, labeling on tiny vials, centrifuging, vortexing, and other crucial steps just to be able to extract the DNA from the organisms’ cells. During our next lab, these scholars will amplify the DNA and run it through a gel electrophoresis in order to prepare for genetic sequencing. The last step will be to identify the species using bioinformatics. You can see their research proposals here. A big thanks to our sponsor organization The Urban Barcode Project and Dr. Christine Marizzi from Cold Spring Harbor Lab for her and her team’s support.
Yesterday the NY Harbor SEALS team, a citizen science after school program at the New York Harbor School and the consulting branch of the Marine Biology Research Program, embarked on it’s first of at least fourteen expeditions up the East River to characterize the marine habitat between 96 and 116 streets. The purpose of these expeditions is to determine the biodiversity and water quality at this site in order to propose a restoration strategy to local government agencies. Composed of four teams, the SEALS analyze sediment, plankton-plastics, physical-chemistry, and genetic biodiversity samples using professional instrumentation and techniques. We would like to thank our post-secondary and project partners Dr. Alberto Stolfi of NYU, Dr. Kathleen Nolan of St. Francis College, Dr. Michael Judge of Manhattan College, Maura Smotrich of CIVITAS, the Hudson River Foundation, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Environmental Defense Fund, the New York Harbor Foundation, and the New York Harbor School for their ongoing commitment to our budding Marine Biology Research scholars. Go New York Harbor School marine science!
NY Harbor SEALs Quality Assurance Project Plan.
On one cold afternoon in February during the harsh winter of 2014 a harbor seal climbed on to a dock at Governors Island, NYC. This top consumer of the food chain has now been spotted in several sites along Manhattan Island recently. These are critical events that indirectly or directly, depending on your point of view, reveal that our waters have steadily improved since the passing of the Clean Water Act in 1972. It’s also fitting that the seal revealed itself to us on the last year of our Harbor SEALs / EPA Citizen Science Water Quality Monitoring of the Lower Hudson River Estuary. As we close this important chapter of our work, harbor seal on dock, we’re preparing for our next big project. We’ll now be focusing on creating a baseline study and monitor the effects of different construction materials on the East River. This new project, in partnership with the East Side non-profit community group, CIVITAS, is being run to inform the reconstruction of the East River Esplanade and continue our efforts to restore the harbor seal’s habitat around NYC. Please find an opportunity to read our Final EPA Citizen Science Water Quality Report and visit our webpage. Here’s to the return of the harbor seal!
Greetings Marine Biology Research Program (MBRP) scholars, Professional Advisory Committee members, New York Harbor School Staff, Family, and Friends! Thank you again for helping to make the 4th Annual Harbor School Symposium a success. It was a real pleasure to see the team work, quality, and leadership that made the operation run as smoothly as it did on May 13th. Below is a list of highlights that are worth noting:
You’re cordially invited to attend our 4th annual Science Symposium at the New York Harbor School on May 13 starting at 12pm. Experience cutting edge science from our very own Marine Biology Research Scholars and our special guest Dr. Michael Judge, Biology chairperson at Manhattan College. Dr. Judge will be sharing his journey to a science career and talk about his latest research in gastropod community ecology. Also presenting are our first and second place winners at the NYC Science and Engineering Fair, Nicolle Martinez and Tahirah Abdo. Go New York Harbor School science!
Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Work-Based Learning at the New York Harbor School has just raised the bar! Marine Biology Research (MBRP) scholars Nicolle Martinez and Tahirah Abdo will be graduating with 8 SUNY Albany research college credits, a CTE technical endorsement in Natural Resources Management, first and second awards at the NYC Science and Engineering Fair, and attend Ivy league and top colleges with full scholarships! This is testimony to both team work, as their projects were supported by the whole MBRP team, and their own personal leadership and ambition. In total, our MBRP senior scholars have received to-date over USD 500, 000 in scholarships, have participated in internships around the city, presented at regional and national conferences, and worked with leading marine scientists to complete their research – all while leading research efforts to find solutions for the restoration of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. Thank you to all our Professional Advisory Committee members, University & Industry Partners, the NY Harbor School Staff, the NY Harbor Foundation, and family members for all your support!
Earlier this year, the Marine Biology Research Program was chosen as a Beta tester of the latest in microscope technology – the PrakashLab Foldscope – from Stanford University. 10th grade Marine Research Scholar, Jose Martinez, stepped up to the challenge of building and testing the scope. To prepare, he wrote down a comprehensive step-by-step guide to building the scope. After 45 minutes of work he was able to successfully project an image of an amoeba on to a dark wall using the Foldscope and his cellular phone lamp. Jose is formulating a project to record all things microscopic associated to the Hudson River Estuary. For a great video on Foldscopes in Ted Talks click here and for more images of Jose’s work click here.