Tag Archives: Professional Advisory Committee

Marine Biology Research 2016-7 Spring Semester in Review

Cindy Isidoro, class of ’17 and Team Benthos mentor (Photo Credit: Van Wong).

The 2016-2017 school year has been one of the most successful for the students of the Marine Biology Research Program. This year our scholars completed phase one of the CIVITAS-NYHS East River Esplanade baseline study. To see our students in action click here. Next, with over half a million students in NYC high schools, five-hundred fifty that apply to compete at the New York City Science and Engineering Fair, to just over one hundred that make it to the finals, the Marine Biology Research Program had two scholars selected for the Second Award in the category of Environmental Science. In total we had a School record breaking high of five students who competed this year.

NYCSEF 2nd Award Winners Grace Carter and Jared Rosin.

Considering that the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School is an un-screened school and that we’re going up against the top screened public science and private schools in the city (i.e. Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, Townsend Harris, etc.) this accomplishment is impressive to say the least. Four out of the five that competed were female which are all planning on pursuing a career in STEM; one was an ex-English Language Learner; and one had an Individualized Education Plan. This is testament to what can happen with dedication, team work, and, most importantly,  believing that all students can excel when given the opportunity and the right environment.

2017 NYCSEF Award Winners Grace Carter, Melanie Smith (Erik Wiemer standing in), Jared Rosin, Cindy Isidoro, and Katha Conklin.

One of the most important objectives of the Marine Biology Research Program is to empower students to make a difference in their communities through the research they complete over a three year period. This year they were the stars of the CIVITAS Citizens benefit where philanthropists donated thousands of dollars to the cause of improving the Upper East and East Harlem neighborhoods during their annual benefit at Sothebys on the Upper East Side, NYC.

Project Officers were the stars of the show at the 2017 CIVITAS Citizens benefit at Sothebys.

ConEdison continues to be one of our most active Professional Advisory Committee members. This semester they carried out a Career Management workshop where several of their star employees came to speak to our students about career readiness and opportunites at their company. They spoke about how many companies are willing to train students and even help to pay for their continuing education who meet a minimum of Transferable skills (i.e. team work, timeliness, problem solving), basic tool handling skills (i.e. knowing the difference between a Phillips and flat head screw driver to basic arithmetic and algebra), and who pass a basic entry level assessment.

Industry partners ConEdison visit our scholars for a career development workshop. Among those attending from ConEd were Michael Porto & Michael, Kessler.

Career readiness also requires a workforce that knows and fights for their rights. On April 22nd, our scholars planned a trip to Washington DC to march for Science. In today’s political climate where critical scientific evidence for climate change is being deleted from Federal databases and websites, our scholars weathered the rain with signs in hand and marched in front of the Washington Monument and the White House.

On April 22nd MBRP scholars marched on Washington to protest the current administration’s deleting of scientific evidence on climate change reminiscent of the 1933 Nazi public burning of literature that went against the extreme nationalist ideology of the regime.

Our after school Citizen Science team, the NYHS Harbor SEALs, has been hard at work monitoring the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. Most of the research that comes out of our lab is made possible by the effort and dedication of these young scholars. Typically composed of sophomores through seniors, this year we had a strong representation of freshmen who were stellar. Jacqueline Obermayer worked with 10th grade research scholar Cyd Bloomfield using genetic barcoding techniques to determine the species richness of Buttermilk Channel. Jonah Florholmen Boum was an integral part of Team Phys-Chem and is a candidate for our Data Analyst position next school year. Maddie Dominguez has also been an integral part of Team Phys-Chem.

2017 NYHS Harbor SEALs Citizen Science Team

Last week, May 17, we celebrated our 6th Annual Marine Science Symposium at the New York Harbor School. We had over 45 projects on display and over 30 volunteers from various industry and post-secondary institutions help judge. The highlight this year was the large number of volunteers who were former NYHS-MBRP alumni. Click here to view the Symposium Booklet with the complete list of volunteers, senior autobiographies, project titles, and Symposium results. Go New York Harbor School Marine Science!

Our 2017 Marine Biology Research Community.

MARINE BIOLOGY RESEARCH 2016-7 FALL SEMESTER IN REVIEW

MBRP director Mauricio González inspects the experimental unit placed on the Harlem River seawall by his marine scholars. This experiment is testing the effects of live oysters, rip rap, Econcrete discs, and mycelium fungus buoys on marine invertebrate recruitment (Photo credit: Maura Smotrich).

The 2016-2017 school year marks the fourth year since our Marine Biology Research Program received NYSED CTE certification. Since that time, our scholars’ accomplishments have been numerous.  Among them, we’ve had thirty two (32) scholars receive State certification in Marine Resources Management (see our annual report for more information). We’ve had students attend various universities around the country including Columbia University, Fordham University, SUNY Oswego, and Brown University to name just a few. They’ve gone on to study various career majors such as Biology, Business Administration, Environmental Science, among others. They have earned over one hundred fifty-four (154) college credits and accessed over one hundred (100) paid internship opportunities. Mauricio González, program director, reflects: “It’s a wonderful feeling to look back and see what one instructor and forty scholars can accomplish yearly through dedication, passion, and the invaluable support of industry and post-secondary partners.”

10th Grade Marine Research scholar, Cyd Bloomfield, is amused as she reveals an oyster she caught off the Eco-dock on Governors Island with her benthic grab. These grabs are designed to pick up muck from the bottom of the river bed.

Our 2016 Professional Advisory Committee meeting was a success! We had over fifteen (15) members in attendance to review, as a Scientific Review Committee, research plans & final reports, help update curriculum, and provide us with the support needed to continue strong in the years to come. One of our industry partners, ConEdison provided us with a grant to update our after school Citizen Science group, the Harbor SEALs, with a much needed plotter to print large format maps and project boards. Our partners in the DOE’s Office of Post Secondary Readiness also provided us with a grant to update our Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and 3D prototyping curriculum. Among the resources we secured were a 3D printing curriculum, 3D printers, and the GIS extensions needed to certify our young scholars in map making. Our young scholars have been hard at work building the printer kits and learning how to design innovative 3D materials to promote the recruitment of marine benthic organisms and thereby increase the biodiversity of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary (HRE).

11th grade Marine Research scholar, Zoe Grier, builds her 3D printer kit from scratch.

Although there’s not a whole lot of biodiversity in the HRE, our scholars get to study the importance of biodiversity and calculate biodiversity indexes through our very own coral reef “simulator” consisting of a 36×48 trifold board and a collage of coral organisms pasted on it. Using a miniature quadrat grid, they calculate percent cover of sessile organisms and use their data to calculate Hill numbers. This training is essential to quantify the biodiversity of the HRE. It is only through these sorts of techniques that we can gain an objective understanding of whether the Estuary is indeed changing. It is our hope that we can start planning yearly visits to real coral and oyster reefs in the years to come.

The MBRP’s coral reef model.

Meanwhile, our 3 college credit SUNY Stony Brook Advanced Marine Biology class has been learning basic oceanography theory. Covering the gamut of topics including the philosophical idea of “progress” through chemical and physical oceanography, they have been preparing for the rigors of college and more specifically, science majors. Many young folks have an overly romantic view of marine biology. Too many are attracted to the fuzzy marine mammals or the cool top predators. In the MBRP, they come to realize that the world of marine biology is  a lot more extensive, messy, and tedious. Before our students begin their long term research projects they must read at least five peer reviewed journal articles, type up a research plan, and have their plan approved by a Scientific Review Committee. Most of what we do can be characterized as learning by “thinking before doing.” This education strategy teaches students how to plan, collect necessary resources, and build the necessary confidence in their ability to think. Once they go through this process they are stronger readers, writers, and mathematicians. This is the trick that makes our program valuable and year after year our alumni come back telling us of how confident they are in their college classes.

Our 11th and 12th grade Advanced Marine Biology scholars characterizing a sample of river muck through a sieve shaker.

This marine biology story wouldn’t be complete without mention of some of the plumbing that goes on behind the scenes to keep our recirculating aquaculture systems functional and our tilapia happy. PVC unions tend to go bust with the large fluctuations of temperature in our greenroom. One crack in the wrong place and our fish can be cut off from the life-sustaining systems. Maintaining these systems is another large component of our 11th grade curriculum. Our scholars learn the basics for keeping RAS systems healthy and in good working order.

Before and after shot of the PVC plumbing repair this last winter break.

All this hard work makes us really hungry. So this Valentines week, one of our special partners baked cupcakes for us which we dubbed “love cakes.” Thank you to all who provide the support and motivation needed to help keep this level of intense and ambitious work. Stay tuned for our next update where we’ll be highlighting one of our outstanding 12th grade research scholars. Go New York Harbor School Marine Science!

Our 11th grade Marine Research scholar, Matthew Chiu, holding up a “love cake.”

Work-Based Learning and Career and Technical Education in the MBRP

MBRP scholars deploying an experiment on the Harlem River for the Non-Profit group CIVITAS Citizens.
MBRP scholars deploying an experiment on the Harlem River for the non-profit group CIVITAS Citizens aboard the NYHF vessel, Virginia. Real-World experiences give scholars the opportunity to practice the technical and professional skills they learn in the MBRP (Photo Credit: Mauricio González).

The New York Harbor School’s Marine Biology Research Program (MBRP) provides Work-Based Learning (WBL) experiences to its students in the 10 through 12th grades. WBL gives our marine scholars opportunities to study complex subject matter as well as gain vital workplace skills in a hands-on environment. WBL experiences also provide students with career awareness, career options exploration, appropriate workplace skills development, and the opportunity to relate academic skills to real-life applications. For more information take a look at our 2016 MBRP annual report

MBRP scholars visit the premiere sociology research organization mdrc where they get to participate in a mock research experiment.
MBRP scholars visit the premiere sociology research organization mdrc where they get to participate in a mock research experiment. Work site visits allow scholars to  feel they have access and fit in to places they would otherwise feel are inaccessible.

Some WBL activities appropriate for every grade level are: guest speaker visits to the classroom, career fairs, job site tours, job shadowing, work with professional mentors on research projects, and internships. Internships are considered the pinnacle of the WBL spectrum. As students see the connections between their lab/field work and what is required at the work site, they gain an understanding of the importance of learning and are able to make better decisions about their futures.

Professional visits by Mr. Michael Kessler from ConEdison. He invited a team from the Coast Guard Auxxiliary and Bronx Community College to help instill the value of a good work ethic and striving for the top.
Professional visits by Mr. Michael Kessler from ConEdison. He invited a team from the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Dr. Neal Phillip from Bronx Community College to help instill the values of a good work ethic and striving for the top (Photo Credit: Mauricio González).

Some of our yearly professional visits include Mr. Michael Kessler from the Consolidated Edison Corporation of NY  (CON-ED), Capt. Matthew Leahey from the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and Mrs. Rachael Miller from the Rozalia Project. Our year wouldn’t be the same without the dedication of these professionals to making not only our scholars into better professionals but also improving the world around us.

The MBRP has produced over 1989 Work-Based Learning opportunities for its students in the last 5 years. Every year has been better than the previous.
The MBRP has produced over 1989 Work-Based Learning opportunities for its students in the last 5 years. Every year has been better than the previous (Data: 2016 MBRP Annual Report).

Since 2012, the MBRP has helped scholars access over eighty-eight (88) paid internships, seventy-five (75) service learning opportunities, four hundred twenty-three (423) professional visits, forty (40) scholar presentations in conferences, and twenty-five (25) work-site tours. Scholars have also had the opportunity to generate over twenty-eight (28) ePortfolios and forty-four (44) Work-Skills Employability Profiles. For more information take a look at our 2016 MBRP annual reportSome of our internships partners include CIVITAS Citizens, Cell Motion Labs, Earth Matter, The Nature Conservancy, The River Project, NYU, St. Francis College, Roger Williams University, and Columbia University.

Cezanne Bies and Zain Bin Khalid present at the Finals round of the NYC Science and Engineering Fair. They eventually went on to win 3rd prize.
Cézanne Bies and Zain Bin Khalid present at the Finals round of the NYC Science and Engineering Fair. They eventually went on to win 3rd prize. Professional presentations give scholars the experience needed to gain self-confidence in public speaking (Photo Credit: Ms. Ronnie Woodhouse).

CTE + STEM = NY Harbor Restoration

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September 17. Melanie Smith, our Senior Project Manager (10 o’clock), Grace Carter & Cindy Isidoro, our Senior Operations Analysts, and the Harbor SEALs team organizing their first data collection day of the 2016-2017 season.

Welcome back to the 2016 – 2017 research season! Here, at the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Marine Biology Research (MBRP) & Harbor SEALs programs, our budding scientists have started the year picking up where they left off last – In full NY Harbor data collection, data analysis, and restoration mode. Our professional young SEALs scholars are finishing up their year long characterization of the Harlem River, a project designed to inform local government agencies of the environmental status of the Harlem River.

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The Benthos and Biodiversity Teams: (L to R) Isabella Torres (Biodiversity Captain), Marcus Charles (Benthos Captain), Grace Carter (Senior Co-Operations Analyst), and Cindy Isidoro (Senior Co-Operations Analyst). In this figure, they’ve pulled up an Eckman grab with a sample of good old NY muck to see if anything can indeed live in it and what these organisms may indicate of the health of the River.

This project is important because in order to propose viable solutions for the River’s environmental restoration we need to create a baseline of its ecological status. The civic, non-profit group CIVITAS, led by Ms. Maura Smotrich, has placed its trust in our scholars to deliver the information necessary to inform the East River Esplanade Ecological Edge project that will help restore the East and Harlem Rivers. This will in turn improve the lives of millions of New Yorkers. To view some of the preliminary raw data click on the following links: Physical Chemistry, Plankton, & Benthos. (This project is completely student led.)

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The Phys-Chem and Plankton Teams: In the background, Nicholas Ring (Junior Project Manager) heads up the testing of the physical and chemical parameters of the River. During this sampling run he observed that the dissolved oxygen was hovering around 5mg/L which is the first dangerous tolerance marker for most marine organisms. Right below this level, organisms stop reproducing. These levels are characteristic of most of the Harbor where sea walls are located  due to their anti-life characteristics, close to the muck that receives all the CSO effluents, and in September when the water temperature is typically at its apex.

This year, the Marine Biology Research Program is offering its students up to 18 college credits upon successful completion of the Program’s curriculum and assessments. In today’s economy, students need to be college AND career ready. The MBRP offers a 12 college credit program in Science Research through SUNY Albany, 3 college credits for passing the NOCTI Natural Resources Systems exam, and, new this year, 3 college credits for Oceanography through SUNY Stony Brook. Apart from these wonderful opportunities, our high school students will also have the chance, for the first time in NY State, to complete and become certified in Geographic Information Systems through Digital Quest’s SPACE certification. Last season, our CTE internship SEA WORKS program paid out over 50,000 dollars in salary for students’ work throughout their different CTE programs of which CIVITAS was a major internship provider for our MBRP scholars.

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Polychaeta worms are often found in the muck where dissolved oxygen levels are low.

Lastly, our Professional Advisory Committee member Mr. Michael Kessler from ConEdison has been supporting the MBRP and other CTE programs by helping to create a pipeline into technical jobs right out of our High School, the New York Harbor School, to give our young scholars options to enter the world of work with high paying, stable jobs of the future. A big thanks to all our Professional Advisory Committee members for stepping up to the plate and leading our school community members and the MBRP into a year brimming with exciting opportunities.

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Mudsnails are also frequent inhabitants of the River’s benthos.

MBRP Scholar Highlight: Cindy Isidoro and the Science of Compost Tea

Compost Tea prepared by Intermediate Marine Research scholar Cindy Isidoro, class of '17.
Compost tea prepared by Intermediate Marine Research scholar Cindy Isidoro, class of ’17.

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!

Cindy Isidoro, class of '17.
Cindy Isidoro, class of ’17.
Cindy's experimental set-up.
Cindy’s experimental set-up.

Marine Biology Research!

Team MBRP Cezanne Bies and Zain Bin Khalid swimming circles around NYC's brightest on March 6's NYC Science and Engineering Fair.
Team MBRP Cezanne Bies and Zain Bin Khalid swimming circles around NYC’s brightest on March 6’s NYC Science and Engineering Fair. (Photo credit: Ms. Woodhouse, MBRP mom)

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.

Advanced marine science scholar Luca Goldmansour, class of '16.
Advanced marine science scholar Luca Goldmansour, class of ’16.
Advanced marine science scholar Marc Jimenez, class of '16.
Advanced marine science scholar Marc Jimenez, class of ’16.

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.

Left to right: Jameson Mitchell, Maura Smotrich, Cindy Isidoro, Katha Conklin, Grace Carter, Susan Maresca, Melanie Smith, Mauricio Gonzalez, Kate Boicourt, Jim Tripp.
Left to right: Jameson Mitchell, Maura Smotrich, Cindy Isidoro, Katha Conklin, Grace Carter, Susan Maresca, Melanie Smith, Mauricio Gonzalez, Kate Boicourt, Jim Tripp. (Photo credit: Maura Smotrich, CIVITAS)

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!

Captain and Scientist Matthew Leahey with our Harbor scholars preparing for a plankton tow.
Captain and Scientist Matthew Leahey with our Harbor scholars preparing for a plankton tow.

New York Harbor School: College AND Career Ready!

Marine Biology Research scholars Nicolle and Tahirah
Marine Biology Research scholars Nicolle and Tahirah

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!

Finals Round at the American Museum of Natural History
Finals Round at the American Museum of Natural History

2014 Harbor School Science Symposium

Makeda, Advanced Marine Research Scholar, at the New York Harbor School 3rd Annual Science Symposium
Makeda, Advanced Marine Research Scholar, at the New York Harbor School’s 3rd Annual Science Symposium.

On May 15, more than 46 research projects went on display for the 3rd annual New York Harbor School Science Symposium. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Peter Morawski from the NIH, said, “I was so happy to have been a part of it! You’ve got some great kids!” Parents, Staff,  Professional Advisory Committee members, Marine Research Scholars, and over 20 guests from the Netherlands came together to help make this symposium a success. Our school administration and Custodial staff provided key logistical support. Thanks a million! For more details, award winners, and images of the Symposium click here. For our Symposium Booklet with a summary of the projects click here: NYHS Symposium Program

2012 MBRP Professional Advisory Committee

2012 MBRP PAC Members
2012 MBRP PAC Members

On Wednesday, December 5th, 13 marine specialists gathered on Governors Island for the annual Marine Biology Research Program’s Professional Advisory Committee meeting. MBRP 12th grade students convened at Soissons Dock to welcome the members off the ferry with water quality gear in hand. Once the members disembarked, we headed over to Pier 101 to work on water quality and participate in a short presentation by SeaArc Scientists Shimrit Perkol-Finkel and Ido Sella on Econcrete. We then headed over to the MBRP lab and had a working lunch session where we discussed how to improve the Program. Our two main goals were, 01) the further development of internship opportunities for students and, 02) the further development of research collaborations between our PAC members and the MBRP. For a list of our accomplishments click here.