Montclair State University has been awarded one of 14 NASA Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) fellowships, placing the University and its research efforts in elite company on the national stage.
Montclair State University is the only New Jersey institution to receive the fellowship. The three-year award, which totals $165,000, will be facilitated by Earth and Environmental Studies Assistant Professor Jorge Lorenzo Trueba and doctoral candidate Isamar Marie Cortés, who is pursuing a PhD in Environmental Science and Management as part of Montclair State’s College of Science and Mathematics.
The pair will work in partnership with the Goddard Space Flight Center to quantify the negative impact of the changing ratio of evaporation to precipitation – a byproduct of climate change – on mangrove ecosystems.
Mangroves are a plant species that delivers critical benefits for both humans and wildlife. Helping to ensure coastal protection for tropical areas against storms such as hurricanes and storm surges, mangroves also act as a nursery for numerous species of fish and other aquatic animals. Additionally, mangroves provide blue – or ocean – carbon storage, and act as a “carbon sink” that is essential to maintaining the world’s oceanic ecosystems.
“I am proud of the work that Montclair State University graduate students are doing to advance America’s space and aviation priorities,” said Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill. “This fellowship award recognizes the groundbreaking research at Montclair State and the university’s dedication to STEM education for all students. This investment in homegrown talent will help grow New Jersey’s innovation economy.”
“Isamar and I are very excited about this opportunity and thank NASA MUREP for their support,” says Lorenzo Trueba. “We are looking forward to working with our collaborators at NASA. Mangroves protect many coastal communities in the U.S. and around the world and also provide a number of ecosystem services to those communities. In order to protect mangrove ecosystems, we need to develop quantitative tools to better understand how they respond to a changing climate.”
The rising global temperature is primarily responsible for the evaporation/precipitation ratio negatively impacting mangroves around the world. The study will combine mathematical modelling, field observations and satellite imagery of mangrove islands from remote locations, including the Caribbean, to determine the level of the species’ deterioration.
The projects funded by NASA’s MUREP fellowships represent the highest levels of the innovative breadth and depth of research. Other institutions receiving awards include the University of Maryland, The University of Minnesota and the University of Washington.
For more information on Montclair State University’s College of Science and Mathematics, visit montclair.edu/csam.