#IAmSeaGrant

Edit – broken mailto link at bottom fixed – if you have a story, please send it to me! I plan to put a few together into later posts.

With the current administration attempting to torpedo NOAA’s incredible SeaGrant program, I’ve gotten into a reflective mood. One could highlight the tremendous return on investment of SeaGrant – 750% for every dollar spent. Or the thousands of people who have been employed (jobs!) off of SeaGrant. Or the reams and reams of awesome ocean science, vital coastal protection knowledge, tasty farmed seafood, or ways fishing has been made more sustainable and profitable due to SeaGrant.

But for me, this is personal. Because #IAmSeagrant.

Were it not for NOAA Sea Grant, my career would have failed to launch. I don’t say this flippantly, I mean really truly likely failed to launch. After building up my initial store of equipment and doing some preliminary research, I needed to find money to support graduate and undergraduate students as well as all of the small things (air! jars! nail polish remover!) that are needed for summer field research in marshes and kelp forests. With a 10% success rate, I knew that all of my NSF submissions were likely to fail (still trying). Moreover, I wanted to build myself as a local research, understanding the seas of New England. I wanted to know how we are changing them and how we can use them to serve society better. Which was perfect,as there was SeaGrant with its mission to “help the nation understand, manage and use the Nation’s coastal resources wisely”. Perfect. I’ve received funds from MIT SeaGrant and Woods Hole SeaGrant to look at the services provided by New England salt marshes and kelps, and communicate these in public talks and high school classrooms. I’ve employed six graduate students and two dozen undergraduates – enabling them to train to become the leaders of tomorrow. I and my students have lectured to hundreds of people around New England to educate them about their coastal resources. We’ve made cheap low-cost solutions to expensive ocean sensing problems that will benefit researchers, agencies, and industry. I’ve pumped dollars into our local economy, supporting local jobs. And my career has been able to soar, with good reviews on how I’ve been able to work with SeaGrant to fund my lab and enable it to establish a reputation for quality local marine science. It has been the cornerstone of my career’s successes.

I am SeaGrant.

I know I’m not alone, too. And I’d like to know about it.

If you’re like me, please, tweet to #IAmSeaGrant with your story. If you’ve got something longer, like mine above, send it to me. I’ll collect them and make a few posts with your stories.

I can’t wait to hear your stories about this amazing program that is so vitally important to anyone whose toes have ever touched the ocean.

Jarrett Byrnes (13 Posts)

Jarrett Byrnes is an Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston where he studies kelp forests and salt marshes. He earned his Ph.D. at UC Davis working at the Bodega Marine Lab studying the consequences of losing predator diversity in the sea. He loves cooking, and recommends trying to make bacon dashi: put two rinced pieces of kelp (~6") in 8 cups water. Heat to a boil and turn off. Steep for 10-15 min (depending on how kelpy you like it). Remove kelp, add 3/4 lb smoky bacon. Simmer 30 minutes. Add mirin, soy sauce, sake as needed for flavor. Let cool and refrigerate. Skim off fat. Now you have an amazing base to cook fingerling potatoes and clams in. Top with chopped crispy bacon and green onions (or pureed with oil). And for, well, everything else. (Adapted from the Momofuku recipe)


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2 comments on “#IAmSeaGrant
  1. I am currently a PhD student at the University of South Carolina in the marine science program. I previously obtained a Master’s degree from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and my thesis was partly funded by VA SeaGrant; in fact if they did not fund it, I would probably have done something completely different. My story is not unique but it needs to shared to demonstrate the importance of the SeaGrant system. For my Master’s thesis, I partnered with a non-profit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation on an oyster restoration project. More to the point, the project was community-based in a residential watershed that was historically degraded. We enlisted volunteers to collect newly settled oysters to determine the genetic signature of recruitment events. The idea was to see if the oysters were related to the oysters that were planted in the river for restoration or from outside sources. We had hundreds of volunteers dedicated to environmental awareness and stewardship. Moreover, I enlisted high school students to help with data collection. The education and social impact of projects like these are hard to quantify but likely important and long-lasting. My experience is not unique but one of many stories that need to be told.

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