Current Student Spotlight

Current Student Spotlight October 2021: Jackson Barratt Heitmann


Jackson’s research is looking at how disturbance (fire, sea level rise, anthropogenic changes, and restoration activities) impacts avian biodiversity and community composition in ephemeral wetlands. He says, “The Sea Grant award will help fund field work at two sites (Stono Preserve and a private property outside the Francis Marion), where we will investigate the relatively understudied forested wetlands in our regional context, and if the bird communities occupying these wetlands are unique, or especially species rich compared to nearby uplands.” It will also help fund education and outreach activities that will engage K-5 students through curriculum development and lesson delivery, as well as various land management stakeholders in the region through a land management symposium.”

Current Student Spotlight October 2021: Haley Kenyon 


New Hampshire native Haley Kenyon is working with Dr. Annette Watson as an EVSS Graduate Student. Her research focuses on the absence of indigenous knowledge throughout socio-ecological systems and ecological assessments. “While my background is very natural science heavy, I wanted to branch out and see if I could master my skills within citizen science. I think this project is the best of both worlds; I get to be immersed in natural science (salmon fisheries) along with absorbing different tactics on how to talk to indigenous communities, and Arctic biologist, found within the Circumpolar Arctic region.”

Current Student Spotlight September 2021: Judy Taylor


"While working with Dr. Sandifer, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in an initiative called EJ
Strong, which is a collaboration between researchers from DHEC, CofC, Univ. of SC, and
Clemson that has been holding educational workshops to train leaders in underserved
communities across South Carolina in disaster risk reduction and self-assessment. This has
been a great experience for me, as I’ve been able to meet and collaborate with a wonderful,
diverse group of people, and I’ve also learned a lot about on-the-ground environmental justice
work and hazard management from the perspective of the communities facing these issues."

Click here to view Judy's full highlight

Current Student Spotlight October 2020: Sofia Troya


"I am from Quito, Ecuador, where I grew up surrounded by 11+ active volcanoes, the Amazon Rainforest at my doorstep, and the Galapagos Islands a couple hours away. This, and having a role model like my dad who has worked in conservation during my whole life-invoked a sense of urgency for environmental action and a passion that led me to pursue a career in environmentalism. My goal is to be able to take back what I learn and use it in my home country and Latin America."

View her full highlight here.  

Current Student Spotlight March 2020: Ruth Eklund


Ruth Eklund recently published "Oil Spills and Human Health: Contributions of of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative" in October 2019. 

View her full highlight here

Congratulations to EVSS student Brittney Parker for being accepted into the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program for 2020!


"The Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship provides a unique educational and professional experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. The Fellowship, named after one of Sea Grant's founders and former NOAA Administrator John A. Knauss, matches highly qualified graduate students with "hosts" in the legislative and executive branch of government located in the Washington, D.C. area, for a one year paid fellowship." -

Brittney is currently wrapping up her thesis research on microplastic content in various fish species around Charleston. 

Current Student Spotlight November 2019: Trey Gillespie


Trey started off his first semester in the EVSS program out at sea! 

View his full highlight here

Congratulations to 2019-2020 EVSS Merit Scholar Award winners Nolan Schillerstrom and Josh Jones! 

The EVSS Merit Award is given to two student/faculty research teams each academic year. Successful students earn a salary support in the form of a Research Assistantship worth $13,000 over two consecutive semesters. The faculty advisor will receive $600 to support the research topic (including travel, supplies, and/or summer salary support for roster faculty on 9-month appointments). Applicants for the award submit a proposal to perform environmental studies research along the lines of a thesis or internship project for the MES (or concurrent) degree requirements.  

Josh Jones: Using 3-D Imaging to Evaluate Physical Processes on Living Shorelines


View his full highlight

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Scott Harris, College of Charleston


There is little quantifiable data on the effect living shorelines have on wave energy. Multiple studies have measured the long term effects over years but only few have looked at how living shorelines affect individual waves or tidal-scale time periods. Wave lab facilities pose cost and logistical problems for evaluating living shorelines. This project will utilize stereoscopic video imaging techniques to evaluate the effect manmade oyster reef colonies have on wave height and energy. Two pairs of cameras offset from each other will be analyzed with structure from motion technologies to produce a three-dimensional videos for a wave that interacts with an oyster reef and a nearby control site. The 3D images and datasets created can determine wave heights for waves, producing a quantitative result on what effect the living shorelines have on actual wave height in situ.

Nolan Schillerstom: Social Marketing as a Tool to Reduce Human Disturbance to Federally Threatened Rufa Red Knot (Calidris canatus rufa)


Academic Advisor: Melissa Hughes, PhD


This study will focus on the Federally Threatened Rufa Red Knot (Calidris canatus rufa) to evaluate existing conservation strategies used on an island in South Carolina and test social marketing as a new tool for changing human behaviors on the beach. Human disturbance is recognized as one of the greatest threats to resting migratory shorebirds such as Red Knot. Signage and education are the primary conservation strategies used to minimize human disturbance, but the species continues to decline. Community-based social marketing has potential to be a new and more effective tool for shorebird conservation