While the Barnegat Bay Partnership’s (BBP’s) research staff spend most of their time in the field collecting data or in the office conducting analyses, we also enjoy getting out into the community to talk with people interested in science. And one of our favorite events is the OCVTS Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES) Research Expo. Each fall the members of the freshman class at MATES design research projects that they execute throughout the semester, culminating in a poster presentation held in February. The 14th Annual Research Expo was held on February 26th this year, and the BBP’s Senior Scientist, Dr. Jim Vasslides, once again served as a judge in the Marine Science category.
In past years, the research conducted by the MATES students was of outstanding quality, and this year’s projects did not disappoint. The nine projects in the Marine Science category spanned the breadth of the field, looking at seasonal fish and crustacean community composition changes in the bay, the effects of salinity, temperature, nutrients, carbon dioxide, and pesticides on shrimp and plankton life histories, and how microplastics affect phytoplankton. One thing all the projects had in common was the researchers’ interest in how choices humans make in their daily lives can impact the natural environment, with most of them indicating that their concern for the Barnegat Bay and watershed led them to their research topic.
What was clear at the end of the poster session was that these students, like their predecessors, were able to combine their sharp analytical minds with an interest in their natural surroundings, and that the Barnegat Bay and watershed benefits from having them, and the amazing MATES program, in its corner.