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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI renewed as lead institution in North Atlantic Coast Cooperative Ecosystem Study Unit

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Narragansett, R.I. -- May 27, 2004 -- University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute director Dr. Peter August announced today that the 5-year cooperative agreement that established URI as the host institution for the North Atlantic Coast Cooperative Ecosystem Study Unit (NAC-CESU) has been renewed for another five years.

August made the announcement at a luncheon to honor those who have given distinguished service to NAC-CESU over the last five years. Special service awards were given to Mary-Jane James-Pirri of Cumberland, and Roland Duhaime and Sara Stevens of South Kingstown. Also recognized for his role in the success of the NAC-CESU was Dr. Charles Roman of East Greenwich, National Park Service scientist-in-residence, who provided scientific vision for the cooperative program.

"The CESU program has been extremely successful in bridging the intellectual resources of the University with natural resource managers and coastal national parks in the northeast," said August. "Under the scientific direction of Dr. Charles Roman, the NAC-CESU has emerged as a leader in the national network of CESUs."

Over the past five years, NAC-CESU has worked with academic and federal partners on more than 30 different natural resource-related research, technical assistance, and education programs representing $1.8 million of funding provided primarily by the National Park Service, with $1.1 million supporting programs at the University of Rhode Island. Examples of programs include monitoring for mosquito-borne diseases, measuring and mapping erosion in barrier beach ecosystems, hosting workshops on Marine Protected Areas, and analyzing data for natural science researchers.

To date, 23 undergraduate and 29 graduate students have participated in CESU research and outreach activities. Student involvement has resulted in the preparation of eleven Ph.D. and Masterís theses at the partner universities.

The NAC-CESU was first established in June 1999 by cooperative agreement between agencies of the Department of the Interior (National Park Service and USGS Biological Resources Division) and the University of Rhode Island, with its partner institution, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Presently 17 CESUs are in place throughout the United States, each representing a unique biogeographic region and led by a competitively chosen host university.

The focus of the NAC-CESU concerns the coastal ecosystems situated within the highly urbanized northeast corridor from Maine to Virginia. In studying the unique ecological features of the fragile coastal zone, the NAC-CESU seeks to understand and predict how fundamental ecosystem functions and processes are affected by increasing urban development and then devise management strategies aimed at preserving and restoring the cultural and natural resources of the coastal ecosystems.

In addition to the University of Rhode Island and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, three additional institutions have joined the NAC-CESU as partners based on the success of its initial efforts: the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, Rutgers University and Stony Brook University.

"The collaboration of these exceptional academic institutions has resulted in excellent research and cooperative education opportunities for numerous students from diverse backgrounds, for the mutual professional benefit of students and the federal workforce," said August.