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2015 NC Coastal Policy Fellows Named


E-Ching Lee, 919-515-9098,

Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Carter Smith and Jamie Heath are the 2015 N.C. Coastal Policy Fellows. The fellowship, supported by North Carolina Sea Grant and the N.C. Coastal Resources Law, Planning and Policy Center, is designed to foster research on a policy issue within the state’s 20 coastal counties during an academic semester.

“This year’s coastal policy fellows are poised to conduct policy research that will add to the body of scientific knowledge in North Carolina and also inform coastal science and planning decisions,” says Lisa Schiavinato, co-director of the Law Center and Sea Grant law, policy and community development specialist. “Their research will focus on issues that I hope will be of interest to our communities and leaders.”

Carter Smith
Carter Smith

Smith is a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Sciences. Her academic advisor is Pete Peterson, an IMS researcher who studies coastal habitat valuation and restoration.

“My research quantifies how different coastal erosion protection mechanisms — such as bulkheads, revetments, marsh sills and natural marsh — perform during major storm events and what effect they have on local ecosystems,” Smith says. She will study how fishes and crustaceans are using the hard substrate provided by different shoreline stabilization structures for foraging and refuge to understand which structures offer the best habitat support.

Heath, who is working on her master’s in geography at East Carolina University, will study the effectiveness of the implementation of the State Wildlife Action Plan, or SWAP, in Carteret, Craven and Beaufort counties. Her advisor is Traci Birch, a faculty member in ECU’s geography, planning and environment department.

Jamie Heath
Jamie Heath

“The NC SWAP assesses the health of wildlife habitats, identifies problems, and outlines conservation actions. For this study I will interview local planners, natural resource managers and other groups that support SWAP implementation,” Heath explains. She plans to investigate how SWAP is being implemented, identify barriers to SWAP implementation, and determine possible tools and strategies that can be used to overcome these barriers.

Read about the experience of the 2014 fellows, Mikey Goralnik and Kim Hernandez, in the Holiday 2014 issue of Coastwatch. To learn more about the program, visit


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