Susan White, Executive Director, North Carolina Sea Grant. Photo courtesy Roger Winstead.

Susan White, Executive Director, North Carolina Sea Grant. Photo Roger Winstead.

North Carolina Sea Grant has had an incredible start to 2016. In particular, new initiatives are rolling out that expand the connections of our program’s expertise with new partners in research, outreach and education.

Sea Grant received varied research proposals in response to our inaugural Community Collaborative Research Grants — or CCRG — funding opportunity. A partnership with the William R. Kenan Jr. Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science at NC State, CCRG was established to bring local knowledge experts in coastal communities together with academic experts to seek creative solutions for coastal challenges.

We have had long-term successes in collaborative research, such as the former N.C. Fishery Resource Grant Program. We found that FRG project findings were likely to be accepted by a range of stakeholders and incorporated into actions by resource managers, industry leaders and communities. A technical panel will review CCRG proposals, with selections of projects this spring.

In April, our Sea Grant program will host its first symposium specifically designed to provide graduate students the opportunity to develop skills in conveying the impacts of their research to a range of audiences. Students need to be able to answer the “So what?” questions specific to their research activities for a variety of purposes — including when interviewing for jobs and increasing grant-writing success.

We’ve heard from students, faculty and industry leaders regarding the need for student training in the real-world challenge of conveying research results into relevant and understandable terms. At the symposium, experts from multiple universities — NC State, Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill — as well as the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and other arenas will provide their perspectives and describe desirable skill sets.

An interactive poster session, with judges representing a range of our partners, will provide students opportunities to test skills and refine approaches to convey their messages effectively. This program is open to graduate students across the state, not just those funded by Sea Grant. We anticipate a large turnout in New Bern on April 6 and 7. Read more about the event on page 36, or check the link on our homepage,

I want to thank three North Carolina Sea Grant advisory board members who recently finished their
terms: Gretchen Bath-Martin, an independent fisheries consultant; Louis Daniel, director, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries; and David Griffin, director, N.C. Aquariums. Our program benefited greatly from their engagement on the board. We look forward to collaborating with them in different ways in the coming years.

I am pleased to welcome three new members to our board: Trish Murphey, southern district manager, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries; Braxton Davis, director, N.C. Division of Coastal Management; and Michael Remige, director, Jennette’s Pier at Nags Head. You can learn more about our 15 board members at

If you are interested in engaging with North Carolina Sea Grant, as a volunteer or otherwise, please  reach out to me at Our program’s impacts across the state will be expanded through your input and collaborations.

In the midst of our North Carolina winter, it’s a pleasure to enjoy a good book from the warmth of your home. This is especially true with Little Rivers and Waterway Tales: A Carolinian’s Eastern Streams, which is excerpted in this issue of Coastwatch. Written by Bland Simpson, with photos by Ann Cary Simpson, the book is from our partners at UNC Press.

It’s an opportunity to get outside, embedding you into the history and beauty of North Carolina, all from the comfort of your couch. Enjoy!

This article was published in the Winter 2016 issue of Coastwatch.

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