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September / October 2003

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UMaine Today Magazine

Student Focus

Budgeting for Beaches

Ed Cervone
To better understand the role of economics in harbor and beach management, Ed Cervone also has studied coastal policies in New Jersey, where the state annually allocates $20 million to a program that adds sand to beaches.

Jennifer Jackson
As a member of Georgia Tech's Aquatic Chemical Ecology Group, which is funded by a National Science Foundation IGERT grant, Jennifer Jackson now is studying the chemistry, biology and engineering behind marine organism behavior.

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For his thesis in resource economics, Ed Cervone is researching the role of economics in harbor and beach management in Camp Ellis and Wells, Maine. Cervone, who has a bachelor's degree in geology from Princeton, sifted through years of cost/benefit studies, beach erosion data and records of institutional relationships. In his research, he also interviewed landowners fighting for their homes.

Miscommunication and lack of resources human and financial have contributed to ill will and distrust of state and federal agencies among many citizens and municipal officials. Their ire is rooted in decisions made more than a century ago, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged boat channels and built jetties at the request of both communities. The construction projects partly achieved their immediate goals but had negative long-term consequences. They reoriented the movement of sand, changing the shape of nearby beaches. Homes and beaches in Camp Ellis have been lost. Wells Beach has shrunk drastically in some places.

Today, Maine law limits renovation of damaged buildings and bans seawalls on sand beaches.

Cervone calls Maine's coastal policies progressive, but adds that, unlike its richer neighbors to the south, the state lacks the money to put as much emphasis on beach management. His study is a useful starting point for improving related public policies.

Two heads are better than one

After three years of undergraduate work in marine sciences at the University of Maine, Jennifer Jackson is at Georgia Institute of Technology this fall beginning doctoral research in aquatic chemical signaling.

She is 21.

Jackson spent the summer wrapping up her experiments that spanned five years in the laboratory of marine sciences researcher Sara Lindsay. Jackson first came to UMaine as a high school senior in the MERITS (Maine Research Internships for Teachers and Students) program.

As a MERITS intern and licensed scuba diver, Jackson had a choice of studying fish at the Atlantic Salmon Commission or mud-worms in Lindsay's UMaine lab. Jackson chose mudworms because she knew little about them.

That first summer she collected mudworms inch-long, centipede-like invertebrates living on mudflats in order to study their feeding behavior. Mudworms can be biological indicators; learning how and what they ingest can help marine biologists understand where toxins and other pollutants accumulate in their body tissue.

Jackson also began studying regeneration the ability of these mudworms to regrow body parts. For more than two years, she conducted experiments to see if two species regrew body parts in this case, their heads at the same rate.

Jackson found that both species have the ability to regenerate their heads in two to three weeks. From there, she studied the biology behind regeneration in the mudworms, including the molecular hunt for the gene that makes it possible. Ultimately, unlocking the mysteries of such nervous system regeneration could have human health implications.

At UMaine, Jackson majored in marine sciences with a concentration in marine biology, and was enrolled in Honors College. Now as a member of Georgia Tech's Aquatic Chemical Ecology Group, Jackson is exploring the significance of chemical signaling in aquatic environments, like the scent clams give off while eating deep in the mud.


UMaine Today Magazine
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