2022-2023 Academic Year

News and Highlights in January 2023


James Simon, Professor of Plant Biology at Rutgers-New Brunswick and RCI affiliate

MorningAgClips reports that scientists from Rutgers University-New Brunswick are completing a new study to continue developing sweet basil plants that are resistant to various diseases including a plant pathogen called downy mildew, as well as another bacteria. "The USDA-NIFA grant will allow us to conduct the needed research to allow us a better understanding of the BDM pathogen and the genetic complexity of sweet basil," said James Simon, Professor of Plant Biology at Rutgers-New Brunswick and RCI affiliate. "With this opportunity, basil researchers, industry, and farmers will be able to address the ever-changing disease pressure that comes with climate change and impacts growers daily in many parts of the world." Simon will lead the plant breeding program alongside Andy Wyendandt from the Department of Plant Biology.




MorningAgClips reports that thousands of youth nationwide are learning about Rutgers’ pioneering ocean research using underwater gliders in this year’s 4-H STEM Challenge to understand the effects of climate change. "Kids really do want to make a difference," said Janice McDonnell, an associate professor and STEM agent in the Department of 4-H Youth Development, and RCI affiliate, who took the lead in designing the challenge as part of this year’s initiative. "Oscar Schofield co-founder of RUCOOL, professor, and chair of the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, as well as RCI affiliate remarked, "The ability to forecast the intensity of hurricanes has been a struggle for the past few decades. Part of the reason is they didn't have enough ocean data, but now the gliders can be flying through the ocean and collecting that data."




Oscar Schofield, Xenia Morin, James Simon, Dena Seidel - RCI Affiliates

Rutgers University scientists and video storytellers have teamed up to create a new model for presenting scientific research. This new model uses videographers to capture the research process for scientists and create an engaging film to communicate the process, as well as results, to students and the community. Oscar Schofield, RCI Affiliate, says “I feel a responsibility to inspire the next generation of ocean science learners and I have found that one of the most effective and time efficient ways to do this is with video-based science storytelling.” The team also includes RCI Affiliates Dena Seidel, Xenia Morin, and James Simon.




Sara Elnakib and Amy Rowe- both RCI affiliates

Two experts from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension spoke to legislators in support of two new bills aimed to reduce food waste in NJ, and to display this food issue as an environmental crisis. Sara Elnakib and Amy Rowe, both RCI affiliates, urged legislators to consider proposals to reduce food insecurity while simultaneously reducing waste. Sara Elnakib shared a study done by Rutgers University in 2017 on the extensive food waste from schools in Paterson NJ as a way to relate the issue to all NJ schools and suggest solutions. “They’re not going to be the size of Paterson, but it’s still a huge problem, and working in institutions can help,” Elnakib said. “Working on that big scale can really help reduce and mitigate this.”




Josh Kohut, professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, and RCI affiliate

Rutgers recently launched its Offshore Wind Collaborative for support and collaboration of offshore wind research. The collaborative works towards sharing knowledge, creating new job pathways toward employment, and promoting a wind-based economy in NJ. One leader of the initiative is Josh Kohut, professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, and RCI affiliate.




Daphne Munroe, RCI affiliate

As offshore wind projects develop, New Jersey joins eight others states seeking compensation for projected losses. Two studies from Rutgers University, led by RCI affiliate Daphne Munroe, predict a steep decline in revenue for clam and scallop vessels due to new wind turbines being constructed. In some cases, losses are estimated to reach up to 25%. Not only will commercial fishing vessels be competing for space, but they also run the risk of damaging gear against turbine bases or snagging powerlines.




Ethan Schoolman, RCI Affiliate

In an aim to meet U.S. Climate goals, the Energy Department has been expanding an emerging field called “agrivoltaics,” a combination of solar technology and farming methods on the same plot of land. This new model aims to produce clean food and energy simultaneously, and the DOE has funded various research projects in hopes of perfecting it. One of these projects, led by Rutgers University, will work with advanced solar panels with the objective of establishing a regional agrivoltaics network. While there’s been a fair amount of modeling, “we don’t know the answer to it really until we go out and grow the crops,” said RCI affiliate, Ethan Schoolman.




Brooke Maslo, RCI affiliate

A map of New Jersey flood zones shows a large number of residents are living in zones that are susceptible to flooding. NJDEP sometimes buys out these vulnerable lands. “But what happens after that?” asks Brooke Maslo, RCI Affiliate. “We come in and we say, ‘What do we have here? What’s possible?’ And so we reenvision these landscapes.” Maslo and her team at Rutgers University have devised a plan for bought-out properties in Woodbridge, NJ to be used to protect other neighborhoods in the area. The township will be working towards implementing these plans.




David Robinson- RCI Affiliate and NJ State Climatologist

New data from NJ State Climatologist and RCI Affiliate, David Robinson, and the National Weather Service, reveals that almost no measurable snow has fallen in NJ this month. Statistics have shown that this could be one of the least-snowy Januaries recorded. However, some signs may be indicating colder weather in the coming weeks.



The U.S. National Science Foundation supports numerous programs designed to help high school, undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students fund research opportunities. Students interested can find out more about these opportunities here.




Malin Pinsky, an RCI Affiliate

The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded Malin Pinsky, an RCI Affiliate, with funding for the project “Climate Change, Resource Reallocation and Great Power Competition.” When describing the upcoming project, Pinsky said “We are analyzing the extent to which natural resources within countries are changing as a result of climate change, both historically and in the future. We are particularly interested in the extent to which countries are exposed to multiple resource shocks, or whether declines in one resource might be offset by increases in another.”




Director of Rutgers EcoComplex and RCI Affiliate, Serpil Guran

Graphene Layers and Rutgers EcoComplex have announced a partnership focusing on sustainable development, clean energy, and graphene technology. The Director of Rutgers EcoComplex and RCI Affiliate, Serpil Guran, stated “We are excited that Graphene Layers is joining our accelerator program. We have provided Rutgers EcoComplex’s business incubation and acceleration support to numerous clean technology companies to date and we are confident that we will provide similar support to Graphene Layers through our WindIgnite Accelerator Program.”