SoMAS students discuss Post-Sandy research on Capitol Hill as part of SUNY Day DC

Students Kaitlin Willig and Ryan Wallace from the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences were recently on Capitol Hill as part of SUNY Day DC where they joined Dean Minghua Zhang to discuss SoMAS’ role in coastal zone management in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Kaitlin, a graduate student specializing in physical and chemical oceanography and discussed her researched in West Bay in, Nassau County which is listed as impaired by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation due to pathogens and nitrogen.  Her research has focused on nitrogen pollution in this area possibly resulting from fertilizer run off from eight surrounding golf courses as well as a secondary wastewater treatment facility that releases its effluent at an outfall in Reynolds Channel. Further problems resulted when Superstorm Sandy caused flooding in the treatment plant rendering it inoperable and the release of untreated wastewater into the already-impaired West Bay.

Ryan, a Ph.D. candidate, is applying advances in remote detection technology and molecular biology to assess the functioning and health of Long Island’s coastal ecosystems.  The technology coupled with geographic information systems has enabled him to rapidly assess the impacts of Superstorm Sandy on Long Island’s coastal ecosystems, the current health of the Great South Bay, effects of the new inlet and improvements needed to restore the hard clam fishery and tourism to this area.  Without the advances in technology being applied here, it would take months to generate a few dozen data points.

In addition to meeting personally with Congressman Tim Bishop and representatives of the Long Island Congressional Delegation, they also briefed SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and SUNY Research Foundation President and Vice Chancellor for Research, Tim Killeen.

View a slideshow of Kaitlyn and Ryan's trip to Washington below: