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CMAST 2014 Outlook

CMAST building from water
CMAST – The Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (Photo by Brandon Puckett)


Discovering innovative solutions to questions and problems in marine systems is the principal mission of the Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST). CMAST provides effective communication of these discoveries by promoting multidisciplinary studies among research scientists, educators and extension specialists from the participating NC State University colleges, enhancing interaction with other educational institutions and agencies concerned with marine sciences and coastal natural resources, and providing a focal point for citizen contact with NC State University’s marine science and extension faculty. A description of CMAST’s research, extension and education activities and programs can be found online at, as well as via CMAST’s Facebook site and Newsletters.


CMAST (from D. Eggleston)

This past year we added several new staff and programs to CMAST. New staff members include Dr. Pat Curley, Regional Director of NC State University’s Science House education outreach program, and Dr. Roy Carter, Senior Director of Development for the North Carolina Marine Biotechnology Center of Innovation.

In addition, the new Deputy Director of NC Sea Grant and the NC Water Resources Research Institute, Dr. John Fear, is stationed at CMAST until he relocates to the main NC Sea Grant office in Raleigh. In 2013, there were 8 NC State resident and rotating faculty, three post-doctoral research scientists, three veterinary medicine (DVM) residents, 10 technical and professional staff, four support staff, and 10 graduate students.

At any given time, NC State has 40-45 personnel stationed at the facility. In addition, NC Sea Grant has one professional staff and one support staff. NC Cooperative Extension has six field staff and two support staff. CCC has 10 instructors and one support staff.

Programaticallly, CMAST will continue to conduct basic and applied research, education and extension activities in the following programs: (1) Seafood Technology, (2) Environmental Medicine and Marine Health, (3) Fisheries, (4) Marine Ecology and Conservation, (5) Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, and (5) STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Education Outreach and Teacher Training. We will continue to offer graduate and undergraduate classes, K-12 educational activities, teacher-training, hands-on research experiences for high school and undergraduate students, and training of graduate students, veterinary medicine residents, and post-doctoral research associates. Some noteworthy activities for the CMAST facility and programs are provided below, followed by some noteworthy projects planned for 2014 by individual research programs.

Special Projects

Marine Magnetic Resonance Imaging Facility (MMRI)

Moving CMAST and the U.S. to the forefront in the study of aquatic and marine adaptations to environmental changes, construction has been completed on the largest, horizontal bore magnetic resonance imaging facility dedicated to marine organisms in the United States. The MMRI Facility will be applied to research on whole organisms that are often living, as opposed to dead organisms or pieces of an organism, which has been the traditional approach in looking at environmental stressors on organism health. This facility has tremendous research potential in both academia and industry, and will help to transform our understanding of the effects of environmental stressors on the ocean’s biota.

Coastal and Marine Sciences Self-Assessment

This year, we took a very close look at how we’ve been doing, and how we can do even better. A reporting and evaluation exercise designed to assess strengths and improve all ways that Coastal and Marine Science programs can further partner and leverage their resources was conducted this year. During 2013, CMAST hosted a site visit by an external review team that was contracted by the University of North Carolina General Administration and led by the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS).

The (i) Self-Assessment for NC State’s Coastal and Marine Sciences and the (ii) AAAS Report are available on the CMAST web-site. During 2013-14, CMAST faculty have been working with other faculty from NC State University, as well as faculty from other UNC-System Marine Science Programs (UNCW, UNC-CH, ECU, ECSU, Coastal Studies Institute) to identify areas of strength that we can build upon, critical resources needed, and any redundancies with other UNC-System Coastal and Marine Science Programs.

We have implemented a plan to accomplish these goals. A final report will be delivered to UNC General Administration in March 2014 that outlines the Mission, Goals and Objectives for next steps in this effort.

Marine Mammal Stranding Program (Dr. Vicky Thayer, Research Associate)

  • Continuing response to marine mammal strandings (spotted dolphins, manatee bottlenose dolphins, harbor seal, sperm whale recently)
  • Collaborating on neonate bottlenose dolphin stranding analysis and investigation of infanticide (LD NOTE: I don’t know how to reword this because I don’t understand it; it looks like something the public would be interested in, though…”infanticide” catches everybody’s attention.)
  • Continuing collection, quantifying and recycling of monofilament fishing line from local PVC recycling bins on Morehead City waterfront, Ft. Macon State Park, Discovery Dive, and other sites. This monofilament line, left in marine environments, can be harmful or even deadly to marine life.
  • Collaborating on analysis of diversity and frequency of marine mammal strandings in NC
  • Assisting with Sea Turtle Advisory Committee
  • Serving as adjunct instructor at CCC

Marine Fisheries Ecology (Dr. Jeff Buckel, Professor)

  • Continuing a statewide gray trout tagging program in cooperation with North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries
  • Determining stock structure of spotted seatrout at their northern latitudinal limit
  • Evaluating barriers to river herring passage in the Albemarle Sound watershed
  • Estimating fishing and natural mortality of southern flounder
  • Building a network model for multiple fish species from diet data collected in Pamlico Sound and associated tributaries
  • Updating and providing access to long-term larval fish and associated environmental data through an online data portal (in association with researchers from NJ and SC)

Marine Ecology and Conservation (Dr. David Eggleston, Professor)

  • Assessing the success of oyster reef restoration in Pamlico Sound, and identify optimal sites and substrates for creation of new oyster reefs and artificial reefs. Collaborative effort with NC DMF and UNC-IMS.
  • Recording underwater sounds of varying habitats in Pamlico Sound and assess the role of these underwater “soundscapes” on larval oysters and clams that are dispersing to settlement habitats on the estuary bottom.
  • Quantifying the “soundscape” of the Rachel Carson Estuarine Research Reserve and the sources of biological sound production, as well as anthropogenic sound impacts.
  • Assessing the population connectivity of biologically unique, deep-sea hydrocarbon seep communities in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and U.S. South Atlantic. This is a collaborative effort with Duke University Marine Laboratory and University of Oregon.

Environmental and Molecular Toxicology (Dr. Pat McClellan-Green, Research Associate Professor)

  • Assessing the reproductive effects of environmental pollutants on commercially important marine species such as fish, oysters and shrimp
  • Begining characterization of physiological and metabolic parameters in sea turtles hatched along NC beaches and developing cell lines for future studies of pharmacological treatments.
  • Characterizing the reproductive capacity of blueback river herring and assess the role of environmental contamination on population productivity.
  • Characterizing of detoxification pathways in marine species.

Seafood Safety & Technology (Dr. David Green, Professor)

  • Offering seafood safety workshops in Seafood Hazard and Critical Control Point (HACCP) operations as required by the US Food and Drug Administration for seafood processors, importers, and regulatory officials nationwide.
  • Participating in the Entrepreneurial Initiative for Food (ei4f) program in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences; assist existing and start-up food businesses with product safety, process validations and product testing.
  • Collaborating in the Stewards of the Future: Research for Ocean Health and Community Sustainability program, a Regional Exchange Group sponsored by the NC Biotechnology Center. The group engages scientists, business leaders and policy makers in open discussion on issues of importance in our coastal communities. Three to four public events are planned annually.
  • Conducting applied research studies to help solve industry needs and assist small business owners in value-added product development initiatives.
  • Assisting state and local governments in creation of food manufacturing and entrepreneurship initiatives to address the need to diversify and add value to agricultural-based businesses through processing of local foods in NC.

Marine Health Program (Dr. Craig Harms, Associate Professor)

  • Continuing providing veterinary services to the three North Carolina Aquariums (at Pine Knoll Shores, Fort Fisher, and Roanoke Island), helping to maintain accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
  • Providing veterinary services to the sea turtle stranding network and the Sea Turtle Hospital in Surf City, which will celebrate the grand opening of its new expanded facility (funded entirely by donations, as always). This has been an above average year for sea turtle cold stunning.
  • Providing veterinary services to the marine mammal stranding network, particularly for live animal strandings, including the development and deployment of a low residue effective euthanasia technique for large whales when needed, resulting from a collaboration with UNC-W, and recently featured in National Geographic News on line.
  • Assessing crude oil and dispersant effects on marine life, with Dr. McClellan-Green and outside collaborators.
  • Providing veterinary support for area investigators.
  • Providing health and pathology investigation capacity for unusual wildlife mortality events (e.g., sea bird mortalities).
  • Hosting the NCSU mobile surgery unit to partner with area humane groups to provide occasional spay/neuter events combined with veterinary student training opportunities.
  • Training veterinary students and residents in marine mammal, sea turtle, display aquarium, and aquaculture medicine.

Marine Metabolomics (Dr. Michael Stoskopf, Professor)

  • Assessing of metabolic impacts of environmental change (ocean acidification, thermal and salinity changes) on key invertebrate species (oyster, corals)
  • Identifying the mechanisms of “cold stun” in sea turtles to aid in prediction of cold stun events and prognostication of therapeutic outcomes for affected animals.
  • Characterizing physiological and metabolic parameters of elasmobranch to facilitate development of better assessment of impacts of fisheries and husbandry techniques.
  • Developing novel diagnostic methods for marine species.

The Science House at CMAST (Dr. Patrick Curley, Director of Educational Outreach)

The Satellite office of The Science House at CMAST is a division of the NCSU College of Sciences that partners with CMAST, community outreach resources, K-12 schools and community leaders to leverage resources, develop grants, create teacher professional development, and provide youth outreach programs that inspire public awareness of coastal research issues and increasing the STEM instruction in classrooms and motivating students towards coastal based STEM careers.

  • Motivating and prepare students to pursue degrees and careers in stem fields through innovative, high quality student programs.
  • Educating and empower K-12 STEM teachers to effectively integrate innovative stem content, research, and technologies into to their practices.
  • Identifying and implement data collection methods, analyses, and reporting/dissemination strategies to provide comprehensive assessment of student and teacher learning and development to improve The Science House programs.
  • Partnering with the many ongoing and developing stem efforts within the university, the state, and the nation.
  • Identifying and securing a diverse pool of core funding to support both the quality and sustainability of The Science House.

More information about The Science House can be found at

North Carolina Marine Biotechnology Center of Innovation (Dr. Roy Carter, Senior Director of Development)

The Marine Bio-Technologies Center of Innovation (MBCOI) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Wilmington, North Carolina, with satellite offices in Morehead City (CMAST) and Research Triangle Park. MBCOI was created to focus specifically on the market potential and translation of marine-related research in North Carolina into products and services. These include the following diverse areas for development:

  • Health, e.g., pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, biomaterials for medical devices;
  • Energy, e.g., biofuels – either ethanol-type or biodiesel from coastal and marine resources; wind, wave, and Gulf Stream energy;
  • Aquatic Food, e.g., mariculture, novel and emerging use of natural marine resources; and
  • Diagnostics, e.g., enzymes, biochemicals, and methods for detection/quantification of contaminants in food or water from marine environments.

MBCOI’s mission is to accelerate the commercialization of innovative technologies by uniting stakeholders in marine research both domestically and internationally. During 2014, the NC MBCOI shall:

  1. Foster unity among North Carolina stakeholders in marine biotechnology
  2. Serve as a liaison for researchers throughout academia and industry
  3. Provide a mechanism for scientific exchange through focused workshops and meetings
  4. Identify opportunities for collaborative, multidisciplinary research
  5. Stimulate economic development by assisting with the expansion of current organizations and creation of new enterprises
  6. Promote an international identity for North Carolina’s efforts in marine science.

See more at the MBCOI website.