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Mason Helps Coastal Communities by Joining Virginia Sea Grant Charter

April 28, 2015

seagrantcharter-banner_webBy Michele McDonald

George Mason University is advancing coastal and marine science in Virginia by joining the Virginia Sea Grant charter on Monday.

University presidents from George Mason, William & Mary, Old Dominion, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University signed the Virginia Sea Grant charter.

“I am very proud of Mason’s status as a Sea Grant university,” says Katherine Rowan, director of Mason’s Science Communication Graduate Program. “This status underscores Mason’s commitment to research that benefits the environments and economies of Virginia’s coastal communities and its watersheds. Sea Grant has also funded research by graduate students and faculty at Mason, which assists us all in helping Virginia thrive.”

Sea Grant is similar to land grant universities, which were established by Abraham Lincoln to provide applied research to benefit communities, Rowan says.

Virginia Sea Grant works with resource managers, businesses, communities, and other affected parties to provide and apply the best science available, according to the organization. It funds and conducts research, outreach, and communications activities that focus on “safe and sustainable seafood, healthy coastal and marine ecosystems, sustainable and resilient coastal communities, and coastal and ocean literacy.”

“Mason’s partnership with Virginia Sea Grant is especially important now that we will be opening the new Potomac Science Center on the Occoquan River in spring of 2016,” says Robert Jonas, chair of Mason’s Environmental Science and Policy Department. “This actually carries on a long history of aquatic and estuarine research and education at Mason.”

For example, the Gunston Cove study began in 1984, in part as a result of a massive algal bloom in the Potomac River, Jonas says. He also notes that Mason research has shown the water quality in that area of the Potomac River has improved.

Virginia Sea Grant will help more Mason students by funding graduate research and educating future scientists and environmental managers.