By Chris Patrick, staff writer
This July, James Madison University (JMU) joined the Virginia Sea Grant community, whose network of partner institutions now runs seven strong.
Virginia Sea Grant (VASG) is a Commonwealth-wide, multi-university organization with a mission to enhance the ecological, economic, and social sustainability of coastal and ocean communities in Virginia. With its partner institutions, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William & Mary, Old Dominion University, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, George Mason University, and now, James Madison University, VASG uses research, extension, education, and communication to deliver science-based information to decision makers. It also cultivates the next generation of scientists and policymakers through fellowships and professional development activities.
“By becoming a member of VASG, JMU is committed to increasing opportunities for student engagement; expanding and strengthening faculty collaboration with other institutions involved in coastal resilience and sustainability; exploring new innovative research, expanding upon our mission of civic responsibility and social justice as it relates to the broader impacts on coastal communities; and building a consortium with both the public and private sectors focused on graduate programs in coastal and marine science,” says JMU Vice Provost of Research and Scholarship Yvonne Harris.
JMU’s Biology Department Head Joanna Mott is the newest member of VASG’s Research and Education Advisory Committee, which is comprised of representatives from each partner institution who are active in the regular operations of VASG, including strategic planning, programmatic policy development, and recruitment.
“VASG could not be happier after JMU joined our community,” says Troy Hartley, director of VASG. “Their strengths and growing capacity in coastal and marine sciences, and their watershed-to-ocean perspective, are invaluable additions to our coalition of universities. Together we do more for the Commonwealth, and with JMU our impact will be even greater.”
In addition to their main campus in Harrisonburg, Virginia, JMU has waterfront property on Virginia’s Northern Neck peninsula. Since it was acquired in 2014, students and faculty have used the property as a field laboratory for research and teaching, and the university aspires to build a more permanent marine lab there.
“With increasing research at Bluff Point, JMU continues to expand its interests and research on coastal issues linking the Shenandoah Valley to the Chesapeake Bay region,” Mott says. “As such, JMU and VASG have a shared mission that focuses on the ecological, economic and social sustainability of the coastal communities that serve the Commonwealth of Virginia, the region and the nation.”