Funded by the NOAA Educational Partnership Program with Minority-Serving Institutions Cooperative Agreement Award #NA16SEC4810009

FAMU Secures $30M Federal Grant to Recruit and Train the Next Generation of Minority Scientists

Florida A&M University (FAMU) is the recipient of a $30 million, five-year federal grant from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to support the Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems (CCME) and its mission to find and train the next generation of scientists from under-represented groups.  

FAMU is the lead institution and President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., is the principal investigator of the project.  

The NOAA CCME is a NOAA Educational Partnership Program/Minority Serving Institution (EPP/MSI) cooperative science center (CSC) and includes partner minority-serving institutions Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU), California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB), Jackson State University (JSU), Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC), and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV).  

The NOAA CCME’s mission is to recruit, educate, and train a new generation of scientists, particularly from underrepresented minority communities, in NOAA-relevant STEM disciplines and social sciences. This new funding agreement extends and modifies the goals and objectives of the initial five-year award that started in 2016.  

Robinson said he is looking forward to building on the past five years of training and mentoring future scientists who will be equipped to tackle climate change and other pressing issues facing coastal communities. 

“The education, research and outreach done by the Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems will help NOAA and coastal communities address current and future challenges,” Robinson said. “Having underrepresented minorities who are experts not only enhances diversity but also ensures that we stay attuned to the needs of our most vulnerable populations as solutions are developed.” 

CCME has adopted three thematic areas - Place-Based Conservation, Coastal Resilience, and Coastal Intelligence in alignment with current NOAA priorities. These priority areas include un-crewed systems; artificial intelligence; cloud computing; “omics”- a field of study in biological sciences that ends with -omics, such as genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, or metabolomics; data, and citizen science with particular attention to cross-cutting research on climate change and environmental justice. 

FAMU Vice President for Research Charles Weatherford, Ph.D., said it’s difficult to overstate the importance of this NOAA grant. 

“This is FAMU’s largest grant. The Center is a consortium of Minority Serving Institutions and was formed to address issues confronting marine and coastal communities and to help supply a modern talented workforce in relevant NOAA areas of interest,” said Weatherford, “This NOAA grant is representative of the research that is carried out at FAMU and is a showcase for partnerships that address today’s nationally and internationally relevant issues.”

shortfin mako shark, Isurus oxyrinchus, off Cape Point, South Africa
shortfin mako shark, Isurus oxyrinchus, off Cape Point, South Africa
Photo Credit: TAMU-CC

It’s that time of year again! Discovery’s annual Shark Week, and National Geographic’s SharkFest, are right around the corner.

This year, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) researchers will once again be featured in both Shark Week and SharkFest programming. This is the first time HRI has been featured in National Geographic’s annual SharkFest.

“Sharks are such great ambassadors for the ocean,” said Dr. Greg Stunz, Director for the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation (CSSC) and TAMU-CC Professor of Marine Biology and Endowed Chair for Fisheries and Ocean Health. “They are a key that opens the door for scientific curiosity and learning. Most people are fascinated with sharks, and with the help of these charismatic animals, we have a great opportunity to teach children and adults about why healthy oceans are essential to the well-being of people and the planet.”

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Willis Lyons

This year’s class of 86 finalists comprises students and recent graduates from 62 distinct universities, including 16 finalists from nine minority-serving institutions. The finalists represent 29 of the 34 Sea Grant programs, and they completed coursework and research in a range of fields, such as biology, chemistry, ecology, engineering, environmental science and management, law, marine and coastal sciences and policy, and several disciplines of oceanography.

"The Knauss Fellowship offers graduate students the invaluable opportunity to put their academic knowledge to practice in tackling marine, coastal, and Great Lakes management and policy challenges at the federal level,” said Jonathan Pennock, Ph.D., National Sea Grant College Program director. “We look forward to welcoming the 2023 class of Knauss fellows and seeing how they will apply their unique insights to developing solutions to some of the most important challenges facing the country."

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Dr. Michael Martinez-Colon was part of a research study with scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Science, National Ocean Science, and the Office of National Martine Sanctuaries. The technical memorandum titled Assessment of Contamination in Fagatale Bay (National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa) was spearheaded by the NOAA's Monitoring and Assessment Branch (Stressor Detection and Impacts Division). The main goal was to determine the presence and concentration of pollutants and to establish baselines which can be used in coastal management activities especially related to  nearby coral reefs.

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Elizabeth Mogus-Garcia
Elizabeth Mogus-Garcia

Elizabeth Mogus-Garcia

Elizabeth Mogus-Garcia, a NOAA CCME Master’s Scholar at UTRGV, will be participating in the NOAA Coastal Management Fellowship 2022 at the New York State Coastal Management Program in Albany, New York starting August 1, 2022 and finish August 31, 2024.

This fellowship project focuses on the development of framework elements for the New York State Coastal Management Program to support successful community-driven managed retreat.

Elizabeth will focus on developing a guidance document to inform a framework on approaches to strategic managed retreat considering coastal processes and climate change adaptation, with particular attention to socioeconomic sustainability and concerns at the municipal level.


Jordana Cutajar
Jordana Cutajar

Jordana Cutajar

Jordana Cutajar has accepted an appointment for a NOAA Coastal Management Fellowship with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control in Dover, Delaware.

She will report for duty on August 8, 2022 and finish the fellowship August 8, 2024 working under Kristen Thornton and Kimberly Cole on “Building Resilience through Relationships: Collaborating with Local Organizations to Support Frontline Communities”.