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2014 Archived News Releases

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December 23, 2014

RE: S.C. Sea Grant Hires Accountant/Fiscal Analyst
Susan Ferris Hill, (843) 953-2078 or
Michele Neff
Charleston, S.C.— Michele M. Neff was hired as an accountant/fiscal analyst at the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium. Her job duties include grants accounting and management, budget analysis and revenue and expense reporting. She also will serve as the agency’s benefits coordinator, recruiting manager and assist with other human resources activities.

Neff came to the Consortium from Roper St. Francis Health Care, where she was a senior reimbursement analyst. She earned a B.S. in business administration-accounting from Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, N.J. and a human-resources certificate from Penn State University.

December 8, 2014

RE: 16th International Conference on Shellfish Restoration to be Held December 10-13 in Charleston, S.C.
Susan Ferris Hill,, (843) 953-2092

Charleston, S.C.—The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium will host the 16th International Conference on Shellfish Restoration (ICSR’14) December 10-13, 2014 at the DoubleTree Guest Suites in Charleston, S.C. The conference provides an opportunity for researchers, resource managers, shellfish farmers and community restoration practitioners worldwide to exchange information necessary to help restore molluscan shellfish populations, enhance the health of coastal ecosystems and improve water quality for shellfish survival, growth and harvest.

The overall theme for ICSR’14 is “Restoration in an Ever-Changing World.” Over 80 oral and poster presentations and seven panel sessions will explore: the use of shellfish restoration to address challenges and opportunities related to coastal development; resource policy, regulation and management; shellfish diseases; shoreline stabilization; and climate change and ocean acidification. The keynote speaker on Thursday, December 11 is Michael Rubino, Ph.D., director of the Office of Aquaculture at NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service. On Friday, December 12 the keynote speaker is Betsy Peabody, founder and executive director of the Puget Sound Restoration Fund. Peter Malinowski, director of the Billion Oyster Project at the New York Harbor Foundation, is the keynote speaker on Saturday, December 13. Panel sessions include East Coast Molluscan Health Management, Interpreting the National Shellfish Sanitation Program, A Coherent Approach to Whelk Fishery Management Along the U.S. Atlantic Seaboard and The Future of Shellfish Restoration in the Face of a Changing Climate. Additional panel sessions will emphasize shellfish restoration in the Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico and Washington State.

ICSR’14 presentations, panel discussions and poster sessions are focused on the following program themes:

  • Addressing Challenges to Shellfish Restoration
  • Incorporating Approaches for Shellfish Restoration
  • Restoring Shellfish: Implementation, Monitoring and Lessons Learned
  • Documenting Goods and Services Provided by Shellfish Populations and Ecosystems
  • Getting the Word Out

To view the conference schedule, visit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   
November 10, 2014

RE: EPA Awards South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium a $78,564 Environmental Education Grant
Jason McDonald, (404) 562-9203,
                Susan Ferris Hill, (843) 953-2092,

Atlanta, GA--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium (SCSGC) with a $78,564 environmental education model grant for their Sowing the Seeds of Estuary Health: Exploring Tidal Creek-Salt Marsh Ecosystems while Raising Awareness project proposal. The proposal intends to increase the stewardship of tidal creek-salt marsh habitats, thereby protecting coastal waters and reducing human health risk. To accomplish this goal, SCSGC will develop a tidal creek-salt marsh environmental education model that includes three levels of engagement: environmental information, outreach and stewardship to increase understanding and care of these ecosystems.

The award was one of 20 grants issued across the country ranging from $75,000- 200,000 for a total of approximately $2.8 million. Projects include community energy education, summer programs for low-income teenagers, integration of multimedia learning tools into watershed education, environmental health education on the impact of climate change and asthma and hands-on K-12 environmental education programs. The announcement signals the completion of awards for the 2013 Environmental Education Model Grants Program.

Since 1992, EPA has distributed between $2 and $3.5 million in grant funding per year, for a total of $62,143,290, supporting more than 3,600 grant projects. Applications for the 2014 EE Model Grants Program will be available later in fall 2014.

The purpose of the EE Model Grants Program is to support environmental education projects that increase public awareness about environmental issues and provide participants with the skills to take responsible actions to protect the environment. This grant program provides financial support for projects that design, demonstrate and/or disseminate environmental education practices, methods or techniques, and that will serve as models that can be replicated in a variety of settings. 

For more information on the new awardees and on how to apply for future EE grant competitions visit,

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   
May 21, 2014

RE: S.C. Sea Grant Hires Assistant Director for Development and Extension

Susan Ferris Hill, (843) 953-2078 or
Susan Lovelace Ph.D.Charleston, S.C.— Susan Lovelace, Ph.D., has joined the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium as its assistant director for development and extension. Previously she was manager of the Human Dimensions Research Program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hollings Marine Laboratory.

She will lead the Consortium’s Sea Grant Extension Program, work with the executive director on program development efforts and assist with overall management of the agency. “We are very pleased to have Susan join the Consortium,” says Rick DeVoe, Consortium executive director. “Susan’s training and experience in the social sciences and her real-world experiences will provide immediate value to the Consortium’s extension program, to our stakeholders and to the agency as a whole.”

Susan earned a Ph.D. in coastal resource management at East Carolina University, a B.S. in science education also at East Carolina University and a B.S. in zoology at North Carolina State University.

For over two decades, she has sought to understand the role of natural resources in public well-being as well as the complexity of information flow in local resource decision-making. Susan will lead the Consortium’s efforts to assess the information needs of the agency’s diverse stakeholders, and provide them with science-based information, tools and guidance to inform their decision-making. “I am excited to join the exceptional staff of the Consortium,” says Susan. “I look forward to continuing their tradition of service to individuals and communities of our state by helping the public and decision-makers make more informed choices about the wise use and conservation of our coastal and marine resources.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                       
May 12, 2014

RE: Study Highlights Role of Gene Groups in Embryo Development
Susan Ferris Hill,, 843-953-2092
Robert Chapman,, 843-725-4878
Rhett Register,, 919-515-1092
Benjamin Reading,, 919-515-3830
Charleston, S.C.— A team of scientists from North Carolina and South Carolina has discovered that interactions among a small group of genes influence egg quality, a key part of reproductive fitness in all vertebrates including humans. Results of this research, funded in part by North Carolina Sea Grant and South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, are published in the online, open access journal, PLOS ONE.

The researchers worked with striped bass (Morone saxatilis), a finfish used in aquaculture that has problems with arrested development in eggs. Poor egg quality, or the inability of eggs to produce viable embryos, is considered a major limiting factor for development of global finfish aquaculture. This problem has long been studied in agriculture and human reproductive medicine.

“Discovering the root cause of poor egg quality has been the Holy Grail of aquaculture R&D for decades,” says project leader Craig Sullivan, former NC State University Distinguished Professor and founder of Carolina AquaGyn. Sullivan is one of three authors of the new paper detailing the study in the journal PLOS ONE. 

Employing artificial intelligence to model the interactions within groups of genes, the researchers found that coordinated expression of a group of 233 genes, or less than 2 percent of all of the expressed genes in the egg, explains more than 90 percent of initial embryo survival.

“Every one of the genes’ contributions to the trait is miniscule, but together, this suite of genes influences egg quality,” says Benjamin Reading, a researcher with NC State University and co-author of the paper.

According to the authors, these findings may help aquaculturists select fish that have the highest probability of producing large numbers of viable eggs. Additionally, fisheries managers may be able to better evaluate what percentage of females in the wild population is going to produce viable eggs and subsequently modify management strategies.

Robert Chapman of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and Hollings Marine Laboratory and co-author on the paper notes that because embryos of all vertebrates are similar during the early stages of development, the findings could shed light on human reproductive medicine. “As infertility is increasing in humans from developed nations, our work may provide some clues to this problem. As a striper female will produce 1,000 times as many eggs in a single year as a human female will produce in her lifetime, we can perform experiments and studies in stripers that would be impossible in mammals including humans.”

“This cutting-edge research reflects a successful linkage of basic scientific inquiry that has a direct application to business, industry and public health,” says Rick DeVoe, executive director of the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium. “It demonstrates that modest investments in collaborative research can result in significant, socially relevant applications.”

The South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium and North Carolina Sea Grant have been national leaders in striped bass aquaculture research for more than 30 years. “Striped bass aquaculture remains an important research interest for our program,” says John Fear, North Carolina Sea Grant deputy director. “Even today we are providing seed funds to advance the protocols being used to rear these fish.”

The paper, Ovary Transcriptome Profiling via Artificial Intelligence Reveals a Transcriptomic Fingerprint Predicting Egg Quality in Striped Bass, Morone saxatilis, is published in the open access journal, PLOS ONE, available at Additional funding for the project came from the NOAA Center of Excellence in Oceans and Human Health Center for Marine Genomics at Hollings Marine Laboratory and from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

March 18, 2014

RE: S.C. Sea Grant Hires Coastal Climate Extension Specialist
Susan Ferris Hill, (843) 953-2092 or

Elizabeth Fly, Ph.D.Charleston, S.C.—Elizabeth Fly, Ph.D., has joined the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium as the coastal climate extension specialist. Fly’s position is jointly funded by the Consortium and University of South Carolina’s Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA) program. CISA conducts applied climate research and works to integrate climate science into decision-making processes.

Fly has a B.S. in biology from the University of Puget Sound and a Ph.D. in biological sciences from the University of South Carolina. She recently completed a year as a John A. Knauss Marine Policy fellow in Washington, D.C., where she worked on the National Climate Assessment at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Program Office and the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

In her new position, Fly will work with state climate experts to gather knowledge that already exists, identify areas that need more research and present climate information to local communities and the public. She also will assist coastal communities with data collection and resiliency planning in order to incorporate available weather and climate information into local decision-making processes. In addition, Fly will help CISA develop and implement coastal-drought indicators for planning purposes.

January 14, 2014

RE: S.C. Sea Grant Generated $8.9 Million Economic Impact in South Carolina in 2012
Every $1 the state invested in coastal and ocean research, education and outreach generated $26 in statewide economic output.

Susan Ferris Hill, (843) 953-2078 or
Joseph Von Nessen, Ph.D.,

Charleston, S.C.— The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium generated $8.9 million in economic impact in South Carolina in 2012, and $11.5 million in the tri-state region, according to a Sea Grant-funded study completed by the University of South Carolina Darla Moore School of Business. In addition, the study notes that every $1 the state invested to support the Consortium and its coastal and ocean research, education and outreach activities generated $26 in statewide economic output. The study documents the economic impact of activities supported by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, including the creation of new jobs, income and the acquisition of federal funding; management of volunteer services; the launch of an independent spinoff organization; and workforce training programs.

“We are proud of the work the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium performs and the value of that work to the State of South Carolina,” said David A. DeCenzo, board chairman of the Consortium and president of Coastal Carolina University.

“The results of this study illustrate that the research, education and outreach programming the Consortium undertakes is of significant value to South Carolina’s economic, environmental and social well-being,” noted Rick DeVoe, executive director of the Consortium.

The study focused on four major economic contributions by the Consortium during a one-year period: total non-state external funding acquired, two volunteer-driven litter cleanups, the development of an independently run regional ocean observing organization startup and workforce training programs targeted to the marine fisheries and aquaculture industries.

“There is no doubt that South Carolina’s coastal region is one of its most valuable assets, which the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium helps to maintain,” said Joseph Von Nessen, research economist in the Moore School of Business and the study’s principal author. “But in addition, the Consortium also knows how to effectively leverage its own assets. For instance, the Consortium brings new federal dollars to the state and creates jobs that, on average, generate tax revenue which directly pays back approximately one-third of the Consortium’s annual state appropriation.”

The annual economic impact of $8.9 million in South Carolina is the dollar value representing the total value of all goods and services associated, either directly or indirectly, with the economic activities of the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium. This impact corresponds to nearly $2.8 million in income for South Carolinians. In the tri-state region, consisting of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, the economic impact increases to $11.5 million, which is associated with $3.8 million in income.

The methodology the economic analysis was based on includes direct, indirect and induced impacts that comprise the economic multiplier, or ripple, effect. The Consortium’s economic impact of $8.9 million is associated with a statewide output multiplier of 1.6, which means for every $100 non-state dollars distributed by the Consortium for coastal and ocean research, education and outreach, an additional $60 dollars in economic activity is generated elsewhere in the state.

A copy of the complete study, as well as an executive summary, is available on the Consortium website at

Last updated: 4/18/2018 2:00:46 PM
2014 Archived News Releases


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