M. Eng. Ocean Engineering, 1999, Stevens Institute of Technology
B.S. Math and Natural Sciences, 1997, Towson University
New Pathways to Teaching in NJ: The Alternate Route to Teacher Certification Program (Certified: Mathematics K-12, Earth Science, Physics), 2012, NJ City University
When I was younger and trying to settle on a career path, my mom told me to figure out where I wanted to work and what I needed to do to get there. The beach seemed like a great place to work, and I am fortunate to have found an intellectually stimulating career that takes me regularly to the beach!
As an undergraduate I changed my major multiple times starting in Computer Science, moving to marine biology but then settling finally into degrees in Natural Sciences with a Geology concentration and Applied Math. I immediately moved on to getting my Masters in Coastal Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology, a move that was inspired by my mother's words of wisdom and an undergraduate beach processes course; I loved thinking about how and why the beaches changed shaped with each wave, storm, season, etc!
Upon receiving my master's in engineering, I was eager to study more pristine and less armored beaches than the beaches of my youth and took a position with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Coastal and Marine Geology Group in California. With the USGS I had the opportunity to a perform a large variety of work including working in a lab doing sediment analysis, studying tsunami deposits, and analyzing field data. The most exciting part though was the numerous field studies up and down the west coast (and one great trip to the Field Research Facility in North Carolina). I deployed moorings and tripods off both large and small research vessels, collected numerous grab and suspended sediment samples, surveyed rivers with sidescan sonar, surveyed beaches using RTK GPS mounted on a backpack, and best of all, surveyed the nearshore using a RTK GPS and an echosounder mounted to a Jetski! When first deciding on my career path it hadn't even occurred to me that I could get paid to ride a Jetski through the surfzone!
Eventually, I came back to the east coast to focus on starting a family. While my kids were younger, I taught high school math and physics, but the ocean and the beach called! After several years of teaching, networking, and biding my time waiting for the perfect opportunity, that opportunity appeared!
In 2018 I joined the Coastal Engineering Research Group at Stevens Institute of Technology and am once again passionate about my career and its importance to our great state of NJ. Not only am I back to going to the beach, and getting paid to ride a Jetski, and play with all sorts of wave, water level and current measuring equipment, but I'm now also a certified drone operator - we are using drones to collect important data for monitoring the stability of our beaches - AND I get to help educate up and coming coastal engineers on technology and data processing techniques.
While New Jersey's coastal region is by no means pristine, it is still a beautiful and beloved home to over 7 million people, and an important economic resource for the state - complexities I didn't fully understand at the age of 24. Working with the state, Stevens created the first set of engineering guidelines for living shorelines in NJ. Living shorelines are a method for stabilizing the shoreline and providing ecological benefit to an area. At Stevens we continue to be involved in monitoring and assessing living shoreline projects throughout the state. We also continue to research living shorelines to better understand their effectiveness and to assist in refining techniques and guidance so that these living shorelines will be increasingly successful throughout our state.
Furthermore, through Stevens I also serve as the Coastal Resilience Specialist for New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium. This is an opportunity to further educate on the importance of understanding and preparing for future risk that will come along with a changing climate and rising seas. Through this role, I look forward to assisting coastal communities in preparing for the many changes and challenges that are to come.
Hope to see you at the beach!