In Photos: NYSG's Jamaica Bay Specialist in Two Cornell-in-the-City Magazine Feature Stories
Jamaica Bay / NYC - News


Photo: Cornell University Photography/Jason Koski

Brooklyn, NY, June 29, 2017 - It's been almost a year-and-a-half since Helen Cheng came aboard as New York Sea Grant's Jamaica Bay Coastal Resilience Specialist, a partnership effort with the Brooklyn College-based Science and Resilience Institute @ Jamaica Bay (SRIJB).

Within her first few months on the job, Cheng—a Brooklyn native—participated in "It's My Estuary" Day, a family-friendly day of service, learning and celebration along the Coney Island Creek in Brooklyn's Kaiser Park. She was also profiled by Boating Times Long Island, a free magazine distributed to ten times a year to marinas, yacht clubs, marine stores, restaurants, as well as other retail stores throughout Long Island.

“I am fortunate to step into a situation where a lot of ground work for creating resilience programs have been laid,” said Cheng in the feature story. “Superstorm Sandy still looms in the memories of our stakeholders, but I’m looking forward to working with groups to help them prepare for coastal hazards and to be resilient for the next big storm.”

Educating on severe storms was the focus of Cheng's next endeavor, a New York City-based Climate Forum Series that she launched in late Fall 2016. Since then, two additional climate forums have been held, with a fourth one planned for later this summer. In addition, Cheng started up a podcast series this past April that highlights the people that work, live and play in and around Jamaica Bay.



Cornell University, whose cooperative extension program is where Cheng and all of New York Sea Grant's other nearly dozen specialists are affiliated, took notice of these innovative efforts, citing them in the Spring 2017 issues of EZRA (Cornell University's magazine) and periodiCALS (the magazine for the University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, or CALS).

"Cornell in New York" is the common thread of EZRA's Spring issue cover story, written by Olivia M. Hall: "Cornell's Ithaca campus and its iconic upstate setting may be what many envision when they think of the university, but Cornell has long had a presence on the cosmopolitan stages of New York City."

For Cheng's part to this NYC-centric story, she sheds some light on the importance of Jamaica Bay: "It's one of the most unique estuaries I've heard of in the nation, but many New Yorkers really don't know what Jamaica Bay is." For more, read pages 18-19 of this issue (pdf).

In "Breaking New Ground: The Urban Issue," periodiCALS also shines a spotlight of Cornell University's various impacts in New York City. Says Dean of Cornell CALS Kathryn Boor: "The range of our expertise is particularly evident in NYC ... in addition to [investigations from our researchers and programming via Cornell Cornell Cooperative Extension to help meet] the needs of food entrepreneurs, our work also supports the city's citizens through projects that link urban ecology and resilience."

On that note, Cheng's activities are front and center in the picture-driven feature "On the Map: CALS and the City." To see more, check out pages 20-21 of this story (pdf).

Cheng arrived to Sea Grant in February 2016 following a year-long stint as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant John D. Knauss 2015 Marine Policy Fellow, a highly competitive fellowship program among the nation’s highest qualified graduate students. She earned her BS in Biology from Stony Brook University and MS in Zoology from University of New Hampshire with research experience on horseshoe crabs, lobsters and scallops.

"Having returned to the city after pursuing my academic studies, it's been energizing to apply the knowledge gained through my journey back to NYC," says Cheng. "And I look at my continued experiences with Sea Grant as an example to other students that there are a variety of careers paths to travel in the field of marine biology."



In Photos: Jamaica Bay


Photo: Cornell University Photography/Diane Bondareff


Photo: Cornell University Photography/Jason Koski


Photo: Cornell University Photography/Jason Koski


Photo: Cornell University Photography/Jason Koski

More Info: New York Sea Grant and SRIatJB

The Science and Resilience Institute @ Jamaica Bay (SRIJB) is a new research center focused on enhancing environmental, social, and economic resilience in communities of Jamaica Bay funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the City of New York.

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NSGCP engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources. Through its statewide network of integrated services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources since 1971.

New York Sea Grant maintains Great Lakes offices at SUNY Buffalo, the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark and at SUNY Oswego. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Manhattan, in the Hudson Valley through Cooperative Extension in Kingston and at Brooklyn College. 

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG produces a monthly e-newsletter, "NOAA Sea Grant's Social Media Review," via its blog, www.nyseagrant.org/blog. Our program also offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/coastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published 1-2 times a year.

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