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Environmental Science student wins grant to study how surge barriers affect fish

March 1, 2013

Loyola University New Orleans Environmental Science major Jenny Simon is conducting research to see if a 10,000-foot storm wall nearing completion just outside New Orleans is affecting nearby fish and marine life. She recently received a $2,500 Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program grant from Louisiana Sea Grant College Program to collaborate with Loyola biology professor Frank Jordan, Ph.D., on the research.

Officials are undertaking a number of flood-control projects to protect coastal Louisiana from storm surges. One of these projects nearing completion—the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier—is designed to reduce the risk of flooding like that experienced in Chalmette and eastern New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Although flood-control projects are considered essential to protecting coastal communities, there are potential environmental costs associated with building a storm barrier across two miles of productive coastal salt marshes, according to Jordan.

Simon and Jordan’s study will determine if the new storm wall is having a negative effect on the surrounding salt marsh ecosystem. Simon, a junior, and Jordan will compare the abundance and diversity of fish, shrimps, crabs and other marine organisms they collect inside and outside the new storm wall. Information from this study may be used to modify the design of future storm barriers to protect coastal development and natural ecosystems, according to Jordan.

“This project is important to me because I get hands-on experience participating in important research. I will be able to collaborate with professors and other students here on campus and gain valuable knowledge about the research process as I prepare for a potential career within the field,” Simon said.

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