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Category: news

Help Wanted!

The Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER program ( has two openings, one for a Research Professional and another for a Research Technician, to assist with coastal ecology research on the Georgia coast. Both positions are part of a team that will work on Sapelo Island, GA.

Research Professional:

Research Technician:

For questions concerning the positions, contact Dr. Steven Pennings –

Construction Zone Ahead

A small green Sunbelt bulldozer sits parked in front of the exterior of the UGAMI Apartments 1&2 entrance

The main quad of the UGAMI campus is a farm complex that dates all the way back to 1936. Over the past decade we have renovated much of the main lab as well as the two adjacent carriage houses. Now we’re starting to work on the South End Apartment building, which has served as a dormitory facility for students and researchers for the better part of a century. The building is critical for the function of the Marine Institute and serves as an anchor for the original campus. Time, unfortunately, has taken its inevitable toll, and a combination of age and the harsh coastal environment have made it necessary to renovate this building as well. We have just broken ground on the project, and will be working on Apartments 1&2 over the coming months. We won’t be changing the outside, but the interior will be upgraded to meet current code. The renovations are being funded through the State’s Major Renovation and Repair program, with additional contributions from multiple sources within UGA. The project is being carried out by the Parker Young Construction Co, which mobilized a crew this past week. Stay tuned for further updates!

Idalia has passed

Two graphs showing the high wind and low water levels from Hurricane Idalia, as recorded by SINERR and UGAMI weather stations.

Hurricane Idalia moved through coastal Georgia as a tropical storm this past Wednesday (8/30), and thankfully UGAMI made it through unscathed. The staff sprang into action, moving vehicles to higher ground, putting up the hurricane barriers, and generally making sure that things were picked up in advance of potential flooding and high winds. As you can see from the graphs, the wind peaked at approximately 27 m/s (~ 60 mph) and we got only a brief spike of rain. Interestingly, instead of flooding the storm actually pulled water away from the shore so water levels were lower than usual. The power was out from Wednesday until late Thursday night and we lost some shingles off the roof of the shop, but other than that we fared pretty well. Let’s hope we don’t have to do this again anytime soon. (And thanks again to the UGAMI staff!)

GCE-LTER Intern Program

10 student interns were in residence at the UGA Marine Institute over the summer conducting research with GCE-LTER investigators: 3 Univ. of Houston students worked with Dr. Steve Pennings on salt marsh disturbance experiments; 3 students (Georgia Southern Univ., SUNY-esf, Univ. of Georgia) worked with the GCE field crew; 3 students (Creighton Univ. and Georgia State Univ.) worked with Dr. John Schalles on developing algorithms for remote sensing; and 1 student from Juniata College worked with Dr. Emlyn Resetarits and Dr. Shelby Zeigler on salt marsh predation experiments. We wish them all success as they continue with their studies!

The 2023 Coastal Summer Semester comes to a close…

Students in the 2023 UGAMI Coastal Summer Semester. The course was co-taught by Dr. Emlyn Resetarits (far left) and Dr. Shelby Ziegler (2nd from right).

Students from the Coastal Summer Semester gave their final research presentations Friday afternoon, June 30. The presentations were the culmination of two intensive weeks spent designing and conducting field-based marine ecology research projects. Students often started early in the morning and worked late into the night. Through this effort the students gained valuable laboratory and field experience, honed their understanding and application of the scientific method, and got to work with skilled mentors. Research topics were divided into four general categories: parasite ecology, invertebrate behavior, faunal distributions, and adaptations of primary producers.

Passing the Baton

From left: Dr. Tom Hancock, Nick Macias, and Jacob Shalack

After nearly 16 years, Jacob Shalack is officially leaving UGAMI on July 1. Jacob is a Research Professional who has worked with many researchers as the lead technician of the GCE-LTER, and since 2013 has also served as the Assistant Director for Operations at UGAMI. He is moving to the Office of the VP for Research on the UGA main campus, where he’ll be a Facilities Professional. We plan to continue working with him in his new capacity.

In the meantime, we have hired two new Assistant Directors, both of whom started on June 1. Nick Macias, the new Assistant Director for Operations, is a freshwater ecologist with experience as a field site manager and research and education coordinator for Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch. He hails most recently from Georgia Southern, where he was a visiting faculty member. Tom Hancock, the new Assistant Director for Academics, is a coastal ecologist who has worked in both private and public settings, including as Director of Conservation for the Bald Head Island Conservancy. Tom was a professor in the Biology Department of Middle Georgia State University, and in that capacity has been bringing marine biology classes and research students to Sapelo Island since 2016. We welcome them both to the team!

UGAMI Welcomes Students to the Coastal Summer Semester

The 2023 Coastal Summer Semester class onboard the R/V Spartina for a trawl.

The Coastal Summer Semester students arrived on Sapelo Island Sunday afternoon, June 4th. The program is off to a great start! Thus far students have trawled on board the R/V Spartina, learned about oyster ecology, salt marsh dynamics, black gill in shrimp, and nearshore plankton communities, as well as discovered various marine invertebrates and vertebrates along the way.

Dr. Shelby Zeigler showing off a gar that was caught in the trawl.

Lab and field activities have included phytoplankton chlorophyll extraction, measurement of fish abundance and diversity in the estuary, oyster parasite and disease recognition and quantification, and seine netting from the beach. Next week students will begin to design and execute their independent research projects. If this type of immersive, hands-on, inquiry-based experience looks interesting, please consider our Spring 2024 Semester Program.

Captain Ike piloting the trawl.

The Ocean Memory Project Visits UGAMI

Photos from The Ocean Memory’s Project visit to Sapelo

The Ocean Memory Project , a growing group of thinkers spanning divergent scientific and artistic practices who work to broaden understanding and awareness of ways in which the ocean retains, expresses, and loses memory, recently hosted a workshop at UGAMI, organized by UGA Professor Mandy Joye, focused on the topic of memory loss in relation to system processes and human memory. 

They had formal presentations (at the Institute, in the field, and during nature walks), structured and unstructured discussions, creative activities, and immersive experiences on the island with free time to connect with other participants.

The presentations covered a range of scales upon which biological systems communicate and remember – from molecules to ecosystems and coastlines. Speakers covered topics ranging from human history and memory, including a focus on historical and modern human populations on Sapelo Island; the geological history of barrier islands; the role of chemical signaling in memory; the role of story-telling and science writing in ocean science communication; the impact of natural disasters on ecosystem dynamics, including stress-hardening and ecological memory in corals; and pollution and system memory loss resulting from the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 

Job Announcement – Building Services Worker

The University of Georgia Marine Institute (UGAMI,, located on Sapelo Island, Georgia, seeks a new Building Services Worker. Work involves cleaning and general custodial care of Marine Institute buildings and facilities. This includes offices, laboratories, general access areas and restrooms. Experience with cleaning and custodial care and references that reflect quality work and ability to carry out instructions independently and completely is preferred. Some kitchen/ group meal preparation and clean up experience preferred.

At least a high school diploma or equivalent is required for this position. Please contact your Human Resources office for an evaluation of education/experience in lieu of the required minimum qualifications. For questions concerning this position or recruitment progression, please refer to the Recruitment Contact Gracie Townsend ( A complete description and application materials can be found on the university’s faculty job portal:

Job Announcement – Director of Operations

The University of Georgia Marine Institute (UGAMI,, located on Sapelo Island, Georgia, seeks an Assistant/Associate Director for Operations to assist with departmental oversight, staff management, and facilities planning. The candidate will report directly to the UGAMI Director and will be involved in developing major policies and procedures, establishing Institutional priorities, and budget allocation. The Director for Operations provides daily oversight of UGAMI, represents the Institute to multiple partners, and ensures that the needs of visiting researchers, students, and other UGAMI users are met. Candidates with previous experience at a research field station and significant facilities and managerial experience are preferred.

An advanced degree in Marine Science or a related field is suggested for this position. A complete description and application materials can be found on the university’s faculty job portal Applications received by March 17, 2023 are assured full consideration. The position has a target start date of May 2023. Inquiries should be directed to Dr. Merryl Alber, Chair of the Search Committee (, with the subject line: Director for Operations.