Congratulations to Dr. Jessica Valenti

Jessica Valenti successfully defended her doctoral dissertation on Tuesday August 25, 2020 entitled “Fishes of a Temperate Estuary: Ecology and Response to an Urbanized Watershed”. The defense seminar was virtually attended by about 35 individuals including her committee composed of outside members Dr. John Waldman (Queens College, NY) and Dr. Jim Vasslides (Barnegat Bay Partnership, NJ) as well as Dr. Ken Able (Rutgers), Dr. Paola Lopez Duarte (Rutgers now at Univ. North Carolina Charlotte) and advisor Dr. Tom Grothues. As a New Jersey native who grew up fishing and boating with her family along the New Jersey Shore, Jessica was keen on understanding if and how the development of the surrounding watershed has affected the function of the bay as habitat for fish. While local effects at the scale of creeks with bulkheaded shorelines were apparent for resident species, Jessica found that these are not translated to discernable impacts at the bay-wide scale, which is temporarily used by juveniles of many transient species with high natural variance. Her work was supported by a grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and several scholarship foundations. Jessica starts a NSF post-doctoral fellowship in October studying microplastic accumulation in larval fishes.