My name is Melanie Smith, and I am currently a fourth year Environmental Studies major at Stony Brook University, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. I am eager to research and advocate for environmental concerns, particularly those impacting the marine environment and ecosystems surrounding New York City and Long Island. 

November 16, 2020- I was invited to participate in Billion Oyster Project's Career Panel Series as an alum of the Marine Biology Research Program at the New York Harbor School. I was able to share my experiences as a Marine Biology Research Scholar during my time at NYHS, and also inform students of what makes a strong college application, college internships I have participated in, and my personal interests in Marine Biology as an Environmental Studies Major! Over 400 students tuned in from various elementary, middle, and high schools across New York City, as they are eager to apply to both high schools and colleges which support and advance environmental stewardship. 

To view my most recent work, please visit www.metrosurge.org, of which I am Interactive Media Associate!


Spring 2020/ Summer 2020/ Fall 2020 - Present- This semester, Distinguished Service Professor Malcolm J. Bowman of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences has agreed to supervise me for Internship credit (ENS488) in developing social media outreach sites (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) for the New York- New Jersey- Long Island Storm Surge Working Group, in partnership with the Storm Surge Research Group, at Stony Brook University. As Interactive Media Associate, I will accompany Professor Bowman during SSWG meetings, in collaboration with Langan Engineering pictured above, to gain hands-on knowledge and professional skills of working with an established research group. I will also convey the insight gained at these meetings and events to the public, along with posting environmentally-related current events and news articles pertaining to SSWG efforts, advertising community engagement events, and Surge Watch newsletters. I have also been invited to remain part of SSWG for a paid-internship.

Pictured above: Meeting with Langan Engineering in New York, NY on February 18th; SSWG logo as shown on the www.metrosurge.org website; SOMAS Storm Surge Research Group members from left to right: Thomas Wilson, Melanie Smith, and Malcolm J. Bowman.

Above: Visit with Career Center Career Ready Programs to PSEG-LI; Below: Melanie Smith pictured with PSEG Environmental Representative, Hardik Parekh.

Spring 2020- Accepted into the First Generation: Women in STEM program through Stony Brook University's Career Center. I was able to participate in this program over the course of the semester, which helped first generation women students in STEM majors to work on professional skills, while also enhancing our resumes, cover letters, internet branding, among other aspects of professional identity. I reflected on my past experiences as an aspiring professional in the environmental field, while adding to my experiences by visiting PSEG-LI to expose myself to field positions that may be available to me after graduation. Additionally, I was able to earn a Leadership Credential from Stony Brook University, which reflects my skills as a leader that I have acquired during my time at SBU as I have held many leadership positions and carry these strengths with me. For more details on Leadership Credential qualifications, please click here. 

I was selected for the 2019 Waterfront Alliance Scholars Program! Please read my accepted written response below:

The issue of climate change is one that is becoming increasingly prominent and needs to be addressed with a sense of urgency to secure the future success of New York City. It is important for leaders of marine industries who know the local surroundings, along with trusted partners, to step forward and take action. I think that it is important for these groups to work alongside one another in a diligent matter to tackle and find solutions to all aspects of the challenges that climate change has, and has yet to, bring. This subject is extremely personal to me, as I have worked tirelessly to problem solve and find the best possible answers to difficult climate change questions. I was project manager of a baseline study of the East and Harlem rivers, in which my team of marine research scholars initiated the spark of redesigning the East River Esplanade in a safe, modern, and protective way. Doing so engaged not only communities of scientists and policy-makers, but also advocates for New Yorkers who would be personally impacted by the changes in their neighborhoods, and people around the globe who had the knowledge and willingness to help, such as ECOncrete, which is based in Israel! I had the opportunity to serve as a research-consultant for CIVITAS, a non-profit dedicated to the quality of life in the Upper East Side, while also advocating for change alongside the Hudson River Estuary Program, New York Harbor School and Billion Oyster Project, Waterfront Alliance, and even local politicians such as Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Outreach events are equally as important as the orchestration of such large-scale projects. Community support and inclusivity establish a sense of understanding, trust, and compassion for the people and the recreational places they interact with. Working as an intern with CIVITAS and Waterfront Alliance on City of Water Day, as well as serving as an Adult Interpreter at the New York Aquarium, allows for engagement with families of all ages, and helps showcase exactly what is happening in New York City neighborhoods through our efforts of conservation. The Discovery Channel also featured my work in the documentary Take Back the Harbor, bringing these behind-the-scenes efforts to living rooms across the nation. I think the biggest challenge in approaching these heavy tasks are making sure that everyone’s goals align for the betterment of the communities in our cities, particularly those that are at risk.  Normalizing discussion of climate change through outreach creates a feeling of excitement and hope for the future, and manifesting that hope into reality is crucial for solving the climate change crisis. 


Spring 2019: Recognized by the Waterfront Alliance as a Waterfront Scholar at the 2019 Waterfront Conference, hosted by Hornblower Cruises. I was able to sit in on panels discussing risk of future sea level rise to different communities throughout New York City, network with peers from environmental advocacy groups, including fellow SoMAS students, Harbor School students, the Waterfront Alliance and other environmental organizations. 

(left) Waterfront Conference 2019, Melanie Smith, Stony Brook University Student Representative
(right) Melanie Smith pictured with Cyd Bloomfield, an Urban Assembly New York Harbor School senior who will also be attending Stony Brook University as a first-year student Fall 2019. You may access her e-portfolio here.


Spring 2019: I served as Secretary of the Greenhouse and Gardening Guild on-campus organization. While holding this e-board position for the Spring 2019 semester, I managed the GGG Instagram page, kept our club members updated on weekly events, designed outreach and event posters, encouraged participation at Involvement Fairs, facilitated activities at our weekly meetings during campus lifetime, and participated in fundraising events such as our club's Succulent Sales in the Student Activity Center!

Pictured Above: (Right) SBU Greenhouse and Gardening Guild E-board, including Shannon Wright (far left), GGG President; 
(Left) Succulents prepared for Succulent Sale


Spring 2019: Intern with Stony Brook University and Florida International University, analyzing Baited Remote Underwater Videos (BRUVs), as part of a shark and sea turtle biodiversity monitoring study in tropical regions. I made sure each organism in frame was accounted for in excel spreadsheets, listing species type and amount of individuals seen over the course of a 60 minute timeframe per video. 

Pictured Above: Screenshots from BRUVs 


Summer 2018: Adult Interpreter at the New York Aquarium, debuting the new exhibit, Ocean Wonders: Sharks! As an exhibit interpreter, volunteers lead QUESTs for visitors. Each QUEST station focuses on a different topic regarding our interaction with the environment, whether it is learning about shark fins and jaws, Conservation and our use of plastics, or Sand Tiger Shark Research. 


August 2017: Begin studying Environmental Studies at Stony Brook University, in Stony Brook, NY, to earn a Bachelors Degree! 


My first research project was finalized my senior year of high school, following a year-long baseline study monitoring the health of the Harlem River, of which I was Project Manager. In December 2018, my project was featured in the documentary Take Back the Harbor, presented by the Discovery Channel! 
This film is available for view on any Discovery Channel TV provider, or the DiscoveryGO! App. 



June 2017: Graduation from New York Harbor School! I graduated with the most college credits ever earned in the MBRP program, 18 credits! I earned 2 Stony Brook Oceanography credits through the Harbor School, and 16 college research credits through UAlbany scientific research.

Pictured Above: Mauricio Gonzalez (MBRP Advisor), Jeffery Chetirko (Harbor School Principal), and Emely Carillo (Vessel Operations). 

June 2017: NYCDOE Career and Technical Education 2017 Open House!

The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School is a Career and Technical Education School, where students are able to earn certifications within their chosen CTE. Harbor School offers Aquaculture, Vessel Operations, Ocean Engineering, SCUBA diving, Marine Systems Technology, and of course, the Marine Biology Research Program!

Pictured Above: Marine Biology Research Scholars represent the Marine Biology Research Program at the CTE Open House; 
(left to right) Melanie Smith, Jared Rosin, Erik Wiemer, and Katha Conklin. 


May 2017 - Waterfront Conference; Student representatives of the New York Harbor School from each CTE and the Billion Oyster Project were invited to attend and listen in on panels discussing relevant environmental issues. 

Pictured Above: (left) Melanie Smith; (center) Harbor School representatives including Mauricio Gonzalez (MBRP Advisor, Harbor School), Ann Fraoli (Director of Education, Billion Oyster Project),  Matthew Haiken (Institutional Funding Officer, Billion Oyster Project), Murray Fisher (Harbor School Founder), Aaron Singh (Vessel Operations, Harbor School) and CTE Students; Melanie Smith (MBRP), Nicholas Ring (MBRP), Casey Fogarty (Vessel Operations), and Elise Arndtsen (Vessel Operations).

April 2017- Harbor School Regatta!

Pictured Above: Student CTE representatives left to right are Jared Rosin (MBRP), Melanie Smith (MBRP), and Cris Pupello (Aquaculture).


April 22nd, 2017: Harbor SEALs protest at the Scientist March on Washington!

March 2017 - NYCSEF Presentation of Baseline Study; MBRP curriculum requires that students organize and conduct a research project during their three years in the program, and submit their research in the NYCSEF application. If accepted, they present their findings in the New York City Science and Engineering Fair at City College during their senior year.


Winter 2016 - CIVITAS Newsletter features update on CIVITAS & Harbor School partner project. To read the full newsletter, please click here.


August 2016: Served as an intern with the Environmental Study Center in Brooklyn, NY; I taught young campers about different kinds of environments and ecosystems, by developing a program that allowed for exposure between young campers and a unique animal. 
My project featured a hedgehog who lived at the center!


July 2016: Marine Biology Camp at Roger Williams University, scholarship earned opportunity to visit the RWU campus, learn field research skills, sit in on lectures about marine environments and wildlife, visit the beach for snorkeling and trawling, visit Rhode Island towns, experience a taste of college dorm life, and end the week with a visit to Plymouth, Massachusetts for a whale watching trip!


July 16, 2016: City of Water Day with CIVITAS and New York Harbor School, in partnership with Waterfront Alliance.

Pictured Above: CIVITAS interns Melanie Smith and Cindy Isidoro from Harbor School's Class of 2017, and Nailea Rodriguez from Class of 2018, with Maura Smotrich, CIVITAS Supervisor, and Congressman. 

June 1st, 2016: Introduced CIVITAS Board Members to Governors Island and Harbor School on a guided tour led by Melanie Smith, which showcased a typical sample day with Harbor SEALs Citizen Science Program.

Pictured Above: Station 4, Governors Island sample station is visible in the background.



May 2016: The Marine Biology Research Program was invited to visit Harvard University, which included a tour of Harvard University, Harvard's Biological Science Center, the Museum of Comparative Biology, Harvard’s Museum and Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, the Girguis Laboratory, and Ichthyology Department.

Pictured Above: Melanie Smith, the MBRP class of 2017-2018, Advisor Mauricio Gonzalez, and Harvard University's Icthyology Director.


March 4th, 2016: Meeting at NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary River Program updating scientific advisors on the productivity of the Baseline Study thus far.

Pictured Above: (from right to left) Jim Trip (CIVITAS Board), Kate Boicourt (Waterfront Alliance), Mauricio Gonzalez (Harbor School), Melanie Smith (HS, G11), Grace Carter (HS, G11), Katha Conklin (HS, G11), Cindy Isidoro (HS, G11), Maura Smotrich (CIVITAS Esplanade Manager), Jameson Mitchell (CIVITAS Executive Director), and Susan Maresca (Department of Environmental Conservation, DEC).

Winter 2015: CIVITAS Newsletter features New York Harbor School MBRP as associates for new Esplanade design of an ecological edge instead f of a hard sea wall. 
To view the newsletter in its entirety, please click here.




Summer 2015: Sampling at the East River to collect benthic and biodiversity data by sieving mud collected with an Ekman grab; Eastern Mud Snails and various polychaetes were the most commonly found invertebrates. Sampling occurred over the course of a year for the baseline study, analyzing water quality, phytoplankton concentrations, benthic density, and biodiversity.

Pictured Above: Research Vessel at East River Esplanade sampling site; Melanie Smith, Cindy Isidoro, and Grace Carter analyze benthic collection including polychaetes and Eastern Mud Snails. 

May 2015: Marine Biology Research Program Annual Science Symposium at New York Harbor School;
10th Grade, Presentation of The Effects of Organic Amendments on Restoration of a Disturbed Coastal Sage Scrub Habitat, Awarded 3rd Place for Peer Review Journal Article presentations.

Pictured Above: (left) Melanie Smith's presentation board on The Effects of Organic Amendments on Restoration of a Disturbed Coastal Sage Scrub Habitat at the Science Symposium; (right) Melanie Smith with her award! 


February 5, 2015: CIVITAS's first open discussion of implementing a living shoreline in Harlem, with the consultation of Harbor School's Marine Biology Research Program scientists, represented by Melanie Smith (HS*, G10**). In collaboration with Billion Oyster Project, CIVITAS, and the Manhattan Borough President's Office.

Pictured Above: (left) Melanie Smith, CIVITAS Scientific Consultant; (center) Maurcio Gonzalez (MBRP Advisor), Maura Smotrich (CIVITAS East River Esplanade Representative), and Melanie Smith (MBRP & CIVITAS Scientific Consultant) introduce East River Esplanade Restoration and Baseline Study; (right) Harbor School, Billion Oyster Project, CIVITAS, and Manhattan Borough President Representatives, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer! 

*HS- Harbor School
**G- Grade