Elizabeth River Project Advances NSU to Model Level

“We’re really, really proud to be a River Star Business. We’re really honored to be recognized at Model Level this year,” said Norfolk State Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Ashley Haines. “It’s a great way to reward the students, the faculty, the staff, the administrators who have all played their part and are looking forward to where that might go in the future, particularly as Norfolk State works towards a new environmental justice initiative.”

Recently, NSU President Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston joined the board of directors of the Elizabeth River Project.

“That’s been an outstanding opportunity for us to really have a seat at the table and participate in Elizabeth River Project’s planning going forward,” said Dr. Haines.

NSU has supported the Elizabeth River Project for the last several years through a variety of projects. Recently that included a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant that funds students doing undergraduate research, like investigating pollution impacts on crabs, photosynthesis in wetland plants, and microplastics in oysters.

This academic year NSU established the First Year Service Project, an opportunity for students to work on campus planting seeds and growing plants in NSU’s greenhouse. The plants will be used in the Elizabeth River Project’s restoration efforts.

Students have also served in the field doing oyster reef construction and wetland planting. Dr. Haines says, “They really see the impact of their work and we often find that that’s what gets people most excited.”

This has been illustrated on campus for the past three years in NSU’s annual Elizabeth River research symposium where students present their research on the river to Elizabeth River Project staff, members, and community leaders.

NSU also engages in outreach through the Watershed Action Plan.

“We have several faculty who are participating on various committees, both in terms of water quality, in terms of sediment, and also in terms of community and trying to tell the story of the Elizabeth River Project from the perspective of African Americans in the Norfolk area,” said Dr. Haines. “And we have been happy to be involved with the Elizabeth River Project over the last several years.”