CI Announces 2023 Emerging Coastal Leaders Awardees

The URI Coastal Institute is pleased to announce the 2023 Emerging Coastal Leaders awardees. Awardees were selected based on their academic achievements and exceptional work as emerging leaders in their chosen fields of study. The Emerging Coastal Leaders Program is a new awards program offered by the CI for URI graduate students from interdisciplinary backgrounds who aspire to pursue careers in coastal, marine, and estuarine science and management. Each year, five awardees will be selected.

Congratulations to this year’s awardees:

Sonia Refulio-Coronado
Sonia Refulio-Coronado is a PhD candidate in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics with an academic foundation in Biology and a Major in Zoology from Peru. Her research focuses on the influence of water quality on coastal recreation in the Northeast and includes the study of the impact of bacteria pollution on beach visitation in Narragansett Bay. Sonia demonstrates a commitment to addressing environmental challenges in her work by incorporating environmental justice considerations. Her multifaceted background and experiences uniquely position her as an Emerging Coastal Leader who fosters collaboration among diverse stakeholders, including government institutions, non-governmental organizations, and scholars.

Asta Zerue Habtemichael
Asta Zerue Habtemichael (he/his) is a PhD candidate in Chemical Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography and a trainee in the STEEP Superfund Research Program. He is a mixed-method researcher who combines social science and natural science research methods to study the effects of contaminants of emerging concern in the environment and public health. Asta’s planned professional trajectory revolves around refining our scientific, regulatory, and cultural understanding of chemical pollution, and to design a more inclusive and integrated approach to address persistent pollutants.

Rebeca Linhart
Rebeca Linhart is a PhD candidate in the Natural Resources Science department at URI. She studies arctic breeding shorebirds throughout the Western Hemisphere and aims to better understand their flight pathways and use of coastal habitats to aid in conservation. The goal of her work is to create highly applicable conservation recommendations both locally and throughout the hemisphere to mitigate the rapid declines being seen in shorebird populations. When she is not tracking shorebirds across the Americas, Rebeca can be found at home in New Bedford with her partner, their dogs Tilly and Brookie, and their menagerie of rescued fowl.

Jason Noel
Jason Noel is a PhD candidate studying Ocean Engineering in Dr. Brennan Phillips’ Undersea Robotics and Imaging Lab. Continuing the research he started in his undergraduate career at URI, he is working towards the democratization of easy-to-use blue tech, developing simple platforms to perform coastal and deep-sea observation and sensing. As his research progresses, he is hoping to transition his technology to perform non-invasive biological monitoring of elasmobranchs and large pelagic and deep-sea fish. He is excited to be joining the CI as an Emerging Coastal Leader and to work alongside the Senior Fellows and their partners throughout the state of Rhode Island.

Emmanuel Oyewole
Emmanuel Oyewole is a Masters student in Marine Affairs, with a research interest in the regional approach to coastal management around the Gulf of Guinea, focusing on existing policies, frameworks, their effects, and potential substitutes for ineffective ones. His study is aimed at the emerging problems and possible solutions for effective coastal resource management in the Gulf of Guinea. His future career goal is to collaborate with international organizations on the use of policies needed to promote sustainable coastal resource use and management while contributing to the development of effective methods for preserving diverse resources in African waters.