Assistant Professor of Biology Javier Izquierdo won a $476,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct research with students to help rebuild and sustain dunes on Long Island, particularly those destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
Izquierdo and a group of undergraduate Hofstra biology students have spent the past two years conducting research to figure out how microbes affect plant life that helps preserve sand dunes. The NSF grant will allow them to access wild American beachgrass and collect sand samples for their research. They will also be able to:
- Study the microbes associated with American beachgrass on Long Island. Beachgrass serves as an anchor for sand dunes, so studying these samples will allow them to understand how they affect the health of this plant.
- Train more students in the lab and out in the field. Students will conduct research to better understand what microorganisms promote or prevent the healthy growth of beachgrass, as well as how they help a plant in a very challenging environment.
- Incorporate their research into local beachgrass replanting efforts, where they will also have an opportunity to educate local community members about the role dunes and their vegetation play in protecting inland areas from coastal flooding.
“There’s plenty to do, and I’m excited we get to do it now,” said Izquierdo. “Receiving this grant will help us address many questions we have about beachgrass and indicates that there are others who think this is as important as we do.”
Findings from the Izquierdo Lab will be shared with local government and environmental offices with the goal of identifying strategies for implementation of improved microbiomes on current replanting activities.
NSF is an independent federal agency that promotes scientific advancement and national welfare. They receive approximately 40,000 proposals and award about 11,000 every year.