Update to PCB Video and an unexpected project.

My host agency, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, has posted my video to their YouTube Channel here!

Additionally, I became involved in developing media for DEQ’s 25th anniversary soon after the completion of the seminar. I created story map detailing some of the accomplishments of the agency during its 25-year history.

Final Outreach Documentary: Role of Wetlands in Coastal Resilience


Ali M Rezaie is currently pursuing this multidisciplinary research as part of his PhD in the Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering Department at the George Mason University (GMU). For more information, contact at arezaie@gmu.edu.

Special thanks to:

GMU Flood Hazards Research Lab

Virginia Sea Grant 

Resources For the Future 

Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center

All field footage were captured during the field campaign led by the Flood Hazards Research Lab.

Concept, Narration & Direction: Ali Mohammad Rezaie

Videography & Production: Chelsea Gray

Updated Final Product: What are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBS)?;

I thought I updated my previous post, but I guess not since the changes aren’t on it…


I recorded the voiceover again in iMovie, which was nice and easy  in addition to making a couple changes to images. Here is the video:

I’ve shared it with DEQ and VDH staff, and will reach out to the James River Association, which has said they are interested in using it when working with students (somewhere between 2000-4000 students). DEQ staff can use this for public meetings on PCBs and VDH staff may link to the video on their website.

Final Product – Blue Crab Hide-and-Seek

Following the December meeting, I made changes to my game that made it simpler and closer to my research. I created two models, one of sand and one of seagrass. For the seagrass, I used green ribbon, as this is what my lab uses as artificial seagrass in field and lab experiments. For crabs, I currently have blue marbles, although I am still debating if they are the right size (and if I should draw crabs on them). If I do change materials, I would pick something smaller. My second option is to make a thicker “seagrass” habitat. During the symposium, I’ll use these as models of the different habitats available to juvenile blue crabs. I’m still toying with a few different ideas for the game itself. Below is an in-progress image of the models. There are a few finishing touches left to add, so more pictures to follow.

American eels: Return of the Natives

Attached is the most recent draft of my infographic (02/06/18):


I took into account all of the format and language advice from our last meeting. Any guidance on how to make it more visually appealing at first glance would be very beneficial. I also plan to have the first blog post written, and available on the website/URL contained in the infographic, in time for the symposium.

What are polychlorinated biphenyls? (Final product, whiteboard animation)

Here is a link to my whiteboard animation video:

After the December meeting, I reduced the script to a single page. The video is just over 3 minutes. The voiceover needs to be redone as there are 2 obvious pauses that make it awkward. Videoscribe’s voiceover tool has the user do it in 1 take. However, I realized I can export the video to iMovie sans voiceover and then record the voiceover in as many takes as I need. So, I am going to redo the voiceover this week and repost the video to Youtube. But for now, enjoy!

First Draft: What the heck is a polychlorinated biphenyl?

The most significant steps I have made with my outreach product are a script (see link below) and that I have begun to develop vector images using Inkscape (see the giant, cute ‘redbreast sunfish’ below). I have accessed a whiteboard animation software, but I am holding off on purchasing the monthly plan until I have a much larger image library to work with.

The basic idea of my video is to introduce people to PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), how they are useful, how they are downright awful, and what actions we can take. Noticeably I’ve left out all mentions of ‘TMDL”  and even remediation as I’ve tried to approach in a way that helps you steer clear of PCBs versus how we reduce them in the environment.

The left-hand column is the script that will accompany the images and text (the right-hand column): VASG_ASC_VidOutline_11272017-Kirk

Outreach Proposal: Role of Wetlands in Coastal Resilience

VASG Advanced Science Communications Seminar Outreach Plan

Abstract :

Natural lands in coastal areas provide a variety of ecosystem services such as water purification, carbon sequestration, and flood mitigation. A service that is gaining increasing attention is protection from hurricane storm surge and waves. Coastal wetlands can attenuate the impact of storm surge by reducing wave energy, erosion and currents velocity thus reducing the landward propagation of surge and lowering flood levels and property damages. As the climate warms, sea levels rise, and hurricanes become more frequent or severe, these protective services provided by wetlands are likely to become more valuable and yet at the same time more threatened. Therefore, in order to disseminate the significance of wetlands and marshes for sustainable coastal resilience, the outreach plan focuses on preparing a documentary video. The video will mostly focus on delivering the key scientific outcomes of how these natural lands are protecting coastal communities from both engineering and economic perspective. Additionally, a set of academics, scientists, economists and practitioners will be interviewed as part of the outreach product. The interviews will not only render the importance of the ecosystem service of wetlands but also portray the intrinsic human relationship with nature. The humane display of the scientists will also exhibit the compassionate research that are carried out behind the concrete walls on a day-to-day basis. Moreover, the documentary will promote George Mason University’s (GMU) growing contribution to the society and environment at both a local and a national level. As a perfect fit to the context of the research, the flood hazard research lab (FHRL) in the Civil Engineering department at GMU will provide necessary logistic support. Finally, motion captures from coastal marshes and wetlands will be used in the documentary to show the physical environments in coastal marshes.

Objectives of Outreach

  • Showcase the capacity of wetlands and marshes to attenuate storm surge and waves from scientific background
  • Sharing outcome of the recent scientific studies to valuate($) the wetland flood protection service and restoration strategies as an adaptation technique
  • Displaying the humane side of the scientific communities. And depict the limitations and advancement of relevant scientific methods
  • Advocating GMU’s role in advancing coastal and estuarine research to improve societal resilience

Tentative Take home Message of movie documentary:

Encourage people to understand these four points using my previous and ongoing research outcomes:

  1. Wetlands have the capacity to reduce the impacts of flooding – we need to demonstrate/ quantify the rate of reduction through scientific methods
  2. Regardless of the capacity to attenuate storm surge, wetlands provide ecosystem services which are threatened and likely to be valuable in future ( Walls and Rezaie, 2018)
  3. Policy and actions should be tailored to locally preserve/restore wetlands and marshes (video should make clear how/why) (Bigalbal and Rezaie, 2018)
  4. Wetland has the potentials to be a sustainable ecosystem adaptation strategy – impacts of sea level rise are severe and has disproportionate impact on coastal properties (Rezaie et at al 2018)



Email: arezaie@gmu.edu, rezaie@rff.org;

Website: Research; GMU Lab 

Social & Professional Network: Twitter; Linkedin

Product Proposal: “Data Collection Guide for Coastal Areas”


Coastal areas, ranging from densely populated cities to sandy beaches and tidal marshes, are valued spaces for many human, ecological, and environmental reasons alike. This creates high demand over a relatively small area where water meets land in an exciting, always-changing location. Along with the variety of uses, coastal areas are susceptible to damaging storms carrying strong winds, waves, and storm surges (increased water level). Coastal managers need high resolution maps of coastal areas to understand what assets are in these coastal areas, how they change during normal environmental conditions, storm conditions, and climate change. This enables the best management and policy decisions for all users of the coastal environment.

Unfortunately, high-resolution mapping for vegetation, infrastructure, beaches, and nearshore water depths traditionally required costly equipment such as airborne laser and survey vessels that are difficult to deploy rapidly due to size and personnel needed to operate the equipment. Improvements in instrument technology enables local managers, contractors, researchers, and monitors to map their sites with reliable, low-cost, high-resolution data. Consumer level drones map subaerial portions of the coast such as marsh, infrastructure (homes, jetties, seawalls, etc.), and beach surfaces through two-dimensional imagery which is stitched together into three-dimensional (latitude, longitude, elevation) maps using photogrammetry software. Bathymetric (water depth) data can be collected in shallow water using plastic or fiberglass remote-controlled vessels equipped with sonar systems to create two-dimensional sidescan sonar or three-dimensional bathymetry data. Sidescan sonar is useful in mapping benthic habitats such as oyster reefs and sediment type while bathymetric enables seafloor surface detection and sediment movement mapping.

Coastal data with sub-meter accuracy was traditional only available from survey companies with suites of sonar systems and survey vessels or through government agencies with airborne laser systems. Improved technology coupled with lower equipment and data processing costs has put high-resolution survey data into the hands of local municipalities. These groups would benefit from a single document demonstrating pros and cons for different platforms so they can make the most appropriate platform choice for their needs and resources using the experience of another user of these platforms rather than manufacturing stats alone which can be biased towards optimal performance by creator companies.


I wish to reach those pounding the ground, getting muddy, and collecting data or managing field operation teams. This would include groups in private contracting, governmental agencies, risk assessors, researchers, resiliency planners, and more.

Proposed Project

Coastal projects tend towards unique results with little overlap between sites. Thus the aim of this product is providing applicable methodologies and information for any coastal area around the world, not simply my study sites in Delaware. I envision a “Data Collection Guide for Coastal Areas” that encompasses my personal experiences in the field collecting data in marshes, beaches, and nearshore environments using a variety of instrumentation as well as my knowledge processing the data into usable products for monitoring and understanding environmental processes. The engineering community is fond of guidelines and guidebooks laden with graphs, decision trees, and equations; why not a background-friendly guide for managers, contractors, researchers, monitors who are looking to measure and understand their local coastal systems? The format is fluid at the moment but the document will be space and length efficient using images and tables to delineate what platforms are ideal for the type of coastal environment surveyed while incorporating available funds and personnel considerations.


Helpful Literature:

Casella, E., Rovere, A., Pedroncini, A., Stark, C.P., Casella, M., Ferrari, M. and Firpo, M., 2016. Drones as tools for monitoring beach topography changes in the Ligurian Sea (NW Mediterranean). Geo-Marine Letters36(2), pp.151-163.

Dohner, S.M., Trembanis, A.C. and Miller, D.C., 2016. A tale of three storms: Morphologic response of Broadkill Beach, Delaware, following Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Joaquin, and Winter Storm Jonas. Shore & Beach84(4), p.3.

Drummond, C., Carley, J., Harrison, A., Brown, W. and Roberts, P., 2017. Observations from the design, construction and drone monitoring of a Geotextile sand container (GSC) seawall. Australasian Coasts & Ports 2017: Working with Nature, p.409.

Giordano, F., Mattei, G., Parente, C., Peluso, F. and Santamaria, R., 2015. Integrating sensors into a marine drone for bathymetric 3D surveys in shallow waters. Sensors16(1), p.41.

Kimball, P., Bailey, J., Das, S., Geyer, R., Harrison, T., Kunz, C., Manganini, K., Mankoff, K., Samuelson, K., Sayre-McCord, T. and Straneo, F., 2014, October. The whoi jetyak: An autonomous surface vehicle for oceanographic research in shallow or dangerous waters. In Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV), 2014 IEEE/OES (pp. 1-7). IEEE.

Turner, I.L., Harley, M.D. and Drummond, C.D., 2016. UAVs for coastal surveying. Coastal Engineering114, pp.19-24.

Westoby, M.J., Brasington, J., Glasser, N.F., Hambrey, M.J. and Reynolds, J.M., 2012. ‘Structure-from-Motion’ photogrammetry: A low-cost, effective tool for geoscience applications. Geomorphology179, pp.300-314.

A (Brief) Guide to Navigating the Shoreline Permitting Process

Below is a proposal for my outreach product for the 2017 Advanced Science Communication Seminar. In brief, my goal is to design a visual aid for coastal landowners to guide them through the shoreline permitting process in the state of Virginia.

The product could then be distributed by my host office (Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Shoreline Erosion Advisory Service) during site visits to give coastal landowners an overview of the process from start (recognition of erosion problem) to finish (properly installed shoreline management structure).



Genetic diversity in seagrass final product

For my final science communication seminar product, I created an infographic on the importance of genetic diversity in seagrass beds. After receiving feedback from my peers and professionals in the field, I decided to change my first draft into a more simple design and message. We also discussed visiting museums to present our products, so I created a small display (described below) that can facilitate conversation with people about the infographic.

Seagrass Genetic Diversity by Gina Digiantonio

The display is a piece of paper on which two “beds” of seagrass (A and B) are represented with 3 seagrass blades (see picture below). Each seagrass blade has 2 starbursts to represent their genetic diversity. Bed A has two kinds of starbursts present compared to the 4 kinds of starburst in bed B, and is therefore less diverse.

Then, a simulated disease washes over the beds in the form of a pink translucent cover. Suddenly, the pink starbursts are washed out and bed A only has 1 blade remaining while bed B retained its blades.

I will tailor this conversation to different audiences. For example, for a scientifically-minded adult the starbursts can be referred to as “alleles” and we can discuss the influence of dominant vs. recessive traits. My hope is that the activity (and candy) will capture people’s attention, generate interest in the topic, and better visualize the points on my infographic.