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

Get to Know the Online Tools

During the course of the Advanced Science Communication Seminar, you are going to be posting drafts of your communication projects to this platform and giving feedback to your fellow participants.

In this activity, you’re going to practice creating posts and commenting on other participants’ posts.

Add Your Profile and an Avatar.

One of the strengths of this platform is you can add a profile and avatar so that when you participate online, the other students will get to know you by your face and a little bit about you. Here’s instructions on how you edit your profile and add an avatar.

Create a Post.

You’ll share your progress on your communication project throughout the seminar by creating posts on this website. If you categorize your posts right, they will be archived so that they will be easy to find by you and others in the class. Try creating a practice post by following these instructions.

Add a Comment.

Students who participate in this seminar have said that they wished they could have looked at what others were doing and learn from one another. Find some sample posts created by other students and leave a comment. Once you’re logged in to the platform, all you have to do is type your comment and click “Post Comment.”

Final Product Guidelines

Due February 9, 2018

You will share the final version of your communication project at the Virginia Sea Grant 2018 Graduate Symposium. Here are some steps that will ensure you are prepared:

1. Refine your product in ways that respond to instructor and stakeholder feedback.

2. Develop a powerpoint, digital poster, or inforgraph to describe the product and share it at the event.

Ask for assistance with graphics or poster creation. Complete by January 26.

3. Rehearse oral presentations.

Ian Vorster will be able to provide feedback on presentations, elevator talks, or other oral and visual communication projects. Please contact him to schedule a time to meet in January 2017 to perform your presentation. Ask for guidance on making your presentation accessible to the stakeholder group it targets, and is of interest to the scientists who attend this meeting.

4. Share your product.

All Advanced Science Communication Seminar participants will receive an electronic invitation to the event. Participants must RSVP and submit their poster details to that invitation system. The poster can be an example of the project the participant worked on during the Seminar or a poster that describes the project development. If you have questions, please ask Ian Vorster.

First Draft Guidelines

Due Friday December 11, 2017

The first draft of your communication project does not need to be a designed, early-edition of what you envision as your final product. If you’re writing something for your project, an outline might suffice. If you’re designing an animation, a story board could be enough. If you’re designing an image, or series of images, a basic sketch may be all you need. Your goal is to present a developed idea to get feedback before you spend much time in working out the specifics.

1. Develop a draft, sketch, or outline of the product.

Use resources listed in the resources section of the course website. Share this effort with your instructors by posting it to the course website. You should paste or type text directly into the post and upload images if necessary.

2. Get feedback from stakeholders.

Locate representative members of your stakeholder group OR ask the course instructors to locate these individuals to give you feedback in person, by phone, or video conference. Visit the audience analysis guide Dr. Karen Akerlof developed and learn as much as you can about your audience’s interests or concerns relevant to your topic.

3. Consider feedback from your instructors and representative audience members.

You can also look at drafts from your fellow classmates and post comments on their work.

Project Proposal Guidelines


Due Friday, October 27, 2017

The first step in the Advanced Science Communication Seminar is to learn about your audience and put some of your project ideas into writing. Here are some steps you should follow to develop your one-to-two-page proposal to get started on your communication project.

1. Reach out to your stakeholder group as soon as you can.

Describe some of your research, using a lay-accessible elevator talk. Identify two or three members of this stakeholder group. Ask what “bugs,” puzzles, interests, or impresses them about the topic.  If you are unclear about how you might identify and access these individuals, seek assistance from your adviser, Ian Vorster, or fellow seminar participants. Email Kathy Rowan at krowan@gmu.edu, or Ian Vorster at igvorster@vims.edu 

2. Take a look at previous examples of proposals.

See the sample proposals on this website under Resources.

3. Consider your goals and the challenges to achieving them.

Analyze your situation through the lens of the CAUSE Model discussed by Rowan during the kick-off workshop. That is, ask yourself whether you need to earn the audience’s confidence and why. Ask yourself WHY your topic may be difficult to understand, and what steps will address intellectual or emotional obstacles to understanding. Refer to readings in the “Resources” section of the course website.

4. Post your proposal to the website.

Proposals should have three parts:

  1. Opening paragraph establishing the nature and severity of some environmental problem (e.g., diminishing populations of oysters; erosion along shorelines, excess nutrients in the Chesapeake) and ways in which your research explores this problem or contributes to its solution.
  2. A paragraph describing a stakeholder group that would benefit from learning about your research or that may be interested in your research. Be as specific as you can about this group. For example, a “general audience” might be too general. How about talking to journalists who specialize in covering environmental stories? Are there local reporters or university science writers whom you could contact initially? Or consider the Society of Environmental Journalists or the Yale Climate Communication Center’s radio series. Is there a journalist whom Ian Vorster can refer you to? Perhaps that person could be someone with whom you have an in-person or phone conversation to explore what aspects of research would interest that journalist’s readers.
  3. A paragraph or two on the product you will develop. Will it be a talk for a specified group? A one-pager for legislators or regulators? A game for Marine Science Day visitors? A photo essay for exhibition.  Explain the benefits of this product and why this product will address the audience’s interests and concerns.

To post your proposal, you will copy and paste the text into this platform. Here’s how to create a post. Don’t forget to check the categories for Project Proposals and your name!

5. Consider the feedback you receive from the course instructors and begin work on the proposed product.

You can also look at project proposals from your fellow classmates and post comments on their work.