• The UCI Mission and Staff

    Urban Coast Institute Mission Statement:

    Supporting Stewardship of Coastal Ecosystems

    Mission: To serve Monmouth University and the public interest as a forum for research, education, and collaboration in the development and implementation of science-based policies and programs that support stewardship of healthy, productive, and resilient coastal ecosystems and communities.

    • The Urban Coast Institute (UCI) was established in September 2005 as one of Monmouth University's "Centers of Distinction."
    • The UCI builds on the University's program in Marine and Environmental Biology and inter-departmental strengths in marine biology, environmental science, business, economics and real estate, public policy, and the arts and social sciences.
    • The UCI maintains a principal focus on the interactions between humans and the coastal and ocean environment, and sustainable coastal development along New Jersey's coasts and watersheds. Monmouth County and the New Jersey-New York region is an ideal "laboratory" for study of these issues.
    • The UCI has a unique focus on how good science can inform public policy and the "human dimensions" of coastal ecosystem-based management, including the impacts of human use and development on coasts.
    • The UCI seeks to foster collaboration among citizens, watershed and community organizations, governmental agencies, business, the scientific community, and other parties interested in coastal and watershed management, conservation, and restoration.

    Meet the Staff

    Tony MacDonaldTony MacDonald is currently the director of the Urban Coast Institute (UCI) at Monmouth University and was previously the Executive Director of the Coastal States Organization (CSO) from 1998-2005. CSO, based in Washington, DC, represents the interests of the Governors of the United States’ 35 coastal states and territories on coastal and ocean policy matters.

    Prior to joining CSO, Mr. MacDonald was the special counsel and director of Environmental Affairs at the American Association of Port Authorities, where he represented the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) at the International Maritime Organization on negotiations on the London Convention. Tony has also practiced law with a private firm in Washington, DC working on environmental and legislative issues, and served as the Washington, DC environmental legislative representative for the Mayor of the City of New York.

    Jim NickelsJim Nickels is the Marine Scientist for the Urban Coast Institute. Jim obtained his M.S. in Environmental Studies from Montclair State University and has 25 years of academic and professional experience in designing, implementing, and directing a variety of marine and inland water field research and sampling programs. He has managed and operated research vessels, scientific crews, and associated equipment. His expertise includes survey work in fisheries, plankton, benthic organisms, sediment, water quality, mitigation, and geophysics. He has an extensive background in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), use and integration of Global Positioning System (GPS), and real-time mapping and data logging. He has held the position of Vice President at Aqua Survey Inc., and as Director of Marine Operations at the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium.

    Mike SchwebelMike Schwebel is the Community Resilience and Climate Adaptation Specialist at the Urban Coast Institute (UCI), as a joint endeavor between Monmouth University and the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium. Mike will soon defend his doctoral dissertation in the Geography & Urban Studies Department at Temple University, focusing on climate change policy, community adaptation, and resilience at both the United Nations level and in the Pacific Region. His expertise includes island-centric research, climate change adaptation planning, community and regional cooperation, and constructing vulnerability assessments.

    Previous to joining UCI, Mike developed and instructed several environmentally-based courses in sustainability, geography, and policy at Temple and at Rutgers University. Related, Mike is a registered landscape architect (RLA) and LEED accredited professional (LEED AP) specializing in green planning and design.

    Danica SimmonsDanica Simmons joined the Urban Coast Institute staff in 2014 as the Administrative Assistant. Some of her responsibilities include serving as the liaison between various contracts and the University administration, UCI internal steering committee, and academic Schools and Departments. She also coordinates the UCI’s annual Ocean Future Symposium and Awards Luncheon and other UCI workshops, community and fundraising events, as requested. She enjoys reading, writing, and performing.