Margaret A. Davidson Fellowship

The two-year Margaret A. Davidson fellowship brings a graduate student to conduct research at the Reserve to address a key coastal management question. These questions help Hudson River communities understand coastal challenges and impacts to influence future policy and management strategies.

The annual stipend for a Margaret A. Davidson fellow is $41,000 for research and travel, and an additional equipment and supply budget of approximately $7,000. Research being conducted at the Reserve is intended to be a substantial part of the fellow’s degree research. At least 6 weeks must be spent at the Reserve each year.

The Reserve’s current Margaret A. Davidson fellow, Clara Chang of Columbia University, is exploring the impact of sea level rise on the Hudson River’s marshes using sediment core research.

Fellowship Research Topics

Full description of research topics for 2024-2026 applicants are listed below. For more information, points of contact for each topic are listed in the descriptions. Applicants are welcome to provide an original research proposal. 

Social Justice and Outreach

HRNERR conducts several local outreach and education events and we know the audience includes several minority groups. But we do not know how effectively we are communicating our core messages about climate or how successfully we are reaching environmental justice communities of color, low-income families, or member of the LGBTQ+ community. Therefore, we are interested in an assessment tool for the exchange of information with marginalized groups to inform how to improve this outreach so that Hudson Valley environmental justice communities are informed and enabled to withstand climate change stressors.

Reserve point of contact for additional information: Chris Bowser, Education Coordinator,

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Restoration

Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in the Hudson River Estuary decreased by ~64% after two powerful storms impacted the area in 2011, and we know that SAV provides important ecosystem services. More than a decade has passed, but SAV monitoring efforts continue to show that some areas are still unvegetated or support SAV beds with low genetic diversity. Therefore, SAV restoration techniques that are feasible and effective within specific environmental conditions of the Hudson, such as side channels, need to be evaluated. Research is also needed on greenhouse rearing of Hudson-specific genotypes of Vallisneria americana for efficient large-scale planting efforts.

Reserve point of contact for additional information: Brian DeGasperis, Stewardship Coordinator,

Water Levels for Engineering

Mean High Water (MHW) and Mean Higher High Water (MHHW) lines published by the National Oceanic and Atmostpheric Administration (NOAA) establish jurisdictions for Hudson River Estuary regulatory decisions. These lines are used by consulting engineers and designers as refences for determining elevations for over or near water structures. But the actual, observed daily water levels rarely meet and often exceed calculated means depending on meteorological conditions. Therefore, to properly design and regulate shoreline and nearshore projects, it is important to understand the range of ‘normal’ water elevations around MHW and MHHW lines and the drivers of short- and long-term water level deviation from published tidal predictions.

Reserve point of contact for additional information: Dan Miller, Habitat Restoration Coordinator,

Blue Carbon

Blue carbon is a valuable but unleveraged estuarine ecosystem service that can help policy makers prioritize protection, and partners are supporting the NYS Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s Climate Action Council’s Scoping Plan by investigating current carbon budgets and best practices for enhancing carbon storage, resilience, and adaptive capacity of estuarine habitats. But controls on storage and greenhouse gas emission and uptake rates, and projected rate changes over time are poorly understood. Therefore, research is needed on effects that management strategies and climate change-driven perturbations (sea level rise, storm surge) have on carbon sequestration, methane emissions and wetland resilience.

Reserve point of contact for additional information: Sarah Fernald, Research Coordinator,

Faunal Invasive Species

Several faunal invasive species of concern are emerging in the Hudson River Estuary (round goby, carp, snakehead, bass, channel catfish, pike, mitten crabs), and we know they could impact the ecosystem negatively. But many of these species have not been mapped using the best available technology (i.e., eDNA). In addition, impacts of these species and effective control strategies in novel contexts are often not well understood. Therefore, population size and distribution research, including the role of impoundments and contaminants; research on impacts of emerging species; and/or research on effective control methods would help inform faunal invasive species management.

Reserve point of contact for additional information: Lindsay Charlop, Collaboration Coordinator,