College Students Celebrated For Contributions to Oceans and Human Health Research

Posters showcase student research and commemorate 5th anniversary of Oceans & Human Health Center at UM

OHH undergrad

MIAMI — July 12, 2011 — The Oceans and Human Health Center (OHH) at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science held a poster session and reception this month to celebrate the first five years of their National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) grants, showcase the diversity of the programs research and highlight the successful OHH Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program.  More than a dozen students took part in the poster session, including those in REU — a program that provides one-year stipends to students to actively participate in ongoing OHH research funded by the NSF and NIEHS programs.

Matthew Phillips’ poster focused on Enterococci — a form of bacteria that is found in South Florida beach sediment. Enterococci are commonly associated with sewage and are used by the Florida Department of Health to monitor recreational waters for sewage contamination. Eight beaches were studied, where Matt found significantly higher levels in the supratidal sand (sand that is above high tide), which would indicate an onshore source of contamination.

Levels of contamination in the sand were compared to Department of Health reported levels in the water and found that they are linked. “The take home message from the study is that beaches with clean sand will have clean water,” said Phillips, who is majoring in Marine Science and Biology at UM. Phillips will attend the UM Miller School of Medicine in the MD/PhD program, with future aspirations of starting an Oceans and Human Health Center in Southern California.

Julie Hollenbeck, the OHH Center program and outreach manager said, “Matt is not only bright and a joy to work with, but he's truly engaged in our research and interested in what we do. He and several of the other students volunteered in our field studies, benefitting from their hands-on experience, while providing our OHH Center with valuable research and data.”

About the Oceans and Human Health Center
The NSF NIEHS Center for Oceans and Human Health Center at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School and its collaborators building on several decades of collaborative and interdisciplinary research, education, and training, work together to address the NIEHS-NSF research initiative in Oceans and Human Health. The Center focuses on issues relevant to the Southeastern US and Caribbean, as well as global Sub/Tropical areas worldwide, integrating fundamental and interdisciplinary research between biomedical and oceanographic scientists.

About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School
The University of Miami is the largest private research institution in the southeastern United States. The University’s mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit

oceans and human health center •  national science foundation •  grant •  research •  matthew phillips •  julie hollenbeck •