We Are UNCW Telling our story, one Seahawk at a time.

Jessie Jarvis

December 5, 2016

While most people enjoy watching the grass and flowers grow in lush gardens, Jessie Jarvis prefers observing them flourish under the sea.

“I remember watching a documentary about the Chesapeake Bay in high school,” said Jarvis, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology and a coastal plant ecologist. “They were talking about plants that could flower underwater. I was hooked!”

Since then, Jarvis has worked to protect submerged aquatic vegetation populations. Her research focuses on the effects of environmental stressors on plant development and submerged aquatic vegetation reproduction. Jarvis’s goal is to provide information to agencies and policymakers charged with management of seagrass habitats to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of coastal management.

“I am excited to continue my research investigating how seagrass meadows respond to disturbance. One of my goals this year is to establish a paired seagrass water-quality monitoring program in the southeastern part of North Carolina,” said Jarvis. “The hope is that these sites can become a long-term monitoring program to help inform coastal managers and policy makers on the status and stressors in seagrass habitats.”

Jarvis learned at an early age that if you want to ask your own research questions, you need to be in charge of a lab. She conducts much of her research at the UNCW Center for Marine Science.

“I love that in the same week I will be teaching one day and out sampling on a boat the next,” she said. “I have to admit that one of my favorite things about my job is that I get to show students how cool plants really are.”

Jarvis became aware of UNCW while working as a teacher assistant at the College of William & Mary. Several students stood out academically, she said.

When I got to know them better I realized the one thing they had in common was that they were recent UNCW grads,” she recalled. “After talking to them about UNCW, I remember thinking that it sounded like a great place with a lot of resources. Those thoughts were confirmed when I finally was able to visit the university.”

Jarvis joined UNCW in the fall of 2015, and has loved every minute of it, she said. 

“UNCW is one of the rare places where everyone genuinely wants you to not just succeed but to thrive,” Jarvis said. “It shows in how our students perform inside and outside of the classroom, our collegial and energetic campus atmosphere and the high level of scholarship demonstrated by the faculty on a daily basis.”

-- Venita Jenkins