Jane Thomas: A champion for the Maryland Coastal Bays

Bill Dennison ·
26 January 2017
Science Communication | 

The Maryland Coastal Bays include Chincoteague, Sinepuxent, Isle of Wight, Assawoman, and Newport Bays, as well as St. Martin River. These coastal lagoons behind Assateague and Fenwick Islands were once known as the "Forgotten Bays", dwarfed in stature by the nearby majestic Chesapeake Bay. But the Coastal Bays have been discovered, in a large part due to the efforts of Jane "Jano" Thomas. Therefore, we acknowledged her many contributions to the Maryland Coastal Bays at the most recent Science and Technical Advisory Committee meeting, since this will be her last meeting.

Jane "Jano" Thomas, Champion of the Coastal Bays
Jane "Jano" Thomas, Champion of the Coastal Bays


One of the first jobs Jano undertook upon joining the newly formed State of the Maryland Coastal Bays report. We worked closely with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program to produce a 48 pp. booklet, rich in graphs, photos, maps and diagrams, published in 2004. This was the beginning of a long-standing and productive partnership. Many people were involved in this partnership, but several have stood out: Cathy Wazniak, Roman Jesien, Dave Wilson, Tim Carruthers, Matt Hall, Carol Cain, Carol McCollough and Brian Sturgis.

Next, Jano led the effort to produce a more in-depth treatment, which was a four-year journey that resulted in the 2009 publication of the book "Shifting Sands: Environmental and cultural change in the Maryland's Coastal Bays". This 418 pp. book had multiple authors contributing material to the effort, but Jano was able to obtain and then link very disparate data into a cohesive treatment. It was a huge effort, and served to launch IAN Press, which allowed for inexpensive full color books to become widely disseminated.

Jano helped in the publication of the State of the Maryland Coastal Bays and Shifting Sands.

Jano also helped produce the first annual report card for the Coastal Bays in 2008. Following this report card release, Jano insured that annual report cards were produced every year. And she recently back-calculated report card scores to 1986, and uploaded them to the EcoHealth report card website.

When the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan was near completion, Jano stepped in and did an excellent job with layout and design. Jano then produced a novel booklet, with two front covers representing the two perspectives: the bay perspective and land perspective. In the middle of the booklet where these perspectives mesh, she created attractive cross-sectional conceptual diagrams.

Jano is headed back to Australia with husband, Dave.
Jano is heading back to Australia with husband, Dave.

All of these efforts were highly collaborative and produced tangible attractive products. Jano built a solid foundation of science and management documents, which will support the Coastal Bays scientists and managers for years to come. But now Jano is leaving IAN to accept a new job at Charles Darwin University in the far north of Australia. So at our January 2017 Science and Technical Advisory Committee meeting, I wrote a poem for the occasion:

Jano: Champion for Maryland's Coastal Bays
18 January 2017
William C. Dennison


bays-01Jano produced the State of the Bays booklet back in 2004
She made many maps, took the cover photo and more
And as a result of this effort, a great partnership grew
With Jano serving as the catalyst and the glue.

We initiated a Maryland Coastal Bays report card
Jano made it look easy, but it was actually quite hard
Synthesizing good data but also graphs that were arty
So now we can produce an annual report card and throw a great party.

And then Jano took on a huge and nearly impossible task
Producing a great tome, how many pages you ask?
Four hundred and eighteen with loads of great visuals
But keeping the price down by forgoing authors' residuals.pubs-01

To cap off her contributions, Jano laid out the management CCMP
And combined that with a range of scientific report potpourri
So that she could produce a booklet with a bay and a land perspective
Including diagrams and graphics that were really quite effective.

So here's to a real hero of Maryland's Coastal Bays
To all of us, Jano never ceased to amaze
Her efforts helped make our Bays a better place
And Jano did it all with style and with grace.

About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Vice President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Dr. Dennison’s primary mission within UMCES is to coordinate the Integration and Application Network.

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