Gauges recorded water levels and salinity, and the amount of time the areas were flooded - rare data, given that Quirk couldn't get past some ravaged spots to reach them for weeks.
The Barnegat Bay sites, for instance, were flooded for 72 to 136 hours.
Now, Quirk is delving deeper into the data - a protracted process - for answers to key questions about how the coast's valuable wetlands function. Will they survive well into the future, or devolve into mudflats and open water?
Both the Atlantic coastal and Delaware Bay marshes have declined drastically, due to development, erosion, rising sea levels, and other factors. Some experts place the loss at 50 percent.
Danielle Kreeger, science director at the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, one of the project's funders, estimates losses on Delaware Bay at an acre a day.
As vulnerable as they are, wetlands are vital systems. They process nitrogen and other nutrients. They act like spongy shock absorbers, dulling the brunt of floodwaters on nearby communities. They are nurseries for fish and shellfish.
Their critical role was highlighted last week when Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell visited the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Atlantic County to announce $162 million in restoration and research projects, many involving wetlands.
"What we witnessed during Hurricane Sandy was that our public lands and other natural areas are often the best defense against Mother Nature," Jewell said.
"Nature can protect us a whole lot cheaper than we can protect ourselves," contends Margaret Davidson, a coastal resources expert in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
At first, Quirk was interested in birds, but she soon became fascinated with habitats that are not quite terrestrial, not quite aquatic. She began her studies along the coast in 2010.
She looks at plant species, their roots, their height, soil composition, water quality, and more.
It's part of a broader scientific mission through the Mid-Atlantic to understand how tidal wetlands are changing, and whether they'll adapt to climate change.
Humans began altering these systems long ago, often for control of mosquitoes - another species that benefits greatly from soggy environs.
In the early 1900s, people drained wetlands with ditches. Today, pools are dug in the marshes (they look like Swiss cheese on Google Earth) because the salt marsh mosquito emerges only when wet and dry conditions alternate. This keeps some areas constantly wet.
Lately, a big question is whether marshes can increase their elevation to keep up with rising sea levels, either by capturing sediment that rivers and floodwaters carry, or by stepping up the growth of plants, which then die and decompose, adding another layer of muck.
Given the magnitude and duration of Sandy's flooding, Quirk expected to see "quite a bit of change to the marshes."
When she reached the research sites long after the storm had passed, some effects were instantly apparent.
Alas, at four Barnegat Bay stations deep in the marshes - where sediment was needed most - she found that no significant amount had been deposited. The good news was that there was also little erosion around the edges.
"Very, very little change at all," Quirk said.
"Now, the question is why," she said. "What happened?"
The answers, perhaps contained in the data she is beginning to analyze, will help officials decide whether, and where, to restore coastal wetlands.
Meanwhile, other researchers are working on mapping and engineering tools to guide recovery.
"Without this kind of knowledge, long-term success will be hit and miss, and the last thing we want is to have these types of projects fail and cause more harm than good," said Martha Maxwell-Doyle, executive director of the Barnegat Bay Partnership, another funder of Quirk's research.
"The question is, do we want wetlands?" Quirk posits. The answer "is a no-brainer. Losing these systems is much more expensive than creating or maintaining them."