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College of Arts & Sciences

REU cruise results

Dr. Ping Chang is a climate dynamist and physical oceanographer whose research interests span a wide range of topics in climate dynamics with a current focus on high-resolution climate modeling and prediction. He leads multiple research projects in global and regional climate studies, including the role of ocean eddies in climate, response of hurricanes and atmospheric rivers to climate change, coastal sea-level rise, and seasonal-to-decadal climate prediction. Potential REU projects include modeling of coastal sea-level rise in the Gulf of Mexico and future changes in hurricanes and atmospheric rivers.

Dr. Jessica Fitzsimmons (Program Director) is a chemical oceanographer whose research focuses on the cycling of trace metals in the ocean. She studies both the processes that control the cycling of metals that are required as nutrients for photosynthesizing plankton (such as iron) as well as the delivery of pollutant trace metals to the oceans (such as lead). Her work utilizes mass spectrometry to determine trace metal concentrations, the size and complexation of these metals, and their isotope signatures, and her research projects range from Antarctic oceanography to deep-sea mining in the subtropics. Potential REU projects include: 1) Measuring the binding capacity of toxic and tracer metals by organic compounds before and after deep-sea mining; 2) Exploring the role of nanoparticulate metals in the dissolved metal inventories of the South Pacific and Southern Oceans.

Dr. Darren Henrichs (Program Co-Director) is a biological oceanographer with research interests in applying machine learning to biology, computer modeling of phytoplankton swimming behavior, remote sensing of coastal phytoplankton over time, and using small sensors for ocean projects. Potential REU projects include: 1) Use machine learning to create a phytoplankton swimming model; 2) Develop an automatic plankton image sorter for use on a mini-computer (e.g. Raspberry Pi); 3) Identify potential origins of harmful algal blooms using a computer simulation model; 4) Test a suite of micro-sensors for use in a marine submersible.

Dr. Sarah Hu is a biological oceanographer interested in revealing what marine microorganisms are found where, and why. She uses techniques including molecular analysis (e.g., DNA/RNA extractions and PCR), microscopy (cell enumeration and imaging), laboratory incubations of natural microbial communities, and computational biology to explore the ecological role of single-celled microbial eukaryotes (also called protists). Potential REU projects include: 1) Exploring how environmental parameters in the Gulf of Mexico (from the coast to offshore) impact the composition and biomass of microbial communities; 2) Generation of a database of deep-sea microbial eukaryotic sequences, images, and inferred ecological roles, using existing datasets.

Dr. Spencer Jones is a physical oceanographer who studies the pathways of water through the ocean. He combines ocean models with methods from Calculus 1&2 to understand how the ocean works. Potential projects include: 1) analyzing the trajectories of surface floats and characterizing whether those floats accumulate in particulate regions of the ocean, and 2) investigating how ocean bottom friction impacts the pathways of deep ocean currents.

Dr. Andrew Klein is a geographer whose research focuses on the application of remote sensing and Geographic Information Science (GISci) to study the cryosphere. Dr. Klein is actively involved in using these technologies to study the localized human impacts in the marine and terrestrial environments surrounding U.S. scientific stations in the Antarctic. Dr. Klein and his students also use remote sensing to study glacier recession in the tropics. He has been actively involved in developing algorithms to measure snow extent and snow albedo from satellites, especially that collected by NASA’s MODIS instrument. Dr. Klein’s potential REU topics will revolve around (1) using mapping and geospatial analysis to investigate human impact in the local terrestrial and marine environments surrounding McMurdo and Palmer Stations, Antarctica as determined from over a decade of geochemical and biological measurements and (2) using remote sensing to identify small icebergs off the Western Antarctic Peninsula.

Dr. Franco Marcantonio is geochemist whose research focuses on analysis of radiogenic isotopes and trace elements in ocean sediments to understand more about how Earth’s environment and climate has changed throughout the past. He also studies the modern-day environment, including the fate and transport of contaminants in both urban and remote regions of the planet. Potential REU projects will revolve around measurement of lead isotope measurements in recently-collected atmospheric aerosol samples across a wide region of the South Pacific Ocean. The dispersal of the atmospheric lead isotopic signal by ocean circulation will be determined by pairing our measurements with those in seawater samples from the same region.

Dr. Peter Morton is a chemical oceanographer whose research focuses on the global-scale transport of bioactive trace elements (both nutrient and toxicant). Potential REU projects include: 1) atmospheric inputs of natural and anthropogenic sources of iron and lead to the Indian Ocean, 2) influence of major nutrients in the open ocean on the bioaccumulation of arsenic in seaweed (Atlantic Ocean), 3) sources of heavy metals in natural colors and spices (i.e., turmeric).

Dr. Kathryn Shamberger is a chemical oceanographer whose research focuses on ocean acidification in the coastal ocean. She studies the chemical, biological, and physical processes that control seawater carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and the sensitivity of coastal ecosystems to ocean acidification. She is particularly interested in ecosystems that are dominated by organisms that make calcium carbonate skeletons or shells, such as coral reefs and shellfish beds, because calcium carbonate production is directly affected by ocean acidification. Potential REU topics include: 1-Tropical coral reef ecosystems; 2-Deep sea coral beds; 3-Oyster reefs; 4-Gulf of Mexico coastal ecosystems.

Dr. Marie Strader is an integrative biologist whose research focuses on how ecological and evolutionary processes play out in response to human induced changes in the environment. Our research aims to establish links between genotype and phenotype that will aid in predicting ecological and evolutionary trajectories of marine invertebrate taxa. We approach our research in an integrative and collaborative fashion, combining physiological and behavioral experiments, and molecular biology with large-scale genomics data. We aim to uncover mechanistic understanding of how marine invertebrates persist in rapidly changing habitats. Potential REU topics include: 1) characterizing thermal limits of multiple life-history stages of upside-down jellyfish to better understand organismal traits underlying their possible range expansion; 2) developing algal cultures to perform infection experiments in upside-down jellyfish to test the role of symbiosis on the oxidative stress response and antioxidant production; 3) quantifying how the immune response varies when exposed to different temperature and microbial environments during early embryogenesis; 4) developing clonal lines of jellyfish to test the role of epigenetics on differential responses to the environment.

Dr. Jason Sylvan is a biological oceanographer. His lab studies the geomicrobiology and biogeochemistry of the deep ocean including hydrothermal ecosystems, deep-sea corals, and the subseafloor deep biosphere in sediments and volcanic basement. They address fundamental questions about the biology, chemistry and geology of the Earth through the study of interactions between the ocean crust and the marine biosphere. His lab is also interested in the microbiology and biogeochemistry of our own backyard, the Gulf of Mexico, where they are currently studying a variety of questions related to how microbial populations respond to events such as hurricanes. Potential REU projects include: 1) quantifying microbial diversity in subseafloor sediments from the South Atlantic Ocean, 2) analysis of microbial genomes from deep-sea corals, or 3) analysis of microbial genomes from deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

Dr. Shuang Zhang is an interdisciplinary geochemist, modeler, and data scientist. He studies the elemental fluxes involved in the global carbon and biogeochemical cycles, as well as the forces that shape these cycles, especially during climactic shifts. His recent research focus is to evaluate the capacity of enhanced rock weathering for reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and mitigating climate change. Extensive data mining, spatio-temporal data analysis, and machine learning are frequently used in his research projects. Potential REU projects include: 1) Exploring the viability of various ocean-based carbon dioxide removal technologies; 2) Investigating the effects of land-based enhanced rock weathering on ocean chemistry.