Archive for the ‘Savannah State University’ Category

Skidaway Institute intern wins research prize

July 16, 2014

Candy v wAn undergraduate student who conducted her research at the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography will attend a prestigious international science conference as a reward for winning the Outstanding Research Paper in the Savannah State University’s Bridge to Research program.

Candilianne Serrano Zayas’ paper was chosen from 10 others and tied for first place. She will attend the international science conference sponsored by the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography meeting in Granada, Spain, in February 2015.

Zayas is a rising junior and biology major at the Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her research project studied the microbiological community present in dolphins.

“One of the reasons this is important is because bottlenose dolphins are a marine sentinel species,” Zayas said. “This means that their health can be indicative of the health of the overall environment, which in the case of dolphins is our coastal waters.”

Zayas believes what made her project special was that it involved both field and lab work, and it created an interesting and important relationship between human health and animal health. “You don’t need to take a molecular biology class to understand how it works, so it makes it so much easier to explain to different audiences.”

Zayas worked in the lab of Skidaway Institute professor Marc Frischer, who praised her and her mentors.

“The combination of a good student, an appropriate project and, most importantly, a stellar mentor shoots these students to the stars,” Frischer said.

Zayas was mentored by SSU graduate student Kevin McKenzie, who is also a member of the Frischer research team. Zayas echoed Frischer’s praise. “Kevin took the time to explain it all to me, even two or three times, and he taught me everything I did on this project,” she said.

In the 2013, McKenzie mentored another REU student who also won this prestigious award. Kristopher Drummond, an SSU student and star football player for SSU, has continued the research he started and plans to continue his studies.

Zayas says she plans to complete her bachelor’s degree in Puerto Rico and then attend graduate school.

Zayas shared the first place honor with SSU student Darius Sanford, who worked at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary and who will also attend the ASLO meeting.

Launched in 2009, the SSU Bridge to Research in Marine Sciences program is a National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program. The SSU program has proven successful in inspiring under-represented student populations to pursue degrees and careers in science and technology-based research fields.

“African-Americans are greatly underrepresented in the ocean sciences,” SSU professor Tara Cox explained. “Of the 28 students who have completed the program, 20 are African-American.”

The seven-week 2014 Bridge to Research program began with field trips and classroom work covering research basics. The students then took a two-day research cruise on Skidaway Institute’s Research Vessel Savannah. They then were paired with a mentor at one of the participating organizations—Savannah State University, UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary or Georgia Tech-Savannah. During this partnership, they conducted research and then presented it at a public forum.

Skidaway Institute joins international project to sample the world’s waters

June 26, 2014

Scientists at the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography participated in Ocean Sampling Day—an ambitious, international project to produce a single-day snapshot of microbial populations around the world. On Saturday, June 21, researchers collected water samples at 185 global sites, ranging from Antarctica to the Arctic Ocean and from New Zealand to Iceland.

This was the first global, simultaneous sampling of microbes in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes waters. The sampling program will support international missions to provide information on the diversity of microbes, their functions and their potential economic benefits.

Skidaway Institute scientists collected water at two locations. One team collected and processed samples from the Skidaway River, which is immediately adjacent to the Skidaway Institute campus. This activity will also be part of an ongoing water-quality monitoring program that Skidaway Institute has supported for more than 25 years. A second group teamed up with scientists from NOAA’s Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary and collected samples from Gray’s Reef. The 14,000-acre marine sanctuary is located approximately 17 miles off the coast of Georgia’s Sapelo Island.

Kevin McKenzie and Tina Walters collect samples from the Skidaway Institute dock in the Skidaway River.

Kevin McKenzie and Tina Walters collect samples from the Skidaway Institute dock in the Skidaway River.

“Simultaneous sampling provides a reference for direct comparison between different types of ecosystems,” said Skidaway Institute scientist Marc Frischer, who supervised Skidaway Institute’s activities. “The observation of similarities and differences between ecosystems provides a context for understanding how complex natural aquatic ecosystems work.”

Scientists at all the sites used the same protocol to collect and process their samples. The samples will be analyzed at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. However, shipping liters of water would be both impractical and expensive. So the Skidaway Institute collection team of Tina Walters, Kevin McKenzie and LaGina Frazier ran the water through filters fine enough to collect the microbes and other particulates in the water. The filters, which are about the size of a lipstick tube, were then frozen to minus 80 degrees Celsius and shipped to Germany where they will be analyzed.

“It is important that this program provides a standard method for sample collection and analysis,” Frischer said. “Having a standard set of methods makes it easier to make direct comparisons.”

According to Frischer, the Ocean Sampling Day project will advance scientists’ understanding of the diversity and role of microbes in aquatic environments. Microbes, such as viruses, bacteria, algae, fungi and microzooplankton, account for the majority of biomass and genetic diversity of life on Earth and they play critical roles in all living systems.

“Because microbes play such a central role in ecosystem function, a deeper understanding of them in aquatic systems will advance our understanding of every aspect of these systems,” Frischer said. “It is hard to predict direct benefits, but the information we gain will certainly be relevant to many issues that are of concern, including climate change, fisheries, water quality, human impacts, discovery of novel pharmaceuticals, and diseases of important fishery organisms.”

The Ocean Sampling Day project was coordinated jointly by Jacobs University and the University of Oxford, U.K. The effort was launched under the umbrella of the European-funded project Micro B3, which aims to boost marine research and innovation opportunities.

Additional information on the global Ocean Sampling Day project is available at http://www.microb3.eu/osd.

Congratulations…

March 28, 2013

… to Skidaway Institute tech Tina Waters! She won a student poster award at the ASLO meeting held in New Orleans last month. The title of her winning poster is:

MOLECULAR PROFILING OF ZOOPLANKTON GUT CONTENT USING PNA-PCR AND DENATURING HIGH PERFORMANCE LIQUID CHROMATOGRAPHY (PNA-PCR-DHPLC)

LaGina M. Frazier, Gustav-A. Paffenhöfer, and Marc E. Frischer all collaborated with Tina and were cited on the poster. In addition to being a valued member of the Skidaway Institute science team, Tina is a grad student at Savannah State.

Regents Align Skidaway Institute of Oceanography with UGA

January 9, 2013

Atlanta — January 8, 2013

The Board of Regents approved today aligning the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography (SkIO) with the University of Georgia (UGA).

“The new alignment between the institute and the university will streamline operations and enhance the research efforts of both SkIO and UGA’s excellent marine and coastal programs,” said Houston Davis, the University System’s chief academic officer and executive vice chancellor.

Davis said that the change is part of Chancellor Hank Huckaby’s efforts to streamline the University System of Georgia’s operations. He said that the change will become effective July 1, 2013.

The Institute has 65 employees who conduct cutting-edge oceanographic research on both a regional and global scale. The Institute also provides research-based educational opportunities to students from other University System institutions and from around the world.

The University of Georgia has a staff of about 20 who provide classes for as many as 18,000 students from elementary to high school each year at Skidaway. The university also has a site on Sapelo Island for site-based research and instruction of undergraduate and graduate college students in its marine program.

“In addition to enhancing research conducted by UGA, this change provides a synergistic environment that is sure to benefit both Georgia Tech and Savannah State University who also conduct important coastal research at Skidaway,” added Davis.

The Georgia General Assembly chartered Skidaway in 1967 after philanthropist Robert Roebling donated the land to the state. The Institute operated as a stand-alone institution for four years before coming under the responsibility of the University System.

High school students spend a day on the water

December 12, 2011

A group of students from Johnson High School in Savannah spent last Friday on a mini-research cruise on board the Research Vessel Savannah. It was part of a joint project among the local school system, Savannah State University and Skidaway Institute.

A photographer from the local CBS affiliate, WTOC-TV, went along. Here is a video of the trip.

Back to Barrow – January 22 & 23, 2011

January 24, 2011

Skidaway Institute professor Marc Frischer is back in Barrow, Alaska, along with grad student Zac Tait,  to conduct field work on his project into the effects of warming climate on the marine food web in the Arctic Ocean.

As he did with a prior trip last summer, Dr. Frischer will send updates on his “adventure.” To review his earlier trip, the first of his series of posts can be found here.

Hi all, we’re heading back to Alaska to complete another sampling expedition of the high Arctic.  If you recall, our last trip was during the summer time when temperatures were mostly above freezing and the ocean was liquid (if you missed our previous trip you can catch up from our previous blogs).  Things are a little different up there now.  Read on!

We began planning for this trip almost as soon as we got back from the last.  The minute details, especially getting necessary chemicals and other supplies in place require an amazing amount of organization.  But we mostly managed (thanks largely to Victoria Baylor’s hard work).  The goal is to never get ahead of your equipment and supplies.

With our gear shipped off, the day for our departure finally arrived.  This time Zachary Tait and myself are making the trip.  Zac is a graduate student from Savannah State University who has been making this project the focus of his MS thesis research.  Unfortunately, both Zac and myself are still getting over bad colds so we didn’t feel quite 100%, but we persevered.

Zac (left) and Marc at the Savannah airport

Leaving Savannah in the early morning we flew first to Atlanta (as usual), on to Minneapolis, and then to Anchorage.  We arrived in Anchorage at 6:00 pm local time (10:00 pm Savannah time) for a total of 14 hours of travel.  Weary, we checked into our hotel in Anchorage and headed out for a quick bite to eat at a nearby local restaurant; “Gwennie’s”.

Marc in front of Gwennie's

It was surprisingly good.  Both of us ordered the chicken fried steak and a locally brewed beer which Zac felt obligated to share with the restaurant’s mascot Brown Bear.

Zac and the bear

After a satisfying dinner, neither of us had a hard time sleeping and we got as much of it as we could before having to wake at 3:30 am to catch our next flight.  Leaving Anchorage we flew first to Fairbanks, on to Prudhoe Bay, and finally into Barrow.

In Barrow we were immediately shocked by the weather, stepping off the plane it was -42°F with a windchill of -67°F.  Even the natives think this is cold.

Once we collected our bags (everything made it) we hopped in the truck and headed to the Northern Arctic Research Laboratory (NARL) campus.  Since our last trip our logistical support team switched to a different group. Many of the people and procedures are the same, but there are several new faces (to us) and some of the facilities are different.  We’re optimistic that this will work out well (So far it has.).  Once we had a briefing and were introduced to the new folks, we quickly got to work rounding up all our gear and setting up.

We made a lot of progress but we didn’t get it finished.  For one, the temperature controlled environmental chamber that we will work in to filter all the water we collect wasn’t ready for us.  Apparently it had been used since our last visit to process whale meat.  We didn’t actually look at it, but we were told that they had to remove the floor (too much blood soaked into it), grind the scum off the walls, and finally sterilize the whole room with bleach.  Glad I didn’t have to do that job!  Hopefully, the room will still be suitable for our use and it will be available tomorrow.

But back to the day.  Today, it turns out, was the first sunrise in Barrow since November.

Barrow sunrise January 23

The sun rose at 12:38 local time and set at 2:46pm.  But it wasn’t at all dark for much of the surrounding hours because of the twilight time.  I was surprised at how bright the extended twilight period was.  Today twilight extended from 10:27 am to 4:54 pm.  This actually gives us quite a lot of light to work in.  But today was the first time the sun rose above the horizon.  Cool huh?  I had thought the locals would have celebrated at bit, but apparently not.  I asked Tony Kaleak, a native about it and he told me, sometimes, if they notice, they look at the sun for a moment and say “Right On”.  Anyway, we thought it was pretty spectacular.

By 5 pm we were pretty beat and decided to call it a day,  spending the rest of the evening discussing details with the logistics staff and picking up a new member of our team, Lollie Garay from the airport.  Lollie is a science teacher being sponsored by the Polar Trek program to accompany us and develop collaborative relationships with local educators.  Its pretty exciting stuff.  Lollie is also going to blog about her experience and as soon as I get her blog address I’ll pass it on.

But now its time for me to get a little shut eye.  Tomorrow will be another busy day preparing.

marc

Students grow bacteria gardens

October 26, 2009

Often students grow vegetable gardens for a science project, but some local students took on an entirely different task. They grew bacteria cultures. It was one of several educational activities at Skidaway Institute of Oceanography’s annual open house — Skidaway Marine Science Day — on Saturday, October 10.

The bacteria project was the brainchild of Skidaway Institute scientist Marc Frischer and student assistant LaGina Frazier.

Marc Frischer (right) and LaGina Frazier at their Skidaway Marine Science Day exhibit

Marc Frischer (right) and LaGina Frazier at their Skidaway Marine Science Day exhibit

“Microbes get a bad rap,” said Frazier, who is also a biology student at Savannah State University. “We wanted to show the students that bacteria are all around them, and most bacteria are beneficial.”

Visitors to the Frischer lab exhibit at Skidaway Marine Science Day were given a cotton swab and told to wipe it anything they wanted to collect some bacteria. A total of 98 students participated. They roamed the campus, swabbing plants, trees, buildings and each other.

After a quick demonstration, Frazier and the Frischer lab volunteers let the students “streak” (spread) their sample onto a culture dish. Each dish had an ID number which was given to the student. Following the collection, Frazier grew the bacteria cultures in Skidaway Institute’s microbiology lab. After a week, the cultures were photographed and posted on Skidaway Institute’s Web site. The participants used their ID number to view their dish and compare their results with the other participants.

One student's fast-growing bacteria culture

One student's fast-growing bacteria culture

“The great thing about using our Web site is the students don’t have to come back out here to see the results of their exercise,” said Frazier. “They can see the results of their microbe collection by visiting our Web site.”

Frazier said she could tell the students obtained a wide variety of different microbes just from a visual inspection. There are no plans to test the cultures any further and specifically indentify each one.

“We hope this exercise taught the students a little about a part of their world they can’t usually see with the naked eye,” said Frazier. “Maybe some of them may be inspired to study science seriously as they advance in school.”

The results of the project can be seen here.

Savannah State, SCCPSS and Skidaway Institute launch ocean literacy program

April 27, 2009

Savannah State University, the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) are joining hands to enhance science education in local schools through infusion of local research into the classrooms.

The three organizations are working together in a five-year program to engage graduate marine science students from Savannah State into science classes in neighboring schools. The “Building Ocean Literacy Program” is funded by a $2.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) GK-12 Program. The program will provide fellowships to eight graduate students in Savannah State’s Marine Sciences Program who will be partnered with K-12 teachers to deliver enhanced classroom instruction. The goal of the NSF GK-12 Program is to ensure that universities are producing scientists capable of communicating the results and significance of their research to broad audiences.

During summer breaks, teachers will have opportunities to participate in a workshop, in a research cruise aboard Skidaway Institute’s Research Vessel Savannah, and collaborate with the graduate fellows and Savannah State and Skidaway Institute faculty on research in the local estuaries.

“We want to promote the interest of K-12 students in the sciences, with an emphasis on coastal issues, and also improve the incorporation of marine sciences into the classroom curriculum” said Savannah State professor Carol Pride. “In addition, we hope to improve the communication skills of the graduate students to discuss science issues beyond the boundaries of a university campus.”

The graduate fellows will receive special training in communication, team work, and teaching skills through a K-12 training course and a weekly seminar. They will be paired with science teachers at Thunderbolt Elementary Marine Science Academy, Charles Ellis Montessori Academy, Sol C. Johnson High School, and the Oatland Island Wildlife Center. The graduate students will work with their teacher-partners to enhance hands-on instruction and to develop curriculum specific to their thesis research in the local marine ecosystem.

“The school system is excited to work with Savannah State and Skidaway Institute to give the teachers the ability to link topics in the Georgia Performance Standards to relevant, real-world situations,” said Horace Magwood III, Director of Science Instruction with the SCCPSS. “The summer research opportunities will certainly ignite a passion for science research with our teachers which will pass on to their students.”

Another key component to the program will be scientific research in the local estuaries and marshes. The teachers, graduate fellows, faculty mentors and K-12 classes will participate in monitoring of local estuaries and marshes, including monitoring water quality, sediment properties, and marine life.

“By including hands-on research in this program, the public school teachers and students will get a taste of what scientific research is all about”, said Skidaway Institute professor Peter Verity. “Science is more than lectures in a classroom,” Verity said. “The excitement of science is in the discovery of new knowledge.”

Savannah State graduate students will be selected for the program this summer. The program will launch in the schools in the fall.


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