Archive for September, 2010

Skidaway Institute presents ‘how-to’ science fair program

September 29, 2010

There is help in sight for students and parents who are daunted by the prospect of an upcoming science fair project.

Skidaway Institute of Oceanography will offer a special program to offer science fair advice and guidance to students and parents. The program, “The Seven Deadly Sins of Science Fair,” will be presented on Saturday, October 16, at 12:30 p.m. and again at 2:30 p.m. in the McGowan Library Auditorium on the Skidaway campus.

“Science fair projects can daunting for many students and their parents, especially those without a science background,” said Bill Savidge, a Skidaway Institute professor who is organizing the program. “We hope we can take some of the mystery out of the process and show the students and parents how to make the science fair a rewarding experience.”

The half-hour program will outline many of the common errors students make when planning and executing their projects, and how to avoid them.

The program will be a part of Skidaway Marine Science Day – a campus-wide open house event with activities geared for all ages from young children to adults. These will include programs, tours, displays and hands-on activities, primarily related to marine science.

Skidaway Marine Science Day will run from noon to 4 p.m. Admission to all activities, including the science fair program, is free.

For additional information, visit the Skidaway Institute Web site at www.skio.usg.edu or call (912) 598-2325.

Gulf oil spill to be focus of Skidaway Institute lecture

September 24, 2010

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill will be a focus of the next program in the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography 2010 Fall Lecture Series, “Crystal Ball: Changes Afoot for Our Oceans and Coast in the 21st Century. ”

The second program in the four-part series will be presented on Monday, September 27, at 7 p.m. at the Jewish Educational Alliance (JEA) on Abercorn Street. The same program will be repeated on Thursday, September 30, also at 7 p.m., in the McGowen Library Auditorium on the Skidaway Institute campus.

Skidaway Institute professor Jay Brandes will discuss the Deepwater Horizon rig blowout and fire in April 2010, which led to the largest oil spill in US history.

“Given that such significant oil spills have taken place roughly once every 20 years, it is imperative that lessons are learned and applied in order to be better prepared for the next accident,” said Brandes. “The spill had several unique characteristics other than size, including the large scale use of dispersants at the well and on the surface, the extreme depth of the well, and the high gas content of the oil source.”

In addition to presenting a history of the spill, Brandes will discuss some of the major questions that still persist about the spill.

In the second lecture of the program, Skidaway Institute researcher Elizabeth Mann will examine the important role of unicellular marine algae known as phytopkankton as the base of the marine food web. Phytoplankton also play a major role in the transfer of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the ocean. Mann will explore how ongoing environmental changes may affect phytoplankton in ways that are difficult to predict.

The lecture series will continue for two additional weeks, with programs at the JEA on Mondays, October 4 and 11. The programs on the Skidaway campus will continue on Thursdays, October 7 and 14.

All programs will begin at 7 p.m.

Admission to the lectures will be $5 per program for adults. Students and members of the Skidaway Marine Science Foundation and The Learning Center will be admitted free.

For additional information, visit the Skidaway Institute Web site at www.skio.usg.edu or call (912) 598-2325

Skidaway Marine Science Day set for Saturday, October 16

September 23, 2010

An afternoon of marine science programs, displays, tours and activities — Skidaway Marine Science Day 2010 — will be held on Saturday, October 16, from noon to 4 p.m. on the campus of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography at the north end of Skidaway Island.

Young visitors get up close and personal with marine critters at the aquarium touch tanks.

The Skidaway Marine Science Day is a campus-wide open house with activities geared for all ages from young children to adults. These will include programs, tours, displays and hands-on activities, primarily related to marine science. The event is open to the public and admission is free.

The event will be presented by the campus’s marine research and education organizations, including the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, the University of Georgia (UGA) Marine Education Center and Aquarium, the UGA Shellfish Research Laboratory, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary and WSVH Georgia Public Radio.

The Skidaway Institute of Oceanography will offer a variety of activities for adults and children, including tours of the Research Vessel Savannah and smaller research vessels; science displays and talks on current research programs; and hands-on science activities.

Research vessels, like the RV Savannah, will be open for tours.

The UGA Marine Extension Service Aquarium will be open with no admission fee. In addition, the aquarium education staff will offer visitors a full afternoon of activities including science talks, a reptile show, boat tours, touch tanks, and behind-the-scene tours of the aquarium.

The UGA Shellfish Laboratory will provide visitors with displays and information on marine life on the Georgia Coast. Children will be given the opportunity to help protect the marine environment by bagging oyster shells used for oyster reef restoration projects.

Bgging shells at last year's event.

Bagging shells at last year's event.

The staff of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary will set up their remotely-operated-vehicle (ROV) in a swimming pool and teach visitors how to “drive” it and pick up objects from the bottom.

WSVH Georgia Public Radio will be open for visitors.

Another activity at this year’s Skidaway Marine Science Day will be a high-tech treasure hunt dubbed “Skiocache.” The event is modeled after the increasing popular “geocache” activities in which “treasure hunters” use GPS devices to track down the locations of hidden prizes. Using their own GPS devices, they will track down the various piles of “hidden loot.” Participants without a GPS device will still be able to participate and will receive a different set of clues.

Skidaway Institute professor Bill Savidge will present a special program aimed at parents and students involved in science fair projects. The program, “How to prepare a successful science fair project,” will be presented twice, at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. in the McGowan Library Auditorium.

For the second year in a row, Skidaway Marine Science Day will also be open to non-campus scientific and environmental groups. Organizations such as the Georgia Conservancy and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center will be on-hand to present, information, displays and activities.

School classes or other large groups wishing to attend Skidaway Marine Science Day can be accommodated only through advance arrangements.

For additional information, call (912) 598-2325.

Conference symposium scheduled to honor the late Peter Verity

September 20, 2010

Skidaway Institute professor Marc Frischer and Deborah Bronk of the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences are organizing a special symposium to honor the work and legacy of the late Skidaway Institute professor Peter Verity.

The symposium will take place at the February 2011 conference of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) to be held in Puerto Rico in February 2011. It will be titled, “Advancing the Science and Ethics of Plankton Ecology: The Legacy of Peter Verity.”

Peter Verity

Verity was a long-time Skidaway Institute scientist who died unexpectedly last December.

“In addition to the symposium, plans are in the works for an upbeat celebration in Peter’s honor for those who contribute to the session,” said Frischer. “We’ll try to throw a party that he would have enjoyed.

“Perhaps even more then the symposium itself, getting together will help stimulate continued collaboration and research in directions that Peter would have encouraged.”

Verity was a plankton ecologist and an expert in microzooplankton ecology. According to Frischer, he had a special talent for integrating diverse field and laboratory observations with his own gut instincts and imagination to advance the field of marine plankton ecology.

“In this regard his work significantly contributed to the understanding of the ecology of broad continental shelf environments,” said Frischer. “Peter’s insights also pointed towards the ecological importance of life cycle processes of planktonic microbes, including the remarkable life transformation of the globally significant haptophyte algae Phaeocystis spp.”

Later in his career Peter became gravely concerned about the status and future of the oceans. With his own work pointing towards accelerating declines in coastal ecosystems, Verity was experimenting with the delicate balance between scientist and environmental activist. His concern for the future of the oceans led him to prioritize education activities and he was especially interested in educating teachers.

“This special session is a tribute to the scientific and social legacy of Peter Gordon Verity,” said Frischer. “We challenge participants to pay tribute to Peter’s legacy by highlighting the influence of his work and to imagine future breakthroughs that Peter would undoubtedly have contributed to.”

For additional information on the ASLO meeting, visit the conference Web site.

Skidaway Institute Fall Lecture Series begins Monday, September 20

September 16, 2010

The Skidaway Institute of Oceanography 2010 Fall Lecture Series, “Crystal Ball: Changes Afoot for Our Oceans and Coast in the 21st Century,” will kick-off on Monday, September 20, at 7 p.m. at the Jewish Educational Alliance (JEA) on Abercorn Street. The same program will be repeated on Thursday, September 23, also at 7 p.m., in the McGowen Library Auditorium on the Skidaway Institute campus.

The first program in the four-week series will feature speakers Skidaway Institute director Jim Sanders and Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary superintendent George Sedberry.

Dr. Jim Sanders

In his talk, entitled “Our Impact on the Ocean,” Sanders will address how human beings alter and influence the oceans.

“These effects include greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient enrichment, habitat modification, overfishing, and more,” said Sanders.

The talk will provide an overview of these processes and summarize evidence that the scope and scale of human activities now have the oceans on a new trajectory towards an uncertain future.

Dr. George Sedberry

In the second lecture of the evening, Sedberry will discuss reef fisheries and their management off the southeastern United States coast. Sedberry will describe some problems and possible solutions in the regional reef fish fishery.

“Reef fishes are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they grow slowly, mature late in life at a size where they are marketable but have not yet spawned, are site specific and therefore easy to find, and have complicated reproductive behavior that includes aggregations and sex change,” said Sedberry. “Traditional management tools like quotas and limits have not worked, and more draconian measures, such as large closed areas, have been proposed to restore the populations and maintain sustainable fisheries.”

The lecture series will continue for three additional weeks, with programs at the JEA on Mondays, September 27, and October 4 and 11. The programs on the Skidaway campus will continue on Thursdays, September 30, and October 7 and 14.

All programs will begin at 7 p.m.

Admission to the lectures will be $5 per program for adults. Students and members of the Skidaway Marine Science Foundation and The Learning Center will be admitted free.

For additional information, visit the Skidaway Institute Web site at www.skio.usg.edu or call (912) 598-2325

Stubbins joins Skidaway Institute faculty

September 1, 2010

Biogeochemist Aron Stubbins has joined the faculty of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography as an assistant professor.

Stubbins comes to Skidaway from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. where he was a research assistant professor and assistant director of the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium.

Stubbins received both his bachelor’s degree in marine biology and his doctorate in marine biogeochemistry from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the United Kingdom.

As a biogeochemist, Stubbins’ research interests focus on the role of dissolved organic matter in global biogeochemical cycles.

Notes from the Arctic – Packing-up August 31th, 2010

September 1, 2010

Hi All,

Today was our last full day in Barrow and we spent it largely by shipping home our samples and packing-up our gear.  The Bronk group did manage to squeeze in a last bit of science by attempting to extract all those humics we collected a couple of days ago.

Debbie extracting humics

Alas, things didn’t go quite as they expected so they decided to ship the water home and work on it there.

I guess it goes to show that as Einstein famously said “if we knew what we were doing it wouldn’t be research”.

However, for the most we all spent our day cleaning, packing, and putting stuff into storage.  Its not rocket science, but it was an honest day’s work.  By around 6:00pm we had cleaned up all of our various labs and mostly had it put away.  This stage is always bittersweet.  On the way hand we’re happy to have successfully completed the expedition and are looking forward to going home, but there is something sad about empty labs and packed boxes.

Molecular biology lab – going going gone!

Packing-up

At 7:00 we headed into Barrow to the public library where I hosted a screening of the documentary “A Sea Change” as part of the public outreach activities that the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium sponsors and that is a component of our National Science Foundation project.

Watching “A Sea Change”

The film is an easily accessible and beautiful presentation of the causes, potential consequences, and possible mitigations of ocean acidification.  The screening followed a science talk given by Debbie earlier this week on the same topic.  About 20-30 people showed for the event which was followed by a lively discussion.  More information about the movie can be found here

After the movie we went out for a final meal at what is so far my favorite restaurant in Barrow “Arctic Pizza” which serves pizza and more.  I had grilled halibut this evening which was excellent.  Then it was back home again to put away a few more things, catch-up on the days notes, and try to get some sleep.

Sunset in Barrow, AK

Tomorrow morning we fly home.

See you soon,

marc