About UM Rosenstiel School

About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School The University of Miami is one of the largest private research institutions in the southeastern United States. The University’s mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit www.rsmas.miami.edu.

Faculty, Student and Alumni Updates

Professor Amy Clement Named 2015 AMS Fellow

Amy Clement 1UM Rosenstiel School Professor Amy Clement has been elected a 2015 Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the nation’s leading professional society for scientists in the atmospheric and related sciences. The award was presented at a special reception on Jan. 4 2015 at the AMS annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.

Clement, an associate dean and professor of atmospheric sciences, leads a climate modeling research group at the UM Rosenstiel School, which aims to better understand various aspects of Earth’s climate, from Saharan dust and clouds to El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which is the largest mode of variability in the modern climate. Clement’s research focus is on fundamental aspects of the climate system, including understanding why the climate changed in the past, and predicting how it will change in the future.

Grad Student Gives Keynote at Sailing Symposium

waterlust-nsps-2 (1)Rosenstiel School Ph.D. student Patrick Rynne recently gave a keynote lecture at the National Sailing Programs Symposium in New Orleans. His talk focused on the inherent connection between sailing and the ocean and how decisions we make impact that relationship and how his cause-based organization, Waterlust, came to be and what small (or big) steps that organizations can take to help promote environmental awareness.

Patrick founded Waterlust, a student-run project aimed at inspiring the world to consider their relationship with water through online film and photography, while a student at RSMAS.

Alumna Joins MPS Program, Awarded Suncoast Emmy®

JulieHUM Rosenstiel School alumna Julie Hollenbeck recently joined the Master of Professional Science (MPS) Program team as associate director. Julie has extensive experience within and among the University of Miami community and has worked in TV broadcast journalism, communications, project management, and outreach and education.

Julie was honored in December 2014 with a Suncoast Emmy® for her work on Living Fossils, an episode from WPBT2’s original television series Changing Seas. Hollenbeck worked as an associate producer for Changing Seas.

The episode, Living Fossils, produced by Changing Seas series producer Alexa Elliott, features research on deep-sea crinoids, a flower-like animal related to starfish, urchins and other echinoderms. Crinoids can be traced back to the Paleozoic era yet very little is known about this enigmatic creature. Researchers featured in the episode explored the depths from a deep-sea submarine, filling in previously unknown details on the lives of crinoids.

Julie is also a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Exeter’s European Center for Environmental and Human Health program.

What is Aquaponics?

photo-1Aquaponics is an ecosystem approach to food production. In one recirculating system, aquaponics maintains a school of fish, a variety of plants, and a healthy colony of beneficial bacteria. The bacteria are the real heroes here. They rapidly consume toxic ammonia waste produced by the fish and turn it into nitrates on which the plants can thrive.
It all boils down to the nitrogen cycle. The fish feed contains nitrogen in the form of protein, which is the primary source of energy for the fish. As part of their digestion and respiration, the fish excrete nitrogen as ammonia both directly from their gills and indirectly through their solid waste. This waste ammonia will rapidly accumulate in recirculating aquaculture systems, and is quite toxic to fish even at relatively low levels. For aquaculture, ammonia must either be flushed out of the system or consumed in a biofilter.
A biofilter is nothing more than an elaborate bacteria condominium. In the biofilter, there is a lot of substrate surface area for bacteria to call home. Two kinds of bacteria have been identified as the main beneficial actors in a biofilter: Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter. In turn, these bacteria convert ammonia into nitrite and then nitrate. This is good for the fish because nitrate is far less toxic than ammonia. This is great for the plants because nitrate is great plant food.
After the bacteria in the biofilter have eaten up the ammonia and spat out nitrate, the plants uptake these chemicals and prevent them from building up. Thus, the plants effectively purify the water for the fish in the aquaculture system.
The plants get great fertilizer, the fish get pristine water, and the bacteria make it all happen.
Unlike aquaculture, aquaponics allows no effluent to leave the culture system for the environment to break down. Unlike hydroponics, aquaponics systems do not require the entire system’s water to be dumped down the drain every two weeks. With aquaponics, you can produce edible fish and plants, waste little water, and produce no external effluent.

Aquaponics at the University of Miami
At the University of Miami (UM) Experimental Hatchery, the main focus has been on raising marine pelagic finfish in semi-recirculating tank systems.
By leveraging the considerable aquaculture experience available in the faculty, staff and students at the hatchery, a successful aquaponics system has been started at the UM Experimental Hatchery to showcase the technologies relied upon in aquaponics systems. We are raising Tilapia in a completely recirculating aquaponics system, with no wastewater going down the drain.
For the hydroponic component of our aquaponic system, we are using a media bed filled with expanded clay and we are experimenting with a vertical tower system which allows greater production per square foot. We are currently growing two crops: basil and spearmint. If you have eaten the pesto at the restaurant SALT on campus since late in the fall semester of this year, there’s a good chance you’ve enjoyed the basil grown in our aquaponics system.
The Aquaponics program at the UM Experimental Hatchery continues to grow. Aquaponics is a great way to eliminate the waste effluent being produced at aquaculture facilities and hydroponic plant production facilities. We are engaging with a variety of commercial and educational facilities which are interested in developing aquaponics operations.

–Joshua Grubman, UM Rosenstiel School part-time lecturer

 

Students Collaborate on One-of-a-kind Coral Bleaching Study

Thanks to an award from the Rosenstiel School’s Graduate Career Development Fund, a collaborative, graduate student-led research team has a one-of-a-kind opportunity to study how corals recover from mass bleaching events.

Five students – Jay Fisch, Erica Towle, Crawford Drury, Phil Kushlan and Rivah Winter – from three different labs across the Rosenstiel School campus have come together to design and execute a field study of an important reef-building coral, Orbicella faveolata, commonly known as Mountainous Star Coral, that suffered during the widespread coral bleaching event at Horseshoe Reef in the Florida Keys during the summer of 2014.

RSMAS graduate students: Phil Kushlan, Erica Towle, Crawford Drury, Jay Fisch, and Rivah Winter

RSMAS graduate students (from left to right): Phil Kushlan, Erica Towle, Crawford Drury, Jay Fisch, and Rivah Winter

Historic information previously collected at the site, combined with collections over the next year will allow the student team to study changes in coral symbiosis and metabolism and to measure individual colony response and recovery following a bleaching event. The research project will provide scientists with valuable new information on the relationship between recovery patterns and subsequent reproductive output.

“Recovery of reefs depends on both the recovery of the surviving individuals as well as the input of new individuals through reproduction,” said the students.

The students received a total of $3000 from the Graduate Career Development Fund. The students are Ph.D. candidates in Lirman’s Benthic Ecology Lab, Baker’s Coral Reef and Climate Change Lab and Langdon’s Coral and Climate Change Lab.

Rescue a Reef Update

130813_112247_054_CoralRestoration Coral reef with out planted stag horn corals.

It’s been over 2 years since Dr. Diego Lirman’s Benthic Ecology Lab at RSMAS began outplanting nursery reared staghorn corals (Acropora cervicornis) to degraded reefs as part of one of the largest Acropora restoration projects along the Florida Reef Tract. Today, those corals are making a significant impact on the structure and function of Miami’s reefs.

The University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science began growing colonies of the threatened staghorn coral in underwater nurseries starting with only 200 small fragments collected from existing wild colonies. To date, UM’s nurseries have produced over 6,000 healthy corals. Beginning in 2012, over 2,500 staghorn corals were carefully transplanted to their new homes on local reefs in Miami-Dade County. Over 85% of outplanted corals have survived to become part of the natural habitat and have grown to equal 243 meters of new staghorn! That is over 603% more coral than was originally outplanted! This is a significant increase in the number of Acropora colonies on local reefs and will help bridge spatial gaps between existing populations to enhance sexual reproduction and genetic diversity.The Benthic Ecology Lab has learned valuable lessons from their initial restoration success and has developed methods and techniques to increase the survival and growth of outplanted corals. In addition, important informtion about nursery and outplant site selection, growth and productivity variation between genotypes, effects of predation, and recovery from bleaching have been investigated to provide researchers and managers with essential conservation tools for the recovery of threatened staghorn corals.

–Stephanie Schopmeyer, Senior Research Associate II, Lirman Lab

N In Plot 3 P46 Initial size of staghorn coral fragment outplanted in 2012 (5 cm)

IMG_1360-1 Growth of staghorn coral two years after outplanting onto local reef (390 cm)

Exploring Marine Science Day 2014

Saturday October 25, 2014 marked the 12th anniversary of the Exploring Marine Science Day for middle school girls. The Consortium for Advanced Research on the Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE) partnered with the UM Rosenstiel School and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to host this day of interactive learning. Fifty young women from across South Florida spent their Saturday with Rosenstiel’s female faculty, students, and researchers to get an up close look at what it is like to be a marine scientist.

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  • The girls learned about corals with Stephanie Schopmeyer and helped with coral restoration by planting coral (skeleton) fragments on special nursery plantforms.
  • The amazing women from Marine Geosciences never disappoint! Amel Saied, Anna Ling, Kim Galvez, and Carolina Bardaro taught the girls how to squeeze water from mud samples and they explored some of the amazing organisms found in the ocean.
  • The highlight of the day is always drawing blood from a toadfish with Dr. Danielle McDonald and her students. They learned about red and white blood cells, plasma, and stress hormones.
  • Rana Fine taught the girls about ocean acidification through an experiment in which the girls test the pH of sea water, before and after the addition of a carbonated soda.
  • Aplysia! CARTHE Outreach Manager Laura Bracken taught the girls about the importance of the amazing aplysia and the fascinating details of their life cycle, but the best part was actually getting to hold their slimy new friend.
  • The girls learned about density during a colorful experiment, mixing salt and freshwater with Meredith Jennings and Renellys Perez.
  • Josefina Olascoaga created a spinning ocean in the lab, complete with dyed ocean currents and eddies!
  • Dr. Lisa Beal completed the day with a powerful video of female oceanographers and a reminder to all of us, “Don’t let the boys have all the fun!”

Attendees had this to say about the event:

“Today’s program was awesome! I did not know there was so much science out in the ocean…”
“I love science and everything I did today was amazing”

“Today was one of the best days of my life!”

“I learned that there was a lot more to marine science than I thought.”

The activities are clearly fun and engaging but most importantly the girls left with a greater interest in science and knowing that anyone can be a scientist. Our scientists are also athletes, mothers, community leaders, and artists. According to the evaluations, the majority has an increased interest in studying science!

Thank you to all of the volunteers from CARTHE, RSMAS, and AAUW for making this day a success.

— Laura Bracken

UM coral scientist studies at Centre Scientifique de Monaco

As I write this blog, I am looking out the window at the famous Port Hercule in Monaco and see all of the beautiful yachts and racing sailboats.  And the best part is – I’m in my office!  Allow me to back-track: I am a 5th year Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Chris Langdon’s lab here at RSMAS.  I study indicators of resilience to climate change stressors in Florida Reef Tract corals.  Two years ago I met Dr. Christine Ferrier-Pages at the International Coral Reef Symposium.  Christine is the director of the Coral Eco-physiology team at the Centre Scientifique de Monaco (CSM), and I have admired her work on coral feeding for years.  By maintaining contact with her after we met at the conference, and through another colleague of Chris Langdon’s at a French university, I was offered the opportunity to participate in a seven-week collaboration in Christine’s lab in Monaco.  Together, we are studying the combined effects of nutrient enrichment (eutrophication), coral feeding, and elevated temperature stress on coral growth and physiology.  The lab facilities here are unparalleled, and it is truly an honor and a privilege for me to complete the last chapter of my dissertation at this institution.

View of Port Hercule in Monaco

View of Port Hercule in Monaco

Here’s a little history about CSM: it was founded in 1960 at the request of Prince Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, to provide the Principality of Monaco with the means of carrying out oceanographic research and to support governmental and international organizations responsible for the protection and conservation of marine life.  Since the late 1990s, the CSM has been a leader in coral reef biology, specializing in biomineralization research and climate change effects on corals.  The ocean and the issues surrounding it have always been on the forefront of causes important to the royal family of Monaco.  In addition to the CSM, Monaco also boasts an extensive oceanography museum and aquarium which draws international attention.

So what has it been like to work here so far?  One thing I have found a little challenging is learning to run an experiment in another language.  While most of the researchers here speak English (their publications are normally submitted in English,) French is their native language and is most commonly spoken in the lab.  I speak conversational French pretty well, but I have to learn basic experiment terms in French; words like tubes, flow rate, and probe, to name a few, were all new to me in the French language.

For now, my post-work view is the Mediterranean Sea, but I know in a few weeks a sunset view overlooking Biscayne Bay from the Wetlab patio will be calling my name…

Until then,

Erica Towle, Ph.D. Candidate, Marine Biology and Ecology