Getting Back into The Swim of Things at the ‘U’

R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program multimedia specialist and University of Miami School of Communication alumus Christine Shepard shows her school spirit during a shark tagging trip.  The team is getting ready to welcome a new group of interns and dive into the new school year! Check out RJD’s site for the lastest news and info, including an appearance on NatGeo TV’s “Monster Fish.”


Vote by July 26th for UM scientist Neil Hammerschlag to win this year’s Oceana ‘Ocean Hero’ Award!

2013OHA_DrNeilIf you’ve been on a shark tagging trip with the University of Miami, then you probably know him.  He is the intense and charismatic scientist at the helm of UM’s RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program (RJD Program), Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, who gives high school and college students, as well as others interested in marine conservation the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through “full immersion” shark research. He has taken more than 2,000 students from 40 countries – including many from underserved populations –on shark tagging and diving trips. He also created online classes and expeditions for those who can’t make it to Florida, so they can learn about the importance of our oceans.

Hammerschlag’s work takes him all over the world – from Florida to South Africa, and California to The Bahamas.  He was instrumental in protecting sharks in Florida waters when he testified for new regulations that would prohibit the recreational and commercial harvest of tiger sharks and three types of hammerhead shark. The protections went into effect on January 1, 2012.

Don’t delay!  Please vote for ‘Dr. Neil’ at, deadline is July 26th.


US Army Golden Knights Drop In To Thank RSMAS

L-R: SGT Jon Lopez, SGT Ken Severin, Dr. Roni Avissar, Rose Mann, Raul Mas, Susan Gerrish and SSGT Shelby Bixler.

L-R: SGT Jon Lopez, SGT Ken Severin, Dr. Roni Avissar, Rose Mann, Raul Mas, Susan Gerrish and SSGT Shelby Bixler.

RSMAS received members of the US Army Parachute Team, the famed “Golden Knights”, on Virginia Key where they thanked Dean Roni Avissar and other staff and faculty members for their hospitality. The Rosenstiel School hosted the Golden Knights on a picnic and shark tagging experience at the Broad Key Research Station in February. The event allowed the team to take a well-deserved break from their rigorous training schedule at Homestead Air Reserve Base. In fact, one Golden Knights team member showed up at Broad Key on crutches, not wanting to miss the opportunity to enjoy some sun, sand, surf (and sharks!)

SSGT Shelby Bixler presented Avissar and others with colorful lithographs showing the team executing a wide variety of aerial maneuvers including free-fall formations and canopy relative work. She read a message from Golden Knights Commander LTC Jose Enrique Meléndez and thanked those assembled saying that “as soldiers we’re used to serving and doing so without the expectation of reward; we were humbled by your act of kindness and wanted to say thank you for treating us like family.”

Avissar accepted his gift and thanked the Golden Knights for their military service noting that “we owe our soldiers our appreciation and anything that RSMAS has done pales in comparison to the service you provide to us.”

The Golden Knights have been in existence since 1959. They travel the US and the world doing air show demonstrations, parachuting into stadiums, participating in national and international competitions and performing tandem parachute jumps with distinguished guests such as former President George H.W. Bush. They are the face of the US Army and proudly represent the more than one million soldiers that make up its ranks.

‘Golden Knights’ SSGT Shelby Bixler, SGT Jon Lopez and SGT Ken Severin took a tour of the University of Miami’s research vessel, the F.G. Walton Smith with Captain Shawn Lake.

‘Golden Knights’ SSGT Shelby Bixler, SGT Jon Lopez and SGT Ken Severin took a tour of the University of Miami’s research vessel, the F.G. Walton Smith with Captain Shawn Lake.

Waterlust’s ‘Wetlab’ Video Highlights UM’s Masters of Professional Science (MPS) Program


Been wondering what our Masters of Professional Science (MPS) students are up to? The University of Miami’s student-run Waterlust Project decided to show you!  The team created a GoPro film that highlights a few of the amazing research and internship opportunities available.

The new ‘Wetlab’ video was GoPro’s ‘Video of the Week’ last week! 

Launched in 2012, The Waterlust Project has reached more than half a million people with its 11 short films on a variety of ocean-related topics that focus on what water means to us. Their films offer a juxtaposition of academic achievement and artistic creativity that embodies the University as a whole.

Over at Waterlust we decided to produce a short film that captured some of the unique perspectives that graduate students get to experience here at RSMAS. We especially wanted to highlight the Master of Professional Science program in hopes of inspiring up-and-coming students to study the ocean. We searched around campus for things to film and were met with enthusiasm and smiles wherever we went. We lurked on lab groups, loaned cameras to field teams, brought cameras into classrooms, and went into the field ourselves. Passion, dedication, and a desire to find answers was everywhere we turned. We want to thank everybody who helped to make this film. Thank you for making RSMAS the coolest place to go to school.

– Patrick + The Waterlust Project Crew


A Hoot and a Holler

Panoramic view at Broad Key Research Station

Yesterday I spent some time on the Rosenstiel School’s research station, Broad Key, with site manager Dr. Evan D’Alessandro. After spending some time walking the island, we headed to the Great House located in the island’s center. The balcony and roof area provides excellent panoramic views of the surrounding environment and allowed me to use a favorite iPhone app of mine – Photosynth– which stitches together multiple photos to make a nice panoramic shot with minimal effort.

Great Horned Owl. Photo by Dr. Evan D'Alessandro

As we were standing on top of the roof taking in a beautiful site, Evan ushers me over to a corner. He then picks up what looked like a clump of dirt from a distance, but upon further examination, it was what he refered to as an “Owl Pellet.” Because Owl’s do not have teeth, they have to eat their food whole, swallowing large undigestible chunks such as fur, feathers and bones. To rid their bodies of these objects, they cough them up in a big ol’ fur ball or “Owl Pellet.” Evan tells me that Broad Key is home to a Great Horned Owl which he has spotted several times.

All in all it was a great day at Broad Key and I left with some interesting fun facts I never imagined knowing. Just another day at Rosenstiel’s dynamic Broad Key Research Station!

Owl Pellet

-Andrew DeChellis
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Have You Visited Broad Key Research Station?

Aerial View of Broad Key. Photo by Dr. Neil Hammerschlag.

We’re quickly approaching our one year anniversary of a UM presence on Broad Key, and so its time for our inaugural blog post! For those of you who have been under rocks, Broad Key is a private 64-acre island just north of Key Largo that RSMAS is now leasing as a research station. It is covered by a pristine upland hardwood hammock and low lying mangrove forest, and is surrounded by diverse deep channel and shallow seagrass environments, while the coral reefs of Hawk Channel are a stone’s throw away. The island has two docks, a boathouse, two smaller houses (for the caretakers and island owner) and a six bathroom five bedroom main house.

Aerial View of Broad Key. Photo by Dr. Neil Hammerschlag

We have renovated the house which now has a newly sealed roof and railing on the top deck, high efficiency air conditioners, bunk beds, comfy mattresses, and ceiling fans in every bedroom, new furniture in the common areas, and all new kitchen appliances. We’ve also installed an HD projector and screen in the living room for presentations and classes. There are 5 stand-up fiberglass paddle boards, 10 tandem kayaks, a bunch of wetsuits, masks and fins, 10 scuba tanks, and an air compressor to support exploration around the island and research.

We have many more plans for the coming months and the island will continue to improve! If you haven’t seen the island yet and would like to visit, contact me or visit our facebook page.

Sunset at Broad Key. Photo by Dr. Evan D'Alessandro

– Dr. Evan D’Alessandro
Visiting Assistant Professor
Broad Key Research Station Manager
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