Faculty and Alumni News

Professor Receives 2016 Provost Research Award

UM Rosenstiel School Associate Professor Oleksiak Marjorie Oleksiak in the Department of Marine Biology and Ecology is a recipient of a 2016 Provost Research Award for her work on marine genomics. Oleksiak is using a new model organism for natural aging in vertebrates, an annual killifish with a three-month lifespan.

“The award will allow me to expand my research and develop tools to enhance my current research goals,” said Oleksiak, who won for her research project titled, “Live fast, die young: oxidative phosphorylation function in a rapidly aging fish.”

Marine Genomics is genome biology applied to marine organism. Oleksiak’s research is about the genomics of how animals work, evolve and adapt. She uses evolutionary approaches to gain a better understanding of physiology, toxicology and human health and disease.

The Provost’s Research Awards are administered by the UM Office of the Vice Provost for Research to provide salary support and direct research costs to faculty for research. Oleksiak is one of 61 recipients of this year’s award.

Alumna Named 2016 Mujer Legendarias by Ford Motor Company

KarinaIn March 2016, UM Rosenstiel School alumna Karina Castillo (BS ’09, MPS ’12) was chosen by Ford Motor Company and Ford en Español as a 2016 Mujer Legendarias. Each year, Ford chooses four Latina women in five cities across the country to represent each of their four pillars: Intelligence, Green, Efficiency, and Security.

The 20 women selected represent the over 22 million Latinas across the country. Castillo was chosen for her work in addressing climate change to represent the green pillar. She is honored and humbled to be recognized for her work.

Castillo received a B.S. from the UM College of Arts and Sciences in 2009 and a Master of Professional Science in 2012.

New Book on Old Florida at RSMAS Library

A_PioneerSonIn a new book, A Pioneer Son at Sea: Fishing Tales of Old Florida, celebrated marine biologist Gilbert Voss posthumously recounts his early days of fishing on both coasts of the peninsula during the Great Depression and World War II. Voss (1918-1989) was professor of biological oceanography at the UM Rosenstiel School and author of several books, including Seashore Life of Florida and the Caribbean.

The book was edited by Robert S. Voss, the author’s son and a curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Long before tourism dominated Florida’s coastline, the state was home to dozens of commercial fisheries and ethnically diverse communities of rugged individuals who made their living from the sea.

Oversized personalities inhabit the pages, including Voss’s brothers, who were themselves seminal figures in the early days of Florida big-game fishing. Voss’s anecdotes feature Crackers, rum runners, murderers, Conchs, wealthy industrialists, now-legendary charterboatmen, Greek spongers, and Cuban viverocaptains.

The book was published by the University Press of Florida and an e-book is available and a print copy is currently on display at the RSMAS Library (non-circulating).

 

 

Coral Metabolism and Climate Change

A team of Rosenstiel School researchers and alumni published a new study on the intra-and inter-specific variation of metabolic factors of corals in Florida. Their study is important to better understand if some coral will be more resilient than others to climate change.

“Knowing which coral species will be ‘winners’ on reefs of the future will help people be aware of what reefs might look like in the coming decades,” said UM Rosenstiel School alumna Erica Towle.

Mustard hill coral. Credit: Johnmartindavies/wikicommons

Mustard hill coral. Credit: Johnmartindavies/wikicommons

For the experiment, Towle and her team from the UM Corals and Climate Change Lab collected three common species of corals from the Florida Reef Tract, which extends from the Florida Keys to Stuart in Martin County, during two seasonal points (winter and summer).

The species mustard hill coral (Porites astreoides) great star coral (Montastraea cavernosa) and mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata) were analyzed for growth rate, lipid content, algal symbiont density, and chlorophyll content. The surface area of the corals were also measured using a 3-D scanner supplied by UM Alumnus Derek Manzello at the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories.

Great star coral. Credit NOAA

Great star coral. Credit NOAA

The team’s field data agreed with population-level trends that great star coral and mustard hill coral are doing well in the Florida Keys, and may be “winners” on reefs of the future. They point out that future work needed to understand factors driving resilience of “winner” species.

“It’s important for us to start to understand which corals will be dominant on reefs of the future so we can get a better sense of which species to focus stronger conservation efforts on,” said Towle.

regionalstudiesMSThe study, “In-situ measurement of metabolic status in three coral species from the Florida Reef Tract,” was published online in the journal Regional Studies in Marine Science. The work was supported by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program. The study’s authors include: Erica K. Towle; UM Rosenstiel School Professor Chris Landgon; and Renée Carlton and Derek P. Manzello of the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories.

Everglades Pilot Whale Standing

As a student in the MPS marine mammal science track, I was fortunate enough to be one of the volunteers to respond to the recent mass stranding of pilot whales in Everglades National Park. I was a little apprehensive, as this was my first stranding experience. No one knew what to expect. After the early morning drive out to the Everglades, as well as an hour and a half boat ride, we arrived to the stranding site where we found about 50 pilot whales in barely three feet of water. All of the volunteers, law enforcement, NOAA officials, scientists, and even some concerned patrons huddled to generate an effective rescue strategy. It was truly inspiring to see so many people utilizing their precious time and resources in order to create the best possible outcome for the distressed whales.

Pilot Whales 2

Throughout the day, I was assigned various tasks to assist with the collection of samples acquired from live whales, as well as a necropsy of an expired whale. I was fascinated by the way the veterinarian and her team effectively tagged the animals and collected important blood and tissue samples, all while hanging off of the side of a flat bottom boat! I helped record the relevant data, which was a great first-hand experience in the amount of diligence that is put into collecting the samples, as well as keeping them all organized. Observing the necropsy also opened my eyes to the complexity and importance of these operations; various tissue samples from each organ must be obtained to send out to the appropriate laboratories for examination. This way, scientists are able to maximize the number of test results generated from a single sample, which will hopefully aid in discovering the reason for the stranding event.

Pilot Whales 1(1)

After this experience, I am looking forward to being a regular member of the volunteers who respond to marine mammal strandings in southern Florida. I have a newfound respect for the scientists and veterinarians who organize these response efforts, especially after witnessing the amount of valuable scientific data that can be garnered just from one stranding incident. Our efforts to herd the group offshore on Wednesday proved to be successful, as the whales were recently spotted offshore, in deeper water, and swimming freely.

— MPS student Samantha Tufano

Photo credits: RSMAS/MPS student Maureen Duffy

Grad Students Chilling Out with Emperor Penguins During Expedition to Ross Sea

MAC Grad Students Sarah Bercovici and Meredith Jennings on Ross Sea expedition

University of Miami/RSMAS  students Sarah Bercovici and Meredith Jennings representing the ‘U’ on Ross Sea sea ice with Emperor penguins.  The first-year grad students formed part of an expedition led by UM Marine & Atmospheric Chemistry Professor Dennis Hansell, former chairman of the United States Carbon Cycle Scientific Steering Group. Funded by the NSF, they studied the fate of sinking organic particles that are a major component of the planet’s “biological pump”. The biological pump transfers carbon from the surface to the deep ocean as organic matter, thus maintaining the surface ocean as a sink for atmospheric CO2. Throughout the project they used novel biochemical and optical measures to trace organic particles and investigate their transformation from sinking to solubilized phases.

“These findings will increase our understanding of the carbon budget in the Ross Sea and help us to develop new tools for identifying, quantifying, and tracking exported carbon throughout the global ocean,” said Hansell.

Located in the Southern Ocean in Antarctica, the Ross Sea experiences high particle production and export. The expedition was documented by collaborator Cassandra Brooks in the online video “Two months breaking ice (in under five minutes)”. Click below to see what their voyage was like!

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 oceana.org/heroes, deadline is July 26th.

 


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

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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