Awards and Accolades

Outstanding Mentor Award
Danielle McDonaldUM Rosenstiel School Professor Danielle McDonald is the 2016 recipient of the Outstanding Mentor Award. In its third inauguration, this award is meant to recognize outstanding mentors who go above and beyond in fostering the professional and personal development of RSMAS graduate students. This award is based on student nominations.

McDonald was described as an “engaging researcher and educator who demonstrates a vested interest in her students’ success and personal well-being.”

An associate professor of marine biology and ecology, McDonald directs the UM Toadfish Lab.  She combines whole animal physiology, molecular biology, pharmacology and toxicology research to study the interactions between serotonin (5-HT), its receptors and transporters and the stress hormone, cortisol, as toadfish have a unique physiological process, pulsatile urea excretion, that involves all these components. Her work has toxicological as well as human health relevance as it gives some insight on the impact of chronic antidepressant administration, which has many negative side effects in humans.


Graduate Student Receives NASA Fellowship

Ryan KramerUM Rosenstiel School graduate student Ryan Kramer was awarded the NASA Earth and Space Science (NESSF) Fellowship for research in the area of Earth Science. Kramer was one of 73 Earth Science fellows to receive the award, which provides a maximum award of $30,000 for one year, with two more potential years of funding.

Kramer, a PhD student in the UM Rosenstiel School Atmospheric Sciences Program, was awarded for his proposal “Understanding Radiative Feedbacks and Radiative Forcings of the Hydrological Cycle.”

The purpose of the NESSF is to ensure continued training of a highly qualified workforce in disciplines required to achieve NASA’s scientific goals. Awards resulting from the competitive selection are made in the form of training grants to the respective universities and educational institutions, with the faculty advisor serving as the principal investigator.

“I’m extremely honored to receive this Fellowship,” said Kramer. “It will provide me significant freedom to continue my research on the earth’s hydrological cycle as effectively as possible, and will help me build a valuable connection to NASA and their incredible resources.  There is such great work being done at RSMAS, and I am proud to represent the School in some small way.”

Awards for Excellence 

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 UM Graduate Student Association and TA Excellence Awards:

UM Graduate Student Association Awardees

* Sean Kennelly was awarded the Linda Sher-Collado Memorial Staff Appreciation Award.
* Anna Ling was awarded the GSA Academic Excellence, Leadership, and Service Award.

TA Excellence Awardees

* Zack Daugherty for MSC 328: Introduction to Aquaculture
* Sharmila Giri for MSC 232: Introduction to Marine Biology Laboratory
* Jake Jerome for MSC 460: Spatial Applications for Marine Science

Officially a Shellback

Today I received my shellback ‘certification’ or ‘proof’ of crossing the equator! It is a unique card and certificate produced aboard the JOIDES Resolution – there is none like it, so I have been told. What I have now is a colourful laminated wallet-sized card. The main certificate will be issued later during the cruise.

My proof of having crossed the equator!

I wish I could write a longer post, but I am absolutely kaput from working 15hours straight. Goodnight peeps!

–Anna Ling

Anna Ling is a Ph.D student in the Centre for Carbonate Research in the Department of Marine Geosciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Drilling with Anticipation

Alas! We have arrived the first site and the drilling crew have started the assembly of drill pipes and core barrels! They have to attach over 500m worth of initial piping for the 520m water depth that we have at the site. While the JR is on Dynamic Positioning (DP) mode, the Captain can now rest his feet and let the ship maintain location using inbuilt thrusters.

Like everyone else, the drilling crew started drilling almost halfway through my night shift and they continued until the sun rose, and still the 500m worth of pipes were only completed by time my shift was over at midday.

Working from Dusk to Dawn

Sometimes, they have to swing about to get all the parts attached.

Drillers on swings

Other times, they get to use fancy machinery to attach pipes together.

Attaching the pipes

The derrick is so high so that attaching pipes in between would be possible.

The pipes are 10m long

I do not know much about the drill floor. All I can say is that it looks pretty cool and I am very impressed with the crew working outdoors, rain or shine with all these heavy machinery and noise around them; not to mention the humidity and the heat too!

Very soon there will be the first core on deck – and I absolutely look forward to it!

–Anna Ling

Anna Ling is a Ph.D student in the Centre for Carbonate Research in the Department of Marine Geosciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Hello Atoll-land!

On Sunday, 18th October 2015, we arrived to the Maldives islands. Even though we could only admire land from the JR, it was still a great sight to behold aside the plain ocean. I have been tracking the JR on Google Earth and it was rather exciting to see the ship pick-up a pilot from Malé and being redirected to the anchor location.

Getting closer to the pilot station close-by Malé

Anchored within Maldivian waters

The ship will be anchored for about 12 hours before transiting to our first site to pick-up Maldivian observers and also restock the ship with dairy and vegetables. Food (YAY)! As usual, upon arrival, I took some rather interesting photos of the Maldives and some excited scientists!

The JR entering Maldivian waters

The JR was greeted with hot and humid conditions and absolutely blue calm waters. In addition, a good view of the airstrip could be seen from the JR and it is the island right across Malé, the capital of the Maldives.

The airstrip on the island opposite Malé

On Malé itself, I could see that the island was densely populated with buildings. On top of that, everything was flatter than Florida! At least there is a 6ft elevation in Miami – not in the Maldives though! Malé is an island that is less than 8km in length. I am pretty sure it would be possible to run around the island in 1 hour.

The capital Malé

While we were anchoring, there were already tourists on the cruise soaking up some vitamin D the good ol’ fashioned way.

Guess who is soaking up vitamin D

I cannot wait until the JR leaves for our first drill site tonight and hopefully the first piston cores by morning.

–Anna Ling

Anna Ling is a Ph.D student in the Centre for Carbonate Research in the Department of Marine Geosciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Song of Fire and Pirates

Thus far, 2 safety drills have been implemented so far:
  1. Fire on Board Drill
  2. Pirate Attack Drill

Each personnel on the ship has their assigned lifeboats and muster stations that we have to gather once an emergency alarm rang.

Fire on Board Drill

I am assigned onto lifeboat number 4. There are 2 muster stations on the ship, the port side and starboard side (I am getting the hang of maritime terms). There are a total of 4 lifeboats and each lifeboat can accommodate up to 70 people. However, you would not want to have each lifeboat to be completely filled to the brim. Trust me on that. We had a ‘tour’ into the lifeboats and if you are not claustrophobic, you will end up being one.

Lifeboat number 4 located at the port-side

All personnel on the ship are required to proceed to the lifeboats with their life-vests (or life floaties) and hard hats.

Muster stations waiting for orders

For the sake of entering the lifeboats, we were allowed to not use the hard hats. They were rather uncomfortable and bulky; not to mention hot and stuffy too! We went into the lifeboat 10 at a time and I felt extremely nauseous and claustrophobic for someone who has no such problems. 10 people in the boat felt like it was 50 in a boat as we were intruding each others’ personal space.

Inside the lifeboat 10 at a time

Each lifeboat was also supplied with provisions and water that I could only guess we would have a hard time getting to since 2 people were going to sit on it if the need arose. Each seat has a ‘black’ spot marked on it as an indicator that it was a legitimate seat. They sure did not take into account that there would be females on board because each seat were made for tiny butts.

Provisions on board

Someone will have to sit on the water supply

The lifeboat also came with an engine which does not propel far but hopefully far enough to safety.

Start your engines

And if you have a boat mate that is at the verge of insanity, you will have to hide the hatchet and ropes in the lifeboat from any impending disasters. Oh, and by the way, in case there are leaks inside the lifeboat, there is a great arm workout called the bilge pump. Be sure to rotate arms though and do not forget to wear your seat belts in case of rollover. I hope they have a puke bag in there too. Or else…

Keep that hatchet far far away

After 5 minutes being inside, I was ready to get out of it. I am also pretty confident that if a fire ever does break-out, I would rather be hot and stuffy than grilled alive.

Each lifeboat can be manually detached from the JR from the outside and inside. Each lifeboat has a new design that floats regardless on which direction it hits the water – the humans inside will just have to stay alive while that happens.

Pirate Attack Drill

All I can say is that in case you have a bad bladder case, bathroom is taken care of.

Anti Piracy Potty

Until next time folks! The countdown to the equator starts – 3 days and 18 hours to go until the rise of the Pollywogs. That would make a great movie title!

–Anna Ling

Anna Ling is a Ph.D student in the Centre for Carbonate Research in the Department of Marine Geosciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

The ‘Forbidden’ Shipdom

Due to our long transit, the JR superintendent organized a ship tour to areas where regular science folks would not have had the chance to pry into. Technically, these areas are not exactly forbidden, but an escort is needed when you want to visit.

We started the tour on the bridge, where I found out that the steering wheel on the JR is the same size as a Go-Kart steering wheel. And the ship also has autopilot mode!

The Bridge

Peering out the window, I realised that the captain and his mates could see the ridiculous things we have been up to on the lower deck. Oh boy…

The view from the bridge

We then headed to the JR’s DP (dynamic positioning) area behind the bridge. There was a whole bunch of mumbo jumbo in there, which I did not remember. All I remembered were the involvement of computers in making sure the ship is positioned correctly above the intended drill hole by controlling the thrusters.

DP computers

After the bridge, we headed towards the derrick with our hard hats, goggles and closed-toe shoes.

Concentrating scientists

Derrick shot

Bottom derrick

Electric motor on the derrick

After the bridge, we headed towards the derrick with our hard hats, goggles and closed-toe shoes.

Driller's control room

Coring platform - I guess?

Then, we were introduced to the different drill bits that will be used during the recovery of the cores as well as the core catchers. There is the APC (Advanced Piston Corer), XCB (Extended Core Barrel) and the RCB (Rotary Core Barrel), as shown in the picture below. It will be too long for me to explain how each of them work, so may Google be your best friend.

Drill bits and core catchers

More core barrels are arranged over the floor deck waiting to be utilized once we approach the drill site.

Core barrels

We next headed towards the engine room where I realised that everything was computerized – and not only on the bridge. Just like an airplane, the ship is fully automated.

Computerized engine room

There are 5 main engines on the JR. Being inside the engine room was akin to being inside a sauna. It was hot, stuffy and loud – mind you I had earplugs and I could still hear the roaring of the engines.

One of the main engines

Side profile of a main engine

Of course, somewhere inside the main engine room are the motors that run the two main propellers on the JR. These are the same propellers that are propelling us towards the Maldives. There are also 12 thrusters that will be used upon arrival at the Maldives to keep the ship in place when the drilling starts.

A little reading goes a long way

The propeller room

The main life support systems on the JR are the 3 water distillation systems. Seawater is pumped into these systems, distilled and deionized for shipboard consumption. The water tanks are capable of storing up to 3 days worth of freshwater so, the ship has to make her own. The ship uses at least 40 metric tons of freshwater a day and 45 metric tons of fuel a day.

One of the ship's water maker

The last tour destination was the moon pool. I could see water sloshing around in the moon pool. It was pretty cool. Unfortunately, no styrofoam cups were shrunk in this tour. I wished it did though.

Moon pool

In this post, I am being absolutely lazy to explain every technical term I have written, however, I have added the links to these terms! I am starting my night shift as I am writing this – so, I am half snoozing already! Hasta la vista readers.

–Anna Ling

Anna Ling is a Ph.D student in the Centre for Carbonate Research in the Department of Marine Geosciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.