Faculty and Alumni News

The Oceanography Society Honors Professor Fine

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Rana Fine

UM Rosenstiel School Professor Rana Fine was elected a 2016 Fellow of The Oceanography Society (TOS) for her outstanding contributions to the field of oceanography. She will be honored along with other 2016 Fellows during the TOS breakfast on Feb. 23, 2016 at the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Meeting.

Fine’s scientific interests include ocean circulation processes and their role in climate using chemical tracers. Fine is a fellow of the AGU, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and American Meteorological Society.

A graduate of the UM Rosenstiel School, Fine has received the highest honor attainable at the University of Miami, induction into the School’s Iron Arrow Honor Society. Fine also received a Provost’s Award for Scholarly Activity from the University of Miami.

TOS was founded in 1988 to disseminate knowledge of oceanography and its application through research and education, to promote communication among oceanographers, and to provide a constituency for consensus building across all the disciplines of the field.

Alumna Heads to Washington, DC as 2016 Knauss Fellow

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Erica Towle

UM Rosenstiel School alumna Eric Towle was awarded a 2016 NOAA John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship through the Florida Sea Grant Program for her outstanding achievement in marine and coastal policy research. Towle will relocate to Washington, D.C. for one year to work with the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation for the majority staff, focusing on oceans, atmosphere, fisheries, and the Coast Guard.

Towle is a double alumna of the UM Rosenstiel School earning her B.S. in marine and atmospheric science in 2010 and her Ph.D. in marine biology and ecology in 2015.  Her Ph.D. research was completed in Chris Langdon’s Corals and Climate Change Lab, focusing on identifying indicators of resilience to climate change stress in corals of the Florida Reef Tract.

The National Sea Grant College Program created the Knauss fellowship in 1979 to provide educational experiences to students that have an interest in ocean and coastal resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources.

Towle hopes the fellowship will teach her more about how science is translated and used in policymaking.

Alumna Elected Chair of Beach Preservation Association

Leanne Welch

Leanne Welch

UM alumna Leanne Welch was elected chair of the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association (FSBPA) at their annual meeting in September. Her tenure as chair began Jan. 1, 2016 and runs through Dec. 31, 2016. As chair, Welch directs the board meetings and serves on the planning committees for the statewide meetings, which will be held in Jacksonville and Naples in 2016. She works closely with the president and executive director of FSBPA, as well as with other member counties and cities, to promote effective beach management throughout the state.

Welch graduated from UM in 1994 with a double major in marine science and biology and is currently an environmental manager with Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management. She manages many coastal issues in Palm Beach County, including coastal construction (beach and dune nourishment, artificial reef construction, inlet management, and living shorelines), coral reef ecosystem monitoring, sea turtle nesting, manatee protection, and a variety of estuarine management and monitoring programs in Lake Worth Lagoon.

Since its inception in 1957, the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association has functioned as a league of coastal cities and counties on behalf of Florida’s beaches. FSBPA provides information to the Florida Legislature and Congress on beach preservation issues and funding.

Welch has been on the Board of Directors of FSBPA since February of 2012.

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.