Miami Lighthouse for the Blind visits RSMAS

RSMAS Professor, Dr. Will Drennan, talks hurricanes with the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind.

On Friday, July 13th, the Rosenstiel School was lucky enough to be visited by 25 students from the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind transition program and 5 of their mentors. The group was eager to learn about marine and atmospheric science research through sound and touch.

PhD student Erica Staaterman kicked off the day with an amazing presentation about ocean sounds. She played sound clips while explaining how animals communicate underwater and how we might be able to calculate the health of coral reefs by assessing the ambient clatter. Do you know what animal is making this noise? Click here to listen

Professor Will Drennan and his assistant, undergraduate student Katie Dziedzic, explained how hurricanes are studied on land, in the air, and by sea. The students listened to the sound of Category 4 forced winds tearing off the roof of a gas station, touched some of the equipment used on the EASI and ASIS buoys for collecting in situ hurricane data, and listened intently as Dr. Drennan told stories of flying in the hurricane hunter aircrafts.

Visiting the Aplysia facility.

The last stop on the tour was the Aplysia hatchery where the students got up close and personal with some fascinating marine animals. They touched coral skeletons and sea urchins tests, as well as live sea cucumbers, sea stars, conch, and of course aplysia!

“It was definitely a memorable experience for our students. Thank you for being so accommodating!” said Emily Nostro, Transition Program Coordinator at the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, at the end of this amazing day.

-Laura Bracken
Outreach Manager
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RSMAS Undergrad Focuses on Climate Change and Corals

My name is Katie, and I am currently a senior at the University of Miami studying Marine Science and Biology, but have been spending a lot of time at the Rosenstiel Campus in Dr. Andrew Baker’s Coral Reef Conservation Lab. It has been two years since I have started working alongside Andrew Baker and his graduate students, and I have dedicated all of my time to learning the various genetic techniques to study corals and their algal symbionts.

Ross Cunning, a current RSMAS graduate student in Baker’s lab, has given me a lot of guidance and has taught me a great deal about the different interactions among coral and their algal symbionts. Over the past two years, I analyzed DNA from Panamanian coral fragments to see whether they are acquiring more heat-tolerant algal symbionts over time, which may help them adapt to rising sea temperatures. I have also measured the growth rates of these corals in Tom Capo’s Coral Resource Facility to see how these heat-tolerant symbionts affect coral growth. I have also been working with graduate students Nate Formel and Kelly Montenero to see how different nutrient levels and element concentration levels will affect the symbionts and more so, their resilience to climate change. Overall, the analyses of these samples are quite meticulous, but the data says quite a lot about the relationship between climate change and its effect on corals. One thing I love most about this work is that it is always creating new questions and new possibilities to find an answer.

I hope to complete a Senior Thesis in my last year at the University of Miami. I would like to take a closer look at how the different symbionts of these corals must better adapt to their environment in order to withstand bleaching events in response to climate change.

Katie Dziedzic
Undergraduate Student – Marine Science & Biology
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