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

RECOVER Launches New Website

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The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) consortium RECOVER recently launched their new website at www.miami.edu/recover. It will act as a centralized hub for information regarding the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science led consortium focusing on the effects of crude oil on fish. Visitors to the site can expect to learn about new findings, classroom and virtual learning activities, hatchery tour information, and videos relative to the ongoing work.

Watch an introduction video to the RECOVER project.

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RECOVER (Relationship of Effects of Cardiac Outcomes in fish for Validation of Ecological Risk) is a consortium comprised of seven researchers from four institutions. Led by Professor Martin Grosell, the team is studying the impacts and toxic effects of crude oil on ecologically and commercially important fish from the Gulf of Mexico. Two species that are currently being examined are the pelagic mahi-mahi and the coastal redfish. Studies will range from molecular, cellular, organ level and whole animal physiologic as well as behavior analyses at different life stages. Previous findings by team members have already shown that fish embryos and larvae exposed to crude oil during early development results in malformation of hearts, resulting in mortality or reduced cardiac and swimming performance in surviving individuals.

To learn more about RECOVER and their current findings please visit www.miami.edu/recover and follow them on social media.

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Dan DiNicola

RECOVER Outreach Coordinator

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.

Summer Course in Water Resources: VietNam and China

Nine students from the University of Miami participated in a month-long UM course on “Water Resources: Science, Law, and Policy” in VietNam and China from 17 May to 12 June 2015. The course, cross-listed by the UM School of Law and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) was organized by Professor Daniel Suman. The students specialized in environmental law and the environmental science and policy at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.  Students spent two weeks in VietNam before traveling to Yunnan Province, China where they studied for weeks three and four of the course.

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In VietNam, course discussions were held in two universities: Hanoi University of Natural Resources and Environment (HUNRE) and the Hanoi University of Mining and Geology (HUMG). UM students were joined by some 20 students from both universities during lectures, discussions, field trips, and social activities. Topics covered included Water Resouce Management in VietNam, Mangroves and Wetlands in Vietnam, Drinking Water and Wastewater Management, Water and Sustainable Cities, Vietnam´s Law of the Environment, Public Perception of Water Resources in Vietnam, and Groundwater Management in VietNam. In addition to meetings at the universities, the group traveled to Halong Bay Marine Protected Area, Cat Ba National Park, and the Sapa region in the mountainous area on the VietNam-China border.

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During the second half of the course, the group visited the Asian International Rivers Center (AIRC) and Yunnan University in Kunming, China from 1-12 June. The Miami students were joined by 8 graduate students from AIRC. During their visit to the Yunnan University campus, AIRC Professors and Suman offered lectures on such topics as China´s transboundary rivers, management of water resources in China, wetlands in China and their management, wetland ecosystem services and the management of wetlands in the USA, the environmental impact assessment process in China, the United Nations Convention on the Law of Non-Navigable Uses of International Watercourses, and environmental impacts of mining. In addition to the week of presentations and discussions at AIRC, the students also visited numerous natural sites in Yunnan Province – including ShiLin Stone Forest Geological Park, Lake Dianchi and the Panlong River, Western Hills National Park, Dali and the Cangshan Mountain National Park, and Shaxi and Shibaoshan Mountain. One of the highlights of the course was a three day trek through the Tiger Leaping Gorge of the Yangtze River.

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This is the seventh year that the UM has offered this summer course in VietNam and China. It has provided opportunities for sharing of concepts and knowledge about water resources to young professionals from the three countries, as well as long-lasting friendships between students and staff from UM and sister institutions in VietNam and China.

— Daniel Suman, professor of marine ecosystems & society at the UM Rosenstiel School

Students Collaborate on One-of-a-kind Coral Bleaching Study

Thanks to an award from the Rosenstiel School’s Graduate Career Development Fund, a collaborative, graduate student-led research team has a one-of-a-kind opportunity to study how corals recover from mass bleaching events.

Five students – Jay Fisch, Erica Towle, Crawford Drury, Phil Kushlan and Rivah Winter – from three different labs across the Rosenstiel School campus have come together to design and execute a field study of an important reef-building coral, Orbicella faveolata, commonly known as Mountainous Star Coral, that suffered during the widespread coral bleaching event at Horseshoe Reef in the Florida Keys during the summer of 2014.

RSMAS graduate students: Phil Kushlan, Erica Towle, Crawford Drury, Jay Fisch, and Rivah Winter

RSMAS graduate students (from left to right): Phil Kushlan, Erica Towle, Crawford Drury, Jay Fisch, and Rivah Winter

Historic information previously collected at the site, combined with collections over the next year will allow the student team to study changes in coral symbiosis and metabolism and to measure individual colony response and recovery following a bleaching event. The research project will provide scientists with valuable new information on the relationship between recovery patterns and subsequent reproductive output.

“Recovery of reefs depends on both the recovery of the surviving individuals as well as the input of new individuals through reproduction,” said the students.

The students received a total of $3000 from the Graduate Career Development Fund. The students are Ph.D. candidates in Lirman’s Benthic Ecology Lab, Baker’s Coral Reef and Climate Change Lab and Langdon’s Coral and Climate Change Lab.

Rescue a Reef Update

130813_112247_054_CoralRestoration Coral reef with out planted stag horn corals.

It’s been over 2 years since Dr. Diego Lirman’s Benthic Ecology Lab at RSMAS began outplanting nursery reared staghorn corals (Acropora cervicornis) to degraded reefs as part of one of the largest Acropora restoration projects along the Florida Reef Tract. Today, those corals are making a significant impact on the structure and function of Miami’s reefs.

The University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science began growing colonies of the threatened staghorn coral in underwater nurseries starting with only 200 small fragments collected from existing wild colonies. To date, UM’s nurseries have produced over 6,000 healthy corals. Beginning in 2012, over 2,500 staghorn corals were carefully transplanted to their new homes on local reefs in Miami-Dade County. Over 85% of outplanted corals have survived to become part of the natural habitat and have grown to equal 243 meters of new staghorn! That is over 603% more coral than was originally outplanted! This is a significant increase in the number of Acropora colonies on local reefs and will help bridge spatial gaps between existing populations to enhance sexual reproduction and genetic diversity.The Benthic Ecology Lab has learned valuable lessons from their initial restoration success and has developed methods and techniques to increase the survival and growth of outplanted corals. In addition, important informtion about nursery and outplant site selection, growth and productivity variation between genotypes, effects of predation, and recovery from bleaching have been investigated to provide researchers and managers with essential conservation tools for the recovery of threatened staghorn corals.

–Stephanie Schopmeyer, Senior Research Associate II, Lirman Lab

N In Plot 3 P46 Initial size of staghorn coral fragment outplanted in 2012 (5 cm)

IMG_1360-1 Growth of staghorn coral two years after outplanting onto local reef (390 cm)