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.

Exploring Marine Science Day 2014

Saturday October 25, 2014 marked the 12th anniversary of the Exploring Marine Science Day for middle school girls. The Consortium for Advanced Research on the Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE) partnered with the UM Rosenstiel School and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to host this day of interactive learning. Fifty young women from across South Florida spent their Saturday with Rosenstiel’s female faculty, students, and researchers to get an up close look at what it is like to be a marine scientist.

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  • The girls learned about corals with Stephanie Schopmeyer and helped with coral restoration by planting coral (skeleton) fragments on special nursery plantforms.
  • The amazing women from Marine Geosciences never disappoint! Amel Saied, Anna Ling, Kim Galvez, and Carolina Bardaro taught the girls how to squeeze water from mud samples and they explored some of the amazing organisms found in the ocean.
  • The highlight of the day is always drawing blood from a toadfish with Dr. Danielle McDonald and her students. They learned about red and white blood cells, plasma, and stress hormones.
  • Rana Fine taught the girls about ocean acidification through an experiment in which the girls test the pH of sea water, before and after the addition of a carbonated soda.
  • Aplysia! CARTHE Outreach Manager Laura Bracken taught the girls about the importance of the amazing aplysia and the fascinating details of their life cycle, but the best part was actually getting to hold their slimy new friend.
  • The girls learned about density during a colorful experiment, mixing salt and freshwater with Meredith Jennings and Renellys Perez.
  • Josefina Olascoaga created a spinning ocean in the lab, complete with dyed ocean currents and eddies!
  • Dr. Lisa Beal completed the day with a powerful video of female oceanographers and a reminder to all of us, “Don’t let the boys have all the fun!”

Attendees had this to say about the event:

“Today’s program was awesome! I did not know there was so much science out in the ocean…”
“I love science and everything I did today was amazing”

“Today was one of the best days of my life!”

“I learned that there was a lot more to marine science than I thought.”

The activities are clearly fun and engaging but most importantly the girls left with a greater interest in science and knowing that anyone can be a scientist. Our scientists are also athletes, mothers, community leaders, and artists. According to the evaluations, the majority has an increased interest in studying science!

Thank you to all of the volunteers from CARTHE, RSMAS, and AAUW for making this day a success.

— Laura Bracken