Faculty Profile: Dr. Claire Paris

As an ocean scientist at the UM Rosenstiel School, Claire Paris spends days observing the movements of tiny fish larvae in a unique underwater drifting laboratory. She has developed scientific instruments to listen to, and observe these important, but often unnoticed, life forms on the reefs and in the open ocean. Another powerful component to her scientific approach is how she interacts with her research subjects underwater. Paris uses her talent as a certified freediver to minimize any human disturbance to her research subjects.

Claire Paris

Claire Paris

“The bubbles from SCUBA disturbs the pelagic environment,” said Paris, a native of South France who spent a lot of time in the ocean as a child. “Freediving makes you feel one with the environment and promotes a sense of peace and fulfillment.”

Paris, a Rosenstiel School alumna (M.S. ’87), is at the top of her game, both as a scientist and freediver. She has led numerous groundbreaking studies, including one that showed that reef fish larvae can smell the presence of coral reefs from as far as several kilometers offshore, and use this odor to find their way home. She also found that fish larvae communicate by emitting sounds.

She has developed unique scientific instruments and sophisticated computer models to predict how fish larvae, as well other planktonic organisms and pollutants are transported with the ocean currents. These tools were instrumental to help track the behavior of oil during the Deepwater Horizon blowout, and continue to be used to simulate the fate of oil, to predict oil spill impacts and to optimize the first response to future spills.

US Freediving Association Team

US Freediving Association Team

She is a member of the United States Freediving Association (USFA) and an AIDA* International-ranked freediver and was selected for Team USA for the Team World Championships in 2014 and for the Individuals World Championships in 2015. She holds a Performance Freediving International (PFI) certification. Claire’s goal is to promote AAUS (American Academy of Underwater Science) scientific freediving nation-wide with the UM Rosenstiel School as a frontrunner.

Finding her potential and having no fear to dive deeper makes her a better scientist, says Paris.

*AIDA: Association Internationale pour le Development de l’Apnee

Marine Chemistry Pioneer Frank Millero Retires

Dr. Frank MilleroAfter 49 years world-renowned Marine Chemist Frank Millero is retiring as a full professor of ocean sciences from the UM Rosenstiel School. Millero will join the ranks as a professor emeritus while still maintaining his active ocean science research laboratory on campus.

During his academic tenure Millero was instrumental in helping shape current scientific knowledge on the chemistry of seawater, a fundamental component to understand the ocean’s role in global climate change. He has published over 500 works, including one of the premier textbooks on ocean chemistry, and developed the fundamental equation of state of seawater still in use today.

Millero and his research team have traveled the world ocean’s collecting data on carbon dioxide levels at different ocean depths as part of a large, collaborate National Science Foundation-funded project. The 20-year study is helping to understand the environmental effects of the 40 percent of human-generated CO2 that enter the world’s ocean. The next cruise is scheduled for August 2015.

Beyond his scientific accolades, Millero’s devotion to teaching the next generation of scientists and generous philanthropic contributions to the UM Rosenstiel School, athletics, and arts have helped advance the University in many ways.

Millero grew up in Ohio and earned his undergraduate degree at The Ohio State University and a doctorate in chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he tended bar for spending money and met his wife, Judith. They have three children: Marta Millero-Quincoses, B.B.A. ’95, a South Florida accountant; Frank III, who teaches at Pratt Institute in New York; and Anthony, who works in merchandising in New York.

We are happy that Frank’s good works and good humor will still be on campus for several more years!

Faculty, Staff and Student Award Winners!

Scientists Receives 2015 Provost’s Research Awards

UMiami_alt2Three UM Rosenstiel School faculty members are recipients of the 2015 Provost’s Research Awards. Evan D’Alessandro, Danielle McDonald, and Larry Peterson were honored at a March 27 award ceremony on the UM Coral Gables campus. The award is designed to foster excellence in research and creative scholarship at the University of Miami. The Provost’s Research Awards provide both salary support and support for direct research costs. The awards are classified into three categories based on discipline: the Max Orovitz Research Awards in the Arts and Humanities, the James W. McLamore Research Awards in Business and the Social Sciences, and the Research Awards in the Natural Sciences and Engineering.

The award-winning research projects:

  • Evan D’Alessandro – Research Assistant Professor of Marine Biology & Ecology, “Re-constructing movement patterns and habitat usage of invasive lionfish using micro-chemistry and stable isotope signatures in their otoliths.”
  • Danielle McDonald – Associate Professor of Marine Biology & Ecology, “Chemical communication in toadfish for the purpose of predator avoidance.”
  • Larry Peterson – Professor of Marine Geosciences, “A High Resolution Investigation of Variability in the East Asian Monsoon from Sea of Japan Sediments.”

Amel Saied Honored With Staff Appreciation Award

Amel SaiedUM Rosenstiel School’s Amel Saied is a recipient of the 2015 Linda Sher-Collado Memorial Staff Appreciation Award. This award is bestowed upon a select group of outstanding administrative and support staff members by the UM Graduate Student Association executive board in honor of Linda Sher-Collado, a longtime reservationist at the University Center/Student Activities Center who was beloved by students and the community.

Saied, a research associate in the UM Rosenstiel School’s department of marine geosciences, was nominated by graduate students for her commitment to the school.

Accolades from her graduate student nominators:

“one of the cornerstones, a pillar of the RSMAS community”

“She has shown leadership by leading the RSMAS section of the Corporate Runs and her compassion for others by hosting monthly breakfasts for all… participating in group events ranging from soccer to beach cleanups”

“I don’t know how many times she has either stayed late or came in over the weekend to help students in the lab. She’s even given me snacks when it’s getting late and I’m still working because she knows that it will be a while before I can eat dinner. She really looks out for all the students she works with and helps them succeed with their research endeavors.”

This award showcases UM staff that continue Linda’s spirit of student support and building a better U.

Xaymara Serrano Awarded 2015 Ford Foundation Fellowship

Xaymara_SerranoUM Rosenstiel School Postdoctoral Associate Xaymara Serrano was recently awarded one of 18 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships given in 2015 nationwide.

These postdoctoral fellowships are awarded in a national competition administered by the National Research Council (NRC) to individuals who, in the judgment of the review panels, have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

Xaymara plans to use these funds to support another year of her postdoctoral research at NOAA’s Atlantic and Oceanographic Meteorological Laboratory to investigate coral reef responses to climate change and land-based sources of pollution.

CARTHE, Waterlust Team Wins Top Prize in Video Challenge

A team of scientists and filmmakers at the Rosenstiel School won top prize in the Ocean 180 Challenge for their video “Drones on the Beach” and placed in the top 10 for their video about ocean currents, “Bob the Drifter.”

Watch the award-winning video:

To read the corresponding science publication on drone technology used in oil spill research, click here.

The videos were created by the Waterlust team, which includes Ph.D. student Patrick Rynne and alumna Fiona Graham and Jennah Caster. Both videos were based on CARTHE ((Consortium for Advanced Research on the Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment) research. CARTHE is a Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative consortia based at the Rosenstiel School.

37,795 middle school students judges in over 1,600 classrooms in 21 countries selected the top entries. These students were responsible for critiquing and evaluating the finalists based on their creativity, message, and educational value.

Watch “Bob the Drifter”

The Florida Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE Florida) hosts the annual Ocean 180 Video Challenge, which aims to engage non-scientists and students in timely and relevant ocean science research while inspiring scientists to effectively share their discoveries and excitement for research with the public. For more on the Ocean 180 video Challenge, click here.

CARTHE, Waterlust team

CARTHE, Waterlust team

Faculty, Student and Alumni Updates

Professor Amy Clement Named 2015 AMS Fellow

Amy Clement 1UM Rosenstiel School Professor Amy Clement has been elected a 2015 Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the nation’s leading professional society for scientists in the atmospheric and related sciences. The award was presented at a special reception on Jan. 4 2015 at the AMS annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.

Clement, an associate dean and professor of atmospheric sciences, leads a climate modeling research group at the UM Rosenstiel School, which aims to better understand various aspects of Earth’s climate, from Saharan dust and clouds to El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which is the largest mode of variability in the modern climate. Clement’s research focus is on fundamental aspects of the climate system, including understanding why the climate changed in the past, and predicting how it will change in the future.

Grad Student Gives Keynote at Sailing Symposium

waterlust-nsps-2 (1)Rosenstiel School Ph.D. student Patrick Rynne recently gave a keynote lecture at the National Sailing Programs Symposium in New Orleans. His talk focused on the inherent connection between sailing and the ocean and how decisions we make impact that relationship and how his cause-based organization, Waterlust, came to be and what small (or big) steps that organizations can take to help promote environmental awareness.

Patrick founded Waterlust, a student-run project aimed at inspiring the world to consider their relationship with water through online film and photography, while a student at RSMAS.

Alumna Joins MPS Program, Awarded Suncoast Emmy®

JulieHUM Rosenstiel School alumna Julie Hollenbeck recently joined the Master of Professional Science (MPS) Program team as associate director. Julie has extensive experience within and among the University of Miami community and has worked in TV broadcast journalism, communications, project management, and outreach and education.

Julie was honored in December 2014 with a Suncoast Emmy® for her work on Living Fossils, an episode from WPBT2’s original television series Changing Seas. Hollenbeck worked as an associate producer for Changing Seas.

The episode, Living Fossils, produced by Changing Seas series producer Alexa Elliott, features research on deep-sea crinoids, a flower-like animal related to starfish, urchins and other echinoderms. Crinoids can be traced back to the Paleozoic era yet very little is known about this enigmatic creature. Researchers featured in the episode explored the depths from a deep-sea submarine, filling in previously unknown details on the lives of crinoids.

Julie is also a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Exeter’s European Center for Environmental and Human Health program.

What is Aquaponics?

photo-1Aquaponics is an ecosystem approach to food production. In one recirculating system, aquaponics maintains a school of fish, a variety of plants, and a healthy colony of beneficial bacteria. The bacteria are the real heroes here. They rapidly consume toxic ammonia waste produced by the fish and turn it into nitrates on which the plants can thrive.
It all boils down to the nitrogen cycle. The fish feed contains nitrogen in the form of protein, which is the primary source of energy for the fish. As part of their digestion and respiration, the fish excrete nitrogen as ammonia both directly from their gills and indirectly through their solid waste. This waste ammonia will rapidly accumulate in recirculating aquaculture systems, and is quite toxic to fish even at relatively low levels. For aquaculture, ammonia must either be flushed out of the system or consumed in a biofilter.
A biofilter is nothing more than an elaborate bacteria condominium. In the biofilter, there is a lot of substrate surface area for bacteria to call home. Two kinds of bacteria have been identified as the main beneficial actors in a biofilter: Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter. In turn, these bacteria convert ammonia into nitrite and then nitrate. This is good for the fish because nitrate is far less toxic than ammonia. This is great for the plants because nitrate is great plant food.
After the bacteria in the biofilter have eaten up the ammonia and spat out nitrate, the plants uptake these chemicals and prevent them from building up. Thus, the plants effectively purify the water for the fish in the aquaculture system.
The plants get great fertilizer, the fish get pristine water, and the bacteria make it all happen.
Unlike aquaculture, aquaponics allows no effluent to leave the culture system for the environment to break down. Unlike hydroponics, aquaponics systems do not require the entire system’s water to be dumped down the drain every two weeks. With aquaponics, you can produce edible fish and plants, waste little water, and produce no external effluent.

Aquaponics at the University of Miami
At the University of Miami (UM) Experimental Hatchery, the main focus has been on raising marine pelagic finfish in semi-recirculating tank systems.
By leveraging the considerable aquaculture experience available in the faculty, staff and students at the hatchery, a successful aquaponics system has been started at the UM Experimental Hatchery to showcase the technologies relied upon in aquaponics systems. We are raising Tilapia in a completely recirculating aquaponics system, with no wastewater going down the drain.
For the hydroponic component of our aquaponic system, we are using a media bed filled with expanded clay and we are experimenting with a vertical tower system which allows greater production per square foot. We are currently growing two crops: basil and spearmint. If you have eaten the pesto at the restaurant SALT on campus since late in the fall semester of this year, there’s a good chance you’ve enjoyed the basil grown in our aquaponics system.
The Aquaponics program at the UM Experimental Hatchery continues to grow. Aquaponics is a great way to eliminate the waste effluent being produced at aquaculture facilities and hydroponic plant production facilities. We are engaging with a variety of commercial and educational facilities which are interested in developing aquaponics operations.

–Joshua Grubman, UM Rosenstiel School part-time lecturer