Tools for Success

The STEM field has become increasingly popular and important in the past few years. Encouraging grade school students to participate in STEM activities have been shown to make an impact in their chances of high school graduation and being accepted into college. In fact, one program has seen first-hand what a difference STEM immersion can do for a student.

One program that has made an incredible impact on high school students since its inception in 1999, has been the Frost Science Upward Bound Math and Science program (UBMS), funded by the U.S. Department of Education. UBMS understands the importance of science in the classroom, but has also realized that under-resourced students often miss out on a science focused curriculum in school as well as lacking science role models in their lives. To defeat this problem, the UBMS program enlists students from Title 1 schools within the M-DCPS district and enrolls them in a four year, after school, weekend and summer program geared towards STEM curiosity. The program inspires these under-resourced students the opportunity to see a world of post-secondary study, motivating them to complete high school and become the first generation in their family to be accepted into college.

The UBMS program provides these students with access to mentors, interactions with scientists and technology as well as a six-week summer program called IMPACT (Integrated Marine Program and College Training). In partnership with the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, these students are able to immerse themselves with marine science curriculum through activities with the university such as shark tagging expeditions, outdoor field experiences and field trips to state parks and marine sanctuaries and conduct research projects mentored by graduate students and M-DCPS teachers.

IMPACT Program student cuts a piece of a Nurse shark’s dorsal fin for analysis back at the lab.

 

The IMPACT curriculum always includes the theory, practice and tools associated with different subjects ranging from oceanography, marine biology, geology, and ecology, meteorology and resource management. At the end of their six-week summer program, the students are given the opportunity to present their projects and are recognized by museum staff, scientists, families and peers for their dedicated accomplishments.

This summer, I was given the opportunity to present and give a lecture to these students during their six-week IMPACT program at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. As a current Rosenstiel School graduate student, I am fulfilling my internship requirement under the direction of Research Professor Vassiliki Kourafalou in the Department of Ocean Sciences, who is currently doing research with funding from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI)  which is a “10-year independent research program created to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies” (Gulf of Mexico Research Intiative 2013). In easier words, to understand the effects of oil on the environment and how to be better prepared in case another oil spill like the Deepwater Horizon explosion were to happen again. During my internship, I spent most of my time researching and understanding the work related to the GoMRI project, created lectures and presentations for high school classrooms and attended outreach events. I felt really lucky to be given the opportunity to present to these IMPACT students, because coming from a previous career as a high school biology teacher, I understand the importance of communicating science to young people, while making them interested in it at the same time. To be invited by the outreach coordinators at IMPACT and asked to be a small part of an amazing program like UBMS, was extremely gratifying. Knowing I made a positive impact on these students is a feeling that every teacher, volunteer, outreach coordinator, mom, dad, whoever it may be, wants to feel and experience.

Amanda De Cun provides an overview of oil-spill science to IMPACT Program students

With over 1,000 students participating in their program since 1999, 98% have graduated high school and 95% have been accepted into a post-secondary institution of study, with the majority pursuing STEM fields (UBMS 2017). The UBMS program has made it extremely clear that when you provide students with the necessary tools to succeed, they will, in fact succeed.

 

 

 

Works Cited

  1. Gulf of Mexico Research Intiative . http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/.
  2. UBMS. https://www.frostscience.org/project/ubms/.

 

Submitted by:

Amanda I. De Cun, MPS Candidate Marine Ecosystems and Society Intern, Department of Ocean Sciences

 This story was previously published by:

Miami Today Newspaper; August 17, 2017, pg.6

Florida Citizens for Science, website and social media accounts; July 2017

Rosenstiel School Ocean Modeling Website; July 2017

Rosenstiel School MPS Facebook; July 2017

 

 

 

 

Outstanding Mentor & Student Award Winners

UM Rosenstiel Professor Roland Romeiser of the Department of Ocean Sciences is the winner of the 2017 Outstanding Mentor Award. This annual award is meant to recognize faculty and staff members who go above and beyond in fostering the professional and personal development of RSMAS graduate students. The award is based solely on student recommendations and nominations were evaluated by a committee made up of student representatives and the previous year’s recipient.

David Ortiz-Suslow (left) and 2017 Outstanding Mentor award recipient Roland Romeiser

According to Dave Ortiz-Suslow, chair of the student SLED committee that choose this year’s winner, “Dr. Romeiser is described as having a profound interest in the well-being of OCE graduate students. He is an excellent instructor, accomplished researcher, and outstanding mentor to many students, not only the ones he directly advises.”

The SLED committee also recognized Professor Elizabeth Babcock of the Department of Marine Biology and Ecology as this year’s Honorable Mention. Dr. Babcock is an excellent mentor who works ardently to encourage students’ professional development at and beyond RSMAS.

Student Awards

On Friday, April 28 an award ceremony was held honoring all UM Rosenstiel student accomplishments during the past year.

Spring 2017 Student Award Winners

Photos of the 2017 awards ceremony can be accessed here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/RosenstielSchool/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10154576154375949

Best Ph.D. Dissertation – F.G. Walton Smith Prize
Dr. Sarah Larson (MPO)

Best Student Publication – Millero Prize
Jara Schnyder (MGG)

Mary Roche Endowed Fellowship 
Mariana Bernardi-Bif (OCE)

Koczy Fellowship
Kevin Schauer (MBE)

Masters of Professional Science for Excellence in Ocean Stewardship
Ana Nader Valenci (MPS)
Jeff Palumbo (MPS)

Graduate Studies Service Award
Samantha Dowdell (MAF)
Meredith Jennings (MAC)
David Ortiz-Suslow (AMP)

Teaching Assistant Excellence Award
Zachary Daugherty (MES)
Sharmila Giri (MGG)
Jacob Jerome (MAF)

Career Development Fund
Ryan Kramer (MPO) and Eleanor Middlemas (MPO)
Michael Connelly (MBE)
Shane Hinton (MPS)
Amanda Mikalian (MPS)
Heather Sadusky (MPS)
Joletta Silva (MPS)
Jennifer Simms (MPS)

David Rowland Endowed Fellowship
Molly Amador (MBE)
Ana Palacio-Castro (MBF)

International Light Tackle Tournament Fund
Lela Schlenker (MBF)
Christina Pasparakis (MBE)
Heather Sadusky (MPS)

Best MPO Student Seminar Award
Ryan Kramer (MPO)

Best Abstract OCE Student Seminars
Romain Chaput (OCE)

OCE/AMP/MAC Best Student Seminar 

Dave Ortiz-Suslow (OCE)

 

Congratulations to our spring award winners and a special thanks to the Graduate Academic Committee for carefully reviewing and selecting the winners from a very strong group of nominations.

 

 

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

Researchers Assess Damage to Seagrass Habitat Following 4th of July Festivities

Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, in collaboration with the Key Biscayne Community Foundation and the Key Biscayne Citizen Science program, conducted an assessment of seagrass communities on the Mashta flats off Key Biscayne prior and immediately following the 4th of July weekend.

Results showed significant amounts of new damage and marine debris following the weekend’s festivities, which is a popular area for weekend and holiday boaters. Initial surveys were conducted at 10 random locations (80 m2 each) on June 30, 2016. During these surveys, seagrass cover was calculated and all trash found within the plots was collected, identified, and counted. The same plots were re-surveyed on July 6, 2016.

An American flag found by researchers on seagrass habitat during the assessment.

An American flag found by researchers on seagrass habitat during the assessment.

The initial surveys revealed that each plot contained four pieces of trash on average. Trash items included aluminum cans, plastic cups, glass bottles, and other miscellaneous items. Extrapolating the amount of trash collected onto the whole area of the Mashta flats (82 acres, area < 3 m of depth) results in an estimated 17,000 trash items accumulated onto the bottom habitats prior to the holiday weekend. Following the holiday weekend there were an additional 2 trash items per plot on average. Extrapolating again onto the whole area of the flats, close to 10,000 new trash items accumulated on the seagrass habitat over the holiday weekend.

While trash on the bottom is a serious problem for marine life, physical injuries to the seagrass beds is also a major source of concern. Evidence of recent boat damage (anchor and propeller scars) was observed within 6 of the 10 plot surveys. Estimates of recovery time for scars vary, but can range from as little as 0.9 years to 7.6 years (Sargent et al. 1995, Andorfer and Dawes 2002).

Seagrass beds provide myriad ecological and economic services. They are important nurseries and habitat to commercial and recreational fish as well as invertebrate species like lobster, crabs, snappers, grunts, tarpon, and bonefish. They buffer storm impacts and filter sediments and nutrients, contributing to water clarity. Additionally, they are important carbon sinks that help buffer the impacts of ocean acidification.

“Enjoying the beautiful and diverse marine habitats surrounding the city of Miami is a unique privilege,” said Diego Lirman, associate professor who led the assessment conducted by the University of Miami’s Benthic Ecology Lab. “However, we need to be aware that these habitats are very fragile and that their persistence is dependent on our responsible use.”

Research in the University of Miami’s Benthic Ecology Lab, led by UM Rosenstiel School Associate Professor Diego Lirman, concentrates on the coastal habitats of South Florida, including coral reefs, hardbottom, and submerged aquatic vegetation (seagrass) communities. Research activities combine extensive field activities and surveys and ecological modeling to understand the dynamics of benthic habitats and document influences of human and natural disturbances on these important resources.

By: Diego Lirman, Associate Professor, Department of Marine Biology and Ecology – UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science 

Drawn to the Sea

When Patrick Rynne contacted me on December 11th of last year, he explained that one of Waterlust’s initiatives was to showcase ocean scientists’ fundamental research interest and juxtapose the topic with their personal passions. He said “Obviously your name jumped up immediately. We’d love to produce a piece on you that contrasts your love of freediving with your research”. I was stoked about the idea of a snapshot documentary. I thought it could be a very artistic and powerful way to communicate science to the general public. Drawn to the Sea, the Waterlust 4-minute long video was launched 6 months later, coincidently during the International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) which takes place only every four years, and I could not be happier with the outcome. It’s making was a very educational and amazing journey that I’d love to share.

The short video is composed of three major parts: the narration, the footage, and the soundtrack.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 3.10.11 PM

The Narration

Being familiar with my research on fish larvae, Patrick had a story board already in mind, but he asked me of I would prefer to do the narration myself. As far as I remember, water has been my sanctuary and since I am very passionate about my work and about freediving, I found it easy and fun to write the narration below. The hardest part was to make the story short enough to be told in 3-4 minutes. It took however coaching from Patrick to speak into a microphone and many repetitions alone in my office late at night, with complete silence to get it right!

I have always been drawn to the sea. As a kid, I imagined the magic of the aquatic realm and found comfort underwater, mesmerized by the sounds of waves on the shoals and of my heart beat slowing down.

I am a biological oceanographer and a free diver. The ocean is where I push my mind and my body. I study the earliest days of a fishs life, what we call its larval stage. All fish, even those that grow to become very large, begin their lives very small. They may be tiny, but weve learned they are far from defenseless. They are strong and self sufficient having evolved to survive the pelagic life. Like the mantra ek ong kar, they and the ocean are one.

Despite this, they must still find their way through the oceans currents to a safe home like a coral reef where they can live and grow. At first we thought some would find a suitable habitat by chance, while others would be lost in the vast ocean. But today we are discovering a different story. Fish larvae are skilled swimmers and work together by using the light from the sun, and the smells and sounds in the ocean to find their way home. Even when young, they are connected to the sea in ways we dont entirely understand. When I observe them, I cannot help but think they know something about this blue world that I don’t.

Unlike a fish, I cannot extract oxygen from the water. But with long, deep inhales, I have learned to fill my lungs with air and slow the beat of my heart. Underwater, I find peace listening to my pulse slowing down and the sound of water over my body. I sink as pressure increases and I feel the water running faster over my face. I imagine that I am just like the tiny fish I study.

I explore the ocean with others like me, learning how to hold my breath and extend each visit below, just a little bit longer. But no matter how hard I train.my body will eventually force me to leave and return home to the air. Sometimes.in my dreams, I imagine I could hold my breath forever. I feel free. I wonder if I could, would I ever come back?

The Soundtrack

The music actually came after the narration. Despite personal preference for cello or violin, I had to agree that the piano soundtrack chosen by the Waterlust team was perfectly in tune with the narration. They have a lot of experience putting together amazing videos with beautiful soundtracks so it did not take long for them to find the perfect fit.

The Footage

Most of the footage was the result of a weekend session done with the Waterlust team in the Florida Springs. We had a great time freediving with them and their creative angles. Before that, I started organizing all my footage together and Patrick reviewed it and figured out what more was needed. The video needed field and lab footage of larval fish. I had some unique video of groups of damselfish larvae navigating taken by my husband Ricardo (RSMAS Alumni) and I on the Great Barrier Reef a few years ago. This study was recently published in PLoS ONE in December 2015. However, the field of larval fish behavior is relatively undocumented. So Patrick came to my lab and took some radical video of mahi-mahi larvae (generously donated by my UM Rosenstiel School colleagues, Daniel Bennetti and Martin Grosell) with a macro lens shooting at 240 frames per second!

The video also needed freediving clips from travel or from competitions. My first competition was at Deja Blue in October 2013 and my latest trip was at the Dean’s Blue Hole this April 2016, where I regularly service an acoustic pressure instrument that records sounds in a marine sinkhole. However, we still needed some footage of the meditation practice that is part of my freediving training, and of course of the fun part of the freediving with “others like me”. We asked Waterlust Ambassador, Ashley Baird, to join us on that endeavor. Ashley is from central Florida and also a competitive free diver and a great friend, so she was perfect for the role and she kindly accepted!

The best part of making the video was hanging out with the amazing Waterlust team,at Ginnie Springs around a fire camp and freediving under the moonlight. It was my first time visiting the Florida springs. I could not believe that after so many years in Miami, I had missed such natural beauty in Central Florida. The freshwater is so clear that you can see the refraction of the hammocks on the Snell’s window from the bottom of the sink holes.

I hope you enjoy the video and that it will inspire more documentaries of our scientific research at RSMAS and of our passion for the ocean.

 

Claire Paris, Professor – Department of Ocean Sciences, UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Claire Paris-Limouzy leads the RSMAS Physical-Biological Interactions Lab and is a champion free-diver.

 

 

Professor Emeritus Receives Surprise Honor

Joe and lab plaque_IMG_1561UM Rosenstiel School Professor Emeritus Joseph Prospero received a unique recognition at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Izana Observatory, a world-renowned atmospheric research station located in Tenerife, Canary Islands.

“For the celebration they asked me to present a short lecture on the history of our aerosol studies at Izana,” said Prospero. “At the end of the lecture – and to my great surprise – they presented to me a large aluminum plaque that was intended to be affixed to a building.”

The Izana Observatory building is now named the “Joseph M. Prospero Aerosol Research Laboratory.”

Known as the “grandfather of dust,” Prospero’s lifelong work has been to measure the effects of airborne dust. Since 1965, he and his colleagues have been measuring dust particles in Barbados, West Indies, thus creating the longest dust measurement data set in science.

Sergio and Joe with my lab at far left_MG_1543

“I have had a long association with the observatory, starting in 1974 when I started aerosol sampling at the site,” said Prospero. “Over the years we have continued to cooperate and we have held some major field campaigns there.”

About 100 people representing the major atmospheric and meteorological centers attended Prospero’s lecture.