Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Erica Levine's Internship, Summer 2014 - Part 3

As this internship draws closer to its end, it’s interesting to look back at where we started and where we've come. We were able to start with a relatively unorganized collection with no form of digital record and make it into the phylogenetically organized and cataloged collection it now is. We have almost completed entering all of the jars into the digital database, and should have all 500+ previously identified items entered by the end of the week. With our remaining time, we are using genus and species keys to identify and label new specimens as they come into the collection. We will also start cataloging the specimens that are stored in larger containers and tanks too big for the shelves.

While there is still some work to be done to catch up with the identification and cataloging of all of the collected specimens, the work we have accomplished over the past month will make it much easier for others to continue expanding the collection and find items already stored at the FSU Coastal and Marine Lab. While there were a few snags along the way, working to overcome the problems and get as far along as we have has allowed me to learn new things about working in a marine collection as well as about general problem solving skills. I have enjoyed my time in this collection and look forward to any future opportunities to continue used the skills I developed while working on this internship.

Posted By:
Erica Levine, Florida State University

Monday, July 21, 2014

Christopher Horruitiner’s Internship, Summer 2014 – Part 2

From June 19th to the 28th, I was on a research vessel called the R/V Weatherbird II. The objective of our cruise was focused on identifying hardbottom habitat along the outer shelf of the De Soto Canyon’s eastern margin (Figure 1). The Chief Scientist on board was Dr. Stan Locker, and his team was primarily interested in using a Teledyne-Benthos C3D interferometric sidescan sonar device to map the sea floor and give us a better understanding of benthic habitats and paleoshorelines. My team from Valdosta State University and I were interested in capturing whole water samples across the water column using a CTD carousel, which also measured the Deep Chlorophyll Max, sound velocity, temperature, etc.
Survey Areas - DeSoto Canyon's Eastern Margin

Anastasia Nienow and I loading samples from the CTD.
On this cruise, we collected pigment samples to later analyze with High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and discreet Niskin bottle samples from several depths across the water column to later be analyzed by FlowCAM imaging cytometry, and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) to see how populations (primarily diatoms) change with depth and with season and hopefully we can compile that with a data set going back to January 2011 to identify/understand the temporal-spatial patterns of phytoplankton populations in the DeSoto Canyon region of the northern Gulf of Mexico.

While onboard, the science crew and I had to work two four-hour watches per day, where we helped monitor data acquisition, keep track of navigation, and took a log of activities. We also enjoyed three amazing and nutritious meals a day made by the onboard chef Thomas Lee, who took the care to make me separate vegetarian meals.

With only 8 or so hours of scientific obligations per day on the cruise, there was more than enough time to enjoy living out at sea in the Gulf of Mexico.

The whole crew came onto the deck to take a look at the formation of a water spout.  You can see the tendril of another to the left.
Dolphins were a regular phenomenon whilst on the R/V Weatherbird II.
And I also enjoyed my first real sunset (as well as my first real night sky and my first shooting star(s), which were impossible to photograph at night).
A pod of dolphins!  There was even a calf as well.  We thought they were made curious by the sonar device, but even after it was turned off they continued to show up.  
I am looking forward to analyzing our samples using the new lab equipment!

Posted By:
Christopher Horruitiner, Valdosta State University

Rachel Holladay's Internship, Summer 2014 - Part 4

Hello! Phases II and III of the ROV construction have been delayed while we are waiting for the rest of the parts to arrive. We have, however, tentatively scheduled some field testing in Bay St. Louis once more progress on the prototype can be made. This testing will also allow us to try out the manual that I am currently developing that will assist the intended audience, high school students, to easily collect data.

As a computer scientist, I have little to no experience with using CAD (computer aided design) programs. However, wanting to model the ROV as well as provide some detailed drawings and schematics, I decided to download SketchUp Make and fiddle around. While it isn’t as powerful as many, more professional CAD services, its relatively small learning curve made it incredibly appealing. Below are some of the sketches I’ve made, including a full mock­up of the intended end­result and a heavily stylized idea of the ROV swimming along in the ocean.


Posted By:
Rachel Holladay, Naval Research Laboratory

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sam Holladay's Internship, Summer 2014 - Part 3

Over the past few weeks I have continued work on the adaptive climatology iPhone app. I have continued to conduct a great deal of research into the app, and began work on the user interface. However, I have encountered some problems with designing the app totally from scratch: learning all the iPhone development on my own is difficult, and unfortunately Web resources aren’t the best. After some consulting with my advisor, I have decided to try a new tactic and focus instead on the most important part of the app: establishing communication between the user and our server, so the user can send in information for us to use in our model.

When facing adversity, I have found that determination, repeatedly attacking a problem, usually works after a while. If repeated attempts do not work, then trying the problem from a different angle helps. I hope that working on this different facet of the app will yield better results. Even though I have been greatly frustrated by setbacks, I have still learned a lot about Objective-C and iPhone development, and hope to continue with progress.

Posted By:
Sam Holladay, Naval Research Laboratory