Friday, June 29, 2012

Stan Cutler's Research Experiences for Teachers, Summer 2012 - Part 3

Week 3 (June 25-29)

The off-grid zero emissions building on the FSU campus.
Wednesday was a very fun day! I was able to join outreach coordinator Meredith Field, assistant state climatologist Melissa Griffin, and PhD student Sarah Strazzo on an outreach presentation at a local summer camp. Melissa’s slide presentation culminated with a popular cloud in a bottle, Sarah taught the students to build take-home thermometers, and I was able to run a few fluid demonstrations of my own. The students were very curious and attentive, and I enjoyed getting my “teacher fix” for the summer! I later took advantage of a tour on campus of the amazing off-grid zero emission building. This house/laboratory is one of only 15 in the country that have earned a platinum (highest level) LEED certification (and it looked like an awesome place to tailgate before an FSU football game!). I also was privileged to see the famous “bouncing bottles” demonstration run by Dr. Ruby Krishnamurti, Professor Emerita of Oceanography. Dr. Ruby is a wealth of information, and I highly enjoy conversing with her in the GFDI (Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute) lab.

My model canyon in the wave tank.
Thursday was partly a filming day, and I look forward to seeing a video that is being produced by Meredith Field and tech wiz Kris Suchdeve about the Deep-C RET program. We did some “canyon testing” in the wave tank in GFDI, and then moved over to the Oceanography building to visit Dr. Wienders. Nico discussed the importance of the DeSoto Canyon research to both science and society. He has certainly helped inspire me as to the importance of educators like myself sharing what we learn with our students, who would normally not be exposed to the research from organizations like Deep-C.

I will be heading home to Orlando for the weekend, halfway through my six week experience. I hope the next three weeks are as good as the first three were!

Data from three vessels around DeSoto canyon being graphed using MATLAB software.
My morning walks inspire me. I hope the way we treat the environment allows it to remain "unconquered."
Post Author:
Stan Cutler

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Corine Samaras's Research Experiences for Undergraduates, Summer 2012 - Part 1

Hello Science World,

My name is Corine Samaras and I am going to be a senior at Florida State University. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to work with the Deep-C Consortium as an undergraduate this summer.

I will be spending this summer under the mentorship of Dr. Markus Huettel, an oceanographer here at FSU. I will be preparing my research in the basement of the Rogers (Oceanography/Statistics) Building on the FSU campus. I have already begun conducting an experiment on the aerobic decomposition of MC252 crude oil in Gulf of Mexico sediments. I will be preparing eight columns, four of which are filled with saturated sand (control) and four of which will be filled with sand and a little bit of oil (experimental). A peristaltic pump will be used to control water flow through the cores. I will be using an optode to measure the oxygen concentration at the entry and exit of each column. In the end I will hopefully be able to calculate the oxygen consumption rate caused by the oil, which will be used as proxy for the aerobic oil degradation rate.

Here is one piece of my setup.
Equipment to measure the oxygen concentration.
I have already learned so much from just starting the experiment and cannot wait to learn more. I have been given the opportunity to meet talented grad students and professors who are working on very important research. I look forward to continuing my work in the weeks to come and hope for good, clear results.

Post Author:
Corine Samaras

Friday, June 22, 2012

Stan Cutler's Research Experiences for Teachers, Summer 2012 - Part 2

Week 2 (June 18-22) 

Happy belated Summer Solstice! If you were in Tallahassee, you might have attended the solstice floating lantern launch at The All Saints Hop Yard Wednesday night. I missed it, but I did see a screening of “The Big Fix” Thursday night, which is all about the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. They had some footage of a sampling instrument being lowered into the Gulf, and it happened to be the same instrument (CTD rosette) that gathered the data we are currently analyzing in the lab!

Graduate student Tachanat Bhatrasataponkul.
I enjoyed attending two seminars put on today by graduate students during their weekly informal series. Joe Schoonover talked about Thermodynamics, and Tachanat Bhatrasataponkul discussed Coordinated Ocean-Ice reference experiments (CORE). I was impressed by the speakers and the other students, who gave excellent feedback and support. Hats off to GFDI for sponsoring these seminars (and for the huge pizza that was served beforehand!). I was also able to attend a Physical Oceanography Seminar on Monday (dealing with El Nino) and a Chemical Oceanography Seminar on Wednesday (dealing with Dissolved Organic Matter due to combustion). The Oceanography Department is certainly producing some high-quality graduates!

I made a lot of progress (with Nico’s constant guidance) on using the MATLAB software to graph data from May’s Pelican cruise. Data from other recent cruises (Bellows and Weatherbird) has also been obtained, and we’ve started to process those numbers. If things go well, we should have some good “pictures” of DeSoto Canyon. See you later!  

Preliminary graphs of data obtained during the May Pelican cruise.

Dr. Wienders demonstrating how to program scripts that allow for better and faster graphing.

Post Author:
Stan Cutler

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stan Cutler's Research Experiences for Teachers, Summer 2012 - Part 1

Week 1 (June 11-15)

Hi, folks! My name is Stan Cutler and I am a high-school Physics teacher in Altamonte Springs (near Orlando), Florida. I am thrilled to have been selected as the inaugural RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) participant with the Deep-C Consortium. I am looking forward to spending six weeks in Tallahassee performing “real-world science and cutting-edge research!”

I started my program on Monday, June 11th, and reported to the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute in the basement of the Keen Building on the FSU campus. I was introduced to one of my mentors, Dr. Kevin Speer, an Oceanography Professor and the Director of GFDI. Dr. Speer discussed some of the many wave tank experiments that take place at the Institute, and I look forward to sharing many of these experiments as they occur. Dan Kuncicky, an engineer in the lab, has been busy (along with a number of graduate and undergrad students) planning a wave tank experiment simulating high-amplitude and low-amplitude waves that should soon be up and running.

Engineer Dan Kuncicky machining components for wave tank at the Florida State University Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute.
On Tuesday I met my other mentor, Dr. Nico Wienders, a Physical Oceanography Researcher. Physical Oceanography is one of the five primary research areas of the Deep-C Consortium (the others being Ecology, Geochemistry, Geomorphology and Habitat Classification, and Modeling), and one of the major focuses of their current research involves seasonal currents and topography of the De Soto Canyon in the northeastern Gulf. Dr. Wienders and Dr. Speer have extensive experience on research vessels, and participated in the May “cruise” that is mapping many under-researched areas of the Canyon. One of my main tasks is to learn how to use the MATLAB software to analyze the data from this cruise, and Nico has been extremely helpful in guiding me through this process!

The rest of my first week was spent researching, discussing, researching, discussing, and researching!! There is so much to learn….rogue waves, Taylor columns, rotational fluid dynamics, shipboard scientific instruments, continuity equations….now I know how my students must feel! I look forward to continuing this blog next week :-)

Undergraduate student Kevin Easton prepares for a tank experiment at the Florida State University Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute.

A wave tank experiment at the Florida State University Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute.
Post Author:
Stan Cutler

Saturday, June 16, 2012

RV Weatherbird II Geomorphology Cruise, Summer 2012 - Part 3

Day 2

We experienced generator failure so the Weatherbird II is returning to port. FIO will start on the necessary repairs immediately, so we will have minimal delay. We expect to have it fixed and restart the cruise on Tuesday.

Post Author:
Dr. Ian MacDonald

Friday, June 15, 2012

RV Weatherbird II Geomorphology Cruise, Summer 2012 - Part 2

Day 1

The geomorphology cruise is now under way. The science party received an orientation and safety briefing from Captain Boomer.  The RV Weatherbird departed St. Petersburg at 09:00 and motored to Site 1.  There, we successfully calibrated the USBL mount and GPS interface that will  be used for determining the position of our lowered instruments — the MILET photo platform and the Multi-core.

We are now underway for site 2 where we will complete the tests of the winch and the fiber-optic cable termination for the MILET photo platform.

Seas are choppy, but weather conditions tomorrow should be workable.

Post Author:
Dr. Ian MacDonald

Thursday, June 14, 2012

RV Weatherbird II Geomorphology Cruise, Summer 2012 - Part 1

Cruise Details

RV Weatherbird at the Florida Institute of Oceanography facility in St. Petersburg, FL.
Chief Scientist:
Ian MacDonald

Cruise Dates:
June 15-24, 2012

Departure Port:
St. Petersburg

Arrival Port:
Panama City

The goal of this cruise is to characterize and sample the repeat sites that will be investigated in the region of DeSoto Canyon, Gulf of Mexico during the Deep-C project. These sites have been chosen with reference to previous sampling, bathymetry, and fine-scale geomorphological features. The degree of success in completing a full array of sampling activity including bottom photography, sediment sampling and water column profiling will allow effective planning for future cruises.
Click here to view using Google Earth

Cruise Preparation

The Deep-C science party (13 scientists and students) is mobilizing the RV Weatherbird at the Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) facility in St Petersburg, FL. This will be the Geomorphology Cruise. Sailing is scheduled for 08:00 15-June. First events will be calibration of the ultra-short baseline navigation system.

Post Author:
Dr. Ian MacDonald