Friday, January 31, 2014

Emily Hladky's Internship, Spring 2014 - Part 2

“Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle, and a victory” – Gandhi 

A few weeks ago I read this quote and it touched home with me and I wanted to share it with all of you. This past month has been very stressful with my senior comprehensive exams and preparing for the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference. There were many times when I was ready to give up; I thought I took on too much; I was very overwhelmed and couldn’t see how I could possibly succeed. I expressed my concerns to friends and my mentor, Patrick Schwing, and with their support and guidance, I passed my exams, finished my poster, and was able to present my research feeling fully prepared.

All of the stress over the past month paid off; I made my first poster, went to my first conference, and met many new connections. Over the past few years, I have read many papers on the oil spill and it was exciting to finally see and listen to the scientists behind the research; to put a face to the name. When it was my turn to present, I was nervous at first but I knew the material and was eager to share what I have done with other interested individuals.

To give you a brief overview, I looked at cores collected from 2010-2012 from three locations, 2 affected sites (PCB06 and DSH08) and one natural seep site (Seep A). I picked benthic foraminifera from three depth increments representing two pre-Deepwater Horizon (DWH) event deposits and one post-DWH event deposit. We found the dominant taxa present in all three cores to be Bulimina aculeata and Uvigerina peregrina. Bulimina spp. are often found in environments with low oxygen (Miller and Lohmann, 1982) and Uvigerina spp. are found where there is low oxygen levels and high organic carbon flux (Miller and Lohmann, 1982) which would be a result of the “Flocculent Blizzard” (Brooks, G.R. in review). Both cores, PCB06 and DSH08 show effects from the DWH event; PCB06 with its decreasing diversity of benthic foraminifera up-core and DSH08 with its lack of density and diversity of benthic foraminifera species in the surface sediments. Seep A seems to be less affected; there is an increase in species diversity up-core which may suggest that the community was already “primed” or adapted to oil deposition. We now hope to look at cores collected from the same locations but from 2011, 2012, and 2013 to determine how the benthic foraminifera communities are recovering from the oil spill.

I will make it a point to go over my research in more detail in following posts but I wanted to share my experiences over the past few weeks and how perseverance can lead to great things!


Posted by:
Emily Hladky - St. Petersburg, FL

Friday, January 24, 2014

Meaghan Faletti's Internship, Spring 2014 - Part 2

Meaghan here, from the sorting lab! I have seen some pretty cool stuff in our sediment samples so far, and I'm still learning more every day! I'm becoming more familiar with the different types of organisms, and Arvind has created "exercises" in which I will separate two types of organisms out from a dish to make sure I can tell the difference when I see them in a sample. It's really helped me out!

I think my favorite thing to see are brittle stars (Ophuiroidea), related to starfish and sea urchins. They're really cool to look at, but very fragile, so often their legs are dispersed throughout the sample! I've also seen a handful of squid beaks! Even though it's only a piece of these amazing creatures, it's still exciting to know there are so many of them out there. I've begun thinking more about what all of these diverse organisms are like when they are still alive, burrowing, feeding and traveling across the deep-sea floor. Can they see? Is it dark down there? Are they as boggled by each other as I am by them? It's funny yet fascinating - being able to poke and prod around in a piece of habitat from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
Brittle star (Ophuiroidea)

Various critters

 Posted by:
Meaghan Faletti, FSU

Friday, January 17, 2014

Ben LaBelle's Internship, Spring 2014 - Part 1

Hello. My name is Ben LaBelle and I’m currently finishing up my master’s degree in Biological Oceanography at Florida State University. Before attending Florida State, I worked as an aquarium biologist at the Moody Gardens Aquarium in Galveston, TX, and attended the University of Alabama for my undergraduate education, where I majored in Marine science and Biology. As you’ve probably figured out by now, I have a great love of the water and that carries over from my professional life to my hobbies. I love to scuba dive and I also keep a 55 gallon reef tank in my home.

I chose to partake in the Deep-C internship program to expand my exposure to deep sea research techniques. My master’s project deals primarily with using genetic techniques to study the distribution and community structure of deep sea corals off of Alaska. While this project has taught me a great deal about the deep sea, corals are found predominantly on hard bottomed areas such as seamounts and canyons, and the vast majority of the deep sea is soft bottomed. This internship represents a valuable opportunity to learn how soft bottomed communities are sampled, what techniques are used to study them and how they might interact with other deep sea communities.

Posted by:
Ben LaBelle, Florida State University

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rickards Students Successful Drifter Deployment

Before winter break Dana Fields and her students from Rickards High School IB Environmental Systems class were able to accompany Dr. Nico Wienders to the CARTHE SCOPE project ( drifter deployment site at John Beasley Park in Okaloosa Island, FL.  We were fortunate to be able to piggyback on to CARTHE's exciting project! 

The two winning designs from DEEP-C's drifter design contest were successfully deployed and collected data until the batteries on their SPOT GPS receivers ran out!  

This project provided students with an opportunity to test their creativity and bring a fresh perspective to Deep-C and CARTHE's work, as well as giving our researchers an opportunity to connect with burgeoning scientists in our communities.
As Dr. Wienders stated, "The collaboration with the Rickards students was also beneficial in a purely scientific manner.  They came with unbiased, new and refreshing ideas for the drifter designs.  After years of practice, we sometimes get blunted, influenced, and many of us use similar ideas for designs.  The interaction with the students was very rejuvenating as their creativity is still unbounded." 
We look forward to more collaborations in the future, both with other GoMRI consortia members as well as local schools!
The trajectories of the two drifters from Rickards High School, Hannibal and the Aggressor.  Both were able to collect valuable data for CARTHE scientists!

To see all of the data collected from the over 200 drifters deployed during the CARTHE SCOPE Project go to:

For more information about our fellow GOMRI Consortia member CARTHE and their many projects please visit,

Posted by:
Amelia Vaughan,
Ocean Science Educator

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Meaghan Faletti's Internship, Spring 2014 - Part 1

Hello! My name is Meaghan! I recently graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor's degree in Biology with a concentration in Marine Biology, and minors in Chemistry and Physics. Yes, it was as exhausting as it sounds! I am an avid outdoors-woman and spend my free time backpacking, trail running, climbing and kayaking. With my love for the outdoors, I spent several semesters of my undergraduate years doing field work in the local coastal habitats. I decided it was time for a change of pace.

I chose the internship with the Deep-C Consortium in order to broaden my horizons and expose myself to some lab work, which I wasn't very familiar with. Outside of Chem and Bio lab requirements, I have never worked in one before! I am interning in Dr. Amy Baco-Taylor's lab under the mentorship of the knowledgeable Arvind! I have been sorting through sediment samples in search of small invertebrates and meiofauna. Just in my first week, I've noticed huge improvements in my abilities to identify and differentiate between the species found in the samples.

I hope to pursue a Master's degree in Fish Ecology in the near future, though I plan to explore other opportunities until I find the perfect program. The Deep-C internship is a great way for me to get experience and expose myself to other topics in question in Marine Science! I am also spending my spare time with the Sea-to-See program in which we bring touch tanks with marine critters to local schools to show how fun marine biology is! This, along with the Deep-C internship, will hopefully prepare me even more for my graduate education.

Posted by:
Meaghan Faletti, FSU

Monday, January 13, 2014

Emily Hladky's Internship, Spring 2014 - Part 1

My name is Emily Hladky and I am currently a senior at Eckerd College, which is located in St. Petersburg, Florida. This summer I interned in the paleoclimatology lab at the University of South Florida, College of Marine Science of St. Petersburg, and continued my internship into the fall semester. Throughout that time I extruded cores, prepared and washed samples, picked foraminifera from the samples, and participated in scientific discussions. Throughout the past semester, all foraminifera that were picked were identified to the species level and counted. The goal is to assess the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the community structure of benthic foraminifera. To date, cores from two affected sites and one natural seep site have been picked and identified. The findings will be presented at the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference at the end of January in Mobile, Alabama.

Throughout the spring semester, I will continue to work on my project with my mentor, Deep-C researcher Dr. Patrick Schwing. I have looked at cores that were collected in 2010, and I hope to look at cores collected from the same locations but from 2011 and 2012, as well as a control site, in order to create a timeline of events and better understand the effects that the oil spill had on deep-sea benthic foraminifera. Until then, the month of January will be a stressful month balancing school and preparing for the conference, but it will be rewarding and I am looking forward to new experiences.

Posted by:
Emily Hladky - St. Petersburg, FL

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Heath Martin's Internship, Fall 2013 - Part 4

For the fall 2013 semester, I completed an internship under guidance of University of Miami professor Dr. Villy Kourafalou. The intent of the internship was to develop a set of lesson plans that would bring biogeochemical factors and research to the classroom in a language that students and laypersons can understand. This poses a huge challenge, as there is a fair amount of information that is available but is often complicated by language specific to modeling programs and other equipment used to measure the various factors that drive Earth's processes.

Using various search criteria specific to the Gulf of Mexico, I constructed 5 mini-units that can be incorporated into existing curriculum. The units build on concepts learned in previous activities and challenge students to develop potential solutions to real world problems affecting the Gulf. Using the umbrella of "connectivity," students quickly realize how terrestrial problems often link to marine systems. In short, they see direct impact that we can have if we don't take precautions to prevent disasters from occurring.

Some recurring themes are pollution, prevention, and connection. Hands-on activities accompany the units to give students some hands-on experience with each idea. Each unit ends with a problem or task that students must complete to show the degree to which they understand and can apply the concepts learned.

I plan to pilot the lessons this spring with my 8th graders. From there, I will be able to receive their input as to what lessons need additional resources or support. I am looking forward to further developing the lessons with student input, and they will become available as they are edited and refined. Feel free to send me any comments suggestions or development ideas: 

Posted By:
Heath Martin, University of Miami/RSMAS