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Message from the Dean

Dean Jackie Dixon
Dean Jackie Dixon aboard the R/V Weatherbird II

Hello and welcome to our winter 2015 newsletter. It was an exciting and event-filled fall. From welcoming new donors and grants to participating in the ever-expanding St. Petersburg Science Festival and Blue Ocean Film Festival, the folks in the College of Marine Science have been busy. I’m pleased to be at the helm as we build on a foundation of excellent work by our faculty, staff, and students, and expand our role in the community. We look forward to a year of exceptional science, teaching, and educational outreach. Enjoy the news from campus and if you are in the area please stop by and say hello.


Jacqueline Dixon, Dean, College of Marine Science

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College News and Events

  • Fellowship Luncheon

October began with a lunch to celebrate our endowed graduate student fellowships. Students shared their science with benefactors and all ate well. A print by Diane Peebles was presented to our newest donors, Jane and George Morgan. We’re glad to have them aboard!

Dean Jackie Dixon
Jane Morgan accepting a Diane Peebles print at the 2014 Graduate Student Fellowship Award Luncheon with Jackie Dixon and Howard Rutherford.
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College News and Events

  • St. Petersburg Science Festival

In mid-October, we proudly participated in the growing St. Petersburg Science Festival held concurrently with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Marine Quest. CMS had seven exhibits ranging from Marine Robot Exploration to Fun with Fish! The festival drew in some 12,500 public visitors, including a Sneak Peek Day for 1,500 4th and 5th grade students and teachers.

A highlight of the festival was the unveiling of Current Collections, the largest plastic pollution public art sculpture in the southeast U.S. Marine debris is a growing and insidious problem in our oceans that starts on land.

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College News and Events

Current CollectionsWith funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program and in collaboration with Georgia State University Welch School of Art & Design, CMS Professor Frank Muller Karger and Research Associate CJ Reynolds developed an innovative program with the sculpture, which represents a rotating ocean vortex.

People walking into the exhibit experience the swirling plastic as if they were underwater. Five branching steel arms reach thirty feet high and forty feet across.

Current Collections Marine Debris

The arms are covered with a multi-colored translucent plastic skin made from melted bags and debris collected by volunteers in coastal cleanups.

More than 3,000 children and adults participated in related educational workshops held at the Dali, The Fine Art Museum, and the St. Petersburg Public Library (and in Atlanta, GA) where they created plastic panels for the sculpture. The sculpture will make its way to Atlanta for the spring 2015 Atlanta Science Festival and returns to St. Pete in fall 2015.

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College News and Events

  • BLUE Ocean Film Festival, 2014

Held for the first time in St. Petersburg, the BLUE Ocean Film Festival was a huge success. To help launch the event and to continue the theme of marine debris, CMS students and faculty participated in a beach clean-up event along with volunteers from The Cantebury School, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, FWRI, the Oceanography Camp for Girls alumna, Tampa Bay Watch, and USFSP. Over five tons of garbage were removed from the area’s coastline.

More than 20,000 people attended, there were 150 films screened, and some 49 panels and workshops were held. Some 4000 students participated with over 350 volunteers. CMS figured prominently with a booth in the center of the action at the Hilton Hotel.

Callum Roberts and Dean Jackie DixonIn collaboration with organizers, CMS hosted Dr. Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York (UK), as an Eminent Scholar.

Callum Roberts and Dean Jackie Dixon at BLUE.
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College News and Events

  • Byrne Competing for XPRIZE

CMS is excited to have our own Dr. Bob Byrne competing in the $2M Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE, a global competition to create pH sensor technology that will affordably and accurately measure ocean acidification. Bob has brought together a world-class team of scientists and engineers from CMS, SRI International, and Batelle Memorial Institute to form Team SEAS (Spectrophotometric Elemental Analysis System).

One of the requirements during the Ocean Trial Phase of the competition is for the pH sensor to be operable at 3,000 meters. Team SEAS is confident they will be able to develop the next generation pH sensor to reach the required depth. Go Team SEAS!

Team Seas pH sensor

TEAM SEAS pH sensor submitted to the Wendy Schmidt
Ocean Health XPRIZE competition.

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College News and Events

  • $20.2 million renewal grant for work in Gulf of Mexico

USF Biological Oceanographer Steven Murawski

USF Biological Oceanographer Steven Murawski

In November, we were awarded a renewal grant for C-IMAGE (Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems) by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative to continue leading efforts to determine the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Over the next three years, our professors, post-doctoral scholars, and students at nineteen collaborating institutions, in five countries including Mexico, the Netherlands, Germany, and Canada will work to better understand how the spill impacted the Gulf of Mexico food web. Dr. Steven Murawski is the principal investigator. He holds the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership – Peter Betzer Endowed Chair of Biological Oceanography, and is focused on understanding the health of key fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico following the spill.

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Note to CMS Alumni

Albert C. Hine ProfessorWe’re continuing our efforts to reach out to alumni and others through this, the third issue, of the Rising Tides Newsletter for the College of Marine Science. In each issue we hope to highlight not only news from the College and faculty, but also from alumni. We want to share all the great work being done by our graduates, from near as well as afar.

Albert C. Hine, Professor

So are you doing something noteworthy, productive, or just plain old fun? Have you received an award or is there something special happening in your life? If so, send me a note, drop me an email, or stop by to tell me in person. A quick note or a fun photo, just send them along.

Is there interest in an alumni field trip? I tossed out the idea of a trip to Cuba or the Bahamas, but received little response. The idea remains open.

The 50th anniversary of the start of the Department of Marine Science-- now, of course, the College of Marine Science, is just around the corner, 2017. We are starting to think about an anniversary bash and looking for ideas!


Albert C. Hine, Professor hine@usf.edu

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In Development

Howard Rutherford

Why is it important for individuals to support the research and innovation efforts at USF College of Marine Science? An experience in the 90’s during the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) aboard the R/V Vickers helps me explain.

I was asked by the NOAA Executive Officer at the time to explain my research and "why" it was important. I went into painful detail about "how" I was conducting the research but neglected to paint a broader picture about

Howard Rutherford

“why” this research was relevant to society. It was a tipping point in my career and I decided to redirect my energy toward bridging the gap between scientific discovery and societal curiosity. Today, I can confidently explain that the research efforts underway at USF College of Marine Science address socially-relevant issues. Healthy ocean ecosystems, climate change, fisheries, ocean technology and the impacts of deep-drilling for fossil fuels are not esoteric subjects, but topics that directly relate to human well being, jobs and economic stability, and the livability of our planet.

I am constantly amazed at the discoveries made here by our talented faculty, students, and researchers and how they relate to real-world issues. If you’d like to learn more or take a tour and see some of our latest discoveries, let me know. Please email me at hrutherford@usf.edu

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Professor, Kent A. Fanning – Yesterday and Today

  • By: Howard Rutherford

Kent Fanning

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Fanning to discuss his 40-year career at USF-CMS, his contributions to oceanography, fond memories at sea, future plans, and, of course, some “wise” advice. Early on Dr. Fanning was attracted to oceanography because it also meant travel. About two weeks after beginning to work for Dr. David Schink of the Graduate School of Oceanography at U. of RI, Fanning was off to the Azores for a 6-week cruise aboard the R/V Trident.

Kent Fanning

The research vessel was previously used as a floating machine shop in WWII. The ship ran right into a huge storm just after departure and Fanning was overtaken by seasickness. He will never forget the words uttered at the time by the Chief Scientist, “Just remember you’re riding on a boat that was built to be sunk!” Fanning has since learned to deal with seasickness.

Focusing mainly on nutrients and natural radioisotopes, his research at USF led to a wide variety of discoveries. He found that the exposure of marine sediments to warm temperatures and oxygen alters interstitial nitrate and silicate and

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Professor, Kent A. Fanning – Yesterday and Today

that silicate diffusing out of deposited sediments enrich deep Mediterranean waters (it doesn’t come from diatoms as previously thought). In Florida, he discovered that marine geothermal springs emit altered seawater greatly enriched in radium, radon, and calcium and deficient in magnesium and uranium. Radium-226 levels in Tampa Bay were found to be among the highest in the US. Other research focused on storm-related turbulence and nutrient release from coastal sediments, the fate and impact of nitrate in polluted air, and air-sea gas exchange in the polar sea. Dr. Fanning is very grateful for the participation of his and other graduate students in his research.

Dr. Fanning’s involvement in developing the CMS complex -- as faculty member, Assistant Department Chair (6 yr), and Associate Dean (8 yr) -- took time away from doing science. However, he had the privilege of making important contributions to the establishment and growth of a major oceanographic College with its stand-alone PhD program, over 100 students, 25-30 faculty, two new buildings, millions in endowment and annual research, and the amazingly strong support of the local business and professional leaders.

When asked what’s next, Fanning shared his plans to continue “to play God” with large nutrient data sets, which means using software that can generate a large number of scenarios almost effortlessly. He also plans to work toward the permanent establishment of an Ocean Nutrient Laboratory at CMS, as he feels these core analyses are integral for any school of oceanography. Thank you Dr. Fanning, on behalf of the CMS faculty, staff and students as well as the St. Petersburg Community, for your service to the University of South Florida, the field of oceanography as well as to the community.

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Featured Science Article

  • Recent Directions in the Ocean Circulation Lab at CMS

Bob Weisberg Introduction

Some 30 years into the College of Marine Science, Bob Weisberg's activities continue to be directed at describing and understanding ocean circulation. All that has changed are the emphases and applications. Upon arrival in 1984, the emphasis was on the deep, equatorial oceans of the Atlantic and Pacific, with applications to ocean-atmosphere coupling, equatorially trapped waves, the El Niño – Southern Oscillation and

Robert H. Weisberg, Distinguished
University Professor, Professor
of Physical Oceanography

poleward heat flux. Dr. Weisberg and his lab are now focusing more on the west Florida continental shelf and its estuaries, with applications to matters of immediate societal concern. This transformation brings Weisberg full circle back toward the Narragansett Bay estuarine studies of his graduate student days at the University of Rhode Island. “All my life’s a circle …” sang Harry Chapin.

Sverdrup, Johnson and Fleming established in the venerable 1942-text (no longer in print) oceanography as a multidisciplinary science.

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Featured Science Article

Living marine resources, for instance, are a product of the environment in which they reside, and that the environment derives it properties through the influx and efflux of mass, and the interactions that occur internally, i.e., the physics, chemistry, geology and biology of the system. One can study any of these aspects independently, but to gain insight on how the complex ocean system really works one needs to study them interactively, and this requires collaborations. Like any jig-saw puzzle, one can work it alone, but it is usually more fun to do it with another, assuming they don’t hog all of the border pieces. Such collaboration has been the approach of the Weisberg Lab.

The following outlines a few recent projects and accomplishments. They are all predicated on a coordinated program of coastal ocean observing and modeling, albeit of the physical oceanography, but with applications of multidisciplinary nature. The coastal ocean, for our purposes, is defined as the continental shelf and the estuaries. It is literally where society meets the sea, where competing utilizations provide conflicts and stewardship requires understanding. Depletion of fisheries resources, pollution by spilled substances, blooms of harmful algae are some of the coastal ocean concerns, as are the destructive nature of hurricane storm surge and more mundane topics such as safe and efficient navigation by recreational and commercial boaters. Addressing these topics requires both observations and predictive capabilities through science-based models.

Click to read full featured science article

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Science News and Highlights

  • USFCMS Awarded $4.5M to Map West Florida Reefs and Fish

Using a new and innovative towed camera system, C-BASS (Camera-Based Survey Assessment System) developed at the USF Center for Marine Technology, mapping will be done to determine the density, species composition, and size structure of fishes within various habitats.


C-BASS being deployed

"This set of studies will use state-of-the-art ocean imaging technologies to better understand and protect habitats off the west coast of Florida,” said College of Marine Science Dean Jackie Dixon."

Click to read full article.

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Science News and Highlights

  • Cam Ainsworth Sloan Research Fellowship

Cam Ainsworth

Dr. Ainsworth's research focuses on understanding how human activities influence the structure and functioning of marine communities. Three areas are key to his work: anthropogenic drivers of ecosystem change, ecosystem services and the bioeconomic rationales for conservation, and developing new methods and materials for ecosystem-based management of marine systems.

Key to his modeling approach is the recognition of feedbacks from the ecosystem that occur in response to management actions (e.g., harvest rules, marine protected areas, catch shares), and evaluating tradeoffs with respect to socioeconomic and ecological policy objectives. Congratulations Cam!

  • Bob Byrne 2014 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

Bob Byrne

Professor Robert H. Byrne has been named a 2014 Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors. Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society. Congratulations Bob! http://bit.ly/1F2G9U3

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Marine Science Networking Happy Hours

  • By Merrie Beth Neely, CMS PhD 2008


In November 2013 the inaugural networking happy hour was held at St. Petersburg’s Canopy Rooftop Lounge in the Birchwood Hotel on Beach Dr. – overlooking Spa Beach and the Pier. Among those attending this first event were staff from Florida Fish and Wildlife, Mote Marine

Marine scientists networking

Laboratory, NOAA- NMFS, US Geological Survey, SeaKeeper, SRI, St. Petersburg College, Pinellas County government, many private consulting and engineering firms, Eckerd College, USF - St. Pete and the USF College of Marine Science. Over the course of the past year we have steadily expanded our outreach list to include Florida Institute of Oceanography, SWFWMD, SECOORA, CB&I, Pine Environmental, City of St. Petersburg, Terra Environmental, and we hope to continue this expansion into the future.

The goal of the monthly networking event, currently spearheaded by CMS alumna Dr. Merrie Beth Neely, is to foster collaboration among the Tampa Bay area ocean science professional community for important upcoming initiatives and funding opportunities and to enhance job search success for graduating ocean science students.

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Alumni Notes - David Mallinson, CMS PhD 1995

David Mallinson After graduating with my PhD in 1995 (working with John Compton), Al Hine hired me as a post-doc. This was perfect because I had fallen in love with St. Pete, and really did not want to leave. My wife Lisa is a St. Pete native, and it really felt like home. However, after a few years on soft money, and seeing my family begin to grow,

David Mallinson in Muir Woods, CA

I realized the importance of job security. I was offered a position at East Carolina University, my alma mater, and enjoyed returning to a world with seasons (although admittedly it took a while to appreciate it).

When I accepted the position at ECU in 2000, I was dropped right in the middle of a USGS-funded project looking at the Quaternary development of the coastal system here in NC. This was a great opportunity, and dictated my research direction from day 1, and I was able build upon what Al Hine had done years before with Stan Riggs (ECU).

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That project, plus further funding from NSF to look at the Holocene evolution of the coastal system, has occupied most of my time here, and got me involved with the science (and politics, unfortunately) of sea-level rise.

In fact, a report that I helped co-author for the NC Coastal Resources Commission Science Panel got some serious acclaim and was featured on the Colbert Report (see: Sink or Swim). Basically we became the bane of a powerful coastal development lobby, and ultimately the NC legislature (which has, let’s say, an opinion that differs from the Science Panel) outlawed using models that include any acceleration of sea-level rise (kind of like outlawing weather forecasting). Colbert said it the best, “If your science gives you a result you don’t like, pass a law saying that the result is illegal; problem solved!” That kind of exposure must be worth at least a couple of publications in Science or Nature!

Another exciting project I’ve been involved with over the last several years includes work in Malaysia looking at the impacts of aquaculture on some lagoons, defining the evolution of the coast during the Holocene, and now coring on the Sunda Shelf to look at the monsoon record. We have a great time with this, although the travel to and from is arduous, to say the least. The people are great and the scenery is spectacular, not to mention the great science we’re getting out of it. It’s kind of why I got into this field.

One more thing occupying my time is my participation with the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). Somehow, I was appointed Co-Chair of the Science Evaluation Panel. This has taken me to some wonderful sites and allowed me to work with awesome researchers all over the world. I can thank Al Hine for this one too, since he got me started with the Ocean Drilling Program as I sailed with him (and Gregg Brooks at Eckerd) on Leg 182 back in 1998. Ah, the memories! None of this would feel complete without my great kids (Katie-17, Sophie-14 and David-11) and wife, Lisa (I won’t give her age), who put up with my crazy schedule. I would have entirely too much spare time if not for them!

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Alumni Notes - Marc Frischer, CMS PhD 1994

Marc Frischer It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 25 years since I started as a graduate student at USF. It seems like it was just yesterday. I arrived in St. Petersburg in the summer of 1988 eager to begin my studies with John H. Paul. I remember being quickly indoctrinated into the culture with a pool volleyball party,

Marc Frischer, Somewhere in a central Florida River

unofficial “Head of the Rat” parties, late night fishing, burgers at The Chattaway and of course TGIF every week. It was a great time, and the classes and research were completely engaging, stimulating and interesting. Within weeks I knew that I had made the right choice to come to USF and that I had found my calling. My incoming class was one of the largest in the history of the department and we quickly formed a cohesive community, one I am still very much connected with.

Compared to the facilities available at CMS today, the conditions were, shall we say, rustic.

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John Paul’s lab was a crowded old room behind Ted VanVleet’s lab, with makeshift everything.

I particularly remember being nervous about the jury-rigged 220 volt power line we had running through the middle of the lab to power the centrifuge. Somehow we managed to make it all work. Across the hall we had another small lab where we had our microscope, a first generation image analysis system, makeshift darkroom and scintillation counter. Sometime early in my graduate career John bought one of the first thermo cyclers for conducting Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) assays that also was in that small annex lab. I spent many hours with it. The PCR technique had first been introduced in 1988 and John Paul had it up and running within months of its introduction. In 1993, the inventor of the PCR, Kary Mullis, was awarded a Nobel Prize for the technique. I have six of them in my lab now, but I still miss that old EriComp thermal cycler.

After two years at RPI, I was offered and accepted a faculty position at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography (now part of the University of Georgia). With the solid educational background and broad experience provided by my years at USF (and a short postdoc,) I was ready to start my own group. In January 1996 I began as an Assistant professor and have stayed at Skidaway Institute, rising-up through the academic ranks, since then. My studies have taken me from the tropics to the poles. My research has continued to focus on the role of microbial diversity in marine environments, and the development and application of the tools of molecular biology in plankton ecology. I like to think that I have continued the tradition of producing transformative, ground breaking and important new understandings of our oceans that matter and make a difference. In hindsight, I am so grateful for the amazing education and experiences I received during my PhD studies at CMS and for the continued connections that I have with my former professors and student colleagues. Life is even more fulfilling (and complicated) these days. In 2001 I married the love of my life Susan Yacker, and we have a son, David.

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Alumni Notes - Renée Bishop Pierce; CMS PhD, 1997

Renée Bishop Pierce After completing my Bachelor of Science degree in biology at Bowling Green State University, I moved to Florida to begin work at the Florida Marine Research Institute. I worked at FMRI for three years, developing an

Diving in Túnel de la Atlántida, the world's longest known
volcanic submarine lava tube

interest in pursuing a PhD in larval fish energetics and in 1993, I began work on my dissertation. . While at USF, I spent many months at sea, having the opportunity to take part in cruises to the Gulf of Mexico, the Weddell Sea, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Maine. I completed my PhD in 1998 under the direction of Joseph J. Torres, my mentor and friend, and immediately began a post doc continuing the larval fish energetics research.

While at the Caribbean Marine Research Center, Long Island Bahamas, bad weather lead me to a new line of research. We were spending a month in the Bahamas blue water diving and collecting specimens but the weather was not cooperative.

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The diving safety officer at CMRC invited me to come along on one of his dives exploring the cave systems of the Exumas. Once I had the opportunity to examine the organisms residing in this unique environment, now termed “anchialine”, there was no going back.

In 2000, I accepted an offer from Penn State University and my husband, Daryl Pierce (MS 1996), our 2 year old daughter and I moved to northeastern Pennsylvania. In 2005, I was invited to join a National Geographic team to explore the cenotes in the Yucatan. Since then, I have been on teams to explore the lava tubes of Lanzarote, the caves of Mallorca, Spain, many of the islands in the Bahamas and I return frequently to the Yucatan. This research has taken me far, even to the outback of Australia, where I studied the energetics and evolution of diving beetles in the calcretes formed by the evaporation of ancient rivers.

My current area of research is in Croatia where we are working to protect the fragile anchialine systems from the burgeoning tourism that has occurred since Croatia entered the European Union.

Our family life is tied to the sea. Our vacations always take us back to the shore where the four of us, including our daughter, Miranda (16), and son, Colin (13), sail, kayak and most recently, windsurf.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel to exciting locations and meet fascinating new people mainly as a result of the excellent education and support I received from USF.

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Alumni Notes - Stephen Obrochta, CMS M.S., 2004

Renée Bishop Pierce Rumor has it that, just prior to my arrival at CMS in 2001, my advisor Al Hine walked into the lab one day and plopped down a large box of deep-sea drilling samples from Northeastern Australia. He then declared "well,

Stephen Obrochta aboard the R/V Hakuho Maru during
cruise KH11-1

there's Steve's Master's thesis" and left the room.

In turning that box of mud into results, interpretations, and conclusions, I had the privilege and pleasure of working closely with the late Professor Ben Flower, and the experience has helped to guide my subsequent scientific career. Nearly 10 years after leaving CMS, I remain intimately involved with scientific drilling, having recently completed the Baltic Sea paleoclimate expedition (IODP. Exp. 347).

In 2004, while still at CMS, I applied to sail on a North Atlantic paleoclimate expedition (IODP Exp. 303), which became the basis of my PhD at Duke University. Nearly half of the participants were Japanese, and I have been actively collaborating and working with many of them ever since.

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Through connections made during that cruise, I was introduced to my post doctoral advisor at the University of Tokyo, where I had worked until late last year.

I remain in Japan today where I am now an Associate Professor at the Akita University Faculty of International Resource Science, the Dean of which is none other than the Co-Chief Scientist of that very same expedition.

Ben Flower was invited to sail on this expedtion but declined. He instead requested that I sail in his place. After the cruise, it was made known to me that Ben had strongly advocated for my participation. Competition for the approximately forty scientific positions was tough, and I don't know if I would have been accepted without Ben's support. What I do know is that opportunity to sail has had lasting effects on my career, and I am deeply grateful to the CMS faculty and Ben in particular.

While in Japan, I've been involved in a wide range of projects including lake coring, sea level reconstruction, Antarctic exposure age dating, and oceanic paleo-pH determination. I've also become much more focused on statistical analyses and uncertainty assessment, and most recently have been doing work to put the modern global warming "hiatus" into a longer historical context. One of the more memorable experiences I've had since coming to Japan was a cruise from Fremantle Australia to Shimizu Japan on the Hakuho Maru. Ours was the last leg of a six-month journey through the Southern and Indian Oceans. The primary work was a three day transect of gravity cores recovered from the Bonaparte Gulf offshore Darwin, Australia. The rest of the time was transit. We covered a total of over 5,500 nautical miles in 18 days (14 days underway). Three of those days were under full anti-piracy watch as we transited Indonesia with all hatches (except one on the bridge) chained shut and water canons deployed. Nearly every meal, including breakfast, was fish with rice and miso soup. These meals were a bit tedious but livened up with a large supply of Antarctic glacial ice that adds fizz to any drink.

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Alumni Notes - Esther Peters, CMS MS 1978

Ester Peters Many moons ago, when CMS was still DMS, my master’s thesis advisor, Norm Blake, said to me, “You need to be in teaching.” Fast forward some 30+ years (yikes!), and I am now a Term Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Science & Policy at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.

Esther Peters relaxing (a bit), June 2014.

I had no idea what he meant about that career or how to get there, but I did learn there are lots of different ways to get to where you are going. I hope my story will inspire other CMS grads, or at least help them along their own tortuous routes to the future.

After completing my MS in Marine Science, I had doubts about my understanding of coral histology, which had been the focus of my research in St. Pete, after learning how to put coral tissue sections on glass slides to study them with a microscope from Dodi Borsay, Norm’s lab tech.

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Dodi and Norm had learned how to do this from Paul Yevich, at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Research Laboratory (ERL), in Narragansett, Rhode Island. So I worked on my Ph.D. degree as one of Michael E.Q. Pilson’s students at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO)—that may ring a bell for others at DMS/CMS, aka “GSO South.” Mike was a devoted “Friend of Astrangia” and other scleractinian corals, a renaissance scientist, and had no qualms about my spending most of my time at the ERL. I worked in Paul’s Histopathology Laboratory, making many more histoslides of diverse marine organisms from lab toxicology experiments and field collections than I ever did with Dodi in Norm’s lab (Paul’s mantra, “Look at anything and everything!”). But I wasn’t learning how to “read” the data contained in the tissue sections.

Histology is the study of cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems using light or electron microscopy to understand their function in relation to their molecular structure. After fixing, processing, and embedding tissue samples in paraffin or plastic, ~ 5-µm thick sections are mounted on microscope slides and stained with various compounds to reveal their condition. Like reading a book, you have to know the composition of the sample (what molecules are present, like letters and numbers in a book), how they are arranged (into organelles, cells, and tissues, following rules like those about words, grammar, punctuation), and what this means for function (like how to interpret the formation and content of sentences, paragraphs, stories). I kept asking Paul to teach me, but he brushed me off. I applied to take a histopathology short course at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. When I told him that, he immediately made time to train me at the microscope; he had buddies at the AFIP and did not want my ignorance to show! My dissertation research covered the histology of 25 species of scleractinian corals, effects of sedimentation stress on Astrangia danae (now poculata), and the histopathology of some tropical reef corals from St. Croix and Puerto Rico exposed to different environmental stressors and some with newly discovered diseases.Read Esther Peter's Full Article

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Alumni Notes - Steve Goodbred, CMS MS 2004

Steve GoodbredGrowing up around Chesapeake Bay and doing field with my father, a fisheries biologist, helped cultivate an early affinity for coastal environments – perhaps more from the natural recreation perspective than as a career.

Steve Goodbred

Later, as a geology major at Boston University, I spent the fall semester at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, introducing me to the interdisciplinary world of marine sciences. For me, studying coasts and oceans through interacting physical, chemical, biological, and geological processes was a new way of viewing the world.

Through various recommendations and common interests, my path to graduate school pointed to the College of Marine Sciences, University of South Florida, and specifically Al Hine’s lab. Through the whole application process, I had a small fold-out poster from the USF marine-science program taped to my wall. In addition to CMS’s faculty, the facilities, and their location in St. Pete, the brand-new USGS Center for Coastal and Marine Geology was also a big draw.

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USGS actually ended up funding my M.S. research on the development of coastal wetlands at Waccassassa Bay, work that was part of a large project on the remote, expansive marsh coasts of west-central Florida. Much good research, many fun times, and no shortage of adventures were shared with lab-mates and CMS alums Eric Wright (Coastal Carolina), Lynn Leonard (UNC, Wilm.), and Nate Wood (USGS) during those few years – such as vibracoring with a 20’ aluminum tripod in the middle of a lightning storm (many times), to a memorable, but unplanned, night stranded in the marsh under a full moon, to the pod of dolphins that frequently trailed us while working in our study area.

Back at Bayboro campus, eating lunch outside in January while watching manatees in the harbor was always a highlight. Academically, first year seminar courses on sequence stratigraphy with Al Hine and paleoceanography with Pam Hallock Muller were formative in developing my curiosity and graduate-level engagement in the primary literature.

Motivated by our work in the marsh coasts of Florida, I returned to my childhood roots on Chesapeake Bay to pursue a Ph.D. at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. As so often happens in life, my intended research path took a turn with the opportunity to work on the Ganges-Brahmaputra River delta in South Asia. Although I had traveled widely in the U.S., I had never gone overseas nor held a passport. The opportunity for international travel and experiencing a new culture were tremendous, but the research was absolutely seductive, too – here were two of the largest rivers on Earth, draining ¾ of the monsoon-drenched Himalayas, together constructing the world’s biggest delta system along the meso-tidal, cyclone-impacted coast of the Bay of Bengal. To top that off, Bangladesh supports 150 million people, which would be an equivalent population density of half of all people in the U.S. moving to Florida. For me this place was what I quickly dubbed ´The Land of Superlatives´ – my career path was set. Read Steve Goodbred's Full Article

31 A Publication of The University of South Florida College of Marine Science

Alumni Tidbits

Lee Kump, PhD, 1986
Lee Kump has been selected as an AGU Fellow—His citation reads: "For pioneering research on the dynamics and long-term evolution of global biogeochemical cycles and coupling to climate." He is currently a professor and head of the department of geosciences at Penn State University.

Jennifer Dupont, CMS PhD, 2009
Selected as the new research director for ExxonMobil Research Qatar.         (Read more)

Steve Obrochta, CMS MS, 2004
Steve recently became an Associate Professor at the Akita University Faculty of International Resource Science. He plans to continue to work closely with the University of Tokyo group and look forward to working with others in the future. He also notes that he is convening a session with Yusuke Yokoyama and Jun’ichiro Kuroda at the 2015 INQUA Congress in Nagoya, Japan. They are interested in a wide range of submissions that consider the relationship between global climate and reorganizations in North Atlantic thermohaline circulation over the last glaciation and beyond. Session title is: Global expression of Quaternary North Atlantic climate variability. He can be reached at

Dana Williams, Ph.D. 2002
Associate Scientist, contractor with University of Miami-Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) to Protected Resources Division/Benthic Ecosystem Assessment and Research (Read more)

32 A Publication of The University of South Florida College of Marine Science

Alumni Tidbits

Matthew Patterson, M.S. 2000
Matthew has become the Program Manager, South Florida/Caribbean Network (SFCN), one of 32 vital signs monitoring networks across the National Park Service.

Keith Hackett M.S. 2002
Keith is the Country Director, Peace Corps Burkina Faso (a landlocked country in West Africa around 274,200 square km in size). The six surrounding countries are : Mali to the north; Niger to the east; Benin to the southeast; Togo and Ghana to the south; and Ivory Coast to the southwest. Its capital is Ouagadougou. As of 2014, its population is estimated at just over 17.3 million – (Read more)

Kelly Donnelly, CMS M. S.., 1993
Kristine reports receiving all positive votes for tenure package at LSU at the department and college levels and is just waiting for the Board of Regents to finalize this spring. She will be an Associate professor this fall! Additionally, she received the first LSU Alumni Association Rising Faculty Research Award for 2014. This award recognizes faculty at the rank of assistant professor who have outstanding records of scholarship and published research. This award was given for the time in 2014 to eight recipients on April 29, 2014. You can contact Kristine at kdelong@lsu.edu or delongkl@gmail.com (personal email), http://www.ga.lsu.edu/delong.html

Patrick Schwing, CMS PhD, 2011
Patrick has been selected as part of the C-IMAGE 2 consortium to continue his work on the long-term effects of the Deepwater Horizon event on benthic foraminifera in the Gulf of Mexico.

33 A Publication of The University of South Florida College of Marine Science

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