Friday, November 16, 2012

BATS 287 Days 1, 2 and 3

Hi from the R/V Atlantic Explorer! It is day three of the 287th BATS cruise. I’m Joanna and I work as a research technician for the Bermuda Atlantic Time Series Study. The Bermuda Atlantic Time Series Study (BATS) started monthly sampling in October 1988. Cruises generally last between 5-6 days and occur on a biweekly to monthly basis. The aim of the time series is to enhance the understanding of the role of oceans in the global carbon budget. It also aims to improve the knowledge about the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems. You can find more information about the study on the bios website. 

The chief scientist on this cruise is Dr Rodney Johnson. We set sail at 7am on Tuesday morning with the aim of sampling at Hydrostation S, however due to bad sea conditions the cruise schedule had to be altered and we headed straight to the BATS site. It took us around 14hours to reach the BATS site due to the bad weather so most of the day was spent either sleeping or reading! We managed to fit in two zooplankton night tows upon arrival at BATS. On Wednesday we deployed the sediment trap array which will remain at 150, 200 and 300m for around 72 hours before recovery. The seas were still slightly choppy and we had a few showers but the deployment went well and we will recover the traps on Saturday. 

The sediment traps before being deployed in the rain

Today was production day! This is every BATS technician’s favourite day! It’s the busiest day of the six day cruise as we have to be up at 3:30am to start the sampling process. Thankfully the seas had calmed down by now which made the deployment much easier. On production day we monitor the amount of production through photosynthesis that has occurred from dawn to dusk in seawater samples at various depths on a floating array. The deployment of the array has to occur before sunrise and be recovered after sunset so that we can monitor the total daily production rate.  After the deployment in the morning we followed the floating array around the Atlantic for the day and after sunset we recovered and analysed the samples. Whilst the array was at sea we took a shallow core CTD cast and various water samples. Luckily the seas were now calmer and the sun was shining which makes the sampling process much more enjoyable. There was also a whale sighting which was exciting! Unfortunately I didn’t get to see it but I’m on the lookout for more!    

Violetta with the production day cruise schedule

The production floating array

Now were off to bed as it’s been a long but very successful day. Tomorrow we are deploying several plankton tows so hopefully we will find some interesting marine creatures! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Introducing the 2012 BIOS REU Students

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program offers undergraduate students with the exciting opportunity to conduct meaningful scientific research, either as part of existing programs at host institutions or in projects specifically designed for the REU program and participants.

BIOS is proud to be a host institution for this National Science Foundation (NSF) program.  Every Fall faculty and staff look forward to a new crop of REU students from colleges and universities around the United States.  During their time at BIOS, REU students work closely with BIOS faculty on active research on a variety of oceanographic and atmospheric topics, including ocean biogeochemistry, coral reef science, and ocean acidification.

This year, BIOS welcomed six REU students.  Read on to learn more about their research projects and why they wanted to do their REU programs at BIOS:

Jenny Rendon is a junior/senior at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA (USA) majoring in chemistry.  She is working with Dr. Andrew Peters in the Environmental Quality Program using molecular markers to trace sewage inputs in Bermuda's waters.  Jenny first found out about the REU opportunities at BIOS through the Old Dominion website and thought Dr. Peters' project sounded like a good fit, particularly given her interests in global warming and the environment.  She is debating whether to go straight into grad school after graduation or gain practical experience working in a lab first, but either way she is ultimately interested in career that investigates how chemicals affect the environment, as well as ways to prevent them from entering ecosystems in the first place. Outside of school, Jenny enjoys a variety of outdoor activities, including zip lining and sky diving.  After much consideration, she decided that her favorite flavor of ice cream is chocolate chip.

Paul Bump has two semesters left in his studies at the University of Hawaii - Manoa where he is majoring in marine biology.  He is working with Dr. Andrea Bodnar in the Molecular Discovery Lab conducting molecular profiles of stem cells in sea urchins, including the development of probes that fluoresce in sea urchin tissue samples when certain stem cells are present.  Paul chose to do his REU research at BIOS after reading about Dr. Bodnar's work on the BIOS website.  In addition to being impressed with her work, he wanted to get a better understanding of what it's like to do research full-time, especially considering that--at school--research projects only involve a few hours of lab work each day.  Paul intends to continue his studies in grad school, but thinks he will probably focus on topics that combine marine science and technology, such as using marine organisms in biotechnology research or medical research to understand basic cellular functions.  When not in the lab, Paul likes playing ultimate frisbee, spending time with friends, and reading.  Without any hesitation, he declared Moose Tracks as his favorite ice cream.

Thomas Kinsey is a senior at Springhill College in Mobile, AL (USA) where he is majoring in chemistry with a biology minor.  For the first two years of his undergraduate education he was focused on a career in medicine; however, after much consideration he changed his major to combine his career plans with his love of the water.  He is working with Natasha McDonald in the Bermuda Bio-optics Program studying the correlation between colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) and bacteria, as well as characterizing the CDOM from bacteria. Thomas learned about the REU program at BIOS during his internship at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) where he met former REU students who spoke highly of their experiences.  He plans to eventually go to grad school but is considering doing an internship or working as a lab tech prior to starting his studies in marine chemistry.  Thomas loves doing anything outdoors, including running, fishing, and going to the beach.  In true southern style, his favorite ice cream flavor is butter pecan.

Jeremy Kravitz is a senior at California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo where he is majoring in biology. He is working with Dr. Eric Hochberg in the Coral Reef Ecology & Optics Lab (CREOL) using bio-optics to study and map Bermuda's coral reefs.  In addition to this research, he also built a flume for CREOL that allows controlled experiments to be conducted with continuously circulating water (in essence, a mesocosm).  Jeremy chose to do his REU studies at BIOS after seeing Dr. Hochberg's profile on the BIOS website and seeing an opportunity to utilize his previous experience with remote sensing while gaining additional practical field and laboratory experience.  He intends to go to grad school to pursue studies in oceanography and eventually would like a career that combines research and field work.  Back home, Jeremy likes to surf, go mountain biking, and play soccer, the latter of which he has been able to continue doing while at BIOS.  Making the California surfer community proud, his favorite flavor of ice cream is Phish Food. 

Kelly Speare is a senior at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill where she is majoring in biology with minors in marine science and chemistry.  She is working with Dr. Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley investigating the effects of temperature and sediment on the growth and development of coral spat.  Kelly chose to do her REU research at BIOS because it sounded like a great opportunity to do coral research and gain valuable field experience. She intends to continue her studies in marine science at grad school but is considering taking a year off to go sailing or work as a lab technician; either way, she'd like to continue studying corals and coral reefs. When not at school or in the lab, Kelly enjoys SCUBA diving, rock climbing, playing tennis, and relaxing in a hammock.  She is currently debating which ice cream flavor she likes the most: mint chocolate chip or coffee. 

Jen Tripani is a senior at the University of Buffalo (NY, USA) where she is majoring in biological sciences.  She is working with Rachel Parsons on a project monitoring the microbial response to ocean acidification in the Sargasso Sea.  Jen wanted to do her REU program at BIOS because she wanted to gain hands-on experience working in a completely different environment.  She plans on continuing her studies at grad school with a focus in marine science and looks forward to a career working with an environmental organization/agency or nonprofit, possibly involved with community outreach and education.  She is a huge Broadway musical fan and says that cooking lets her "be creative and unwind."   She also enjoys volunteering at local community events and admits that her guilty pleasure is watching "nerdy science fiction shows." Jen is another fan of Moose Tracks ice cream, which the author of this blog must now try, given that two people have spoken highly of it!

To learn more about conducting an REU project at BIOS, please contact the BIOS REU Site Coordinator, Chloe Newcomb-Hodgetts, at chloe.nh AT 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BIOS Summer Interns Reflect on Their Experiences

After spending the summer working in BIOS labs on a variety of research projects, the 2012 interns have headed back to their respective universities to continue their studies.  Before they left, some of the interns took a moment to talk with us about their experiences.  Read on to learn what a typical day is like in the life of a summer intern, as well as some memorable moments and what the interns feel they gained from their time at BIOS.

Melissa Wartman, CABIOS Intern, Senior at Dalhousie University
I worked with the BEACON Lab and would help out with daily duties (including YSI water measurements), weekly duties (cleaning the tanks and tubing and collecting water samples), and then weighing the corals on a monthly basis.  Later in the internship I was able to help a PhD student who was looking at the carbonate chemistry in a mesocosm experiment, as well as in the field.

My most memorable experience was taking the Coral Reef Ecology course, as I met a lot of amazing people and learned a lot of interesting information about coral reefs.  I was also able to do a lot of diving at various spots around Bermuda. The hands-on experiences in the field and in the lab during that course are skills that will stick with me throughout my career.
The scientists and people that I met who work at BIOS have made my experience here one that I will remember.  Networking and meeting stationed scientists, as well as international visiting scientists, have been a great part of my experience here.  The intern presentations every week allowed me to understand what other research is being done at BIOS.

Kila Pickering, Senior at Princeton University
My project aimed to measure copper toxicity in the ocean sediment, and to assess its toxicity to diatom populations by conducting incubation experiments. My project was split into two parts, so for the first half I was primarily analyzing collected sediment samples for copper levels all day. For the second half of my project I was working with incubations of phytoplankton, so in the mornings I would filter and collect samples from incubation bottles and in the afternoon I would analyze these samples for such things as chlorophyll levels and bacterial counts.

It was great meeting so many new and awesome people with diverse backgrounds.  It was also valuable learning and understanding the ups and downs that come with scientific research. There are so many unexpected problems/developments that come with any research and it was good to see and learn how to deal with and manage these difficulties.

Amanda Chen, Senior at Princeton University
For my project, I wanted to study the dynamics of damselfish social networks and how it relates to information transfer. Every day I would go out to Whalebone Bay during low tide with another intern and we would monitor damselfish and record their social interactions on an underwater slate. During the second part of my research we spent a significant amount of time in the water (anywhere from ten minutes to two hours) trying to catch beaugregories (damselfish) for the containment aquarium experiments on territory preference.

My most memorable experience was when I was trying to catch a damselfish. I was underwater watching the fish to see which rocks it preferred to hide under and, when I looked up to swim to the surface, I realized there was a juvenile barracuda right next to me! He was only about a foot and a half long, but his mouth was open and he was staring at me curiously. I remember just hoping that he would swim away and not notice the shiny silver watch on my left hand.
The most valuable thing I’ve gained from my time at BIOS is the experience of having done fieldwork. I am now able to inject 2” fish with tags just below the surface of their skin.  And if anyone needs to catch live damselfish and only has two nets, I’m your girl!

Clare Gallagher, Junior at Princeton University
I studied the effects of ocean acidification on coral recruits from rim and patch reeds.  An average day in the lab during spawning times would be to collect larvae for two hours, settle the larvae onto tiles for two hours, check for old larvae settlement, and sample aquaria for a variety of checks (pH, pCO2 concentration, salinity, etc.) depending on the day.  In the field, a dive trip would be either to Bailey’s Bay or North Rock to collect or return colors.

My most memorable experience was collecting Porites (coral) out at North Rock. The visibility was perfect, our team’s communication was flawless, and I got to work in one of the most beautiful settings in the world.
The most valuable thing I’ve learned is how much work research scientists put into their projects. Not that I didn’t think research required work before I came here, but living the lifestyle was truly invaluable to understanding that research itself is a lifestyle and not just a day job.

Joshua Bocarsly, Sophomore at Princeton University
My project was “Open Ocean Atmospheric Deposition of CDOM” and used lignin, a polymer found in wood, as a tracer for terrestrial organic matter in the open ocean air and water. We found strong evidence, for the first time, that atmospheric deposition is a significant source of these photoactive organic chemicals.

There was a lot of variability in my “typical day” – I spent two weeks aboard the R/V Atlantic Explorer, time at the atmospheric field sites, and I also did a variety of experiments. Aboard the AE I would spend a lot of time keeping track of the winds for the atmospheric portion of my project, as well as taking water samples from various depths with the CTD for the oceanic portion. On land I spent several mornings taking high volume air samples to see what chemicals (if any) the incinerator is putting into the air. The rest of my project was lab work – using gas chromatography and a mass spectrum analyzer to detect tiny amounts of various chemicals.
My most memorable experience was working on the AE. The two cruises I took this summer were my first two times being at sea and it was a lot of fun! The people aboard the AE are great, the food is phenomenal, and the views are otherworldly.

I think the experience in field work and very careful analytical chemistry will be extremely valuable as I go forward and do other work in chemistry. I learned a lot of new techniques and a lot about how to think about problems in analytical chemistry.

Samantha Hamtilton, Master’s student at Dalhousie University
My project, titled “Applications of Coral Bio-Optics to Coral Reef Management,” was about developing a new tool—a diver-operated spectrometer—into a method of reef monitoring. An average day was usually spent in the water, diving on a reef using the spectrometer on the corals and helping the lab do reef surveys, or sitting somewhere quiet and working on my master’s thesis. It was a good balance of work and “play” and I have so many great memories from diving and interacting with my lab mates and fellow interns.

The most valuable thing I’ve gained is definitely research experience. This is the first time I had worked at a research station on my own research and my own individual project, as well as contributing to the overall work of the lab.
If you’re an undergraduate or graduate student in the US, UK, or Canada and are interested in a summer internship at BIOS, please visit the website for more information about program details and how to apply:


Monday, July 30, 2012

Trophic BATS Cruise

As we speak, the second Trophic BATS (Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study) cruise of 2012 is wrapping up aboard the R/V Atlantic Explorer. With the broad goal of exploring the ecological controls on carbon export in the ocean, the Trophic BATS project involves more than a dozen scientists from five oceanographic and marine research institutions, each playing a unique role in the symphony of science taking place during the cruise.

Lomas Group - BIOS
Dr. Michael Lomas, senior research scientist and PI of the Phytolankton Ecology Lab (PEL) at BIOS, is co-PI of the Trophic BATS project.  His research foci include the ecological linkages between phytoplankton functional diversity and nutrient biogeochemical cycling, long-term patterns and controls on pico-phytoplankton diversity in the Atlantic, and flow cytometry techniques as an investigative tool.  While on board, he is assisted by Doug Bell, Kristina Terpis, and Anna Rumyantseva (research technicians).

Richardson Group – University of South Carolina
Dr. Tammi Richardson, Associate Professor in the Marine Science Program and Biological Sciences at USC, is the chief scientist of the cruise and lead PI on the Trophic BATS project.  She studies phytoplankton and how light, nutrients, and temperature influence phytoplankton growth and taxonomic composition, including the development of “red tides" (harmful algal blooms). On this cruise she is accompanied by her lab technician, Emily Goldman, and two students: Bridget Bachman (Ph.D. student) and Eric Lachenmyer (M.S. student).

Neuer Group – Arizona State University
Dr. Susanne Neuer is an Associate Professor in Organismal, Integrative, and Systems Biology at Arizona State University and co-PI on the Trophic BATS project.  Her main research interest is the dynamics of the biological carbon pump and the role of ocean biota in the carbon export to the deep sea.  Her group also works on several aspects of plankton ecology, including model systems of trophic interactions and molecular-based analysis of plankton diversity.  Her team includes Francesca De Martini (Ph.D. student), Megan Wolverton (undergraduate research assistant), and Dr. Stephanie Wilson (visiting postdoctoral scholar from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution).

Condon Group – Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Dr. Rob Condon is a Faculty Research Scientist at Dauphin Island Sea Lab and co-PI of the Trophic BATS project. He is a plankton and microbial ecologist interested in understanding the climatological, physical and biogeochemical processes controlling zooplankton and bacterial communities and carbon cycling. A former BIOS faculty member, Dr. Condon is using the Trophic BATS cruise to investigate species composition, feeding mechanisms, metabolic rates, and the biological and physical mechanisms controlling the seasonal distributions of migrating zooplankton communities.  Although not aboard the current cruise, his lab is represented by Naomi Shelton (research technician) and graduate students Josh Stone and Travis Goodloe.

Moran Group – University of Rhode Island
Dr. Bradley Moran, Professor of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, is also a co-PI of the Trophic BATS project. His research interests lie in the application of radionuclides as tracers of marine geochemical processes, including particle and carbon dynamics.  His lab is represented on the current cruise by Brendan Mackinson (Ph.D. student).

Elin Haugen is a Research Technician at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine.  She specializes in using flow cytometry techniques and is running the instrument on board the AE while out at sea.

Stay tuned to the BIOS Research Blog for more posts about the various research projects taking place aboard the R/V Atlantic Explorer.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer 2012 Interns: Post #6

This is it – our final post in the series introducing the 2012 BIOS Summer Interns!  We’ve met interns from Bermuda, Canada, and the United States that are working with BIOS faculty on projects in nearly every discipline in the ocean sciences.  We’ll be checking back with our interns toward the end of the summer to hear about their experiences and, hopefully, the results of their hard work – so be sure to keep an eye out for new blog posts!

In the meantime, we’d like to introduce you to the following interns:

Deirdre Collins, 16, is a rising senior at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire (US).  Originally from Bermuda, she recently went through the Waterstart program at BIOS with her siblings where she was able to obtain her Open Water diving certification.  Deirdre is working with the BIOS Dive Safety Officer, Ryan Patrylak, and will be obtaining her Advanced Open Water diving certification in the coming weeks.  She chose to do a volunteer internship at BIOS in order to gain experience in biology and marine science for her last year in high school.

Skye Welton, 17, is a rising senior at the Downe House School in Berkshire, England.  Originally from the UK, she did a volunteer internship with the BIOS Education Department last summer and enjoyed the experience so much that she came back to assist with the Waterstart program this summer.  In addition to her love of the water, Skye is interested in the environment and likes to play guitar and tennis.

Michael Johnston, 18, will be starting at Penn State this coming fall in the meteorology program.  As a Bermuda Program intern, he is spending the summer working with Dr. Andrew Peters in the Environmental Quality Program lab researching the meteorological controls on air quality in Bermuda.  Michael sees meteorology as a crucial component to ocean science and chose to intern at BIOS to gain experience putting meteorology to practical use.  His long-term goals include returning to Bermuda with his degree and working for the Bermuda Weather Service in the forecasting department.  When not studying, Michael enjoys learning about natural history and visiting many of Bermuda’s beautiful historic sites.

Maquira “Kira” Brock, 17, is a rising senior at the Friends School of Baltimore in Maryland.  A returning Bermuda Program intern, she is currently working with Tim Noyes in the Coral Reef Ecology and Optics (CREO) Lab and Rachel Parsons in the Microbial Observatory Lab using a molecular approach to study the effects of sewage outfall on fish populations.  Kira interned with the CREO Lab last year, when it was known as the Marine Environmental Program (MEP), and enjoyed the variety of hands-on experiences.  She applied to the program again this summer to further explore the field of marine science as a potential college major and career path.  Kira likes to spend her time playing soccer, reading, and SCUBA diving.

Alex Godfrey, 19, is about to enter his third and final year at Loughborough University in the UK where he is majoring in geography.  Also a Bermuda Program intern, he is working with Dr. Michael Lomas in the Plankton Ecology Lab (PEL) where he is working with a series of data sets to understand the role of phytoplankton diversity in controlling carbon export in the ocean.  Alex wanted to explore the ecological component to his geography degree and felt that an internship at BIOS would give him that experience.  A huge sports fan, Alex is active in cycling and triathlons and enjoys photography as well.

We hope you've enjoyed meeting our 2012 Summer Interns! 
If you are Bermudian and are interested in applying for a Bermuda Program Internship for Summer 2013, contact Kaitlin Baird, BIOS Education Officer at Kaitlin.Baird AT If you are a college student in the US or Canada and are interested in applying for summer internship, contact Chloe Newcomb Hodgetts at Chloe.Nh AT

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer 2012 Interns: Post #5

Hard to believe the summer is already half over!  To celebrate, we have another group of summer interns to introduce to you, including some that are familiar faces here at BIOS.

Melissa Wartman, 22, is a rising senior at Dalhousie University where she is studying both marine biology and oceanography.  With funding through the CABIOS Program, she is spending the summer working with Dr. Samantha de Putron on BEACON and will also be taking the Coral Reef Ecology (CRE) course.  Melissa chose to do an internship at BIOS because she heard it was a great place to do research, and also that the CRE course offers a lot of hands-on experience (and diving!).  Originally from Kingston, ONT, Canada she enjoys hiking, SCUBA diving, running, and traveling.

Sean McNally, 21, is a rising senior at the University of Rhode Island (URI) where he is studying marine biology with a minor in underwater archaeology.  He came to BIOS as a student last fall and had the opportunity to work with Rachel Parsons on a research project about Devil’s Hole in Bermuda.  Sean enjoyed the experience so much that he returned this summer to work with Parsons and Dr. Samantha de Putron investigating the microbial response to ocean acidification using a microscopic approach.  In addition to SCUBA diving, Sean enjoys playing soccer and snowboarding.

Jecar Chapman, 20, just graduated from Bermuda College with an A.S. and is looking forward to returning to the Philippines (his homeland) to continue his undergraduate education in medical technology, with the goal of obtaining his MD.  This summer marks Jecar’s third year as a BIOS intern in the Bermuda Program.  He originally worked with Dr. Andrea Bodnar studying sea urchins genomics and is spending this summer working with Rachel Parsons studying the microbial response to ocean acidification using a molecular approach. Jecar loves science and learning and keeps returning to BIOS because of the broad experiences he gets as an intern.  When not in the lab, Jecar likes playing sports and computer games.

Meredith Bibbings, 18, is a rising sophomore at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada where she is studying anatomy and cell biology with a minor in kinesiology.  She is currently debating between going to medical school and pursuing a career in research science and decided to spend the summer volunteering with Rachel Parsons to gain experience working in a research lab.  Meredith is working with Eden Richardson (a Bermuda Program intern in the same lab) investigating whether recreational boating increases sewage contamination in Bermuda’s inshore waters.  Originally from Bermuda, she enjoys cheerleading, dancing, and rowing.

Eden Richardson, 18, is a rising sophomore at Bermuda College where she is studying biology.  A former BIOS intern told her about his experiences and she applied for a position at BIOS as part of the Bermuda Program.  This summer, Eden is working with Rachel Parsons studying the relationship between recreational boating and sewage contamination in Bermuda’s inshore waters.  When not studying, she likes to play piano, volunteer, and practice photography.

Stay tuned for the next (and last!) post in this series…

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer 2012 Interns: Post #4

Welcome to another installment of the 2012 Summer Intern Blog!  Here at BIOS the summer education programs, courses, and internships are in full-swing and the research station is bustling with energy.  Taking part in these activities are the following interns:

Beth McKenna, 20, is a rising junior at Princeton University where she is a pre-med studying ecology and evolutionary biology.  She is spending the summer at BIOS working in the Education Department with the Waterstart program.  Originally from Massachusetts, Beth decided to do an internship at BIOS because she saw it as a unique opportunity to explore marine biology while spending time outdoors. She is on the track team at Princeton where she does the pentathlon and heptathlon, and is also involved with Outdoor Action—the Princeton pre-orientation for freshman.

Matt Stone, 30, is a third grade teacher in Washington, D.C. and a Master’s student at Johns Hopkins University where he is getting his Technology for Educators degree.  Originally from Oklahoma, he came to Bermuda last year on his honeymoon and decided it would be an ideal location to pursue an internship that would combine his loves of science, teaching, and diving.  Matt will be spending six weeks working in the Education Department at BIOS with the Marine Science Internship (MSI) program. When not teaching or diving, he sings in a band in D.C. and plays a variety of sports, including American football.

Stacy Peltier, 27, will be graduating from Portland State University this fall with a BS in Earth Science.  Last year she worked Dr. Eric Hochberg in the Coral Reef Ecology and Optics (CREO) Lab as an REU student gathering data to determine if bio-optical methods can be used to set quantitative parameters for coral health.  Stacy enjoyed her experience so much that she returned to BIOS and the CREO Lab this summer to continue her work on bio-optics and assist with lab management, which she hopes will provide her with experience for future work as a lab technician.  In addition to SCUBA diving, she enjoys painting, playing beach volleyball and is interested in anything sci-fi.

Kascia White, 20, is a rising senior at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she is majoring in biology with a minor in psychology.  As a Bermuda Program intern she’s spending the summer with Dr. Samantha De Putron in the Ocean Acidification Lab studying the variation in Porites astreodes larval fitness between the rim reef and patch reef.  However, this isn’t her first time at BIOS; Kascia actually began as a Waterstart student five years ago and has been returning every summer to continue gaining marine science research experience.   She loves animals and is interested in pursuing a career as a marine science veterinarian.

Colin Du, 28, recently graduated from Trent University with a M.S. in molecular biology.  He joins us this summer as part of the CABIOS program, which provides scholarships specifically for Canadian students.  Colin is working with Dr. Andrea Bodnar in the Molecular Discovery lab assessing the antioxidant capacity of three different species of sea urchins, including one with an average lifespan of 200 years!  He first heard about BIOS from a fellow student at Trent and went online to learn more about Dr. Bodnar’s work.  He is currently applying to dental school and, in his spare time, likes to cook and learn about world history.

Believe it or not, there are still more interns to introduce you to!  Stay tuned for another installment of the Summer Intern Blog to meet new faces and learn about their research experiences...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer 2012 Interns: Post #3

As the days march on, the 2012 summer interns are becoming more actively engaged in their research projects here at BIOS, having spent the early weeks of their internships "learning the ropes" of their respective labs and sorting out the details of their research plans.  In this post we'd like to introduce you to:

Amanda Chen, 20, is a rising senior at Princeton University in the ecology and evolutionary biology program. Originally from China, she was raised in Georgia (US).  During her time at BIOS she is working with Tim Noyes and Dr. Eric Hochberg in the Coral Reef Ecology and Optics Lab studying damselfish sociality and predator avoidance behavior.   Amanda is excited to be a part of the Princeton-BIOS partnership in order to take advantage of the facilities and expertise at BIOS.  In addition to her love of nudibranchs, she also enjoys reading and ballroom dancing.

Amanda Correia, 18, is a rising sophomore studying biology at the University of Tampa.  As a Bermuda native, she is part of the Bermuda Program at BIOS and is working with Dr. Eric Hochberg in the Coral Reef Ecology and Optics Lab to investigate algal growth patterns within and outside of damselfish territories.  After a few years working in retail, Amanda realized that her true passion is marine science and eagerly applied for acceptance into the Bermuda Program.  When not exploring tide pools, she likes to swim, play field hockey, and watch movies.

Laura Reid, 21, is a rising senior at Furman College in Greenville, South Carolina where she is studying biology.  She visited BIOS last year for the Coral Reef Ecology course and fell in love with Bermuda, the course instructors, and corals, prompting her to apply for a summer internship working with Dr. Samantha de Putron and BEACON.  Laura enjoys SCUBA diving and a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, backpacking, and camping.

Angela Tomassini, 21, is a rising senior at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL where she is studying marine science with a concentration in biology and minors in environmental studies and Spanish.  Originally from Michigan, she received the 2012 Eckerd College Galbraith Fellowship, which awards one student each year with the opportunity to conduct a 10-week research internship at BIOS.  Angela is working with Dr. Kristen Buck in the Trace Metal Biogeochemistry Lab researching iron as a limiting nutrient for phytoplankton growth in the Sargasso Sea.  When not studying, she likes to read, watch tv, and go to the movies.

Kila Pickering, 21, is a rising senior at Princeton University where he is studying ecology and evolutionary biology.  For his senior thesis he was interested in doing research related to water pollution, so he took advantage of the Princeton-BIOS partnership and contacted BIOS scientists Dr. Andrew Peters (Environmental Quality Program) and Dr. Kristen Buck (Trace Metal Biogeochemistry Lab).  This summer he will be working with both researchers investigating the impacts of copper toxicity in marine sediments on phytoplankton growth.  Originally from Honolulu, HI, Kila enjoys anything beach-related: swimming, surfing, volleyball, etc.

More interns are still to come!  Stay tuned for another update about the exciting research being conducted by students from universities throughout the US and Bermuda!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer 2012 Interns: Post #2

As the summer marches on, more interns arrive to begin their work and research at BIOS. Continuing on from the first blog post that highlighted a few of these recent arrivals, we’d like to introduce you to another group of BIOS summer interns.  Please help us extend a warm welcome to:

Christie Halliday, 19, is a Bermuda Program intern in the Coral Reef Ecology and Optics Lab.  Originally from Devonshire, she will be starting her sophomore year at the University of Plymouth (England) this fall where she is studying environmental science.  She was a Bermuda Program intern at BIOS last summer and liked her experience so much that she returned to work on a research project with Dr. Eric Hochberg using historical satellite imagery to identify changes in Bermuda’s reefs over the past few decades.  In addition to her marine and environment interests, Christie likes running and spending time outdoors.

Chloe Ready, 21, is a recent graduate of Dalhousie University where she received a B.S. in Marine Biology.  Originally from Ottowa, ONT., Canada, she plans to pursue her M.S. in Marine Biology at university in England beginning later this year.  She will be spending the summer working with Dr. Eric Hochberg in the Coral Reef Ecology and Optics Lab investigating whether pan fluorometry can detect the impact of stressors on corals.  Chloe chose to do an internship with BIOS because of the CABIOS program, which provides scholarships for Canadian students to visit BIOS, noting that BIOS internship opportunities are well-promoted at Dalhousie.  When not studying, she enjoys SCUBA diving, horseback riding, and reading.

Clare Gallagher, 20, is a rising junior at Princeton where she is studying ecology and evolutionary biology with a minor in environmental studies.  She’s interning with Dr. Samantha De Putron in the Ocean Acidification Lab studying the effects of varying pCO2 levels on Porites asteroides harvested from nearshore and offshore reef locations.  Clare wanted to intern at BIOS to explore the extremely exciting side of scientific research that takes place below the ocean’s surface.  Originally from Denver, Colorado, her other interests include running cross country and track for Princeton, gardening, and hoola hooping to alternative indie music.

Joshua Bocarsly, 19, is a rising sophomore at Princeton where he is studying Chemistry.  This summer he’s working with Natasha McDonald, Research Specialist with the Bermuda Bio-Optic Program (BBOP), and Dr. Andrew Peters, Associate Research Scientist with the Environmental Quality Program, looking at chromophoric organic matter in the air and water.  Joshua chose to do a summer internship at BIOS because he was attracted to the prospect of doing research internationally and saw this as a great opportunity to explore the field of ocean chemistry.  In addition to his studies, he is a freelance graphic designer, produces electronic music, and plays ultimate Frisbee.

Stay tuned for the next post about BIOS summer interns...coming soon!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer 2012 Interns: Post #1

Every summer BIOS opens its door to dozens of interns looking to gain practical experience in the marine sciences.  These interns are undergraduate and graduate students—primarily from the US, UK and Canada—seeking to enhance their classroom learning with hands-on research process skills.  Each intern works closely with a BIOS faculty member on a research project that aligns with their academic interests.  This summer, BIOS welcomes the following interns:

Samantha Hamilton, 24, is a Master’s student in the Marine Affairs Program at Dalhousie University.  She’s doing her summer internship in the Coral Reef Ecology and Optics Lab working with Dr. Eric Hochberg on coral bio-optics.  This is actually Samantha’s second time visiting BIOS—she was here in 2008 as a student in the Coral Reef Ecology class and fell in love with both BIOS and Bermuda.  In addition to her studies, she is a SCUBA instructor and enjoys snowboarding in the winter season.

Colita Dunlop, 19, is a 2nd year student in the Environmental Science program at Bermuda College.  She is a Bermudian and volunteers every week at BIOS in the Coral Reef Ecology and Optics Lab.  This summer she’s doing her internship as part of the Bermuda Program with Dr. Samantha de Putron studying coral reproduction and recruitment.  When not in school, Colita enjoys honing her photography skills on the beautiful landscapes of Bermuda.

Celine Collis, 19, is a Bermudian currently attending the University of Toronto.  She is a 1st year student in pre-law, biodiversity, and ecological science.  She chose to do a Bermuda Program internship at BIOS because, she says, “BIOS has always had a big presence in Bermuda and this seemed like a worthwhile opportunity to learn more about my backyard.”  Celine will be working with Dr. Eric Hochberg in the Coral Reef Ecology and Optics Lab on developing a productivity budget for reefs on the Bermuda platform.  In addition to her academic interests, she enjoys SCUBA diving and dancing.

Jorge Sanchez, 21, is an undergraduate student in biology at Dalhousie University.  Born in Ecuador, he moved to Bermuda when he was six months old and has lived here since.  This summer, also as part of the Bermuda Program, he will be working with Tim Noyes in the Coral Reef Ecology and Optics Lab conducting video surveys of Bermuda’s fishes.  In addition to his interest in marine science, Jorge likes to SCUBA dive and play football.

The Bermuda Program is designed to broaden Bermudian students' knowledge of marine and atmospheric sciences and to acquaint participants with the daily operations of a research station.  Successful applicants are placed with a faculty mentor for an 8-week internship that focuses on an area of active research at BIOS.  For more information about the Bermuda Program, including application forms and submission deadlines, please visit

Friday, March 23, 2012

Trophic BATS: Post # 12 (Day 10 - Final)

Sunrise shortly before our return to Bermuda.

As we were spooling off the lines I got a rare sensation of dock rock. There are two kinds of dock rock, the first kind is what happens after a cruise in evening – it involves a BBQ and a Karaoke player (and its on a dock). The second kind is the sensation where you still feel like you’re swaying back and forth like you’re on the boat. The ground can interestingly look like seismic pulses, slowly lifting up the ground like periods of sea swell.

Jojo and June spooling off the sediment trap lines from the winch.

We arrived back to BIOS at 0930 this morning and shortly after lunch almost all of our cruise gear was off-loaded. The majority of it was hiked up into the laboratories for inventory before crates and boxes are stored until July. The spooling of the array lines was last on the to-do list and shortly after 1430, the cruise has almost officially wrapped up.

Science party watches the Atlantic Explorer navigating Ferry Reach, where the BIOS dock is located.

Now, some of the science party will take the weekend to relax in Bermuda before heading back to their respective institutions. In just about 4 months, the summer Trophic BATS cruise will commence. 2011 and 2012 were funded for field work, with 23 cruise days each year. In the summer, the cruise will be 13 days and likely, the majority of scientists will be returning for the fun. The scientific plan will be roughly the same: sample cyclonic or anticylonic eddies to determine their differences in food web processes, but ultimately focusing on how carbon transfers from the autotrophic community to export from the euphotic zone.

Once again, let’s revisit our research question.

How does plankton community composition and trophic interactions modify carbon export from the euphotic zone?

Now let’s recap the routes we took to measure each portion of the research question. Hopefully the food web from NASA’s Earth Observatory can put help put it into visual perspective.

First, phytoplankton, the base of the food web, need nutrients to grow. We measured these elemental stocks using CTD casts which gave us physical measurements of the water column (temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and density) by using in-situ sensors. We collected water from the cast to process the chemical stocks such as carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and silica in both inorganic/organic and dissolved/particulate forms. Now we have a sense of the substrate in which the autotrophic community converts sunlight and inorganic nutrients into organic matter.

Samplers at the CTD.

To investigate the phytoplankton community structure, we took samples for chlorophyll, pigments (HPLC), and flow cytometry. We can get cell counts through flow cytometry that give us a good picture of the proportions of the dominate phytoplankton in the Sargasso Sea. We also made rate measurements using Carbon-14 to give us an estimate of primary production. One of the future challenges will be determining if these primary production measurements can be sorted using the cytometer to give us taxon-specifc measurements of production.

Primary Produciton/Grazing Array getting deployed.

Now, we have an idea (or will have an idea once all the samples are run) of who’s in the water, how fast they are growing, and what their source of nutrition looks like. From there we move up a trophic level to the grazers. Conducting net tows will give us a measure of zooplankton biomass. With the primary production experiments, micro-zooplankton experiments were carried out as well to measure the overall grazing rate. Separate grazing experiments were made to determine stable isotope fractions of the zooplankton’s food source and then the zooplankton’s organic matter. This will be used to answer the more specific question of who’s eating who. Additionally, DNA analysis of gut content and fecal pellets will be another indicator of zooplankton diet.

Naomi and Molly haul in the zoop net.

This simplified explanation (I didn’t focus on the cycling aspect, which will be absolutely part of the analysis) gives us a general idea of plankton community composition and a few of the trophic interactions. Our sediment traps will hopefully provide us with the answers to how much and what type of organic matter is being exported. The sediment traps will be measured for carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, thorium, and silica. We also sampled for DNA and pigments in the trap material, giving us clues to the sources of the zooplankton diet, which was converted into fecal pellets and exported to depth.

Sediment traps making their way back on deck.

This research will hopefully provide a quantified model of how carbon flows through each of these relationships starting from the primary producers to the exported flux. Of course, there is much more work to be done. One more research cruise, much more sample analysis, and finally data synthesis and presentation.

This will be the last post, so to summarize – oceanography is awesome. And to generalize, science is awesome.

Thanks for reading.

Doug Bell
Research Technician, Phytoplankton Ecology Lab
I’m going to the beach.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Trophic BATS: Post # 11 (Day 9)

Naomi and Molly congratulating each other after a net tow with a hive-five. They should be happy, they just completed all their work.

“We are officially done!” Rob just announced next to me. Team Condon wrapped up the cruise with a few night net tows just about an hour ago and now we begin our steam back to Bermuda. We’re only 30 miles to the pilot station where we’ll get ushered in to dock at BIOS right around 0930.

It has been a great cruise. No injuries. Calm seas, sunny skies. Research objects completed. No lost or damaged gear. Everyone has been in agreement that the cruise was a success. The past few hours have been a bit busy for some of the labs; cleaning, drying, and packing away supplies for their storage at BIOS or their respective shipments back home.

Matt Baumann performing a regular check up on the in-situ pumps. Foreground includes PEL's sediment traps littering the CTD garage.

For our group, the off load is relatively a breeze. Crates come off and get shoved in the labs. Floating array gear gets craned off and shoved near the warehouse. The cytometer van gets craned off and shoved, well no, way to big to be shoved….it’s relocated on Biostation grounds. For other groups and in general other cruises, off loading and shipping can be a major headache. Scientists are worried about temperature sensitive samples (required storage in liquid nitrogen or –80C) that need to be delivered as fast as possible. Depending on the project they may also have to locate space for annual storage or if not, costly shipments back to their home institutions. Luckily, as this is a multi-year project, much of the entire team’s gear is able to be stored at BIOS.

This will be a short post and tomorrow will be a wrap up summary. Hope you’ve enjoyed the blog. We’d be happy to hear feedback from this little session, so if you thought it was good, let us know (

The Trophic BATS Team!

Doug Bell
Research Technician, Phytoplankton Ecology Lab
School of Hard Knocks

FINAL OBLIGATORY SUNSET PHOTO (I added it to take up space).