Welcome Aboard!

The captain and crew greeted me with this phrase multiple times when I arrived at USM’s R/V Point Sur this afternoon, as we set to sail on a three day research cruise in the Gulf of Mexico.

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R/V Point Sur docked at the Port of Gulfport in Gulfport, MS.

During this cruise, we will use the ROV Odysseus (Pelagic Research Systems) to study the microbiology and mineralogy of corrosion near the World War II era shipwreck AnonaAnona, first discovered in 1995, will be the setting for two new long term corrosion experiments, that we hope to place on the seafloor, using the ROV’s manipulator arms. We also hope to obtain new video footage of tube worms observed on the wreck in 2014 as part of the GOM-SCHEMA study.

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The ROV Odysseus on the stern of the R/V Point Sur.

As for myself, I have settled in quite nicely. The living and working quarters aboard a ship may be cramped, but they are cozy!

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My bunk (in the chief scientist’s cabin!) aboard the R/V Point Sur.

I am thrilled to be on my first research cruise, and am eager to do some science at sea. Stay tuned for more updates!

RLM

Special Issue on Methane Published in Limnology and Oceanography

The increase of methane concentrations in the atmosphere, due to both anthropogenic and natural sources, have drawn the attention of scientists in recent years due to the effect  it may have on global climate change. Processes such as climate change and cultural eutrophication may  promote increased emissions to the atmosphere through positive feedback cycles.

The journal of Limnology and Oceanography  recently published the online version of a special issue on methane emissions last month. According to Bob Howarth, Editor-in-Chief of the journal, the aim of this special issue is “to gather together the latest science on compelling topics on methane production and emissions” with the overall goal of “providing a comprehensive view of the state of the science on the role of aquatic ecosystems in the global methane cycle”.

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Dr. Leila Hamdan (USM) and Dr. Kimberly Wickland (U. S. Geological Survey) were the Special Editors of the issue. The issue is a compilation of 26 papers covering topics of methane production and emissions from freshwater, estuarine and marine systems and was geared at contributing new knowledge about natural aquatic methane sources, and the forcing factors on emissions in a changing environment.

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Dr. Hamdan co-authored the introductory article for the issue.  This was her first publication at USM, and we are excited to share it with you!

Please see the links below:

Link to paper: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/lno.10449/full

PDF: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1002/lno.10449/asset/lno10449.pdf?v=1&t=iwy1op6s&s=0e43febfba61b9f4ba7bc4443179af533261ba19

ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography) Website: http://aslo.org/index.php

-Rachel M

Finding Microbes at a Science Fair

Last week, together with four other USM Coastal Sciences graduate students, I had the  opportunity to participate as a judge in the annual Ocean Springs High School science fair. The topics for the projects that these 9th and 10th grade honors biology students chose   spanned biology, chemistry, human health, math and physics, among others. Upon arrival, we were instructed to walk around and score the assortment of tri-fold poster boards that displayed these science projects based on specific requirements such as their format, clarity, and creativity. Although the students were not with their projects, we had the option of calling students out of class to conduct interviews with them, which a few of us did as we came across projects that showed noticeable effort. Our evaluations would be important to these aspiring scientists, as exceptionally well-done projects would proceed to the regional competition at Mississippi State University in February.

The category that immediately grabbed my attention was microbiology. I am a new master’s student in the Hamdan Lab at USM, and have been fascinated by microorganisms since middle school, when I did my own science fair project on the effects of antimicrobial socks. Seeing the turnout for this category was exciting for me, particularly because all of the microbial focused projects fell in the general category of yeast breads. I knew then that I was highly qualified as a judge, as I took a 4-H yeast breads project to the Ohio State Fair during high school in 2010, and competed to win first place in the state. My joint knowledge of microbiology and yeast breads helped me to score and place students in this category. As a result of the judges’ scores, Ms. Tyler Castleman’s project titled, “The Effect of Yeast Starters on Their CO2 Output” took first place and will advance to regionals. I was thoroughly impressed with how this aspiring 10th grader designed her project, documented her results, and communicated her findings with pictures, tables, and graphs. We shared with her a handful of tips learned from our own experiences presenting data, to support her future success; one such suggestion included teaming up with second place winner, Ms. Anna Horton, to compete as a strong team at regionals together.

Ms. Tyler Castleman’s project, 1st place (left) and Ms. Anna Horton’s project, 2nd place (right).

Outreach opportunities are a privilege, and I have discovered that I also enjoy teaming up with other scientists to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) in our local community. Some of the people that volunteered as judges at this event included research scientists, an engineer, and even a meteorologist! As a woman in science, I take pride in encouraging other young women to participate in science, and to work together. It is important to communicate to these young girls that their intelligence and new perspectives are needed in science, and that they are capable of pursuing a scientific career, as I have. Accordingly, I will be on the lookout for similar outreach opportunities in the near future, so stay tuned!

Rachel M

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From left to right: Lennah Shakeri, master’s student; Rachel Mugge, master’s student; Apryle Panyi, PhD student; Division of Coastal Sciences, USM School of Ocean Science and Technology.