Southern Miss to the Deep- Success at the Sea Floor

A joint effort between Dr. Hamdan and Dr. Monty Graham, Director of the School of Ocean Science and Technology at USM, yielded a new slogan during our recent cruise on USM’s R/V Point Sur: “Southern Miss to the Deep!”, clever spin on the university’s slogan, “Southern Miss to the Top!”.

img_2800_33012271476_o

Preparing to send the corrosion monitoring platforms (CMPs) developed in collaboration with colleagues at the Naval Research Lab to 1100 m in the Gulf of Mexico.

img_5449_32238564153_o

Our CMPs adorned with USM’s new slogan and various USM stickers.

 

The  scientific objective of this cruise was to use the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Odysseus to install two corrosion monitoring platforms (CMPs) (pictured above) on the seafloor.  These will incubate for approximately a year, after which they will be recovered to study biotic and abiotic marine corrosion of metal aloys, and the recruitment of microbial biofilms.

 

img_3219_32201313214_o

Rachel Mugge (left) and Leila Hamdan (right) securing the CMPs to the lower tray of the ROV.

img_5490_33045883065_o

Still image captured from the ROV camera as we watched our experiments travel to the deep.  The monkey’s fists attached here help the manipulator arm handle the experiments during deployment.

 

By using the multiple cameras on the ROV, we were able to watch the ROV travel deep into the ocean, touch bottom, and began its task of deploying our experiments. While  launch and recovery of an ROV is exciting, the true value of it is to facilitate science. The concept and design of the experiment takes creativity and time, and their placement takes careful effort and team work, both of which were in supply during our cruise.

img_3247_32201270054_o

The first CMP is placed on the sea floor.

img_3253_32201268294_o

A curious eel swims by as the manipulator arm grapples for the knot on the second CMP.

img_0365_32919356521_o

Our experiments will remain in place for approximately a year, when we will return to recover them.  The small circular surfaces on these experiments are what really matters.  They will contain valuable information and microorganisms that can help us learn about how metals degrade in the marine environment.

 

The ROV set both CMPs on the bottom of the Gulf at a depth of about 1,100 meters. This was my first ROV cruise (hopefully more to come) and it was exciting to see our experiments in place, the ROV Odysseus in action, and the deep sea with my own eyes.

Thanks for reading! Oh, and #SMTTDeep

RLM

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.

pe1713-pic-2

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.

pe1713-pic-1

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!

pe1713-pic-3

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”.

aslo-cover-pic

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.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-8-06-12-am

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

15631541_10211633998029989_1049640147_o

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.