Science Made Public is an annual, summertime series of publicly accessible talks by scientists and engineers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. All talks take place on Tuesdays at 3:00 p.m. in WHOI's Ocean Science Exhibit Center, 15 School Street, Woods Hole.
July 7 - Forecasting New England "Red Tides"
Dennis McGillicuddy, Sr. Scientist, Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering
Each year, coastal waters of the Gulf of Maine are prone to blooms of the harmful algae, Alexandrium fundyense. The algae pose no direct threat to human beings, however the toxins they produce can accumulate in filter-feeding organisms such as mussels and clams — which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in humans who consume them. To insure the shellfish we consume is safe, harvesting areas are carefully monitored by state agencies. Learn more about the work scientists have done to develop a forecasting system to help the shellfish industry and environmental managers better plan for the annual bloom.
Konrad Hughen, Sr. Scientist, Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry
Coral skeletons act as natural recorders, preserving, as they grow, a history of changes in local oceanic conditions. Remarkably, by making chemical measurements of the coral’s calcium carbonate skeleton, scientists can extract information about past sea surface temperature, wind speed, and a host of other climate factors. Learn how these paleoclimate records can be used to study the behavior of the global climate system in the past, and predict potential changes in the future.
Hanu Singh, Associate Scientist, Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering
Underwater robots are among the tools oceanographers use to explore the world ocean. They are especially useful for going into research areas that can be too dangerous for humans – like under ice-covered seas or alongside glaciers at risk of calving. Learn about the engineering challenges involved in developing these vehicles and some of the recent expeditions to extreme environments where they were tested and used.
Kristen Whalen, Research Associate, Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry
The emergence of antibiotic resistance among human pathogenic bacteria is leading to the widespread failure of our antibiotic stocks. With the antibiotic pipeline running empty, a new strategy needs to be implemented to overcome antimicrobial resistance and rejuvenate the existing arsenal of antibiotics. Learn how WHOI researchers are using a novel approach to defeat these “superbugs” by mining marine microbes for new drugs that regain antibiotic potency.
Jennie Rheuban, Research Associate, Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry
In a unique collaboration between WHOI and the Buzzards Bay Coalition, an analysis of more than two decades of water quality collected through the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s citizen-science program enables researchers to monitor and evaluate nitrogen impacts to coastal waters. The program allows researchers to establish a baseline water quality in approximately 30 harbors and coves, document long-term trends in water quality, and evaluate the success of clean-up efforts. Learn more about this collaboration and what the results suggest for managing water quality in Buzzards Bay.
Bruce Strickrott, Alvin Manager, Operational Scientific Services
Throughout history, humans have dreamed of exploring the world ocean using underwater vehicles. Jules Vern piqued the public’s interest when he published “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” Learn about the first primitive submersible concepts to WHOI’s current deep diving sub Alvin.
Stephanie Madsen, Senior Research Assistant, Geology & Geophysics
Geology can be a dirty job especially when searching for evidence of ancient hurricane deposits beneath marshes and the bottoms of ponds. Stephanie, a senior research assistant in the Coastal Systems Group, works with the team to core deep into mud in search of sand layers created by hurricanes that have struck Cape Cod over the past 2,000 years. Learn about their coring techniques, how they analyze and determine the sediment’s age back in the lab, and what their data tell us about our dynamic coastlines.
Stefan Sievert, Associate Scientist, Biology
The deep sea is the largest contiguous biome on Earth and is home to a great number and high diversity of organisms, yet is still only poorly explored. It was less than 40 years ago that hot springs in the deep sea were discovered, supporting unique ecosystems that are characterized by high productivity - oases in an otherwise barren landscape. Here, microorganisms make a living off inorganic chemicals, like hydrogen sulfide or hydrogen gas, and minerals dissolved in the hot hydrothermal vent fluids that bubble up from beneath the ocean floor, in turn feeding the enigmatic vent fauna. Learn about how researchers reveal the inner workings of these fascinating ecosystems that exist in complete darkness, sustained by Earth’s energy.