2017 Talks

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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.

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July 11 - How to Teach your AUV New Tricks

Erin Fischell, Assistant Scientist, Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering

Robotics has gotten more sophisticated over the last few years. Everywhere you look, there are drones, self-driving cars, and other autonomous platforms. In the ocean environment, robots have been limited by cost, communication, and navigation issues, so that robots have been mostly used for simple, pre-scripted missions using individual autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). But that’s changing. Learn how advances in practical lowcost sensing, navigation and autonomy are enabling a new wave of lowcost, miniature AUVs that can navigate, sense their environment, and work together to create virtual arrays.

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July 18 - Invasion of the Body-Snatchers

Carolyn Tepolt, Assistant Scientist, Biology

In the Gulf of Mexico, a parasitic barnacle tunnels into mud crabs and turns them into zombie nursemaids for the parasite’s offspring. This parasite infects just 1 to 5 percent of crabs in its native Gulf range, but it has invaded the mid-Atlantic where more than 70 percent of crabs are infected in some areas. Learn what field surveys, laboratory infections, and DNA are telling us about how this body-snatching parasite is shaping the evolution of its crab host.

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July 25 - March of the Many: Collective Behavior in Emperor Penguin Colonies

Daniel P. Zitterbart, Postdoctoral Scholar, Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering

The emperor penguin, an iconic polar seabird, is dependent on sea ice and thereby very sensitive to its changes. If sea ice decreases, local and global bird populations are predicted to decline by the end of the century. Little is known about their year-round behavior and how much they might be able to cope with a changing habitat. Learn interesting facts on emperor penguin behavior and how WHOI scientists study emperor penguins using the latest remote observing systems.

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August 1 - (Way) Under the Seafloor: Imaging rocks beneath the deep ocean

Hannah Mark, Joint Program Student, Geology & Geophysics

NOTE: This lecture will be held in Redfield Auditorium
Scientists studying the interior of the Earth can't physically reach the rocks they're interested in, but they can still learn about what's going on miles underground using seismic data. Hannah Mark will give a brief introduction to how this is done and how she uses these techniques to understand how tectonic plates form and evolve.

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August 8 - Shifting Sands: Dealing with coastal erosion through a spectrum of control methods

Greg Berman, Guest Investigator, Biology

Our coastlines are an ever-changing place where nature’s disregard for the human need for stability and stasis comes in to stark focus. Greg Berman will discuss some recent trends in erosion management, the difference between "hard" and "soft" shoreline stabilization, as well as the need to include retreat and maintenance in management plans.

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August 15 - History and Ecology of Clinging Jellyfish in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean

Annette Govindarajan, Research Specialist, Biology

Clinging jellyfish (Gonionemus) are small jellyfish—adults are typically less than 1 inch in diameter—that are sometimes known deliver painful stings. They are native to the North Pacific, including the Sea of Japan and were first noticed on the U.S. East Coast (including Cape Cod) in the late 1800s, where they were thought to be harmless. About 100 years later, the first severe stings associated with clinging jellyfish in the Northwest Atlantic occurred on Cape Cod, suggesting that a new, more toxic strain had been introduced. Learn about how they may have arrived at our shores, their life cycle and habits, and whether or not you should be worried about them at the beach.

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August 22 - Life Beneath the Ice: How tiny ocean "bugs" fuel Arctic Ocean ecosystems

Zhixuan Feng, Postdoctoral Investigator, Biology

The Arctic Ocean is harsh, but it is also a hotspot of biological productivity and diversity. This is largely thanks to tiny zooplankton that live in and under sea ice, where they consume primary producers (mainly phytoplankton) and are eaten by larger animals, including fishes and whales. Today, the Arctic is warming at an unprecedented rater. Learn how zooplankton may fare in a changing climate and who the winners and losers will be in this new “normal” Arctic.

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August 29 - Radioactivity from Fukushima Six Years On

Virginie Sanial, Postdoctoral Scholar, Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry

The reactor meltdowns in March 2011 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant resulted in the largest accidental release of radioactivity to the ocean in history. Radioactivity levels in seawater decreased within the few weeks after the accident, but they have remained stable at low levels since then, suggesting that releases continue. Expeditions by WHOI scientists and technicians, in collaborations with Japanese scientists, conducted over the last six years recently revealed a surprising source for much of that radioactive material.