2015 Talks


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 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.

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July 14 - Coral Records of Climate and Environmental Change

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.

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July 21 - Cool Robots - Using Robots to Explore Parts of the Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland

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.

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July 28 - Battling the Superbugs: New Drugs from the Sea

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.

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August 4 - Our Science, Our Ocean: Citizen Science in Buzzards Bay, Mass.

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.

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August 11 - Deep-Sea Submersibles for Science, from Imagination to Reality

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.

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August 18 - Searching Through Mud for Hurricanes!

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.

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August 25 - Oases in the Deep - Dark Life at Deep-Sea Vents

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.