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2020 Potential Projects

Below is a list of potential projects and advisors in the WHOI departments and the USGS Coastal and Marine Science Center for Summer 2020. This list is not comprehensive; all Scientific and Senior Technical Staff are eligible to advise Summer Student Fellows. See also: WHOI Areas of Research and Departments, Centers and Labs.

Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering Dept.

Ocean Acoustics and Signal Processing

Julien Bonnel
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My research focuses on the development and use of acoustical techniques and data analysis methods to study the ocean. My activity is interdisciplinary and collaborative, and my lab is open to interns, students and post-docs with various interests, covering signal processing, acoustics, oceanography and marine biology. My personal playground is in between signal processing and ocean acoustics. However, I do enjoy working with students and post-doc that have diverse backgrounds. Current projects in the lab includes crustacean bioacoustics, marine mammal localization in the Arctic, polar soundscape analysis, estimation of seabed geoacoustic parameters, and fundamental signal processing adapted to dispersive propagation. Potential projects on other topics are usually welcome, particularly if they are at the intersection of acoustical oceanography and signal processing.

Julien Bonnel's profile
Oceanus article: Warping Sound in the Ocean

Nearshore Processes

Steve Elgar and Britt Raubenheimer
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The PVLAB team cleaning sensors at the USACE Field Research Facility, Duck, NC

The PVLAB team cleaning sensors at the USACE Field Research Facility, Duck, NC

Our lab (https://pv-lab.org) is studying the physical processes that affect the coast, especially during major hurricanes and nor'easters, including the interactions between ocean surge, waves, and infiltration-exfiltation, the groundwater,  and the sediments (pore pressures, porosity, grain size, dune and beach morphology) that contribute to erosion, flooding, and coastal evolution. We use our backgrounds in physics, math, engineering, and computer programming to compare field observations that we collect on the beach and in the surf with numerical model simulations to evaluate the relative importance of processes, such as waves, winds, and precipitation. Summer projects could focus on: (1) wave generation in shallow water, (2) breaching and closing of an ocean inlet, (3) alongshore variability of waves and dune erosion, (4) the role of

Deploying a sonar altimeter at the base of a dune in NC to measure wave runup and beach erosion during Hurricane Matthew.

groundwater and precipitation in coastal flooding and dune erosion on a barrier island, (5) eddies and flow patterns in the surf or swash zones, or (6) instrumentation development and testing for coastal observations.

 

Elgar and Raubenheimer's Lab - PV LAB

 

 

 

 

Marine Unmanned Robotics and Acoustic Sensing

Erin Fischell

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Fischell_20180829_110930_508913My lab works at the intersection intersection of underwater robotics, marine autonomy, signal processing including machine learning, and sensing, with an objective of developing marine systems capable of perceiving their environments and collaborating to explore those environments. Possible projects include development of machine learning/AI for identification of data quality and sources of interference in multi-sensor data sets, multi-domain (surface/underwater) autonomy integration, data visualization of complex underwater vehicle data sets, processing of acoustic data sets to develop tools for identification and classification of features, development of low-cost aquaculture monitoring systems.

Student interests may include autonomy, acoustics, machine learning, and/or robotics. General skills include some programming experience (matlab or python preferred), some electrical or mechanical experience (e.g. mechanical or electrical prototyping). New skills that may be acquired include AUV deployment/operations, sensor processing, mechanical/electrical prototyping, design of systems to go in the ocean.

Erin Fischell's profile
Scibotics Lab

 

Applied Aquaculture

Scott Lindell

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The Applied Aquaculture Research Program (Lindell Lab) is directed at researching and developing marine aquaculture for sustainably providing food and fuel. We strive to develop methods that have positive economic and ecosystem services and minimal negative social and environmental impacts. This demands a multi-disciplinary approach encompassing various subsets of biology (e.g. genetics, physiology, epidemiology), and oceanographic engineering (e.g. sensing, structural, systems). Marine aquaculture faces considerable engineering challenges, particularly in the open ocean where there are opportunities for making significant economic contributions. Marine farms need design and management to reach commercial scales that lower risk, attract investment and enhance revenue. Our program currently works with farmers (see GreenWave – greenwave.org) and engineers (see www.whoi.edu/news-release/seaweed-fuel) to research and test novel systems that support multiple commercial-scale growing structures or longlines for shellfish and seaweed.

Breeding and genetic selection applied to aquaculture species is a relatively recent phenomenon compared to agriculture. We will be coordinating the selection of a founding population of sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima) germplasm, designating crosses and families to be planted out, and evaluating the performance (phenotypes) of each family. Using a novel engineered research farm 10 minutes from our dock, we will be testing hundreds of family plots in Massachusetts, and more in New Hampshire. The project goal is to develop new strains of kelp that are better as food or animal feed sources, and that ultimately fit the production cost profile of feedstocks for biofuels.  There will be opportunities for research and mentorship in the both field (farms) and in the lab.

Scott Lindell's profile

Development of In situ Chemical Sensors

Anna Michel

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Our interdisciplinary (engineering and chemistry) research focus is on advancing environmental observation through the development and deployment of novel sensors for measurement of key chemical species. In my lab, we design, build, and deploy advanced laser-based chemical sensors for environments ranging from the deep sea to Arctic environments. We are especially interested in bringing new technologies to the field for measurement of the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide. An additional focus of our lab is on bringing adaptive sampling to ocean and earth science. More recently, we have been developing approaches for detecting microplastics in the ocean.

Potential projects for 2020 include developing and testing small gas sensors, investigating microplastics in ocean environments, advancing small platforms (including underwater remotely operated vehicles, surface vehicles, or drones) for making environmental measurements, and using machine learning approaches for data analysis.  Our group includes members with interests in environmental chemistry, engineering, computer science, and physics, but we welcome anyone with interests related to our research. Student projects will be primarily laboratory based with some possible local fieldwork. Students can expect an interdisciplinary research experience with opportunities for laboratory experiments and data analysis.

Anna Michel's website

Autonomous Surface Vessel Development

Peter Traykovski

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WHOI Engineers and scientists have recently developed the Jetyak Autonomous Surface Vessel (ASV), which has enabled interesting measurements in environments ranging from the Arctic to Coastal Estuaries.  See http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/the-jetyak. However for many applications a smaller ASV that could be launched and recovered by one person would be more suitable.  In very rough conditions (e.g. the surf zone)  the gas engine of the jetyak is problematic. Summer Student Fellow Projects that aid in the development of a smaller electric motor and battery powered ASV are possible that cover topics ranging from mechanical design to adaptive robotic control in the surfzone. Sensor integration such as bathymetric sonars or camera systems could also be part of a project  These projects would involve significant amounts of hands on engineering and field testing.

Peter Traykovski's profile
Projects website

Ice-Ocean Interactions

Catherine Walker

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Ice-ocean interactions are the main focus of research, both on Earth (Antarctica! Greenland! Alaska!) and in space (Jupiter’s moon Europa! Saturn’s moon Enceladus!). Potential projects here could focus on either remote sensing or modeling. Using remote sensing techniques that involve laser altimetry and satellite imagery, we can focus on how ice is changing on Earth due to interactions with the ocean, particularly in how it will change with the climate. One project focus in particular would be to focus on measuring ice cliff heights to determine stability envelopes against ice sheet collapse. We can also monitor iceberg breakup and sea ice changes and its effects on ice shelf stability. In addition, modeling studies of ice fracture and subsurface water in planetary bodies (“Ocean Worlds”) are of interest as well, to determine how and when these bodies were active. Specifically, we can help to determine where the best place to land a spacecraft might be! A specific project might be using remote observations and modeling to determine how the soon-to-launch Ganymede (moon of Jupiter) Laser Altimeter will perform over bumpy ice surfaces. Desired skills include Matlab or Python or other coding experience, and interest in learning about ice dynamics, planetary science, and/or climate change.

Catherine Walker's profile

NASA Highlight webpage

 

Biology Dept.

Biological-physical interaction and modeling

Rubao Ji

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Research in Ji's lab focuses on three interlinked biological oceanography topics, including phenology, biogeography, and connectivity of marine plankton (both holo- and mero- plankton). Phenology is the study of annually recurring phenomena in relation to climate conditions and biogeography is about the geographic distribution of organisms. The study of population connectivity focuses on the exchange of individuals between geographically separated subpopulations.  All three aspects of ecosystem dynamics are likely affected by climate-related forcing, including changes in hydrography and circulation patterns.  Coupled biological-physical modeling is the primary tool used in Ji's research group, with an aim to synthesize the data collected from laboratory experiments, in-situ observation and remote sensing. Potential projects for summer students include: 1) model-data validation and skill assessment; 2) model results processing and visualization; and 3) preliminary development of energy budget model for plankton and/or fisheries populations.

Rubao Ji's profile
Northeast U.S. Shelf Long-Term Ecological Research (NES-LTER)

Protistan Ecology and Evolution

Matthew Johnson
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Johnson_Mixotrophy_image

All images are fluorescence micrographs. Top images show mixotrophic dinoflagellates with ingested cryptophyte algal prey (orange/yellow food vacuoles). Their chloroplasts appear as red and their nucleus is blue. Bottom images show mixotrophic ciliates that steal chloroplasts (yellow/orange) from cryptophyte algae. The ciliate on the bottom right is Mesodinium rubrum, with a large stolen prey nucleus visible in the center (green nucleolus) and one of its own nuclei next to it (pink nucleolus). This cell was labeled with two different fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) probes for the 18s rRNA genes of cryptophyte prey (green) and of Mesodinium (pink).

Research in my lab is focused on understanding the ecology and evolution of marine protists with an emphasis on their interactions and trophic roles. We primarily work on mixotrophic protists, which survive by simultaneously combining photosynthetic and phagotrophic nutritional modes. These protists can be algae that eat or protozoa that steal chloroplasts from their algal prey. Our research aims at understanding how these organisms function and how they shape microbial communities and the flow of energy and matter through them. One mixotroph that we are particularly fond of is the ciliate Mesodinium rubrum, which not only steals chloroplasts but also a transcriptionally active nucleus from its prey. This unique trophic mode, called karyoklepty, allows them to gain full access to the metabolic potential of their prey and to essentially function as phototrophs. Potential projects in my lab include (1) measuring dynamics of prey selection and organelle sequestration in marine protists, (2) assessing the role of feeding in mixotrophic marine phytoplankton under cellular stress, or (3) measuring “symbiotic" gene and/or protein expression in Mesodinium to assess regulation of stolen organelles.

Johnson Lab

 

 

 

Benthic Larval Ecology

Kirstin Meyer

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graphics-Kirstin_Meyer-VCL_3145-1280_468778_508414In my lab, we study the colonization and connectivity of island-like benthic invertebrate populations. We use field surveys, larval culturing, and experiments in the lab and field to understand how and why larvae of benthic invertebrates disperse and colonize where they do.

Drop any solid object into the ocean, and it will eventually become colonized by something. For example, shipwrecks are home to benthic invertebrate communities in locations where there is not “supposed to” be a hard-bottom habitat. Most benthic invertebrates reproduce via a larval stage that disperses in the water column, but why would a larva that needs to settle on a solid object disperse to an area that is “supposed to” have just sand or mud? Island-like communities may have been founded by only a few individuals that for some reason dispersed farther than others.

I am looking for a Summer Student Fellow to join my lab in 2020 and investigate what factors might cause a larva to disperse farther than other individuals of the same species. Maybe its mother had good energy reserves and added more yolk to her eggs, allowing the larva to swim for longer. Maybe the larva swam up shallower than its conspecifics and got caught in a fast current. The Fellow will collaborate with me to design and carry out an experiment examining intraspecific variation in larval provisioning and behavior, using their choice of model species. Possibilities include an anemone, a tunicate, a limpet, and a bivalve.

The Fellow’s project will begin with field collections of the target species by wading at low tide in shallow rocky habitats around Woods Hole. Females of the target species will be maintained in the laboratory at various levels of nutrition during their reproductive period, and then some will be dissected to measure larval provisioning (yolk mass or larval size). Another set of females will be allowed to spawn, and the behavior of their larvae will be observed in the laboratory using high-speed video recordings. Analysis of the video data will be conducted using the code-based program Matlab. The Fellow will gain experience in experimental design, larval culturing techniques, video analysis, and the interpretation of complex data.

Kirstin Meyer's profile

Sensory Biology and Bioacoustics

Aran Mooney

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In the Sensory Ecology and Bioacoustics lab we study how marine animals use detect and respond to the cues around them, as well as the patterns of cues, signals and noise available to the animal. Our work focuses on cephalopod hearing and use of sound, cephalopod eco-physiology (physiology and behaviors in response to local environmental conditions such as oxygen and pH), marine mammal bioacoustics, and the bioacoustics of coral reefs. We often address how stressors such as low pH or ocean noise impacts behavior and physiology.  Potential projects for the SSF include: (1) studies on coral reef soundscapes and larval responses to sound, (2) impacts of noise on cephalopods, and (3) using the ITAG to quantify the behavior and physiology of marine invertebrates.

Sensory Ecology and Bioacoustics Lab

Sensory Ecology blog

Larval Ecology, Benthic Community Resilience

Lauren Mullineaux
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LM_DSC_9910SWM_ssf2015_406813

MIT/WHOI JP student Carly Strasser and scientist Lauren Mullineaux work with crew aboard the R/V Atlantis to deploy deep-sea mooring. (S.W. Mills, WHOI)

Our lab studies the oceanographic and ecological processes that connect geographically separate populations and contribute to their resilience in the face of natural and human disturbance. To do this, we investigate how larvae of benthic invertebrates disperse and recruit into marine communities. We work mostly in patchy habitats, ranging from coastal bays to deep-sea hydrothermal vents, where larval dispersal is the driving process connecting populations. Students in our lab use a variety of approaches, often in collaboration with WHOI scientists in other disciplines, including coupled studies of circulation and larval ecology, manipulative benthic experimentation, laboratory study of larval behavior, and mathematical models. This coming summer, available projects for an undergraduate fellow include: (1) analyze the development of a deep-sea vent community following a catastrophic eruption on the East Pacific Rise; (2) conduct laboratory experiments on larval behavioral responses to environmental cues; or (3) explore the roles of disturbance, dispersal, and species interactions on community persistence in a metacommunity model.

Mullineaux Lab

Mathematical Ecology

Michael Neubert
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In my laboratory, we formulate and analyze mathematical models to address scientific questions that arise in the study of marine populations or communities. Many (but not all) of these questions have to do with how best to conserve or manage populations in the face of some form of stress (e.g., invasive pests, habitat disturbance, harvesting, or climate change). The project a summer student might work on in my lab will depend upon a combination of the student’s mathematical and computational training and biological interests. Examples include developing models to study (1) the efficacy of marine protected areas, (2) how best to manage the spread of an invasive species or epidemic, (3) how species persist in dynamic environments around hydrothermal vents, (4) phytoplankton population dynamics, or (5) zombies.

Michael Neubert's profile page

Northeast U.S. Shelf Long-Term Ecological Research (NES-LTER)

Marine Mammal Behavior and Communication

Laela Sayigh
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My research interests focus on behavior and communication in cetaceans (whales and dolphins), and how humans impact these aspects of cetacean societies. Student projects will focus on computer-based analyses of acoustic data and are unlikely to have a field component. Possible research areas for summer 2020 include: (1) Analysis of tag data and hydrophone recordings to study how bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales or blue whales use communicative signals; (2) Analysis of recordings of dolphin whistles recorded prior to mass stranding events, to look for cues indicative of such events, for development of an acoustic mass stranding alert system; (3) Analysis of data from acoustic recorders to study how noise may impact blue whale communication; and (4) Analysis of playback experiments to bottlenose dolphins, aimed at studying various aspects of communication.

Laela Sayigh's profile page

Deep-Sea Faunal Biodiversity, Connectivity, and Management

Tim Shank
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The Shank lab is focused on understanding the ecological and evolutionary processes that structure deep-sea benthic biodiversity, including larval dispersal, colonization, habitat utilization, genetic connectivity, and the evolutionary relationships of invertebrate fauna. These studies include seamount and chemosynthetic ecosystems intimately tied to planetary processes significant to the evolution of life on earth. This research strives to provide fundamental insights into the rates and manner in which dynamic physical, biological, and geological processes structure biodiversity, and ecosystem response to disturbance and climate-related oceanographic/seafloor conditions. This coming summer, available projects for an undergraduate fellow include: 1) enumerating deep-coral canyon ecosystems and their management in US territorial waters; 2) assessing genetic connectivity of species in canyon, hydrothermal vent, and trench ecosystems, 3) conducting climate-related baseline characterizations of shallow hydrocarbon seep ecosystems in the Arctic; and 4) determining seamount coral community structure.  Students will also either participate on a research cruise utilizing deep remotely-operated vehicles or experience real-time at sea discoveries and interact with shipboard science teams via live telepresence broadcasts from sea.

Shank Lab

Phytoplankton Ecology

Heidi Sosik
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graphics-Flow_Cytobot-_DSC3746_sm_408473My research is focused on quantitative plankton ecology and in my lab there are a range of possible summer projects for motivated undergraduates. Most on-going projects are related to coastal ecosystems and time series observations of plankton at scales from single cells up to large areas that can be monitored with satellite remote sensing. We have on-going field work as part of the Northeast U.S. Shelf Long-Term Ecological Research (NES-LTER) program and at the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory, which is a facility on the continental shelf near WHOI that is connected to shore by power and fiber optic cables. We have developed some exciting new submersible flow cytometer technologies that rapidly measure microscopic particles (mostly phytoplankton, but also protozoa), including video imaging at the micron scale. These instruments are deployed at MVCO and produce lots of data (e.g., >10000 images per hour for months to years), so projects involving these time series can span from computer science (image analysis, computer vision, and machine learning) to modeling of populations and bloom dynamics. There are also opportunities for projects involving coastal field work, laboratory experiments with plankton cultures, and instrument development.

Heidi Sosik's website

Imaging Flow Cytobot data

Northeast U.S. Shelf Long Term Ecological Research (NES-LTER)

Environmental Toxicology

John Stegeman and Jed Goldstone
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The Stegeman/Goldstone Environmental Toxicology laboratory focuses on the metabolism and effects of natural and man-made chemicals on marine organisms. We work in a variety of species, including transgenic zebrafish, cold-water cod, deep sea fish, blue mussels, farmed oysters, and all sorts of animals in between. We even work on giant viruses! Much of our work is focused on the biochemistry, evolution, and regulation of cytochrome P450 enzymes and their roles in biochemical toxicology. We use molecular techniques including quantitative PCR, RNA-seq, long-read nanopore sequencing, and biochemical analyses, as well as microscope and behavioral methods to investigate the mechanisms and consequences of pollutant effects in animals.

Potential projects include analyses of zebrafish adult and larval behavior following pollutant exposure, examination gene expression changes in transgenic zebrafish or Japanese medaka, examination of heart rate and function in medaka exposed to pollutants, gene expression analysis in oysters or blue mussels, analysis of deep sea fish RNA or functional analysis of deep sea fish protein functions, or the expression and functions of pollutant-responding enzymes in other animals. We are also open to computational projects, including protein modeling, and the analysis of previously-generated RNA-seq data sets.

Most of the techniques we use require some knowledge of molecular biology, and having a functional knowledge of qPCR is helpful. Alternatively, some general biochemistry or chemistry techniques, such as enzyme kinetic analyses, would be useful. We do perform training in molecular biology, and can provide training in some aspects of computational biochemistry or bioinformatics.

Stegeman Environmental Toxicology Lab

Marine Invertebrate Physiology

Ann Tarrant
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Example of a copepod life cycle, including seasonal embryonic dormancy.

We seek to understand how animals detect and respond to signals and stresses in the marine environment. These include responses to natural environmental signals, such as circadian rhythms or seasonal dormancy, as well as responses to stressors such as chemical pollutants.

This summer, we are particularly interested in recruiting a student to study how populations of Acartia copepods change over the season. Acartia spp. are common in nearshore environments where they serve as important food sources for larval fish and other predators. They have an interesting life strategy where female copepods either produce directly developing embryos or dormant embryos that sink into the sediments. Dormancy allows the copepod populations to persist during unfavorable periods. Recent studies have revealed that Acartia tonsa and A. hudsonica are both diverse lineages with cryptic species. This summer my lab will be working determine how the relative abundances of the cryptic species change over the course of the season. We are also interested in how these different groups of copepods respond to environmental cues to produce directly developing or dormant embryos. The project would include field collections and microscopy, genetic analysis, and zooplankton culturing methods. There will be opportunities to become involved in other ongoing projects in the lab, including thermal acclimation in Nematostella, and metabolic adaptations of Antarctic copepods.

[In case you were looking closely, the copepods in the picture are dormant all summer. That would be kind of boring to study. The local Acartia populations have different timing than this example and will be active in the summer. You’ll have plenty to do and see!!]

Tarrant Lab website

Tarrant Lab blog

Rapid Adaptation in Invasive Crabs

Carolyn Tepolt
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European green crab, named one of the IUCN’s “World’s 100 Worst Invasive Species”.

Our lab studies how – and how quickly – marine animals can adapt to new environments. We mostly study invasive species, which are extremely good at surviving and thriving in new waters. This summer, we’re particularly interested in a student fellow to work on a project on green crab genetics. Green crabs are recent, very successful arrivals on the West Coast of North America, and we are tracking how their genetics change as they spread throughout the region, especially into newly-invaded Salish Sea. We are looking for a student with some basic genetics experience – you don’t need to be an expert, you just need to have a little experience working with DNA or doing other molecular biology / biochemistry analysis. Depending on the student fellow’s background and interests, the project can involve helping to design a new screening assay for the species, and/or bioinformatics analysis of high-throughput sequencing data. This project is mostly based in the lab at WHOI, but there will be opportunities to participate in local fieldwork and other lab projects involving invasive species physiology and parasitology.

Tepolt Lab website

Geology and Geophysics Dept.

Microbiology and Early Diagenesis of Stromatolites, Earth's earliest extensive life

Joan M Bernhard
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Stromatolites are Earth’s earliest evidence of extensive life.  To better

Example of a CLSM image of the lake microbialites, showing sizes and shapes of component microbes.

understand the impact of eukaryotic evolution on the Precambrian stromatolite fossil record, we are studying modern forms and their early diagenesis (fossilization). In stromatolites from a meromictic (permanently stratified) lake, the SSF would analyze microbial distributions on a sub-millimeter scale using Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM) and epifluorescence microscopy to determine eukaryotic and prokaryotic distributions with respect to chemocline geochemistry.  Additionally, data from microCT scans of the microbialites will be analyzed to assess impact of early diagenesis resulting from a high pressure experiment.  The field work for this project is finished, but possibilities to join field collections are likely.  The student should enjoy microscopy and be adept at 3-D visualizations.  The SSF will be instructed on how to perform all required types of microscopy and software analyses.  A dataset of the microscopic images will be compiled and quantified by the student.  Additional lab activities abound that the SSF will be invited to join if interested.

Joan M. Bernhard's home page

Geochemical Paleoceanography

Climate and Paleoceanography Group
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Sampling a fresh sediment core aboard the R/V Armstrong.

Just as human evolution can be reconstructed from the A’s, T’s, C’s, and G’s of DNA, the environmental evolution of our planet is recorded in the elemental and isotopic geochemistry of one of Earth’s most abundant archives: marine sediment. The distribution of uranium (U), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), oxygen (O), carbon (C), and their isotopes, for example, can document changes in climatically relevant processes like carbon dioxide sequestration, ocean circulation, and hydrothermal venting on mid-ocean ridges. By studying the sources, sinks, and transport pathways of elements in the environment, we investigate the mechanisms that link the ocean, climate, and solid Earth systems today and in the past. Several themes broadly define our research interests: 1) elemental cycling at Earth’s interfaces, 2) deep ocean ventilation and meridional circulation, and 3) sedimentation and chemical diagenesis.

Examples of potential projects include:

  • Reconstructing bottom water oxygen concentrations in the tropics since the last ice age
  • Investigating the impact of hydrothermal activity on sediment and foraminiferal geochemistry
  • Examining the foraminiferal assemblage response to changing climate conditions over glacial-interglacial cycles.

Contact: Postdoctoral Scholar Kassandra Costa

Climate and Paleoceanography Group

Climate Change and Coral Reefs

Anne Cohen
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Sampling a bleached coral on Jarvis Island.

We invite SSF applications to conduct research on topics in coral reef science. Students will have opportunity to participate in a variety of projects including ocean acidification impacts on coral growth, the bio-fluidics of coral larval metamorphosis and settlement and using laser ablation to reconstruct water temperatures on coral reefs during past warm periods such as last interglacial.

 

 

Cohen Lab

Climate Variability: Tropical Cyclones, Sea Level and Drought

Jeff Donnelly
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SONY DSC

Coring a coastal pond in New York following Hurricane Sandy.

The goal of my research program is to understand how climate variability changes tropical cyclone activity, alters sea levels, and affects water availability. Storms, sea-level fluctuations, and changing freshwater inputs play key roles in driving changes in many coastal systems, yet we know very little about how these environments respond to the complex interactions of these forcing mechanisms. Gaining a process-based understanding of how and why past environmental changes have occurred provides a framework for projecting future changes. We use sedimentological and stratigraphic proxy records of tropical cyclones, sea level, and drought that extend the instrumental record back millennia. Example projects include: 1) analyzing cores to characterize event deposits and reconstruct the history of tropical cyclone activity back many centuries to millennia , 2) Analyzing historical archives in order to extend the spatial and temporal coverage of records of tropical cyclone occurrence in order to examine how changing climate may have controlled activity, 3) Reconstructing wildfire frequency by analyzing charcoal preserved in sediment cores in order to examine links between fire and changing water availability and tropical cyclone disturbance.

Coastal Systems Group

Oyster Aquaculture and its Impacts on Nitrogen Removal from Coastal Cape Cod Waters

Virginia Edgcomb
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Our laboratory

Summer Student Emma Keeler (left) and previous Summer Student Fellow Emily Maness helping with the Oyster Aquaculture Project on Waquoit Bay, MA 2019.

studies the microbiology of oxygen-depleted marine waters and sediments, and how climate change is altering biogeochemical cycles at the base of  marine food webs. In addition to open-ocean and deep subsurface biosphere studies, we also examine coastal environments. One of our projects examines how different methods of shellfish aquaculture can help to improve water quality in coastal settings that have been negatively impacted by nutrient loading. We have an opportunity for a summer student fellow to participate in field and laboratory work for the third and final year of this project. Field work will involve bi-monthly sediment coring with our group and subsampling for rate measurements, nutrient and other chemical analyses, and nucleic acid isolation. General familiarity with pipetting and sterile techniques would be helpful. Student can expect to become proficient in DNA isolation, nutrient analyses and denitrification rate measurements and 3 different aquaculture methods. Must enjoy working with a group and not afraid of a little mud!

Edgcomb Lab

Isotope Geochemical Clues about the Deep Earth

Forrest Horton
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forrester1_511373

Baffin Island lava flows contain clues about the deep Earth.

Volcanic rocks hold clues about the deep Earth and help us understand magma origins and mantle processes. Two opportunities exist to investigate the isotope geochemistry of highly unusual volcanic rocks:

Baffin Island lavas from Earth’s lowermost mantle: Lavas erupted on Baffin Island in arctic Canada are thought to derive from the deepest and most primordial mantle reservoir (and perhaps even contain material from the core!). Samples from this location are extremely important for understanding Earth’s deep interior, so we will be conducting comprehensive geochemical and isotopic analysis of these rocks. Opportunities exist to study the petrology of these samples and to conduct noble gas isotopic measurements by crushing gas-bearing olivine crystals.

Afghanistan carbonatites and the deep carbon cycle: Carbon cycling through and storage in the deep continental lithosphere remain poorly understood aspects of the global carbon cycle. Rare volcanic rocks that contain >50% carbonate minerals (carbonatites) provide insight about these processes. Khanneshin Volcano in southern Afghanistan is one of the youngest and best-preserved carbonatite volcanoes. This study will infer the origins of Khanneshin magmas based on carbon, oxygen, strontium, and boron isotopic results. Students involved will gain experience with laser ablation ICP-MS and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS).

Forrest Horton homepage

Radiocarbon in Natural Methane

Mark Kurz (NOSAMS) and John Pohlman (USGS)
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Measurement of cosmogenic/atmospheric carbon-14 (radiocarbon) in the environment is a powerful tool to understand the global carbon cycle.  Methane is produced during the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter, and is of particular interest because it is a potent greenhouse gas.  Radiocarbon measurements in methane provide an effective metric to evaluate the source and age of the organic matter from which it was derived.  It is challenging to measure the radiocarbon signature of methane in aquatic and marine settings due to low methane concentrations in natural waters, coupled with the challenges of measuring natural radiocarbon abundances using accelerator mass spectrometry (1 atom of 14C/10^15 atoms of 12C, in the atmosphere).  Therefore, methane radiocarbon measurements in water have not yet been widely used.  The primary goal of this research project is to evaluate new field methane sampling techniques using the local surface water of Cape Cod as a natural laboratory.

A new method for extracting, storing, and transporting methane samples from natural water with relatively low concentrations has been developed at the USGS Woods Hole Coastal & Marine Science Center.  The method involves extraction of methane from large volumes of water in the field, using a head space equilibration, gas compression, and storage in gas-tight containers.  This sampling method will be directly compared to conventional water sampling (water collection and storage for laboratory processing) using suitably high methane concentration Cape Cod marshland surface waters.  The new method will ultimately be used to extract methane from natural waters in a restored salt marsh to determine if the age of the organic matter producing methane differs from pristine marshes; natural and impounded marshes will be compared.

The student should have an interest and aptitude for both field and laboratory research.  The laboratory component will include training in the use of instrumentation, including vacuum systems to convert methane to carbon dioxide and graphite for measurements by accelerator mass spectrometry. The student will have the opportunity to collaborate with experts from National Ocean Science Accelerator Mass Spectrometry facility (NOSAMS) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal & Marine Science Center.  Further information on the measurements can be found at https://www.whoi.edu/nosams/home.

National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (NOSAMS)

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal & Marine Science Center

Mark Kurz profile

John Pohlman profile

Physical Volcanology

Yang Liao
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I’m a physical volcanologist and fluid dynamist with a broad range of research interest. I typically develop quantitative models based on continuum physics, but I’m also setting up a laboratory to test some of my models and to explore more physical processes using small-scale, ‘counter-top’ experiments. One research opportunity for an undergraduate summer fellow is to join me in developing and conducting some experiments relevant to magma reservoir in earth crust. Specifically, the experiments are based on using analogue materials (e.g., water, corn syrup, gelatin), one camera, and (perhaps) 3D printed molds. We will explore the behaviors of magma chambers and volcanic dikes in the crust, especially when crystals are abundant and the system is ‘mushy’.

Yang Liao's profile

Self-sustained Oscillations in Thermohaline Convection

Olivier Marchal and John Whitehead
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The possibility of abrupt climate change is a problem of preeminent scientific interest and societal concern. Here as elsewhere, the past may shed light on the future. Ice core records from central Greenland suggest that local air temperature rose repeatedly by 5-15 degrees Celsius over just a few decades during the last glacial period, between about 20,000 and 80,000 years ago. The origin of these warming events, called Dansgaard-Oeschger events, is unclear, although many ideas invoke recurrent changes in the meridional (south-north) heat flux associated with the circulation in the Atlantic Ocean. It has been proposed that these events may be large-scale oceanic analogues of the self-sustained oscillations (SSOs) that characterize a number of simple mechanical and electrical systems driven by a constant source of energy. This proposal is both interesting and intriguing. For example, would SSOs in the ocean be peculiar to glacial periods, or could they also exist under different climatic conditions, such as modern ones?

For this project, the student will develop and apply a computer model for the two-dimensional flow (in a vertical plane) of a fluid forced by horizontal differences in temperature and salinity at its upper surface. Albeit an obvious simplification of the meridional circulation in the real ocean, such a flow, called thermohaline convection, can display a rich array of fluid dynamical phenomena, including multiple equilibria and self-sustained oscillations. In this project, emphasis will be placed on (i) the stability of this flow for different surface conditions and different fluid properties and (ii) the factors that are conducive to SSOs in this flow. Through this project, the student will be exposed to concepts from different disciplines, ranging from fluid mechanics, physical oceanography, numerical analysis, and paleoclimatology. The student will be supervised jointly by Olivier Marchal (Department of Geology & Geophysics) and John Whitehead (Department of Physical Oceanography).

Olivier Marchal's profile

John Whitehead's profile

Paleoceanography/Paleoclimatology

Delia Oppo
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We use a variety of techniques, often in collaboration with other scientists at WHOI and elsewhere, to study past changes in ocean circulation and the earth's climate history. Some of our current projects focus on abrupt climate events of the last glacial cycle, deglacial climate evolution, and Holocene trends and variations (including detailed reconstructions of the last millennia).

Delia Oppo's homepage

Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Dept.

Hydrothermal Vents and Ocean Chemistry

Matt Charette
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Are you interested in how hydrothermal vents influence the chemistry of the deep ocean, and even potentially help to regulate Earth’s climate? In the Charette lab, we are dedicated to seeking knowledge on how ocean boundaries – from coastal aquifers to deep sea sediments – supply elements and compounds that are essential to life on our planet. We use radionuclides, in particular the isotopes of radium, as tracers of these important processes.

The summer fellowship opportunity in our lab will focus on measurements of radium isotopes in samples collected from two cruises near hydrothermal vents of the southern East Pacific Rise. The student will be measuring radium isotopes via their radon decay products; in one procedure, you will extract the radon from the samples using a liquid nitrogen “cold trap” (see photo). In terms of skills attained, you will become familiar with various radiochemical techniques, data reduction, and data interpretation using other measurements collected on the cruises.

You will have the opportunity to interact with other members of our dynamic lab group during your time in Woods Hole, including students, postdocs, and research technicians. Please visit the lab group website at www.whoi.edu/groundwater for more information.

Matt Charette's profile

Geochemistry of Marine Sediment and Paleoceanography

Ann Dunlea
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Logan Tegler preparing marine sediment samples in the clean lab during her Summer Student Fellowship in 2017. Tegler is now a graduate student in the WHOI-MIT joint program.

You are invited to join our lab to perform innovative research on the geochemistry of marine sediment and paleoceanography. For this summer, we seek a student to help investigate how the cycling of iron (a limiting micro-nutrient for plankton in certain ocean regions) has changed over deep time. Students should bring enthusiasm for understanding nutrients in the ocean and a curiosity of how the Earth has changed over the past 65 million years. Applicants should be prepared to learn how to prepare marine sediment samples for geochemical analyses, perform careful geochemical analyses under clean-lab conditions, assist with operating mass spectrometers, and interpret the results in the context of the geochemistry of the seafloor and Earth’s past climate.

Ann Dunlea's profile

Isotope Biogeochemistry

Tristan Horner
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graphics-2016_SSFs-Ben_Geyman-Horner-_DSC3969_small_447773

Ben Geyman (2016 SSF), Tristan Horner, and Maureen Auro inspecting a trace-metal sample in the clean room. (Tom Kleindinst, WHOI)

Marine sediments are valuable historical archives that document the evolution of the Earth System. However, relating the geochemistry of certain sedimentary deposits back to the environment in which they formed is not necessarily straightforward, since the information recorded can be ‘blurred’ by additional processes taking place during and after deposition (e.g., biological effects artifacts, overprinting, unidentified processes). Thus, it is imperative to conduct studies in diverse modern environments to fully appreciate how the chemistry of the geological record is written.

As a Summer Student Fellow in the NIRVANA Labs, you will learn how to apply multi-element geochemical and/or stable-isotopic techniques (e.g., Ba-, Cd-, Fe-, Mo-, Tl-, V-, and Zn-isotopic analyses) to probe the language of the geological record. These techniques will be honed in our state-of-the-art metal-free clean lab (pictured). Potential project areas include development and/or application of geochemical tracers for primary productivity, ocean redox, and nutrient (re)cycling.

NIRVANA research group

Deep-Sea Microbiology

Julie Huber
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NOAA Ocean Explorer: Okeanos Explorer: Mid-Cayman Rise Expeditio

Image of an active hydrothermal vent (left) located SE of the central Von Damm hydrothermal field seen at the very end of our last dive at the MCR. Note the filaments of bacteria and hydrothermal shrimp in the immediate vicinity of the active fluid flow. Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, MCR Expedition 2011.

Julie is an oceanographer by training and is broadly interested in how basic earth processes- rocks forming, fluids moving, sediments accumulating- interact to create and maintain life in the oceans. Her research addresses some of the most central questions about the nature and extent of life on Earth in one of its least explored corners, the subseafloor habitat beneath the ocean floor. Potential projects include cultivation of microbes from deep-sea hydrothermal vents, using advanced molecular tools, including DNA and RNA sequencing, to examine microbes living beneath the seafloor, and other related microbial biogeochemistry projects.

 

 

Julie Huber's profile

Paleoclimate from Coral Skeletons

Konrad Hughen
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Coral_photo-1_447993Massive corals can grow for hundreds of years and record climatic and oceanographic conditions in the chemistry of their skeletons. Long coral drill cores provide material for a broad array of geochemical analyses that reveal information about sea surface temperature, salinity, river runoff/dust input, and human activities including land-use change and pollution. This project will involve measuring trace element (Sr/Ca and Ba/Ca) and/or oxygen isotopic ratios (d18O) in coral skeletons for reconstruction of climate in a region to be determined.

Konrad Hughen's website

Quantifying the biogeochemical role of microbial communities in the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean

Hyewon Kim
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The Kim lab studies the interactions between climate and marine microbial ecosystems over multiple scales using computational modeling approaches in conjunction with observational time-series analysis. We develop numerical biogeochemical models and data-driven models to gain an ecosystem scale understanding of the climate-microbial interactions. We utilize global marine ecosystem models to seek regional- to global scale understanding of the climate-microbial interactions.

We invite the Summer Student Fellowship candidates who are interested in quantifying the biogeochemical role of microbial communities at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site in the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean. BATS is one of the longest, ongoing multi-decadal ocean time-series programs, which has improved our understanding of the microbial, ecosystem, and biogeochemical responses to changing climates. Our lab is currently developing a numerical model to predict the future changes of the climate-microbial interactions at BATS. In doing so, it is important to understand the natural variability of the microbial communities shaped by large-scale climate variability and local-scale physical forcing using the BATS data sets.

The candidates will work directly with Dr. Hyewon Kim in the Department of Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry. The candidates will learn how to quantify the microbial system dynamics by conducting time-series analysis and learning the model simulations. We prefer the candidates experienced with statistical data analysis in programming languages (e.g., MATLAB, Python) and strong interests in marine microbial ecology and biogeochemistry. The candidates will gain strong skill sets in statistical and computational data analysis, written communication of scientific results, and the ability to present their findings to scientific communities.

Hyewon Kim's profile

Kim Lab - Computational Biogeochemistry

Radiocarbon in Natural Methane

Mark Kurz (NOSAMS) and John Pohlman (USGS)
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Measurement of cosmogenic/atmospheric carbon-14 (radiocarbon) in the environment is a powerful tool to understand the global carbon cycle.  Methane is produced during the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter, and is of particular interest because it is a potent greenhouse gas.  Radiocarbon measurements in methane provide an effective metric to evaluate the source and age of the organic matter from which it was derived.  It is challenging to measure the radiocarbon signature of methane in aquatic and marine settings due to low methane concentrations in natural waters, coupled with the challenges of measuring natural radiocarbon abundances using accelerator mass spectrometry (1 atom of 14C/10^15 atoms of 12C, in the atmosphere).  Therefore, methane radiocarbon measurements in water have not yet been widely used.  The primary goal of this research project is to evaluate new field methane sampling techniques using the local surface water of Cape Cod as a natural laboratory.

A new method for extracting, storing, and transporting methane samples from natural water with relatively low concentrations has been developed at the USGS Woods Hole Coastal & Marine Science Center.  The method involves extraction of methane from large volumes of water in the field, using a head space equilibration, gas compression, and storage in gas-tight containers.  This sampling method will be directly compared to conventional water sampling (water collection and storage for laboratory processing) using suitably high methane concentration Cape Cod marshland surface waters.  The new method will ultimately be used to extract methane from natural waters in a restored salt marsh to determine if the age of the organic matter producing methane differs from pristine marshes; natural and impounded marshes will be compared.

The student should have an interest and aptitude for both field and laboratory research.  The laboratory component will include training in the use of instrumentation, including vacuum systems to convert methane to carbon dioxide and graphite for measurements by accelerator mass spectrometry. The student will have the opportunity to collaborate with experts from National Ocean Science Accelerator Mass Spectrometry facility (NOSAMS) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal & Marine Science Center.  Further information on the measurements can be found at https://www.whoi.edu/nosams/home.

National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (NOSAMS)

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal & Marine Science Center

Mark Kurz profile

John Pohlman profile

Marine Chemistry, Instrumentation and Engineering

Matthew Long
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Long_photo1_508575My research explores the ways that natural and anthropogenic processes influence the structure and function of marine ecosystems through unique engineering solutions, advanced instrumentation, and technology development. Studies of biogeochemical cycling, physical transport processes, and bio-physical interactions are principle components of my research into carbon and nutrient cycling in coastal environments. These topics are significant because the long-term effects of human activities, which are rapidly altering climatic conditions and nutrient cycling, are not well understood.

Opportunities in my lab include the development of low-cost sensors through electro-mechanical engineering, development of advanced sensors and control systems, and field application and testing of sensing platforms. Advanced sensing systems collect high-frequency data (e.g. water chemistry, turbulence) which is Long_logo_508573used to calculate chemical fluxes through boundary layer exchange techniques allowing for opportunities for experience in time-series analysis, fluid mechanics, and biogeochemistry. Fellows with combined experience in engineering or biogeochemistry, and interests in electro-mechanical engineering, fluid mechanics, or ecosystem science will are encouraged to join the Machine Lab gain experience in interdisciplinary scientific research.

Matthew Long's profile

Calcium Carbonate Cycling

Adam Subhas
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The Subhas Lab studies all of the organisms that grow calcium carbonate

Summer Student Alex Quizon processing samples for radiocarbon dating.

shells in the ocean.  We are interested in the cycling of calcium carbonate and how this cycle can influence carbon budgets and atmospheric CO2 on several different timescales.  For the summer of 2020,  we are looking for a student who is interested in global solutions to the CO2 emissions crisis, and is eager and willing to conduct experiments and learn new measurement techniques. In particular, we are interested in examining the biological and chemical consequences to adding extra alkalinity to the ocean as a carbon sequestration strategy.  This project will involve seawater incubations, measurements of inorganic carbon and alkalinity, carbon isotopes, and biological community composition via flow cytometry.  We do not expect you to be familiar with all (or any) of these techniques at the beginning of the summer, but we hope that you will take a leading role on conducting experiments and analyzing the data.  Please visit the Subhas Lab's webpage at http://www.adamsubhas.com for more information about the various projects ongoing in the lab.

 

Subhas Lab

CO2 Chemistry, Ocean Acidification and Sensor Development

Zhaohui Aleck Wang
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Wang_1_510093In the CO2 chemistry lab, we study seawater carbonate chemistry, coastal carbon cycle, ocean acidification (OA), and the marsh carbon cycle. Specifically, my lab group focuses on understanding how CO2, inorganic carbon species and fluxes are controlled by natural and anthropogenic factors, and how the marine CO2 system will change under climate change and ocean acidification and the effects due to these changes. We are also specialized to develop in situ sensors to measure seawater CO2 parameters and other chemical species. We use cutting-edge sensors to improve our understanding of inorganic carbon biogeochemistry in aquatic systems and impacts of ocean acidification. Potential summer projects include:

1) Developing In-situ Sensor Technology for Measurements of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC), pH pCO2 and heavy metals (e.g. As and Cd) in Aquatic Environments.
Development of robust sensors to enhance our capability to study carbon cycling and aquatic biogeochemistry has been widely recognized as a research priority in the research communities in order to improve spatial and temporal coverage of observations. The larger goal of the project is to develop a miniaturized in-situ sensor, CHANOS II, for spectrophotometric measurements of aquatic DIC, pH, pCO2 and dissolved heavy metals with high-frequency up to full water depth. The summer project will involve collaborating with engineers and scientists to test, improve, and deploy the new sensor in various coastal and freshwater environments.

2) The Role and Mechanisms of Nuclei-induced Calcium Carbonate Precipitation in the Coastal Carbon Cycle: A First In-depth Study.
One of the most important and fundamental pathways in the marine carbon cycle is formation of CaCO3 minerals (e.g., calcite and aragonite), which may occur through biological production and abiotic (chemical) precipitation of CaCO3. Understanding and quantifying the production of CaCO3 are essential to characterize the marine carbon cycle and to project responses of marine ecosystems under anthropogenic CO2 perturbations. The goal of this project is to conduct the first comprehensive, in-depth study to evaluate the significance of NICP as an in-situ biogeochemical process. The summer project will include planning and setting-up controlled lab experiments in which the effects of suspended materials (e.g. dust and river-borne particles) on the dissolved CO2 system will be studied. The summer student will also analyze and synthesize the results.

3) Development of low-cost environmental sensors for river monitoring
The impact of environmental change on riverine ecosystem requires sustained observations of the river system. Of all ecosystem impacts, the quality of the water is a serious concern as it provides water security to billions of people. Cleaning and rejuvenating the health of river ecosystems is the focal point of river basin management plans across countries. Currently, the scientific community faces a few challenges to address this issue, including poor spatial and temporal resolutions of monitoring programs, absence of integrated data fusion, and absence of on demand auto-sampling capability. The only way forward to address these challenges is to use/develop state-of-the-art in-situ river monitoring observatories that can provide real-time data. The goal of this project is to design and develop low-cost, multi-parameter, water quality monitoring platforms that would consist of several in-house developed sensors and auto sampling capability for durable and reliable real-time monitoring. The summer project is to work with a group of chemists and engineers to develop and test low-cost oxygen, pH, and conductivity sensors to be deployed in river systems. These sensors are substantially cheaper than most of commercial sensors so that we can deploy them in large quantity to significantly improve river monitoring.

Zhaohui 'Aleck' Wang's profile

Aquatic Carbon Cycling Sensor Development

Collin Ward
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Solomon Chen (SSF 2019) measuring the light being emitted by high powered ultraviolet LEDs used for disinfection.

We invited you to join us in developing and characterizing a new sensor package to quantify in-situ rates of aquatic carbon cycling processes. These processes include photosynthesis, microbial respiration, and photochemical oxidation. The student would work collaboratively with Aleck Wang and Matt Long's labs, primarily focusing on optimizing the sensor package design and performance under controlled conditions (e.g., tank tests). Although not absolutely required, the ideal student would have an engineering and/or chemistry background with interests in the aquatic C cycle and environmental science. Testing the new sensor at the WHOI Mesocosm Lab and at local water bodies will be a major component of the project.

Ward Lab

Marine Policy Center

Studies of Coupled Nature-Human Systems

Porter Hoagland, Hauke Kite-Powell, Andy Solow, Michael Neubert and Di Jin

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MPC_2018_479816

This figure depicts the economic geography of global sea cucumber exploitation from work undertaken by 2017 SSF Kate Rawson from Mount Holyoke College. Temporal isoclines show fisheries expanding as those more proximate to the main Asian market become overexploited and fail to meet demand. Colored lines represent the global distribution of sea cucumber fisheries within a given decade; specific starting years of some fisheries are labeled over the general location of the largest city (by population) within the participating country.

Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) conduct social scientific research that integrates economics, policy analysis, and law with WHOI’s basic research in ocean sciences. While MPC’s research is based in rigorous academic disciplines, such as economics, much of it is applied in nature and motivated by current issues in coastal and marine resource management. Areas of recent research include: human responses to shoreline change; the economic effects of harmful algal blooms; the consequences of channel deepening in major estuaries; ecosystem-based fisheries management; aquaculture development and fisheries management in developing countries; and coastal and marine spatial planning. Students are offered the opportunity to choose project topics from a list of current projects or to develop their own projects. Many MPC student projects involve exploring the impacts of human activities on the coastal or marine environments by linking economic models to models of natural systems.

Marine Policy Center

Large-scale seaweed farming systems: Hauke Kite-Powell
Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) are working with scientists and engineers at WHOI and at other institutions to develop technologies for potential future large-scale ocean farming of seaweeds, including kelp and tropical species, as a feedstock for biofuel. One major challenge is to bring the cost of large-scale ocean farming down so that marine feedstocks can be competitive with land-based production. Farm location, layout, gear design, and operating paradigms all affect both the capital and operating costs of the farm, and the biological yield from the seaweed crop. This project involves the use of spreadsheet models to identify the key parameters in farm design, operations, and siting that will determine economic viability. Additional project information

Entanglement risk modeling: Hauke Kite-Powell
Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) are working with members of the protected species programs at NOAA and the New England Aquarium on ways to estimate the risk posed to North Atlantic Right Whales and other protected species by new types of ocean activities such as aquaculture. Entanglement in fishing gear is a major source of injury and mortality for marine mammals. As interest grows in farming shellfish, seaweeds, and finfish in waters off New England, understanding and managing these risks becomes critically important. The project involves working with GIS data on species abundance and spreadsheet models of entanglement risk to estimate risk from various types of aquaculture gear in locations off New England. Additional project information

Mobile shellfish hatchery systems: Hauke Kite-Powell
Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) are working with WHOI engineers and commercial shellfish hatchery operators in New England to develop a mobile shellfish hatchery system. This mobile hatchery, packaged into a standard 20 foot shipping container, can be deployed on short notice to locations where shellfish seed is needed, without the need for permanent dedicated waterfront real estate. The project involves refining the design and optimizing the economics of the mobile hatchery system in advance of anticipated prototype construction. Additional project information

Value of investments in ocean science: Hauke Kite-Powell
Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) are working with NOAA and other agencies to better understand the economic value generated by the resources the United States allocates each year to ocean science and ocean research.  Understanding the value chain from investments in ocean science to the ultimate economic effects is important for several reasons: it helps government gauge the appropriate overall amount that should be spent on ocean science, and it helps allocate effort appropriately within the overall ocean science and research enterprise.  Projects may involve looking at this question in the areas of weather and climate forecasts, ocean acidification, tsunami warnings, and fisheries management.

Physical Oceanography Dept.

Deep Ocean Circulation

Alison Macdonald
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Map of the 2021 DMB field program with simulated float trajectories in red, blue and green overlaid. During the expedition, water properties will be obtained along the lines marked X-, A-, N-, and M-section and floats will be deployed along the latter three. The sound sources (black ringed circles) will be used to locate the subsurface floats as they follow the currents.

Our physical oceanography group for this project includes Alison Macdonald, Viviane Menezes and Heather Furey. We are all observational physical oceanographers experienced in handling a wide variety of data sets. Our observational focus means that while we employ model output and theory, our research always returns to the observations. We are all interested ocean circulation and water properties and how they may be changing in space and time. Alison has worked in all the major ocean basins, while Viviane’s particular focus lies in the complexities of the Indian Ocean, and Heather has used her expertise in Lagrangian instruments (those that move with the water, e.g. Argo and RAFOS floats) to improve our understanding of North Atlantic and Arabian Sea circulation.

The deep ocean (> 3000 m) plays a crucial role in regulating the Earth’s climate on long timescales. But our knowledge of the deep ocean, a place difficult to observe and model, is still at an early stage. For example, twenty years ago the bottom waters of the Madagascar Basin in the southwest Indian Ocean were undisturbed by human influence, but a recent expedition found significant quantities of human-made chemical compounds in this deep sea. These inert compounds, injected into the atmosphere, entered the ocean at the sea surface providing a “tag” marking the date they were at the surface. These waters sank into the abyss and the compounds (the tag) now act as a tracer for the circulation. The presence of such compounds in the abyss of the Madagascar Basin after only 20 years counters our understanding of deep circulation because the abyssal currents are believed to be weak and the Madagascar Basin is far from where the water first sank. To solve this enigma, the Deep Madagascar Basin (DMB) Experiment (see Figure below) includes a 2021 field campaign, where for the first time, the abyssal currents in the region will be directly measured using floats. Numerical model simulations will be used to answer some questions that are beyond the scope of the in-situ observations alone. One challenge is to determine the primary sources of DMB abyssal water. To help determine the source of the deep water (thought to be Cape Darnley, Antarctica (65°E-69°E)) that feeds the Madagascar Basin, we are seeking a student interested in running and analyzing particle tracking simulations.  We foresee two possible aspects in which a student could be entrained:  a) examining the large-scale pathways of ocean waters from Antarctica to the DMB; or b) simulating the deployment of DMB Experiment floats to better understand the regional circulation. If the student has the time and interest, there is the opportunity to participate in the 1-month research cruise that will depart from Mauritius in the spring of 2021.

Alison Macdonald's profile

Bower Lab - Vivian Menezes and Heather Furey

Deep Madagascar Basin Experiment

Article: Antarctic Bottom Waters Freshening at Unexpected Rate

International Argo Project

Physical-biological interactions, upper ocean dynamics, submesoscale processes

Amala Mahadevan
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PastedGraphic-1_449973My research focusses on the physical-biological interactions within a dynamic ocean environment and asks how physical processes affect the growth and distribution of phytoplankton. The majority of oceanic phytoplankton are grazed by zooplankton, and the efficiency of the carbon cycle depends on species interactions that need to be better understood. The aim is to develop models for the collective behaviors and foraging by zooplankton and couple these to models for the growth of phytoplankton, all within a dynamic flow environment. Most ecosystem models account for grazing through phytoplankton-zooplankton co-existence and do not account for zooplankton behaviors. The project will examine the zooplankton foraging behavior on grazing rates and trophic interactions. The results will contribute to our understanding of species interactions that affect the export of particulate organic matter and biological pump.

Amala Mahadevan's lab

Self-sustained Oscillations in Thermohaline Convection

Olivier Marchal and John Whitehead
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The possibility of abrupt climate change is a problem of preeminent scientific interest and societal concern. Here as elsewhere, the past may shed light on the future. Ice core records from central Greenland suggest that local air temperature rose repeatedly by 5-15 degrees Celsius over just a few decades during the last glacial period, between about 20,000 and 80,000 years ago. The origin of these warming events, called Dansgaard-Oeschger events, is unclear, although many ideas invoke recurrent changes in the meridional (south-north) heat flux associated with the circulation in the Atlantic Ocean. It has been proposed that these events may be large-scale oceanic analogues of the self-sustained oscillations (SSOs) that characterize a number of simple mechanical and electrical systems driven by a constant source of energy. This proposal is both interesting and intriguing. For example, would SSOs in the ocean be peculiar to glacial periods, or could they also exist under different climatic conditions, such as modern ones?

For this project, the student will develop and apply a computer model for the two-dimensional flow (in a vertical plane) of a fluid forced by horizontal differences in temperature and salinity at its upper surface. Albeit an obvious simplification of the meridional circulation in the real ocean, such a flow, called thermohaline convection, can display a rich array of fluid dynamical phenomena, including multiple equilibria and self-sustained oscillations. In this project, emphasis will be placed on (i) the stability of this flow for different surface conditions and different fluid properties and (ii) the factors that are conducive to SSOs in this flow. Through this project, the student will be exposed to concepts from different disciplines, ranging from fluid mechanics, physical oceanography, numerical analysis, and paleoclimatology. The student will be supervised jointly by Olivier Marchal (Department of Geology & Geophysics) and John Whitehead (Department of Physical Oceanography).

Olivier Marchal's profile

John Whitehead's profile

Air-sea interaction and climate dynamics

Hyodae Seo
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Climatologies of (a) SSH variance, representing the oceanic eddy activity, superposed with mean sea surface temperature contours and (b) the maximum Eady growth rate at 850 hPa, representing storm track activity, superposed with the blue curve for the Subantarctic Front and red for the Polar Front. The gray contour denote the sea ice edge.

I am a climate scientist with a broad range of research interests in oceanic and atmospheric processes and their interactions relating to weather and climate. For this summer, I am interested a potential project that explores the impact of the ocean mesoscale eddies and semi-permanent fronts on the extratropical storm track in the Southern Oceans or tropical convective variability and extreme precipitation events in the Indo-Pacific region. We will use a suite of satellite and reanalysis datasets along with an ensemble of regional and global model simulations. 

 

 

 

 

Hyodae Seo's website

Climate Science

Caroline Ummenhofer
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Caro_Indian_Oc_447617

Schematic of the effect of Indian Ocean sea surface temperature anomalies for rainfall in surrounding countries in model simulations for the March-May (MAM), June-Aug. (JJA) and Sep.-Nov. (SON) seasons The anomalous rainfall associated with different ocean regions (dashed boxes) is shown by circles on land. Filled (empty) circles denote an increase (decrease) in rainfall, with the circle size/color reflecting the magnitude of change/season.

Understanding climate variability by synthesizing information from climate and ocean models, observations, and paleoclimate records

Ummenhofer’s group focuses on ocean-atmosphere interactions, variability and change across different components of the climate system, and the resulting regional impacts. In particular, we aim to develop an understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the ocean’s role in regional climate. We address rainfall variability and extreme events, such as droughts and floods, across a range of spatial and temporal scales: from individual synoptic events to interannual, decadal variability and beyond. Research involves both present-day climate conditions, past variability over the last millennium, as well as projected changes in a warming world.

Potential projects will address how climate variability on land (e.g., in India, Southeast Asia, Australia) or coastal ocean regions over previous centuries are influenced by the Indian Ocean. Furthermore, impacts of extreme events such as droughts on land or marine heat waves in the coastal environment on ecosystems or human systems could also be explored. Insights about the mechanisms gained from numerical model output will be compared with paleo proxies, such as stalagmites, bivalve shells, corals, or tree-ring records, to understand long-term changes in hydroclimate and bio-physical interactions.

Caroline Ummenhofer's lab

US Geological Survey - Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

Estuarine and Wetland Processes

Neil Ganju
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Ganju_image_509037Estuaries and wetlands are dynamic environments where complex interactions between the atmosphere, ocean, watershed, ecosystems, and human infrastructure take place. They serve as valuable ecological habitat and provide numerous ecosystem services and recreational opportunities. We aim to quantify and understand estuarine and wetland processes through observations, geospatial analysis, and numerical modeling. We have several research opportunities, including: analysis of new geospatial data sets on wetland vulnerability across the United States, modeling of seagrass vulnerability to climate change, and investigating wetland geomorphic change from drone imagery. There are also opportunities to participate in fieldwork and learn oceanographic measurement techniques at Cape Cod National Seashore and other sites on the Atlantic coast as desired. These projects would benefit from a fellow with skills in quantitative analysis, Matlab/Python/R, and/or GIS, and enthusiasm for estuaries!

Estuarine Processes, Hazards and Ecosystems

Coastal Wetland Science

Meagan Eagle Gonneea
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USGS_SSF_2018_Gonnea_479853Research at the U.S. Geological Survey's Woods Hole Coastal & Marine Science Center provides science products responsive to national needs. Coastal wetlands have experienced a dramatic reduction in area over the past century since they occur at the nexus of population growth and dynamic environmental change, including rising sea level and temperature and enhanced nutrient loads. Salt marshes are coastal ecosystems that provide a wealth of services, including bird and fish habitat, storm surge protection and carbon burial. This last ecosystem service is of interest due to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels primarily driven by the burning of fossil fuels and land use changes.

Research in the Environmental Geochemistry group at USGS focuses on how these critical habitats respond to stressors, such as sea-level rise, and management decisions, including managing hydrologic flow. We have a range of capabilities, from field sediment and water collections, to laboratory carbon and radionuclide analyses. We work collaboratively with scientists and land managers from WHOI, the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and local management officials. We seek interns who are interested in coastal wetlands, with potential projects ranging from biogeochemistry focused-sediment and water carbon cycling, methane emissions-to large scale data and GIS analyses. Students will learn wetland science field and laboratory techniques, gain experience in coding and GIS, while conducting research relevant to climate change and coastal wetland policy.

Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center - Environmental Geochemistry

Radiocarbon in Natural Methane

Mark Kurz (NOSAMS) and John Pohlman (USGS)
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Measurement of cosmogenic/atmospheric carbon-14 (radiocarbon) in the environment is a powerful tool to understand the global carbon cycle.  Methane is produced during the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter, and is of particular interest because it is a potent greenhouse gas.  Radiocarbon measurements in methane provide an effective metric to evaluate the source and age of the organic matter from which it was derived.  It is challenging to measure the radiocarbon signature of methane in aquatic and marine settings due to low methane concentrations in natural waters, coupled with the challenges of measuring natural radiocarbon abundances using accelerator mass spectrometry (1 atom of 14C/10^15 atoms of 12C, in the atmosphere).  Therefore, methane radiocarbon measurements in water have not yet been widely used.  The primary goal of this research project is to evaluate new field methane sampling techniques using the local surface water of Cape Cod as a natural laboratory.

A new method for extracting, storing, and transporting methane samples from natural water with relatively low concentrations has been developed at the USGS Woods Hole Coastal & Marine Science Center.  The method involves extraction of methane from large volumes of water in the field, using a head space equilibration, gas compression, and storage in gas-tight containers.  This sampling method will be directly compared to conventional water sampling (water collection and storage for laboratory processing) using suitably high methane concentration Cape Cod marshland surface waters.  The new method will ultimately be used to extract methane from natural waters in a restored salt marsh to determine if the age of the organic matter producing methane differs from pristine marshes; natural and impounded marshes will be compared.

The student should have an interest and aptitude for both field and laboratory research.  The laboratory component will include training in the use of instrumentation, including vacuum systems to convert methane to carbon dioxide and graphite for measurements by accelerator mass spectrometry. The student will have the opportunity to collaborate with experts from National Ocean Science Accelerator Mass Spectrometry facility (NOSAMS) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal & Marine Science Center.  Further information on the measurements can be found at https://www.whoi.edu/nosams/home.

National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (NOSAMS)

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal & Marine Science Center

Mark Kurz profile

John Pohlman profile

Remote Sensing and Modeling Coastal Change

Chris Sherwood
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DCIM100MEDIADJI_0281.JPG

Coastal protection at Sandwich Town Neck Beach, MA. Drone image taken Feb. 14, 2017 by P. Traykovski, WHOI.

The US Geological Survey Coastal and Marine Science Center, located on the WHOI campus, conducts research to assess natural hazards to coastal regions. Our recent projects have used imagery from unoccupied aerial systems (drones) or occupied planes combined with multi-view photogrammetry (also known as structure from motion) to make super-high resolution maps of beaches, dunes, and wetlands. In turn, these maps are used to evaluate changes caused by storms and as input to numerical models of morphological evolution, including coastal erosion.

Summer students can choose from several topics using data from local beaches and wetlands or larger-scale projects on the US east coast. These include analysis of images using structure from motion, classification of landscapes using machine learning, analysis of oceanographic data (waves, currents, water levels) and their relation to coastal changes, or running and evaluation of numerical models for waves, sediment movement, and morphological change. Fieldwork on beaches or marshes may be an option. Enthusiasm for image processing, map making, and coding (Matlab, Python) is necessary, but extensive experience with specific tools is not. Students will gain proficiency in one or more of: coastal oceanography and morphology, image processing, geographic information systems, coding in Matlab or Python, structure-from-motion analysis, and machine learning.

USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

Cross-Shore and Inlets (CSI) Processes

Remote Sensing Coastal Change

Christopher Sherwood's profile

Marine Geohazards

Uri ten Brink and Jason Chaytor
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Marine geohazard assessments require accurate maps and measurements. For example, to assess the hazard associated with offshore faults and their potential to generate large earthquakes, it is important to not only measure the length of the faults but also be able to see displacement and sense of movement. The tools that marine geologists have at their disposal for mapping and understanding the geology of the seabed differ significantly from those of continental field geologists. In field geology, a geologist’s own sense of sight and touch, plus natural light are the most important tools; all of these are difficult to apply to work in the deep sea. Exploration programs and multi-disciplinary investigations of seafloor environments containing evidence of marine geohazards using Remotely Operated vehicles (ROV) have resulted in the increasing availability of high-resolution seafloor imagery.

We are looking for a student to analyse a dataset of underwater videos taken by an ROV at depths of 200-3000 meters over faults and submarine landslides in the vicinity of Puerto Rico. The student will use an advanced Structure-from-Motion (SfM) photogrammetry technique to mosaic the high-definition seafloor imagery into coherent images of the various geological features. This technique will allow the student to identify seafloor features at outcrop scale with wider context than direct video or image interpretation alone and to analyse them quantitatively, thus matching the resolution and quality of field collected data from terrestrial outcrops.

Uri ten Brink's profile

Jason Chaytor's profile

Nearshore and Coastal Processes

John Warner
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Warner_figure_479873As a scientist at the US Geological Survey (USGSG) Coastal and Marine Science Center in Woods Hole, I focus on understanding nearshore and coastal ocean processes using observations and numerical models, concentrating on the interactions of winds, waves, and coastal currents that generate nearshore morphological changes. This research strives to understand the physical processes that cause coastal change to ultimately improve our ability to predict these changes.

One area of active research is the investigations of cross-shore processes such as wave asymmetry and wave-current interaction that drive cross-shore sediment transport. Summer students would have many opportunities, depending on their interest, such as analyzing data collected recently from a series of tripods measuring waves, water levels, bottom stress, seafloor bedforms, and sediment transport at Matanzas Inlet, FL. We also utilize numerical models to downscale simulations of large scale storm events to drive focused applications of storm impacts to examine nearshore processes such as impacts from Hurricanes including surge, runup, and barrier island breaching. The combinations of observations and numerical models provide a more comprehensive overview of the processes driving coastal change.

USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

Coastal Change Processes Project