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UMass Dartmouth Internship Program

We are offering a paid research opportunity for UMass Dartmouth students with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) January-April, 2022. Preference will be given to students who have not had an off-site research experience in the past. Students will participate in a short course in January and begin a research project to be co-advised by a WHOI scientist and UMass Dartmouth faculty member through the spring semester.

Interns will be on-site full-time at WHOI in Woods Hole, MA, January 3-14 and March 7-11, 2022. WHOI campus housing is provided at no charge. A stipend of $600/week and a meal allowance of $100/week are provided for the 3 weeks at WHOI. Stipend provided for UMassD on-campus research through the Undergraduate Research Incentive Program (URIP).

The research project will introduce interns to types of lab-based research career opportunities that exist locally, and it may serve as a stepping stone for them to consider graduate studies. Potential research project options for Winter/Spring 2022 are listed below.

The short course will be 2 hours/day, M-Th, Jan 3-6 and 10-13, including lectures and hands-on activities related to WHOI research on Blue Economy topics such as ocean aquaculture, harmful algal blooms and degradation of organic pollutants. The course will be taught in the new Autonomous Vehicles and Sensor Technologies (AVAST) facility.

 

All application materials are due by midnight, December 8, 2021. Applicants will be notified of decisions by December 15, 2021.
To apply, please submit:

1. On-line Application Form - includes contact and academic information, and short answer questions about your educational/career goals and research interests
2. Unofficial Transcript - email to education@whoi.edu
3. Resume (pdf or doc) - email to education@whoi.edu
4. One Reference is required from a professor/instructor who knows you in an academic capacity. A second reference is optional from a job supervisor, another instructor or another supervisor. Instructions for reference writers are here.

If you have any questions about the program or the application, please contact education@whoi.edu

 

Below are potential research project options for UMass Dartmouth interns for Winter/Spring 2022:

Mining ship logbooks of historic whaling voyages for climate information

Caroline Ummenhofer (WHOI) and Timothy Walker (UMASSD)

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Caroline Ummenhofer, WHOI Department of Physical Oceanography, Climate science

(Top) Map of whale captures for right and sperm whales from New England whaling ships, highlighting voyages to the Indian Ocean. (Bottom) Shifting seasonal pressure and wind patterns that were exploited for the outbound/inbound journeys.


Ummenhofer’s group focuses on ocean-atmosphere interactions, variability and change across different components of the climate system, and the resulting regional impacts. 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, floods, and storms, across a range of 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 future changes in a warming world.

Project description:
In climate research, long datasets are invaluable. They help establish a climate baseline against which to measure recent changes, illuminate connections between different aspects of the climate system, and validate climate models. Yet, pre-19th century instrumental data from regions beyond Europe and North America are sparse. A growing field of scholarship addresses this gap by interpreting historical records. One of the richest troves of maritime weather data is contained in the vast archives of ship logs, in which officers routinely recorded weather observations during their voyages. Since recording atmospheric conditions in the nautical context was essential to travel safely, the logbooks contain systematic weather observations (e.g., wind strength/direction, storms, precipitation, air temperature, pressure).

In this project, weather data gleaned from New England ship logbooks will be combined with instrumental data to assess historic changes over the Atlantic and Indian Oceans during the period 1780-1910. Data bases of daily ship location and weather recordings from New Bedford and Nantucket whaling ships of the late 18th-early 20th century will be explored for decadal variations in wind and pressure patterns.

Being led by Caroline Ummenhofer, a climate scientist and oceanographer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and Timothy Walker, a historian focusing on maritime and colonial history at the University of Massachusetts (UMASSD), the project is interdisciplinary in nature. While most of the research project would be conducted at WHOI, regular visits are envisaged to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of whaling ship logbooks. This is commensurate with background, experience, and research interests of the successful applicant, who will join a highly interdisciplinary team to work on this exciting new project in historical climatology.

Desired skills:

  • background in climate/atmosphere/ocean/environmental science (desirable: interest in historical climatology)
  • good analysis and plotting software skills (e.g., python, Matlab, NCL, GRADS, Ferret)
  • experience with scientific computing/programming (desirable: familiarity with Linux)

By the end of the project, the successful applicant will have

  • gained an understanding of wind and pressure patterns and their utility for shipping and trade
  • successfully used scientific analysis methods in historical climatology and ocean/atmospheric/climate science
  • gained hands-on experience in working with diverse climate data in an interdisciplinary context
  • acquired proficiency in computational analysis of large multi-dimensional data sets and their graphical presentation

Relevant links:

Ummenhofer Lab

https://www.whoi.edu/press-room/news-release/project-funded-to-digitize-and-mine-weather-data-from-whaling-logbooks/

https://www.capeandislands.org/show/the-point/2021-08-11/maritime-historians-and-scientists-collaborate-to-better-understand-trends-in-climate-science

https://www.capecodtimes.com/news/20190714/centuries-old-whaling-logs-yield-clues-for-modern-day-climate-studies

https://www.whoi.edu/news-insights/content/mining-climate-clues-from-our-whaling-past/


 

Using satellite observations to provide context to in situ oceanographic measurements: a big data approach

Tom Farrar (WHOI) and Amit Tandon (UMASSD)

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High resolution imagery of the ocean surface allows us to probe nature with many interesting questions. For this project, the student will use cloud computing tools to search very high resolution satellite imagery (SST, CHLA) with observations from field experiments explore interesting scenarios at different famous ocean experiment sites – such as SPURS1, SPURS2, S-MODE, ASIRI and MISOBOB.

Desired skills:
Inquisitive about flows in nature related to weather and the ocean
An interest in gaining experience in Matlab, Python to probe nature.

For field experiment examples see:
SPURS 1 and 2: https://podaac.jpl.nasa.gov/SPURS

S-MODE: https://espo.nasa.gov/s-mode/content/S-MODEhttp://smode.whoi.edu/

Project mentors:

Tom Farrar, WHOI Physical Oceanography Department

Tandon Lab, UMass Dartmouth

 

Distribution of lobster postlarvae and their prey in the Gulf of Maine

Carolyn Tepolt & Jesus Pineda (WHOI) and TBD (UMASSD)

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Lobster postlarva – the last larval stage of lobsters, postlarvae spend weeks on the ocean’s surface before settling down to live the rest of their lives on the bottom.

We are seeking a student to work with plankton samples collected from coastal surface waters. The main point of this project is to look at the distribution of lobster larvae and their potential prey relative to small-scale differences in ocean currents, with a goal of better understanding and predicting juvenile and adult lobster distribution. This project involves sorting and counting under a dissecting microscope and measuring lobster larvae using photographic tools.

We are seeking a student with an interest in biology who wants to learn more about zooplankton in our local waters; an inclination for sorting and categorizing would be a big asset. The student will learn plankton measurement and identification and how to conduct and organize scientific research. They will also have the opportunity to develop and present their research at a regional scientific meeting. This project is collaborative across the Tepolt and Pineda labs at WHOI; broadly, we are interested in how invertebrates disperse and adapt across complex coastal environments.

Lab websites:
Tepolt Lab

Pineda Lab

 

Assessing potential ocean pathways for the introduction of the harmful algae Pseudo-nitzschia australis to the Gulf of Maine

Dave Ralston (WHOI) and Geoff Cowles (UMassD)

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In 2016, an unprecedented bloom in the Gulf of Maine of the harmful algae Pseudo-nitzschia australis led to shellfish closures around the region.  A study into the cause (Clark et al., “Investigating Pseudo-nitzschia australis introduction to the Gulf of Maine with observations and models”, Continental Shelf Research, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.csr.2021.104493) found that environmental conditions were not substantially different from other years and concluded that P. australis likely was introduced from remote sources.  Particle tracking models were used to identify the Scotian Shelf as the likely source region proximate to the Gulf of Maine, but the conclusions were limited by the confines of the model extent.  The ultimate source of P. australis remains unknown, although the species has previously been observed at locations around the North Atlantic.

We are seeking a student interested in using models to further examine this important regional problem. The student will explore potential pathways of P. australis to the Gulf of Maine using the OceanParcels particle tracking toolkit driven by ocean currents and temperature from global hindcasts of the HYCOM ocean model.  The investigation will evaluate transport pathways to assess the probability of the cells deriving from potential source regions.

This work will improve the overall understanding of the cause of the 2016 bloom as well as the potential for persistence of the blooms in future years.  The results of the study will also provide information that may be used in the design of monitoring programs.  Through this work the student will gain experience in programming in python, working with ocean hindcast datasets, and performing hypothesis testing using numerical experiments.

Lab websites:
Ralston Lab

Cowles Lab

Note: WHOI’s policy is that all employees, postdocs, students, and affiliated personnel (e.g., Emeritus, Adjunct, Guest Investigator, Guest Student, volunteer) should be vaccinated against COVID-19 as of December 8, 2021. All new hires, as well as extensions of current appointments, are required to be vaccinated as a condition of employment or affiliation. A religious or medical exemption my be sought.