Scientist at Sea


Creating a Research Team for Integrated Science

Students are the "Research Team" working together and in groups to achieve the research objectives and scientific goals.

The proposed project revolves around a new applied research course program entitled “Scientist at Sea” (S-A-S), to be offered at Eckerd College, including a research cruise experience, peer mentorship and professional productivity opportunities, that encompass practical applied skills for planning, execution, and professional products associated with research. These courses build upon and utilize on-going interdisciplinary research in geosciences that also include biology and chemistry elements. The S-A-S course program consists of a Spring into Summer course that includes the on-campus “pre-expedition” course (Spring) and “at Sea” research cruise (Summer) that is followed by the on-campus “post-expedition” course in the Fall. 

What? NSF funded program to increase the number and diversity of students entering the geosciences by increasing awareness, accessibility and enhancing pathways into the geosciences. 

Why? NSF identified a future shortage of people in geoscience to address increasing environmental issues.

How? Integrate ongoing research (Deepwater Horizon oil spill) with new and unique undergraduate course entitled “Scientist at Sea” (S-A-S).

Who?  Eckerd students (open to all majors) who are interested in gaining applied hands on training in research and exploring opportunities in the geosciences.  

Cost? None. All components are funded by NSF grant.

S-A-S, 1 course in 2 parts 

Course Credit: This course will be 1 course credit that will be applied in the Fall semester (no credit in spring semester).  The class will meet 1 day per week in spring and fall semester, with some potential activities outside of the class day/time.

Hands-on training in field and laboratory techniques, planning and execution of field expedition, as well as data synthesis and production of professional products.

Part 1) Spring into Summer course including the on-campus “pre-expedition” course (Spring) and “at Sea” research cruise (Summer 3-4 days on R/V Weatherbird II)

Part 2) Fall, on-campus “post-expedition” course including analyses, synthesis, and professional products.

Credit:  Marine Science Geology, Geophysics, or Chemistry Track elective; Geoscience elective; N-Area

An Information and Question/Answer session will be held Oct. 11th at 5pm in GR-02.

The Research Team

The "Research Team" will be composed of Eckerd students (open to all majors) who are interested in gaining applied hands on training in research and exploring opportunities in the geosciences.  The "Research Team" will reflect the composition and expertise needed to perform the research project with student "Task Groups" focusing on specific aspects of to achieve the objectives of the research. The integration of these different components will provide a comprehensive understanding of the connected water column, seafloor, and benthic ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico.

Research Team - Task groups focusing on specific aspects of the Research Project.

1) Sedimentology

2) Seafloor Communities 

3) Radiochemistry

4) Trace Elements

5) Communications/Outreach

6) Fisheries 

7) Water Column

Scientist at Sea: Pre-Expedition

The “Scientist at Sea: Pre-Expedition” Spring into Summer course will consist of lectures, exercises, examinations and training focusing on the planning and preparation prior to a field expedition. 

Competencies developed by this course include: 

1) Scientific background/objectives (including social, economic and ecosystem service implications) 

2) Proposal and cruise plan writing 

3) Field methods training

4) Safety and navigation

5) Preparing supplies/equipment

6) Sample processing, handling, and storage

7) Science communication and outreach

8) Logistics/problem solving

9) Networking

Scientist at Sea: At Sea

For the early summer “At Sea” research expedition aboard the R/V Weatherbird II (operated by the Florida Institute of Oceanography, FIO) , students will execute the research plan including pre-expedition mobilization, execution of the cruise proposal/field plan, and post-expedition de-mobilization under the supervision of the professors and collaborators.   While at sea, students will collect sediment cores, benthic fish samples, water column measurements and the collection/redeployment of a sediment trap mooring.  

The “at Sea” component will develop the following student competencies: 

1) Planning ship time/activities/personnel

2) Collaboration with ships crew, science party

3) Safety and navigation

4) Equipment deployment, retrieval

5) Sample processing, handling, and storage

6) Problem solving 

7) Science communication and outreach

8) Networking

Scientist at Sea: Post-Expedition 

Students will interact with the PI, Co-PI’s and collaborators as well as perform lab analyses (Teams) toward the execution of the research objectives. The Teams will be reintegrated to synthesize the sediment core, sediment trap, water column and benthic fisheries data to create professional products including reports, presentations, and publications. Students will be required to present (poster and/or oral) research results at the EC Student Research Symposium during the spring term, and a student organized local meeting hosted by EC and collaborative partners USF, USGS, TBW.  Selected student leaders will have the opportunity to present at national conferences (AGU, GSA, Ocean Sciences).

The “Scientist at Sea: Post-Expedition” course offered in the fall semester, will develop the following competencies:

1) Laboratory instrumentation, methods

2) Sample processing, analysis

3) Data synthesis, interpretation

4) Professional products (reports, presentations, theses, publications)

5) Science communication

6) Collaboration with scientific colleagues

7) Networking