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GSO News

January 20, 2011 - Local Green Initiative

S. Bradley Moran, URI Professor of Oceanography, co-chairs the energy and environment initiative for the Ocean State Consortium of Advanced Resources (OSCAR) another example of ocean scientists not limiting their expertise to blue water activities. “We want to catalyze economic development in the district through environmentally sustainable development,” Moran said. OSCAR is a volunteer organization consisting of government, industry, academic and social agencies across the region that is designed to address regional challenges that no one organization or institution could tackle alone.For more information see University of Rhode Island Press Release.

June 4, 2010 – RV Endeavor heads to Gulf Oil Spill

As the effort to fight the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico continues, the University of Rhode Island research vessel RV Endeavor is participating in studying the scope of the spill. The purpose of the mission, funded by the National Science Foundation, is to track, characterize and sample subsurface oil in the Gulf. Researchers will mount a mass spectrometer to the autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry, to "... sniff for oil and then map plumes, not only for discrete sampling, but also to get an understanding of the 3D shape of the plumes," according to one of the WHOI principal investigators. This will help researchers better understand the subsurface oil behavior and composition in the area.

Among the researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute making the trip is URI Graduate School of Oceanography alumnus Dr. Christopher Reddy ('92 chemistry, '97 Ph.D chemical oceanography), recently interviewed by RI Public Radio, WRNI. Learn more about the Endeavor cruise at NBC 10 WJAR.

April 2, 2010 - Science and Policy Award to GSO Student

Leslie Smith, a GSO PhD candidate, has been selected as one of three recipients of the 2010 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award from the American Institute of Biological Sciences. She was recognized for her demonstrated interest and aptitude in contributing to science and public policy. This award will enable Smith to travel to Washington, D.C., in April to meet with members of Congress from the Northeast and attend a briefing on the federal budget for scientific research.  Smith is currently studying the relationship between water column metabolism and low oxygen events in Narragansett Bay and after getting her PhD, hopes to serve as a liaison between scientists and the public, to translate science for non-scientists. For more information see University of Rhode Island Press Release.

February 17, 2010 – RV Endeavor to Haiti

The University of Rhode Island research vessel Endeavor departed for Haiti on Feb. 17 on a two-fold mission — to study geologic evidence of the recent earthquake along the seafloor in Haitian waters and to deliver humanitarian supplies procured by Plan USA.

For more information see University of Rhode Island Press Release-URI RV Endeavor  Travels to Haiti for Scientific Investigation, Humanitarian Mission and Rhode Island Television Station News Coverage before the mission (Channel 10 and Channel 12) and upon RV Endeavor's Return (Channel 10). Read the Science Plan Haiti Offshore: A Rapid Response Expedition and a Blog from the White House Office of Science and Technology by Dr. Kate Moran, Senior Policy Analyst (and on leave URI Professor).

URI's RV Endeavor's scientific mission to Haiti is featured in the February 24 news story on the Discovery Channel . RV Endeavor's Current Location and Cruise Reports.


December 16, 2009 - Tom Rossby Honored

At the Annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, Dr. H. Thomas Rossby, a professor at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, received the 2009 Maurice Ewing Medal presented by AGU President Tim Grove. Established in 1974 and jointly sponsored with the U.S. Navy, the award is presented to the individual “who has led the way in understanding physical, geophysical, and geological processes in the ocean; who is a leader in scientific ocean engineering, technology, and instrumentation; or who has given outstanding service to marine science.”


November 10, 2009 - 60 Minutes Films at URI's Inner Space Center 

Professor Robert Ballard chats with CBS News reporter Lara Logan in the Inner Space Center during an interview aired on 60 Minutes on Nov. 29. The news program reported on efforts to explore the oceans by focusing on Ballard's work and the operation of the Inner Space Center, which connects researchers and ships at sea with URI and shore-based scientists. The 60 Minutes film crew also shot footage aboard a URI research expedition to the Black Sea in September.

November 9, 2009 - GSO Graduate Student Leads RV Endeavor Cruise to Explore RI Sound 

Scott Dickison, a teacher from Rogers High School teacher (Newport), recently completed a November cruise aboard RV Endeavor as a participant in the Rhode Island Teacher-at-Sea (RITAS) Program. The scientific team, led by Chief Scientist Anna Pfeiffer-Herbert, a GSO graduate student, also included GSO Professor Chris Kincaid and graduate student Christelle Balt. The mission of the cruise was to obtain data on the offshore currents that affect the flow of water in and out of Narragansett Bay. Dickison, with his students, has been monitoring an inshore salt marsh for the past six years. Now, with his new partnership with scientists at GSO, they will be able to connect to how the offshore currents play a role in the water profiles he and his class collect from the salt marsh in Newport as well as Narragansett Bay that surrounds their home in the City by the Sea.


October 26, 2009 - Groundbreaking for Home Porting of NOAA's Okeanos Explorer Research Vessel and construction of a NOAA Office, Warehouse and Workshop Building at Quonset Pier 1

Quonset Development Corporation's Managing Director Steven J. King, P.E. was joined by Gov. Donald L. Carcieri and U.S. Senator Jack Reed to break ground on construction of a research and office center for the NOAA Okeanos Explorer on October 26th, 2009. Quonset will be the homeport for the 250-foot research vessel, its crew of 24 and 19 scientists.

The Okeanos Explorer, "America's Ship for Ocean Exploration," is a former Navy surveillance ship recently converted into a world-class tool for advanced scientific discovery. The ship is currently undergoing sea trials, and is expected to dock in Rhode Island in July 2010.

In making its decision to locate at Quonset, NOAA cited the proximity to the University of Rhode Island's world-class oceanographic program, the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, which is already internationally known. Both NOAA's Rear Admiral Jonathan W. Bailey and Dr. Robert D. Ballard, from the URI's Graduate School of Oceanography center for Ocean Exploration and Archeological Oceanography, applauded the opportunity to share resources and research.

October 5, 2009 – Grantham Prize Seminar Held at Newseum in Washington, DC

The annual Grantham Prize Seminar on the State of Environmental Journalism featured presentations from  the 2009 winners of the Grantham Prize, USA Today story investigating toxic air and America's schools, and the Award of Special Merit recipients. The seminar concluded with an interview of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and the Atmosphere, and NOAA Administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco by ABC News Correspondent Bill Blakemore. The program has been archived at http://newmediamill.com/webcasts/grantham/20091005/ and will be available soon on DVD

June 1, 2009 – GSO Administrators and Researchers Moving In to the $15 M Campus Center

With the demolition of the old Pell Library building in May, construction of the new Ocean Science & Exploration Center (OSEC) is now complete. The facility forms a physical and intellectual campus center that houses the new Pell Marine Science Library, meeting rooms, the Nautilus Galley, the GSO Computer Center, the UNOLS office, administrative offices, the new exploration and archaeological oceanographic programs led by Dr. Robert Ballard, and the Inner Space Center directed by Dr. Dwight Coleman.

Construction began in November 2007 funded through a bond issue approved by Rhode Island voters in 2004. A large portion of the building showcases the Inner Space Center (ISC), which creates a media environment on land that replicates the control and experience of scientists at sea. The ISC is a national technological hub for ocean exploration and education, using telepresence technologies that rely on audio, video and data feeds from remote platforms, such as ocean-going research vessels. The media are redistributed to universities, primary and secondary schools, museums, aquariums and science centers via the Internet. Through the ISC, researchers on land are also be able to control instruments and fully take part in offshore missions. Its modern broadcast studio rooms will provide the outreach critically important to the educational missions of the University and of participating non-government and government agencies.

April 12, 2009 – Graduate Student At-Sea Adventures Aboard RV Endeavor

On land, geography often creates the boundaries that isolate one population of animals from another. One would expect that a group of animals living on one side of a continent would be genetically distinct from a group of the same species living on the other side.

The question of how closely related different populations are to one another becomes more difficult when one considers populations of plankton species in different bodies of water. It is this question that the Dr. Tatiana Rynearson lab and GSO student Kerry Whittaker focused their efforts on their cruise aboard the RV Endeavor that just ended. On this, Ms. Whittaker’s first cruise, she isolated the diatom Thalassiosira rotula from samples collected at several locations within the Gulf of Mexico and on either side of the Florida peninsula. These samples will be subjected to genetic tests to determine the relationships of the populations. Ms. Whittaker says that this kind of research will ultimately help to explain how harmful algal blooms in different locations may be related to one another.

April 4, 2009 – Ketchum Award Goes to GSO Student

Congratulations go to Sarah Corman, a GSO student in estuarine research who was the recipient of the Ketchum Award for best oral presentation at the recent meeting of the New England Estuarine Research Society in Salem, MA, on April 2-4. Her talk was entitled “Salt marsh mosquito ditches as habitat for nekton and implications for restoration.”

March 16, 2009 – RV Endeavor Leaves for Four Months at Sea

The RV Endeavor was sent off in grand fashion on March 16th prior to leaving on a four-month cruise. The sendoff party on the GSO Pier was attended by GSO faculty and staff and was visited by our proud mascot Rhody Ram. RV Endeavor will be visiting Brazil, Namibia, and Florida on its journey. Research to be conducted will include the testing of equipment, phytoplankton sampling, and studies of ocean currents. The ship is slated to return on July 30th.

February 10, 2009 – Wind Profile Data at GSO

Dr. John Merrill worked with SecondWind (a commercial manufacturer) to install one of their vertical wind profilers on the GSO dock to test its capabilities in harsh marine environments and its environmental impact. Wind profiles are extremely important for siting energy-producing wind turbines. This instrument, also known as a SODAR, measures wind direction and speed at intervals of 20 meters extending from 30 meters to 200 meters above the ground every 10 minutes. The data from the SODAR is far more comprehensive and allows for more relevant interpretations of wind speed and direction than conventional mastmounted anonometers. The data are available for viewing at http://www.gso.uri.edu/ozone. Results indicate that the vertical wind profile is much more complex than data obtained from an anemometer placed at a single height, and that more data.

February 2009 – GSO Oceanographers on Record-breaking Cruise

A party of seven GSO researchers, led by Dr. Steven D’Hondt, collected a record 800 water samples squeezed from deep sea sediments on a recent cruise in the Pacific. This cruise, aboard the RV Knorr, sailed 13,500 km from Costa Rica to Honolulu in January and collected cores to build a global model for biomass and respiration under the seafloor. Early results show that life beneath the seafloor varies with productivity of the overlying ocean. They also, surprisingly, found oxidizing conditions tens of meters below the bottom of the ocean. The cruise was also the first test of the WHOI new Long-Coring system. The Office of Marine Programs’ NSF-funded ARMADA Project supported a Colorado teacher, Cheryl Manning, research experience aboard the cruise. See the ARMADA Project website for Cheryl’s daily journals. http://www.armadaproject.org/journals/2008-2009/manning/1-08.htm