Book Signing with Local Marine Scientist and Author

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - This Saturday May 28, 2016 from 12:00pm - 2:00pm at the Barnes and Noble USF downtown, Dr. Ellen Prager will be signing books to celebrate the release of Stingray City. It's the third book in her fun ocean adventure fiction series for middle graders.

Marine Science Happy Hour Networking Event May 25 2016

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Our next Tampa Bay Area Marine Science Networking Happy Hour will be Wednesday May 25, 2016 4:30-6:30p at Caddy's on Central 217 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 - SPONSORED BY Sweetwater Brewing Company. Thank you Eric Steimle for the subsidized SweetWater suds (while supplies last) and coordinating. The event is selfpay, park in nearby garages or on the street in meters (some are free after 6pm), and nametags will be provided.  Please bring your ocean science professional friends and colleagues.

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Erin Symonds wins ASM Raymond W. Sarber Award

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Erin Symonds, a PhD student studying microbial water quality in Dr. Mya Breitbart's laboratory at the USF College of Marine Science has been selected as the 2016 recipient of the Raymond W. Sarber Award from the American Society of Microbiology. Erin will be presented with this prestigious award for microbiology research excellence and potential at an awards ceremony at the ASM Microbe 2016 meeting in Boston, MA in June. 

Keep Pinellas Beautiful, with Alumni Stephanie Lawler-Ellington

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - USF College of Marine Science Alumni, Stephanie Lawler-Ellington, from Keep Pinellas Beautiful, recently shared her career development experience with the College of Marine Science. 

During my undergraduate career, I developed as an environmental advocate for the USFSP community, taking on leadership roles in both campus and local environmental organizations. The primary focus of these organizations was to work within the local community through environmental based outreach and activism. Upon completion of my bachelor’s degree, I continued my studies earning a master’s degree with the USF College of Marine Science. This was by far one of the most rewarding and challenging stages of my life. I was granted the opportunity to work with Drs. Christina Kellogg, Mya Breitbart, and Pamela Hallock Muller who directly influenced my personal and professional growth. Through their guidance, I refined my analytical thinking, scientific writing, and verbal communication skills. The experiences and relationships developed during these years laid the foundation upon which all of my future success will be built.

Upon completion of my master’s degree, I was hired by Keep Pinellas Beautiful as their Program and Volunteer Coordinator. This position fully utilizes the skills and tools acquired during my academic career. Furthermore, this position aligns with my passion for the marine environment and my desire to empower future generations. As one of the leading environmental nonprofit organizations in Pinellas County, Keep Pinellas Beautiful works to conserve and beautify our natural environment through educational outreach and engagement. Our objective is to develop programs which instill pride and individual responsibility for ones community by actively partnering with individuals, local schools, and other community based organizations. As the Program and Volunteer Coordinator for Keep Pinellas Beautiful, I strive to increase our impact through the organization and management of educational events, community cleanup and beautification projects, as well as grant based programming. To ensure these initiatives are successful, I lead the efforts of volunteers who provide tangible and incremental contributions toward our long term goals.

I am highly motivated to increase our organization’s impact and partnerships with the county and continue to seek relationships with citizens, businesses and organizations who desire to Keep Pinellas Beautiful.

Written By: Stephanie Lawler-Ellington

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What exactly is a red tide?

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Red tide is a common name for a phenomenon known as an algal bloom (large concentrations of aquatic microorganisms) when it is caused by a few species of dinoflagellates and the bloom takes on a red or brown color.

Dr. Jason Lenes, from The Collaboration for Prediction of Red tides (CPR) explains how a red tide forms. The Collaboration for Prediction of Red tides (CPR) a jointly funded project between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWC- FWRI) and the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science (USF-CMS). Their mission focuses on development of an automated, coupled physical-biological model capable of predicting and tracking the dominant Florida red tide species, Karenia brevis, within coastal waters of the southeastern United States. 

View interview below (5:48).


Update from the WCOA Cruise

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, May 23, 2016- CMS students Katie Douglas, Erin Cuyler, and Jonathan Sharp of Bob Byrne’s lab along with researcher Sherwood Liu are currently participating in the fifth West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise (WCOA)

 Golden Gate Bridge

Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge! (Photo credit: Katie Douglas)

After two weeks of sampling and measuring seawater off the west coast of Mexico and southern California and braving some rough seas, we headed into port on Saturday, May 21st, for a short stop in the City by the Bay.  Some of the scientists we have worked alongside are ending the cruise here, and others will be joining us for the second leg of the cruise as we steam north toward British Columbia. 


R Brown Pulls Into Port

The NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown comes into port at the Exploratorium in San Francisco on Saturday, May 21st, 2016. (Photo credit: Mary Miller)


On Saturday, we docked at the Exploratorium in downtown San Francisco, and the museum held a special event for the public about ocean acidification (OA) and the research we have been doing aboard the ship.  Our chief scientists, Dr. Richard Feely and Dr. Simone Alin of NOAA-PMEL in Seattle, spoke about the changing chemistry of the oceans and the impacts these changes are having on coastal and marine ecosystems. 


I often get asked by friends and family why I chose to do my research in the north Pacific when I go to school in Florida.  The west coast is an especially critical area for OA research, as it is an oceanographic region where we observe acidification and subsequent ecosystem responses happening rapidly.  The water that upwells along the west coast is cold, rich in CO2, and has a low pH and a low concentration of carbonate ions.  Shell-building organisms such as oysters, corals, crabs, pteropods, scallops, and snails need carbonate to build their homes, but water with a low carbonate ion concentration poses a great risk to these organisms, as this water can cause shells to thin, weaken, and develop holes.  The challenge of corrosive seawater also affects top predators, as many of the organisms that live in carbonate shells are food to birds, larger fish, sea lions, whales – and us humans too! 


The biological implications of OA necessitate an interdisciplinary approach to our research, so in addition to the carbon chemists (like Erin, Jon, Sherwood, and me) who are making routine measurements of seawater throughout the cruise, we also have a group of biological oceanographers aboard.  These biologists are from other universities and government institutions in the US, Canada, and Mexico (hooray, international collaboration!), and their investigations complement the chemical story of OA.  One of our biology teams is collecting pteropods, the tiny “sea butterflies” that serve as food for some of the largest marine animals, and exposing them to levels of CO2 that we expect to see in the atmosphere and oceans over the next century.  They are then measuring the pteropods’ physiological responses, such as respiration, to learn how well pteropods can adapt to the changing ocean conditions that we anticipate from OA.  Other biologists are investigating bacterial growth and abundance in waters with high CO2 levels.  One team is researching how warming oceans and high CO2 levels contribute to the development of harmful algal blooms, large-scale growths of planktonic organisms that emit toxins that can harm fish, birds, and large marine animals.  From these investigations, we hope to learn more about how the ecosystems of the west coast are changing in response to OA.



Although they are tiny, pteropods like those seen here are a major source of food for marine predators. Their spiral shells are especially susceptible to damage from ocean acidification. (Photo credit: Melissa Ward)


Aboard the ship, we say, “Science never sleeps,” and it’s true.  Around-the-clock operations mean that someone is always sampling, running experiments, or measuring some chemical parameter. For the next two weeks as we steam north, Erin, Jon, Sherwood, and I will be continuing our measurements of pH and carbonate ion concentration, and these measurements will help contribute to our understanding of the dramatic changes in ocean chemistry and biology happening in the eastern Pacific.


Written by Katie Douglas


If you’d like to know more, check out the 2016 WCOA Cruise blog.



NORTHEASTERN PACIFIC, May 15, 2016 - USFCMS students Katie Douglas, Erin Cuyler, and Jonathan Sharp of Bob Byrne’s lab along with researcher Sherwood Liu are currently participating in the fifth West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise (WCOA)

The R/V Ronald H. Brown, where I presently sit, is floating in the northeastern Pacific somewhere around 32° N 120° W (west of the California-Mexico border from the coastal point of view). It’s three in the morning on a Sunday. And though that may represent a late weekend night for some, I’m already well into my midnight to noon daily shift.

Over the past 10 days, our four-scientist team has worked around the clock to gather (so far) almost 1,000 discrete samples of Pacific seawater from a variety of depths and locations offshore of Western Mexico and Southern California. We’ve collected these samples for immediate measurements of pH and carbonate ion concentration, work that is a major part of the 2016 West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise.

This year’s WCOA Cruise—operated by NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL)—is the fifth of its kind, involves 17 different institutions, and has been touted as the most integrated WCOA Cruise to date. This means that in addition to the chemical measurements you may typically associate with ocean acidification, many other factors are being assessed: pteropod abundance, bacterial diversity, physical oceanographic models, and harmful algal blooms to name a few. The cruise departed from San Diego on May 5th, and measurements will span from Baja California to British Columbia.

In our case, we are employing highly accurate manual techniques for analysis of pH and carbonate ion concentration of bottled samples. We’re also operating an underway system for carbonate chemistry measurements that automatically analyzes surface seawater flowing from an intake point on the ship. These measurements will provide important information to evaluate the present chemical state of the California Current System, as well as how it is changing over time (the 2016 WCOA cruise will occupy study areas assessed in previous WCOA cruises).

Day-to day life has been fantastic on the ship. We’re eating quite well, enjoying some wildlife sightings, and even playing ping pong in our downtime (there’s a table in the main lab right next to our workstation!). In six days time, we’ll be stopping for a day in San Francisco. There we’ll swap out some scientists for the second leg of the cruise and hold an outreach event at the Exploratorium.

From San Francisco, we’ll trek northward toward Seattle and Vancouver, collecting many more samples along the way. We’ll check in again soon enough; until then, let’s all hope for calm waters and stable measurements!

Written by Jonathan Sharp

If you’d like to know more, check out the 2016 WCOA Cruise WCOA.


Anni Djurhuus selected for UNOLS training cruise

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Anni Djurhuus, a postdoctoral researcher, was selected as a cruise participant on an upcoming UNOLS chief-scientist training cruise in July 2016.

These cruises and pre-cruise information workshops will instruct early career marine scientists on how to effectively plan for, acquire, and utilize time at sea for multi-disciplinary research and education. The program will take place in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, home port of the R/V Atlantis. On the cruise the participants will explore several seeps and canyons using the human operated vehicle "Alvin".

As a part of the marine genomics group, led by Mya Breitbart, Anni will be collecting samples to detect microbial dispersal and biogeographical patterns of microorganisms.

Get to know Anni Djurhuus 

Direct and indirect effects of invasive lionfish in the northern Gulf of Mexico and their potential mitigation


Speaker: Dr. Will Patterson

Affiliation: University of South Alabama, Department of Marine Sciences, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Seminar Title: Direct and indirect effects of invasive lionfish in the northern Gulf of Mexico and their potential mitigation

When: May 10, 2016 11:00am EST

Where: MSL Conference Room (134)

Host: Dr. Gary Mitchum

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Speaker: Dr. S. George Philander

Affiliation: Knox Taylor Professor of Geosciences at Princeton University

Seminar Title: The Hedgehog and the Fox:  A Nelson Mandela perspective on GLOBAL WARMING, who will also be receiving the first USF Honorary Degree of Doctor of Marine Science on Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 6:00 PM Graduate Commencement in Tampa.

When: May 6, 2016 3:00pm EST

Where: MSL Conference Room (134)

Host: Dr. Robert Weisberg

Prior to the seminar in the same room at 2:00 PM there will be a book signing of his recent book, "Our Affair with El Nino," published by the Princeton University Press.  

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A member of the National Academy of Sciences; providing seminal contributions explaining a broad range of Earth climate phenomena from the annual cycle, to inter-annual and multi-decadal climate variations, to the ice ages, all in relation to the coupling between the ocean and atmosphere; and his singularly courageous and unselfish education and outreach initiative to underprivileged students in this country of birth, South Africa. "Rarely is there an individual with a career record that encompasses the purposes, values and ideals of USF so completely."


Sheet flow in the surf and swash zones


Speaker: Dr. Jack Puelo

Affiliation: University of Delaware - College of Engineering

Seminar Title: Sheet flow in the surf and swash zones

When: April 28, 2016 3:30pm EST

Where: MSL Conference Room (134)

Host: Nathaniel Plant (USGS)

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