Bio Pages REU

Summer 2019 REU projects will be offered by the College of Marine Science in the following areas:


Biological Oceanography

Larry DishawLarry Dishaw, Ph.D., Associate Professor, USF Health
The main focus of the Dishaw lab is the evolution of immune defense mechanisms — specifically across the gut epithelium. Our lab is trying to decipher how a host, in general, maintains complex communities of microbes in their guts and we are doing this with the model organism, Ciona intestinalis. What are the mechanisms involved in bacterial colonization of host epithelial surfaces?

Professor Dishaw’s research group will mentor REU students in one of several ongoing coastal erosion control technologies evaluation projects. The first project investigates the performance characterization of a novel marsh shoreline protection technology. The objective is to determine the energy characteristics in terms of reflection, transmission, and loss coefficients and to develop guidelines for field installation.  The second project is to optimize the Pile Supported Wave Screen System (PSWSS) design via experimental and computational simulation studies. This investigation includes construction of PSWSS modules, laboratory testing, development of computational models, prediction of the performance of the PSWSS system, and design optimization. Undergraduate students will collaborate closely with faculty, graduate students, attend group meetings, collect experimental and simulation data, complete technical analysis, and dissemination of results.

Majors:  Biology, Microbiology, Marine Science
View Professor Larry Dishaw’s website


Chemical Oceanography

Tim ConwayTim Conway, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Marine Science & School of Geosciences
Research in Tim Conway’s group aims to understand the geochemistry of trace metals in the marine and earth system, and the role they play as micronutrients and/or toxins in marine biogeochemical cycles, with effects on the global carbon cycle. Researchers working with Dr. Conway employ isotopic techniques including measurement of trace metal (Fe, Zn, Ni, Cd, Cu) isotope ratios by multi-collector HR-ICPMS in a range of natural materials. We work closely with national and international collaborators as part of the International GEOTRACES program, working on seawater and other samples collected from all over the world.

Several REU projects are available in the Conway group in oceanic metal cycling. The first involves analyzing samples for dissolved iron isotopes from a 6 month water-column time series collected from the Saanich Inlet in British Columbia. The objective is to learn about how metals cycle across high-low oxygen transitions in the ocean, and how we can use this knowledge to better understand metal cycling during climate events in the geological past and future. The second project will involve analyzing seawater samples collected during a Dutch cruise from Scotland-Chile for dissolved zinc and iron isotopes. We will use this data to better understand how iron and zinc are added to the oceans and how they cycle through them. Both projects will involve chemical sampling and processing, and analysis of the samples using mass spectrometers in the new USF facility. Undergraduate students will work closely with graduate students, postdocs and faculty to learn techniques, attend group meetings, collect observational data, data analysis and dissemination of results.

Majors:  Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Geosciences
View Professor’s Tim Conway’s website


Geological Oceanography

Brad E. RosenheimBrad Rosenheim, Ph.D., Associate Professor, College of Marine Science
Research in Brad Rosenheim’s group aims to constrain changes in climate and carbon cycling in the recent geologic past, from the Anthropocene through last glacial maximum. Researchers working with Dr. Rosenheim employ isotopic techniques including conventional stable isotope measurements (H, C, N, O), non-conventional stable isotope measurements (“clumped” isotopes in CO2 derived from carbonate minerals), and radioisotopic techniques including uranium system dating and radiocarbon analysis. Dr. Rosenheim’s group obtains geologic and oceanographic data from sediment, coral and sclerosponge skeletons, ice, and the open ocean water column. Members of Dr. Rosenheim’s research group have come from diverse backgrounds including chemistry, environmental science, geology, and marine science. 

REU students could select from two projects based on analyzing sediments from Antarctica for timing of deposition in order to better interpret Antarctic glacial history as the globe warmed naturally 10,000 y ago.  One NSF-funded project seeks to compile a continental-wide record of deglaciation by radiocarbon dating specific marine sediment types that are observed around Antarctica’s entire continental shelf.  Two different type of dating are being employed in this project to compare the best approach for dating while testing the hypothesis that Antarctic ice shelves retreated simultaneously continent-wide.  Another project, also funded by the NSF, would involve analysis of subglacial lake sediments for stable isotope composition, radiocarbon age, and other geochemical parameters.  These sediments were recently collected as part of the Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Project (SALSA) and they are being used to test the hypothesis that a dark, extreme ecosystem is driven by energy stored for millions of years in photosynthetically-fixed carbon molecules that have been eroded and transported by the overlying glaciers.  Ultimately, the results will provide a template for energetics of extremophile communities as well as an improved understanding of the glacial history of Antarctica.

Majors:  Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Geosciences
View Professor Brad E. Rosenheim’s website


Amelia ShevenellAmelia Shevenell, Ph.D., Associate Professor, College of Marine Science
Dr. Shevenell’s research focuses on generating high-resolution paleontologic, sedimentologic, and geochemical records from marine sediments to address questions related to Earth’s Cenozoic climate evolution. Her current research interests are focused in the Southern Ocean and divided into two focus areas: 1) Paleocene to Pliocene Antarctic ice sheet development from ice proximal records and 2) Antarctic Holocene climate variability. Paleoclimate/paleoceanographic research undertaken by the Shevenell Lab is relevant to IPCC concerns that ongoing climate changes are accelerating polar ice cap melting and global sea level rise. Shevenell and her students develop, calibrate, and employ a wide variety of micropaleontologic, sedimentologic inorganic and organic geochemical techniques to reconstruct past changes in ocean temperature, circulation, productivity, continental ice volume, and carbon cycling on decadal to orbital timescales. This multi-proxy approach enables the group to address the broadest possible range of climate and biogeochemical problems.

Shevenell’s research group will mentor REU students in one of three ongoing projects that seek to understand how Antarctica’s ice sheets developed over the last 20 million years. The first potential project investigates the sedimentology of Holocene marine sediments from the continental shelf near the Totten Glacier, East Antarctica, a region extremely sensitive to ongoing climate change. Observations reveal that warm waters from the Southern Ocean are moving onto the continental shelf and melting Totten Glacier, causing it to retreat. The objective is to use sediment grain size to understand how the ocean currents that bring warm waters onto the continental shelf fluctuated over the last 15,000 years, since the last Ice Age.

The second project investigates the advance and retreat of Antarctica’s ice sheets during the Miocene Climate Optimum and the Middle Miocene Climate Transition, ~17-14 million years ago. The objective is to use geochemical proxies from recently drilled sediments, recovered by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 374 to the Ross Sea, Antarctica (2018), to understand the role of warm ocean waters on ice sheet size.

The third project, also focused on IODP Expedition 374 sediments, will investigate the Pliocene evolution of the Antarctic ice sheet in the Ross Sea. The objective is to use geochemical proxies from foraminifera preserved in sediments from the continental shelf edge to understand ice response to ocean temperature and past current strength during a time when it is thought that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet evolved. Undergraduate students will collaborate closely with faculty and graduate students, attend group meetings, collect sedimentologic and micropaleontologic data, assist in preparing samples for geochemical analyses, and dissemination of results. If selected, the REU student will generate a publishable data set, which will result in co-authorship of a scientific publication.

Majors:  Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Geosciences
View Professor Amelia Shevenell ’s website



Physical Oceanography

Xinfeng LiangXinfeng Liang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Delaware
Dr. Liang is interested in using a combination of observations, numerical models and theory to understand how the ocean works and how the ocean is affected by and responds to the changing climate. In particular, Dr. Liang is interested in how the heat, salt, carbon and other biogeochemical tracers are transported in the global ocean. Another of Dr. Liang’s current research interests is the dynamic processes that can supply energy to ocean mixing, and these processes mainly include internal tides, near-inertial oscillations and mesoscale eddies. Dr. Liang has extensive seagoing experience, primarily in acquiring and processing data from Lowered/Vessel-mounted Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP). Furthermore, he is familiar with the system of ocean state estimation (e.g. ECCO), which is powerful and has huge potential in addressing fundamental oceanographic questions.

The Liang group has two REU projects that focus on global oceanic changes, particularly the ocean heat content changes. The first project is to evaluate a large set of the existing Ocean Reanalysis Products and determine if they are suitable for examining climate-scale changes in global and regional ocean heat content. This evaluation is based on examining the changes of the thermal-steric and halo-steric contributions to the global steric height over time. The second project is to analyze a state-of-the-art ocean state estimate to better under the physical processes that control the observed ocean heat content change and variability. By conducting these projects, the REU students will become familiar with one of the fundamental climate questions that how the ocean has been changing, as well as how this critical question is addressed. Both projects require intensive programming and data processing. The REU students will work closely with Dr. Liang and graduate students in conducting analysis and disseminating results.

Majors: Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Physics
View Professor Xinfeng Liang’s website

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