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Plenary Lectures and Presentations

Wednesday, 22 February, 8:00 to 12:30, Ballrooms A-H

Dr. Mark R. Abbott

Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

Graduate Education in the Ocean Sciences

Presentation: Many of our graduate programs are based on a discipline-centric view of the ocean, which, although they provide a solid foundation of core knowledge, may not adequately prepare our students for an interdisciplinary future. Moreover, there are pressures for our graduate students to focus on narrower areas of research as well as technical specialization. But in the face of increasingly complex scientific questions that emerge from the study of complex, nonlinear systems, how should our graduate programs evolve? How might we go about fostering interdisciplinary science as well as collaboration, while retaining the solid foundation of fundamental knowledge and individual achievement? The challenges of a networked-world are also having substantial impacts on our scientific processes of data gathering, analysis and publication. It is not just the rapid increases in data volume and complexity; it is a revolution in our fundamental assumptions about data, knowledge, and collaboration. Our graduate programs need to respond to the changing nature of the science, the new tools that are available for both research and education, and the new careers that our students will pursue. Although we cannot neglect the fundamentals, we cannot simply train our students the same way that we were taught. New approaches are emerging, and the ocean sciences community should begin a conversation on these issues.

Biography: Mark R. Abbott is Dean and Professor in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. He received his B.S. in Conservation of Natural Resources from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1974 and his Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California, Davis, in 1978. He has been at OSU since 1988 and has been Dean of the College since 2001. Prior to coming to OSU, he was a member of the technical staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a research oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His research focuses on the interaction of biological and physical processes in the upper ocean and relies on both remote sensing and field observations. His work led to the inclusion of chlorophyll fluorescence bands in MODIS (the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s EOS Terra and Aqua satellites) to support next-generation ocean primary productivity algorithms that used these fluorescence data to estimate the physiological health of upper ocean phytoplankton. He is funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to explore advanced computer architectures for use in undersea platforms. He is serving a six-year term on the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation and provides scientific advice to the White House and to Congress. He is vice chair of the Oregon Global Warming Commission, which is leading the state’s efforts in mitigation and adaptation strategies in response to climate change. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Consortium for Ocean Leadership as well as the Board of Trustees for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. He is President-Elect of The Oceanography Society.

Dr. Kelly Benoit-Bird

Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

Causes and Consequences of Heterogeneity of Organisms in the Ocean:  From Phytoplankton to Dolphins

Presentation: In the ocean, most resources are heterogeneously distributed and highly dynamic. This patchiness in time and space has significant consequences for population dynamics, trophic interactions, community organization and stability, the cycling of elements, and our ability to measure these processes and manage marine ecosystems. Using a combination of acoustical, optical, and other oceanographic techniques, work on the food chain involving phytoplankton, copepods, mesopelagic micronekton, and spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) has shown that both physical and biological processes can play a role in forming patches in this system. At all trophic levels, patches in this food chain have ecological consequences that are greater than their biomass alone would predict; patchiness regulates the structure of the food web as well as the animals’ behavior. The importance of spatial pattern in ecosystems has long been recognized and its effects on predator-prey pairs has been examined in a number of previous studies, however, we now know that patchiness can be a dominant force regulating an entire system.

Biography: Dr. Kelly Benoit-Bird, an Associate Professor in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, is the author or co-author of more than 35 journal publications applying acoustics to study the ecology of pelagic ocean ecosystems. Her work examines a wide range of animals including zooplankton, fish, squid, and marine mammals, in all cases emphasizing the mechanisms creating spatial and temporal dynamics in pelagic marine ecosystems, the effects these dynamics have on interactions between organisms, and the mechanisms animals use to cope with these patterns. She has been involved in the development of several new optical and acoustical instruments and has made fundamental acoustical measurements of a variety of species in the process of addressing ecological processes in the ocean. In 2010, Kelly was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, commonly referred as a “genius award” for her “exceptional creativity and promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment”. Her work has also been recognized by the Acoustical Society of America with the 2009 R. Bruce Lindsay Award for “contributions to marine ecological acoustics” and the American Geophysical Union which awarded her the 2008 Ocean Sciences Early Career Award for “innovative application of acoustical techniques”. Kelly is also the recipient of a United States Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, a Young Investigator Award from the U.S. Office of Naval Research, and a U.S. National Academy of Sciences Kavli Frontiers Fellowship.

Dr. Demian Chapman

Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York

Biology in a Bowl:  Studying Sharks to Save Them from Becoming Shark Fin Soup 

Presentation: Each year tens of millions of sharks are killed and their fins are exported to Asia, where they are used to make the luxury dish shark fin soup. Fetching up to US $100 per bowl, this soup is the caviar of Asia and fuels an international trade that is vast, lucrative and deeply secretive. Many sharks take a decade or more to mature and have a few pups per litter, which explains why these top predators are now disappearing from oceans all around the world as a result of this trade. I will detail how basic research into the biology, morphology and genetics of sharks is now being adapted to help save these animals. Studies of the evolutionary relationships between sharks and the morphology of their fins are providing critical data that can be used to answer the question: what species does the shark fin or the soup come from? This is a central question for law enforcement as some of the more vulnerable species become protected (e.g., the great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias). Methods to trace fins from the Asian markets or soup bowls back to the shark’s birthplace are also needed to establish stock specific catch limits. I will show how the development of the world’s first shark family tree from field studies in the Bahamas has revealed that females return to breed in their own birthplace. I will discuss how this remarkable behavior eventually generates a site-specific mitochondrial “DNA Zipcode” that we can map and use to determine where shark fins are coming from. As science advances our ability to monitor the fin trade, the burden is now beginning to shift to policy-makers to see that these advances are employed to reverse declines in these threatened marine predators.

Biography: Dr. Demian Chapman is a shark scientist with the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University.  His research includes development of genetic testing for tissue identification from the great white shark.  This led to a successful proposal to list the great white species on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).  He is the author or co-author of numerous journal publications regarding a variety of sharks and their relatives.  Dr. Chapman received his doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in 2007.

Dr. Mick Follows

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Modeling Marine Microbes:  From Molecules to Ecosystems

Presentation: Communities of marine micro-organisms are diverse, ecologically complex and live in a turbulent fluid environment. They modulate the global cycles of elements, including climatically significant carbon and sulfur, and form a critical part of the food web regulating marine resources. How are marine microbial communities structured and organized in space and time? What is their role in biogeochemical cycles? How do they respond to environmental changes? Mathematical and numerical models provide avenues for synthesizing empirical understanding and exploring the interactions of complex and complicated systems. We will discuss, through specific examples, how ecological and biogeochemical models are being used to address these fundamental questions.

The phenomena significant in organizing microbial communities span scales from sub-cellular metabolic networks, which mediate resource and energy trade-offs for individuals, to global circulation patterns, which regulate resource supply. Accordingly, relevant empirical constraints are provided by a wide variety of laboratory and field measurements, increasingly based on molecular techniques. To interpret these data and provide a cross-scale synthesis, models of marine microbial systems are bringing together eclectic tools from geophysical fluid dynamics, cell biology, theoretical ecology, and marine chemistry. We will illustrate how “self-organizing”, trait-based models can capture, and help to interpret, the functional biogeography of marine microbes. Examples will include nitrogen fixing phytoplankton, how resource competition for nitrogen and iron at the large scale, and iron allocation at the cellular scale, regulate their habitat. We will discuss the need for mechanistic models of heterotrophic microbes and the respiration of organic matter throughout the water column, and the prospect of integrating genome-informed, metabolic reconstructions with large-scale ecosystem and biogeochemistry models.

Biography: Mick Follows is an oceanographer working in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He studied Physics as an undergraduate at the University of Leeds in the UK, and earned a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of East Anglia in 1991.  After a year as a Royal Society Post-doctoral Fellow hosted at the Max Planck Institute for Atmospheric Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, working on models of ozone in the lower atmosphere, he joined what is now the Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate at MIT as a post-doc in 1992 and began studying ocean biogeochemical cycles. He has remained there since and is now a Senior Research Scientist. He uses data analysis, simple models and numerical simulations to understand and interpret the global ocean cycles of elements including carbon and iron. Fascinated by the biological and ecological aspects of marine biogeochemical cycles, he has spent recent years learning about and modeling marine micro-organisms and the organization of their communities in the ocean. 

Dr. Chris Reddy

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

How Did We Do:  Academia’s Contributions to the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill  

Presentation: When the Deepwater Horizon disaster occurred, marine scientists, most with little background in oil spills, became quickly involved and delivered ideas, initial results, and data to decision makers. These contributions can be traced back to the training, research, and experience of basic marine science allowing academia to make important contributions when applied problems arise

Biography: Christopher Reddy is a senior scientist in the Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry and Director of the Coastal Ocean Institute at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  He studies oil spills, including those that have occurred in 1969, 1974, 1996, 2003, 2007 (two), and the Deepwater Horizon. According to a 2010 survey by Thomson Reuters, Dr. Reddy is one of the top cited and published scientists studying oil spill effects.

He has testified once for the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon, twice for US Congress on the Deepwater Horizon, and briefed numerous staffers and leaders in the executive branch. Dr. Reddy has written eight op-eds on the Deepwater Horizon. He was an academic liaison at the Unified Area Command during the Deepwater Horizon.

Dr. Reddy has received many honors including being a Kavli Fellow, awarded in 2009 and 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences, Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow (2006), and Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program Award (2003).  He received his Ph.D. in chemical oceanography from the University of Rhode Island in 1997 and an executive education certificate from MIT Sloan’s School of Business in 2010.