Program and Agenda

Plenary Sessions

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Ballroom ABC

Robert H. Richmond

Pacific Biosciences Research Center, Kewalo Marine Laboratory, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Coral Reefs, Climate Change and Atomic Bombs   

Abstract: Coral reefs worldwide are in decline as a result of human-induced disturbance, ranging from the common and chronic stressors of overfishing, coastal sedimentation and pollution to the absurd and acute: vaporization from nuclear testing.  Global climate change is and will continue to be responsible for extensive reef losses through the associated problems of temperature-induced mass coral bleaching events, increased storm intensity and frequency, ocean acidification and sea level rise. To address human impacts in the hope of allowing coral reefs to persist into the future, it is necessary to both diagnose and treat the underlying problems at multiple levels over space (local, regional and global scales) and time.  Emerging technologies in the areas of proteomics, genomics and transcriptomics provide new tools for better understanding relationships between stressors and coral reef responses with a higher level of resolution in determining the contributions of individual stressors in a multi-stressor system. Better bridging of science to policy development, implementation and evaluation is needed to insure a legacy of functional coral reefs of high economic, ecological and cultural value for future generations.

Speaker Biography: Dr. Bob Richmond is a Research Professor and Director of the University of Hawaii’s Kewalo Marine Laboratory.  He received a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the Dept. of Ecology and Evolution, SUNY at Stony Brook, in 1983 and subsequently spent  2-years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, 18 years on the faculty of the University of Guam Marine Laboratory, and has been a Research Professor at the Pacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa,  since 2004.   He has spent his professional career studying coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean and the Pacific, including the Virgin Islands, the Grenadines, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, Japan and, for over 30 years, in Micronesia.  He is the President of the International Society for Reef Studies, the Science Advisor to the All-Islands Committee of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force and a science advisor for the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. He is both an Aldo Leopold Fellow in Environmental Leadership (2004), and a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation (2006).  He works closely with community-based organizations, elected and traditional leaders and stakeholders, and has trained over 50 Pacific Islanders in his laboratory over the years.  His research interests include coral reef ecology, marine conservation biology, ecotoxicology, bridging science to management and policy, and the integration of traditional ecological knowledge with modern approaches to resource use and protection.  His childhood fascination with “Dr. Doolittle” helped inspire his approach to studying coral reefs by “listening” to corals and other reef creatures through the use of ecological indicators and molecular biomarkers.

Panel Discussion: “Why aren’t they listening?”

A facilitated discussion addressing public attitudes about climate and environmental sciences, negative influences on public attitudes, recognition of need for more effective communication, and communication to politicians and the public.

Moderated by Richard Harris, National Public Radio with panelists: Edward Maibach (George Mason University), Christine O’Connell (State University of New York, Stony Brook), and Jerry Schubel (Aquarium of the Pacific)

Richard Harris - Moderator

National Public Radio

Award-winning journalist Richard Harris reports on science and the environment for NPR's newsmagazines, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Harris, who joined NPR in 1986, has traveled to all seven continents for NPR. His reports have originated from Timbuktu, the South Pole, the Galapagos Islands, Beijing during the SARS epidemic, the center of Greenland, the Amazon rain forest and the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro (for a story about tuberculosis).

In 2010, Harris' reporting uncovered that the blown-out BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was spewing out far more oil than asserted in the official estimates. He also traveled to Japan to cover the nuclear aftermath of the 2011 tsunami.

Harris has covered climate change for decades. He reported from the United Nations climate negotiations, starting with the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, followed by Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009. Harris was a major contributor to NPR's award-winning 2007-2008 "Climate Connections" series.

Over the course of his career, Harris has been the recipient of many prestigious awards. Those include the American Geophysical Union’s 2013 Presidential Citation for Science and Society. He shared the 2009 National Academy of Sciences Communication Award and was a finalist in 2011.  In 2002, Harris was elected an honorary member of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society. Harris shared a 1995 Peabody Award for investigative reporting on NPR about the tobacco industry. Since 1988, Harris has won three journalism awards from American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Before joining NPR, Harris was a science writer for the San Francisco Examiner. From 1981 to 1983, Harris was a staff writer at The Tri-Valley Herald in Livermore, California, covering science, technology, and health issues. Under the auspices of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Harris spent the summer of 1980 as a Mass Media Science Fellow reporting on science issues for The Washington (DC) Star. Harris is co-founder of the Washington, D.C., Area Science Writers Association, and is past president of the National Association of Science Writers. He serves on the board of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

A California native, Harris returned to the University of California-Santa Cruz in 2012 to give a commencement address at Crown College, where he had given a valedictory 30 years before. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology, with highest honors.

Christine O’Connell

Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science

Dr. O’Connell is a science communication professional working for the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science in Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism. O’Connell is a marine and environmental scientist with an extensive interdisciplinary background in policy, outreach, and communication.  O’Connell was trained in improvisation by Alan Alda, and works on improving scientific communication to the public and scientific outreach to the community. Her goal is to work towards strengthening the connections between science, society, and policy. Her scientific research focuses on coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP), ecosystem-based management (EBM), waste management, conservation planning, and ecosystem services. O’Connell has taught environmental communication and conservation classes at several universities and now teaches graduate courses on “Distilling your message,” for the Alda Center.  At the Alda Center, she also coordinates and speaks at national workshops and manages, The Flame Challenge, an international contest that asks scientists to communicate complex science in ways that would interest and enlighten an 11-year-old. O’Connell has organized collaborations across academia, government, and the community – including an initiative between the humanities and sciences at Stony Brook called The Coastlines Initiative. She was instrumental in coordinating the Scientific Advisory Committee for the New York Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Council, where she helped write the final EBM scientific research priorities report for NY State. She also worked closely with the NY Department of Environmental Conservation on its Ocean Action Plan, and was part of the Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan Advisory Committee. Prior to her academic career, O’Connell worked in the fields of environmental advocacy, community organizing, and public policy. She has been involved with organizing national environmental and political campaigns with Green Corps, and teaching community groups in New York City how to refine their message to talk to politicians, raise money, and organize their communities with Partnerships for Parks and City Parks Foundation. She is experienced in scientific outreach, government relations, coalition building, lobbying, campaign planning, social marketing, and communication coaching. Dr. O’Connell received her Ph.D. in Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, and her B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University in 1999.  

Edward Maibach

Director of Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication

Dr. Maibach is a University Professor at George Mason University, and the Director of Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication. Leveraging three decades of experience as a communication and social marketing practitioner and scholar, Ed’s research focuses on public engagement in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Ed currently co-chairs the Engagement & Communication Working Group of the National Climate Assessment Development and Advisory Committee, and he previously served as Associate Director of the National Cancer Institute, Worldwide Director of Social Marketing at Porter Novelli, and Chairman of the Board for Kidsave International.  Ed earned his PhD in communication science at Stanford University and his MPH at San Diego State University.

Jerry R. Schubel

President and CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific

Dr. Schubel has been president and CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific since 2002. He is president and CEO Emeritus of the New England Aquarium, and from 1974‐1994 was Dean of Stony Brook University’s Marine Sciences Research Center. For three of those years he served as the University’s provost and is Distinguished Service Professor emeritus. Prior to 1974, Dr. Schubel was an adjunct professor, research scientist and associate director of The Johns Hopkins University's Chesapeake Bay Institute. Dr. Schubel holds a Ph.D. in oceanography from Johns Hopkins University. Hereceived an honorary doctorate from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 1998. He has worked throughout his professional life at the interfaces of science management‐policy on issues dealing with the ocean with an emphasis on the coastal ocean. Dr. Schubel has published more than 225 scientific papers and has written extensively for general audiences. He is a member of NOAA Science Advisory Board and is a member of the Science Advisory Panel for California’s Ocean Protection Council. He chaired the National Sea Grant Review Panel; the NRC’s Marine Board; and the Ocean Research and Resources Advisory Panel (ORRAP). He is a former member of EPA’s Science Advisory Board, the Census of Marine Life U.S. National Committee and the National Science Foundation’s Education and Human Resources Advisory Committee. At the Aquarium of the Pacific, he created the Aquatic Forum that brings together scientists, policy‐makers and stakeholders to explore alternative ways of dealing with important, complex, and often controversial environmental issues facing California and the nation. He also directs the Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Research Institute.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Ballroom ABC

Roger T. Hanlon

Senior Scientist, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA; Professor (MBL), Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, RI

Optical magic: how cephalopods sense and manipulate light to produce rapid adaptive camouflage and communication

Abstract: Nature has evolved elegant solutions for manipulating ambient light to produce dramatic and colorful animal behavior. Nowhere is the diversity and speed of change in visual appearance better developed than in squid, octopus, and cuttlefish, all of which use rapid adaptive coloration to fight, attract mates, confuse prey and avoid predators. I will present new discoveries and some simplifying principles of how these refined biological systems operate. First, I will illustrate many of these complex visual behaviors with field video. Then I will present experimental data showing how cuttlefish visually perceive complex backgrounds and swiftly produce an appropriate camouflage pattern. Next I will demonstrate how spectrometers and new HyperSpectral Imagers allow us to measure ambient light and analyze animal patterns and colors “in the eye of the beholder.” Finally, I will describe details of the biophotonic skin structures and their control mechanisms that enable such remarkable visual diversity.

Speaker Biography: Roger Hanlon is Senior Scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA and Professor (MBL) of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University. He is a diving biologist who uses digital imagery (stills, video, hyperspectral) to analyze rapid adaptive camouflage and communication in cephalopods (squid, octopus, cuttlefish) and fishes. He was trained in marine sciences at Florida State University and University of Miami, and studied sensory ecology as a postdoctoral fellow at Cambridge University. Recently his laboratory has focused on a highly multidisciplinary effort to quantify animal camouflage, touching subjects as varied as visual perception, psychophysics, neuroscience, behavioral ecology, image analyses, computer vision, and art. Collaborations with materials scientists and engineers aim to develop new classes of materials that change appearance based on the pigments and reflectors in cephalopod skin. Active public outreach featuring these charismatic marine animals has been conducted recently with NOVA, BBC, Discovery, NatGeo, TEDx, and NYT. Dr. Hanlon’s career path seems to have been determined by fate; as a teenager scuba diving in Panama, he came across an octopus on a coral reef and he has been fascinated with them ever since.

Mary Jane Perry

University of Maine, Walpole, Maine

Looking Forward To Looking Back On 50 Years of Autonomous Robotic Ocean Sensing

Abstract: Documenting change in the physical, biological, and chemical parameters of the ocean is essential for understanding, predicting and testing how the ocean will respond to climate forcing.  This requisite demands persistent observations on appropriate temporal and spatial scales.  Rapidly advancing technologies for mobile autonomous sensing offer the promise of a continuous, distributed and coordinated presence in the global ocean that is capable of sampling at the relevant scales.  It is now possible to measure key biogeochemical parameters and abundances at multiple trophic levels for weeks to months to years, although some types of measurements are still in development and testing.  This talk will focus primarily on interdisciplinary studies with floats and gliders, highlighting scientific advances, technological achievements, roles of collaboration, and lessons learned that are leading to improved deployment strategies and sensor calibrations.  The oceanographic community has made tremendous advances in autonomous sensing since Hank Stommel’s early vision of sampling the ocean’s interior with gliders (1989; Oceanography 2: 22), the ALPS workshop (2003,, and L&O’s special issue on autonomous platforms (2008, Limnol. Oceanogr. 53: 2057).  While not yet halfway toward 50 years of autonomous sensing, progress to date is impressive.  To paraphrase Walter Munk, ‘every time we look at the ocean in a new way, we learn something new’.  The pace of new discovery with autonomous vehicles continues to accelerate; the view back should be spectacular.

Speaker Biography: Mary Jane Perry’s long-term goal is to understand the mechanisms responsible for the variability in phytoplankton biomass, primary production, and species composition. She started her oceanographic career by studying the role of phosphate availability in controlling phytoplankton biomass and production in the subtropical Central North Pacific, and was one of the first to diagnosis intermittent phosphorus limitation. Although she retains her interest in nutrient dynamics, her focus shifted to the interaction of phytoplankton and light in the ocean, and the use of optical methods to study phytoplankton. Perry started this phase of her career with a study of the photoadaptive changes in the absorption cross section of photosystem I in marine phytoplankton. Specific research projects have included the variability in the photosynthetic quantum yield; the use of flow cytometry to study phytoplankton photoadaptive states and vertical mixing; the development of immunological methods to determine concentrations of photosynthetic components; and a variety of direct and inverse methods to determine the phytoplankton absorption coefficient. More recently she has been involved in autonomous sensing of phytoplankton from gliders and floats. She was the PI on a NOPP project that lead to the development of the widely-used miniaturized fluorometer for autonomous platforms, AKA the ECO Puck. She has participated in a number of cruises in both the north Atlantic and Pacific oceans and has served on many national and international panels and steering committees.  She is a TOS Fellow and founder of the long-running summer graduate course in Optical Oceanography.