Monthly Archives: May 2013

Coral Reef Ambassadors

stony coral reef tank in Taiwans national museum of marine bio and aquariumIn July of 2012,  the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) along with its sister aquarium, Taiwan’s National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium (NMMBA), were awarded the 2012 Museums Connect grant.  This highly competitive  grant program, provided by the American Alliance of Museums is designed to strengthen connections and cultural understanding between people in the United States and abroad through innovative year-long projects facilitated by museums.

taiwans national marine biology museum and aquariumCoral Reef Ambassadors aims to connect youth in both countries to increase interest in coral reef science and develop cross-cultural research and conservation skills. This program will connect 30 middle school students from San Diego and Pingtung, Taiwan, with coral scientists, community stakeholders and aquarium staff in both cities.

Jill Harris, a PhD student in the Smith Lab participated in the second Community Conversation of Coral Reef Ambassadors, speaking to middle school students from San Diego and Taiwan through a Google+ Hangout.  These students become pen pals and participate in these presentations to learn more about coral reefs.


Check out the cross-cultural learning!

The Night Before The Defense

Clint Edwards_SmithIts a funny thing working on my masters defense presentation right now. The paper from this work was submitted to a journal as of  the first of the year, and though I have worked on it periodically since then, I have largely moved on to working on other new projects in the lab. I have also presented this work, albeit it in shorter format, twice before in what were seemingly higher pressure situations than my defense at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Given this, it should be surprising I’m up til midnight three days out, pretty much finished with the talk but nerding out on tangents and the little extras that I think will really make the talk better, though I wouldn’t have thought so a couple years ago.
As it turns out, a graduate education is more nuanced than I expected, and this is exactly how this should all be ending. It all starts off very academic, at least in the classic sense.  The first year you are still taking classes and feeling like you have to play catch up on the material. Then, things get serious as you begin the study that will ultimately define your thesis. Your education becomes as much about time management and handling practical logistics as it does about learning technical details. However, in finishing your higher education for many, not all, it becomes this deeply personal process where hopefully you come out the other side with a good contribution to science and a better sense of purpose in life. I’m hoping that my attention to details that will likely be missed by the audience means I’ve passed through these stages.

Dr. Jennifer Smith Helps the Blue Halo Initiative

Dr. Jennifer Smith has just returned from a research cruise, quantifying the structure of coral reefs around the island of Barbuda, to support the Blue Halo Initiative. This project is a comprehensive ocean zoning project launched in collaboration with local government and the Waitt Foundation with a goal to better manage ocean resources sustainably.



The Blue Halo Concept:

Comprehensive ocean zoning and sustainable management of fisheries that:
1. Is based on the best available scientific, social, and economic data,
2. Heavily engages the community in the planning process,
3. Minimizes impact on fishing livelihoods, and
4. Includes sanctuary zones (no fishing) to conserve fish populations and habitats.

To learn more about the Blue Halo Initiative, check it out here!


Smith Lab Helps Spread the Word on Ocean Acidification!

On April 27th Smith Lab Master’s student Susan Kram gave a presentation and demonstration to Ocean Discovery Institute and Birch Aquarium staff, focusing on ocean acidification.  The Smith Lab and Ocean Discovery Institute are partnering together under the funding of a California Sea Grant, to develop an updated ocean acidification curriculum that can be used to help San Diego 6th graders understand this important concept.

Birch Aquarium Staff Members participating in the demonstrations

Birch Aquarium Staff Members participating in the demonstrations

Susan explained to staff members the cause of ocean acidification (the burning of fossil fuels and increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) and how it might affect temperate water organisms, such as the ones that live off the coast of San Diego.  Calcifying organisms, organisms that have a hard shell, are expected to respond negatively to ocean acidification while non-calcifying organisms, such as kelp, are expected to be positively affected or not affected. Susan discussed the research that the Smith Lab is currently conducting and talked about the ongoing pH monitoring that is taking place on the Scripps pier.

IMAG0769To drive the point home the staff members were led through two hands-on activities that could be adapted for use in the classroom.  The activities demonstrated that increased CO2 lowers the pH of seawater and that different types of seaweed will respond differently to ocean acidification.

Now that the Ocean Discovery Institute and Birch Aquarium staff has the most up to date information, they can incorporate these concepts into their lesson plans and share the information with the public.

Written by: Susan Kram

scripps oceanography uc san diego