The National Ocean Service (NOS), an office within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), seeks applications from CSC students for a slot on a research Cruise.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 affected a wide range of ecosystems and organisms throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico, including mesophotic and deepwater coral communities. Scientists are working to determine how best to conserve and restore these habitats. In particular, researchers need to understand if the coral species found on these reefs can be brought into laboratory settings and propagated in numbers such that the new corals can be placed in the Gulf to create or enhance reefs.
As a part of this effort, NOAA will be conducting a research cruise in October 2022 on the RV Point Sur, a vessel owned by the University of Southern Mississippi and operated by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON). This field mission will use a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with multi-function manipulators to collect coral samples, and an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to map important areas for coral propagation. Both vehicles will have a refined tracking ability with precise GPS and triangulation to calculate area. The specific days of the cruise in October will be finalized during the summer months. The port of departure will be along the northern Gulf.
Coral sampling will support live husbandry and studies of coral biology. The tissue samples will be maintained alive at moderate temperatures from 4-25 C; while others will be preserved frozen at -20 C, and -80 C for studies of genetics and reproduction. A CTD rosette aboard the ship will be deployed once or twice per day to collect water samples. Water samples are collected for water chemistry, coral husbandry, and for eDNA based detection of target species. Researchers will attempt to provide live material of coral species such Thesea nivea, Swiftia, Muricea, and Placorgorgia to supply NOAA, USGS, and partner labs in Galveston, Gainesville, and Charleston.
A unique aspect of this project is that it brings together a number of experts in deep-water corals and fish biology with various disciplines of engineering, genetics and microbial ecology. The microbial work brings sampling challenges that must be addressed on-board. Another unique aspect is an ROV integration plan that pairs two (or three) different ROV teams with exceptional experience in mesophotic coral assessments aboard this cruise to generate an integrated and enhanced quantitative assessment of deep-water coral environments.
There is the opportunity for one student to participate in this cruise, either an advanced undergraduate or a graduate student. The student should be interested in one or more of the following:
- Living aboard and contributing to field operations on a research vessel
- Ecology, genetics, propagation, and/or life history of coral species, particularly those in mesophotic or deep water.
- Coral restoration
- Geographic Information Systems
- Robotics (particularly ROV and AUVs)
Interested students should submit the following to the NOAA Office of Education on or before 5:00PM July 27, 2022 to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The complete application package includes the following:
- Unofficial transcripts;
- Statement of interest in the NOAA-mission aligned work to be conducted during the cruise; and,
- Names and contact information of two people to serve as references.
For more information, please send queries to: email@example.com.