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  • richardmitnick 6:29 pm on June 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Biologist Roxanne Beltran wins funding from Beckman Young Investigator Program", Acoustics for the ocean soundscape, , Beltran has a decade of experience working with elephant seals and other marine mammals., For over three decades UCSC researchers have been tagging and studying elephant seals at Año Nuevo Reserve managed by the UC Natural Reserve System., Marine Biology, The tags will effectively eavesdrop on whales by recording their vocalizations and echolocations., , Women in STEM-Roxanne Beltran   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : Women in STEM-Roxanne Beltran “Biologist Roxanne Beltran wins funding from Beckman Young Investigator Program” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    June 03, 2021
    Tim Stephens

    New project aims to provide the first large-scale recordings of sound in the open ocean, using elephant seals as a platform for a novel acoustic recorder.

    Roxanne Beltran (Photo by C. Lagattuta)

    The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation has awarded a $600,000 grant to Roxanne Beltran, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz, through its Beckman Young Investigator Program.

    The grant will fund a new project to develop and deploy a novel acoustic recorder for eavesdropping on the ocean soundscape. Beltran plans to use this new technology to monitor the acoustic environment of elephant seals, which migrate thousands of miles across the North Pacific Ocean. By using elephant seals as a mobile sensor platform to carry the acoustic recorder, Beltran will explore poorly understood areas of the open ocean, including the “twilight zone” just beyond the reach of sunlight (below about 650 feet).

    “We want to figure out what the open ocean and the twilight zone sound like to an elephant seal—what sounds they are exposed to in terms of both manmade noise like shipping traffic as well as other species like whales,” she said.

    For over three decades UCSC researchers have been tagging and studying elephant seals at Año Nuevo Reserve managed by the UC Natural Reserve System. Daniel Costa, distinguished professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of UCSC’s Institute of Marine Sciences, has been a pioneer in the development and use of electronic tags to track the movements and behavior of elephant seals and other marine mammals and to gather oceanographic data.

    Beltran, a UCSC alumna (Stevenson ’13, marine biology) who joined Costa’s lab as a postdoctoral researcher before being appointed to the faculty, has a decade of experience working with elephant seals and other marine mammals. The new project will expand into the acoustic realm her lab’s ongoing efforts to study the ocean environment and ecology of migrating elephant seals.

    “The importance of understanding ocean sounds has increased significantly in recent years, but our ability to monitor the soundscapes of the open ocean is logistically difficult,” Costa said. “Elephant seals have provided an excellent platform for measuring ocean temperature and salinity, and Roxanne’s study will add ocean acoustics to those crucial baseline measurements.”

    Oceanographers and biologists have used various approaches to monitor sound in the ocean, but most are limited to areas near the coast. Ship-based surveys can go beyond coastal regions, but they are expensive and limited by the noise of the ship. Elephant seals migrate far offshore and move quietly and rapidly through the ocean ecosystem in search of prey.

    “Using elephant seals is like having a smart sensor for biological hot spots, because they navigate straight to the regions with lots of productivity and prey. They can tell us a lot about the environment out in the middle of the open ocean,” Beltran said.

    The tags will effectively eavesdrop on whales by recording their vocalizations and echolocations, and will also detect ships, sonar, and other sounds in the open ocean. Beltran said she is excited to find out what the tags will reveal about the soundscape of the North Pacific Ocean. Among other things, she hopes to learn more about the elusive beaked whales, a poorly understood family of deep-diving whales.

    “We will also be able to learn if elephant seals are exposed to noises from sonar or oil exploration and how that affects them,” Beltran said. “We think acoustic cues are hugely important to elephant seals because they spend a lot of time in complete darkness, feeding at night and at depth, but we have no idea what they hear out there.”

    By enabling more comprehensive monitoring of ocean noise and revealing the most prevalent and harmful sound sources, the project will provide valuable information and recommendations for marine mammal conservation.

    The first stage of the project will be to develop a durable high-capacity acoustic recorder with the specifications needed for the project. Beltran will work with her colleague Holger Klinck, an acoustics expert at Cornell University (US), to develop the necessary hardware and software. Improvements in the acoustic tags will include longer duration recordings and a stronger housing to withstand the extreme pressure of the deep ocean.

    After testing and validation of the new devices, the researchers will attach them to 24 adult female elephant seals over three years starting in February 2022. The tags are attached to the seals’ fur and are removed when the animals return to the beach and molt. The fidelity of elephant seals to their breeding grounds enables the researchers to reliably recover the tags. Beltran plans to train a team of UCSC undergraduate students to assist with the field work and undertake independent projects through the Undergraduate Work-Study Research Initiative.

    “In addition to teaching us about large marine vertebrates, our fieldwork provides an ideal outdoor classroom for the next generation of biologists,” she said.

    The Beckman Young Investigator Program provides research support to the most promising young faculty members in the early stages of their academic careers in the chemical and life sciences, particularly to foster the invention of methods, instruments, and materials that will open up new avenues of research in science.

    “I feel lucky for the opportunity to be a part of this foundation and to contribute to the legacy of Dr. Beckman, a kind and curious innovator who is making it possible for young scientists to dream big,” Beltran said.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

  • richardmitnick 10:02 pm on June 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Going the Distance", Antarctica’s McMurdo Station (US), Antarctica’s Palmer Station (US), , , , , Marine Biology, Marine geochemistry, , , , Submarine vulcanology, The volcanic rock and fluids that well up from below the ocean floor in some regions offer scientists a clear look at geologic processes that have shaped life on our planet., WHOI "ALVIN"submersible, WHOI R/V "Atlantis",   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US) : Women in STEM Sarah Das; Kristin Poinar; Rebecca Carey; Julie Huber “Going the Distance” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US)

    June 7, 2021
    David Levin

    Ocean science at the extremes

    Through the lens of remotely operated vehicle Jason, anemones and shrimp cluster around a hydrothermal vent along a site called the Piccard Field, 5,000 meters (16,404 feet) deep on the Caribbean seafloor during a 2012 expedition. Photo courtesy of Chris German, National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/ROV Jason Team, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    Aboard the R/V Atlantis, the human-occupied vehicle Alvin perches neatly inside a small two-story hangar, where it’s draped with ventilation tubes and electrical cables.

    The streamlined white hull of the sub, which has lately been going through a major overhaul to extend its reach to greater depths, reflects the lights of the deck beyond. Its two robotic arms fold neatly at its sides, framing portholes carved into a gleaming new titanium crew sphere. It looks like science fiction come to life: a small but formidable spacecraft poised to travel to another world.

    IN REALITY, THAT’S NOT FAR FROM THE TRUTH. SEAWATER COVER MORE THAN 71% OF EARTH’S SURFACE, leaving much of the globe unknown and mysterious to humans. Exploring its secrets is a bit like studying the workings of a distant planet.

    “The ocean is so enormous, so vast, that it’s nearly impossible to have a thorough understanding of any one part of it unless you’re actually there,” says Adam Soule, a submarine vulcanologist and former chief scientist for deep submergence at WHOI. “There’s an aspect of exploration and discovery that is inherent in marine research.”

    In their constant search for understanding, oceanographers from WHOI and elsewhere must go to extremes. Some of those scientists board Alvin multiple times every year, diving to some of the deepest and most mysterious areas of the seafloor. Some peer through the eyes of complex robotic vehicles that can travel where humans can’t go. Others travel to the distant edges of the ocean’s reach, trekking across frozen polar landscapes to collect ice cores that reveal what the sea looked like thousands of years ago.

    No matter what aspect of the oceans these scientists study, their work can be a massive undertaking. From the deepest marine trench to the tallest landlocked mountain, the sea’s influence touches nearly every corner of the globe: It provides food for billions of humans, supplies life-giving oxygen to the atmosphere, and directly affects climate from the deserts of Arizona to the icy coasts and frozen interior of Antarctica. Unraveling the mysteries of a realm this large means entering some of the most remote and dangerous places on the planet. But by going to these great lengths, oceanographers are gaining insights that may answer fundamental questions about life on Earth—and possibly even life beyond.

    Submersible Alvin is prepped in the high bay on R/V Atlantis before dive operations along a segment of a deep-sea mountain range known as the East Pacific Rise, off the coast of Costa Rica. Photo by Ken Kostel, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    The poles

    The first thing that hits you when you sail into Antarctica’s Palmer Station is the smell. After five days at sea in some of the roughest waters on Earth, new arrivals are greeted by a whiff of guano—excrement from the massive penguin colonies that inhabit the peninsula. But the view makes up for it, says WHOI marine geochemist Dan Lowenstein.

    “You sail between these sheer walls of rock and snow in the Neumayer Channel, which is the navigational passage along the peninsula, and when you come around one last island, you see this incredibly remote station,” he says. “It’s just a handful of buildings perched on a tiny bit of rock at the bottom of a huge glacier, next to a harbor bordered by 300-foot cliffs of ice.”

    Lowenstein arrived at Palmer in December, 2020 and plans to remain there for at least six months. It’s a position that requires a certain level of comfort in extreme isolation. Although the population of McMurdo Station, the major U.S. logistics hub on the continent, peaks at 1,300 during the Antarctic summer, the peak at Palmer is only about 45 people. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s running with an even smaller crew: Lowenstein is one of just 24 scientists and staff currently on hand.

    The global public health crisis not only reduced the number of people allowed at Palmer this year. It also hampered travel to the station. Under normal circumstances, the trip takes about a week. This year, Lowenstein spent more than a month in transit, thanks to multiday quarantine stops in Massachusetts, San Francisco, and Chile.

    It may be tiny and hard to reach, but Palmer enjoys an outsized importance in the world of oceanography and climate. It’s home to a Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network of more than 30 sites across the globe that have been recording continuous environmental data and samples over the past few decades. At Palmer, the LTER focuses on life that exists in and around nearby sea ice.

    A waddle of Gentoo penguins hop around the rocks of the West Antarctic peninsula, where WHOI marine geochemist Dan Lowenstein is currently stationed to study the changing metabolism of the region’s microbial communities Credit: Dan Lowenstein, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    “There’s no place like it,” says WHOI geochemist Ben Van Mooy. “Since going online in 1990, Palmer has provided detailed information about a vast suite of chemical, biological, and physical ocean parameters in the waters that surround it. It’s an incredibly valuable record that doesn’t exist anywhere else.”

    Van Mooy has been to Palmer twice to gather samples of the sea ice that surrounds the station. This year, he sent Lowenstein in his place. Every chunk he collected can reveal volumes of information. Since it lies at the interface of the atmosphere and the ocean, Van Mooy says, sea ice is deeply affected by changes in both environments.

    “As the atmospheric climate changes, ocean circulation and other marine elements change, and those things are all reflected via changes in the sea ice. It’s a really sensitive indicator of both atmospheric and oceanographic processes,” Van Mooy adds.

    Van Mooy is also interested in how these same processes affect tiny plantlike microbes called phytoplankton. These minuscule organisms form the base of the Antarctic marine food web: They’re eaten by animals like krill and shrimp, which in turn provide food for whales, fish, penguins, and other large organisms. Like plants on land, they also produce huge amounts of oxygen for the planet. Yet precisely how they’re affected by changing climate is unclear.

    Whatever happens to phytoplankton has a ripple effect across the entire ecosystem of the Antarctic peninsula, Van Mooy says. That means the fate of sea ice at the extreme ends of the world is inextricably connected with the fate of animals like krill, penguins, seabirds, whales, and fish—but to understand this complex ecosystem, Van Mooy first has to venture out into the coastal ice pack to collect samples and data. It’s a dangerous undertaking.

    “The thing people forget about Antarctica is that it’s essentially abandoned,” he says. “You can be a quarter mile away from Palmer Station, but once it’s out of sight, there’s zero indication of humans: No people, no ships, no jets in the sky. Nothing. It’s just you and one or two other people working on a small boat in frigid and tumultuous Antarctic water. We take a lot of precautions, but the consequences of something going wrong are pretty severe—so it forces you to look inside yourself and see how much you truly love what you’re doing.”

    Glaciologists Sarah Das and Kristin Poinar carrying a crate off the helicopter. (Photo by Chris Linder, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

    A research team led by Das hikes alongside an icy crevasse in Greenland to study changes in meltwater distribution across the glacier as the climate warms Credit:Sarah Das, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.


    Studying the ocean’s impact on global climate doesn’t stop at the coast. Deep in the interiors of Antarctica and Greenland, a record of how the oceans behaved thousands of years in the past is preserved deep within layers of buried ice.

    Sarah Das, a WHOI glaciologist who studies climate history, spends her days traveling to some of the most lonely spots on the globe. She and her team have helicoptered into remote mountain glaciers in Greenland, and have flown on small aircraft into isolated corners of Antarctica to gather ice core samples.

    “I’m by definition interested in studying places that humans haven’t been to before. You can only find good climate archives in totally pristine, untouched ice, so wherever I go in the field, I’m usually the first person ever to set foot there,” she says.

    In isolated regions, polar ice sheets can stay untouched for hundreds of thousands of years, providing an incredibly long record of past climate, she notes. Unlike sea ice, which forms annually from seawater itself, glacial ice sheets are created by progressive layers of snow. As each storm blows through, new snowfall buries prior years’ snow layers deeper and deeper, preserving dust and tiny air bubbles in the process. “You essentially get all these bits of the past atmosphere trapped within ice layers. As climate scientists, we collect these clues and can unravel mysteries such as how much snow fell in the past, how many warm events there were, and what atmospheric greenhouse gas levels were during specific times in history. It feels sort of like having access to a time machine,” says Das.

    It turns out the ice layers also trap compounds that can help tease out natural processes happening in the oceans during the same era, she adds. “For example, in Greenland we recently showed how we can use organic compounds in ice to reconstruct the productivity of marine phytoplankton in the past. That extends our knowledge of how climate change impacts the base of the marine food web.”

    Collecting those samples is no small feat. Working in Greenland, Das spends days hauling gear on and off craggy coastal mountaintops to get to undisturbed patches of ice. In those cases, she says, there’s at least a few small communities along the coast that she can use as a base of operation—but when she’s working in Antarctica, her team has had to set up camp on the ice sheet for weeks at a time.

    “You get on a military transport plane in New Zealand where it’s summer, and several hours later, you set down in Antarctica and walk out into blinding snow. It’s like flying to another planet,” she says. “It doesn’t even feel connected to Earth.”

    ROV Jason slowly touches down to take pictures with the “MISO” camera along Havre volcano, northeast of New Zealand. Photo courtesy of Dan Fornari, Chief scientists Adam Soule and Rebecca Carey, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    The deep

    When it comes to extreme distances, traveling to the Antarctic ice sheet ranks high on the list. Traveling to the deep ocean, however, is an entirely different—and arguably more dangerous—challenge. It’s an otherworldly place, with crushing pressures, bizarre life, and a trove of hidden scientific secrets waiting to be revealed. To study its inner workings, ocean scientists must descend to its furthest reaches, either via robotic vehicles or by braving its depths in person within the cramped quarters of a research submarine. Once there, it becomes possible to find clues to how the very early Earth may have behaved.

    The volcanic rock and fluids that well up from below the ocean floor in some regions offer scientists a clear look at geologic processes that have shaped life on our planet. In areas called “spreading centers”—mountainous chains that extend for thousands of miles across the ocean floor—magma from the Earth’s mantle rises up from below the seafloor, pushes entire continental plates apart, and introduces key nutrients that enable life to thrive. Studying midocean spreading centers offers a window into that deep world, provided scientists can get there in the first place.

    “We’ve studied so little of the midocean ridge and other spreading centers—but as we keep returning to them we keep finding new things,” says Jeff Seewald, a marine geochemist at WHOI and interim Chief Scientist of the National Deep Submergence Facility.

    In his current post, Seewald spends his days not only studying fluids that well up from the seafloor but also working to make it possible for other scientists to reach those extreme depths.

    Since the HOV Alvin, WHOI’s famed research submersible, was overhauled in 2013, it has completed more than 400 dives, bringing at least 350 researchers on their first trip to the ocean floor. “That’s about the same as the number of U.S. astronauts that have left low Earth orbit since the space program started 60 years ago. In bringing humans to extreme places, the Alvin program punches well above its weight,” adds Adam Soule.

    At the moment, those scientists are able to go as deep as 4,500 meters (14,800 feet), but the sub’s latest overhaul will let it travel even farther—to 6,500 meters (21,325 feet). Th is new range will bring scientists to areas of the seafloor that were previously unreachable, enabling exiting new discoveries in the process.

    “Beyond 6,500 meters, there’s a whole region of the ocean that’s been understudied. We just don’t know what’s down there,” says Seewald.


    Many of the latest Alvin dives have been to hydrothermal vent sites—hot geysers found mainly in midocean spreading zones. Nearly 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) below the ocean’s surface, in an otherwise barren landscape, the chemicals released by each vent support a strange array of life. Giant tube worms, blind shrimp, huge clams, and other species thrive around the vent’s flanks, fed by microbes that create chemical energy from the venting fluids themselves.

    For many WHOI scientists, however, the extraordinary animals at vent sites aren’t the main attraction. Rather, it’s what exists below them. Vent sites provide a unique portal to the interior of the planet, as the ultrahot fluids that emerge from them contain minerals that are shaped by intense heat and pressure beneath the crust. They also provide clues to even more unusual life-forms—researchers are beginning to fi nd evidence of a hugely diverse array of microbial life both on and underneath the seafloor, where those liquids react with rock.

    To WHOI marine microbiologist Julie Huber, the idea that life exists deep within the crust make perfect sense. Most life-forms on Earth have been here for only a short chunk of the planet’s 4.5 billion-year history. For much of that time, microbes ran the show. “Microbes have likely existed for billions of years in these crustal environments of the deep ocean—so studying them can improve our understanding of the tree of life on our planet,” she says.

    To probe those mysteries, Huber not only samples fluid directly from vent sites but also has supervised even more dramatic eff orts: drilling operations that dig into the seafloor from aboard a specialized ship, tapping hundreds of feet straight down from the deepocean floor to reach fluids percolating through the mud and rock beneath.

    “Studying the sub-seafloor isn’t glamorous, and it’s really hard to reach,” she says. But it can be well worth the intense eff orts. Once a drill hole has been dug, scientists can cap it and sample fluids from below the seafloor on a regular basis, revealing a world that’s largely inaccessible through other methods.

    Ocean worlds

    Whether it’s traveling to the distant poles, the deepest vent sites, or below the ocean floor itself, the lengths to which oceanographers go to study Earth’s processes are helping answer questions not only about our own planet, but about other watery worlds as well.

    Enceladus, a tiny moon of Saturn, is only about 300 miles (500 kilometers) wide yet shares an eerie similarity to some of the regions on Earth that WHOI oceanographers are currently examining. Planetary scientists have recently shown that its surface is made up of slabs of solid water ice sitting atop a liquid saltwater ocean, similar to what you’d fi nd at our own planet’s poles.

    Mysterious geysers on its surface regularly eject material from Enceladus into space—and after NASA’s Cassini spacecraft maneuvered through those plumes in 2015, the data it sent back to Earth raised more than a few eyebrows. Not only did the plumes contain ice, water, and salt, but they also contained chemicals like silica, methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen, a suite of compounds that is all too familiar to oceanographers like Chris German.

    “The only place we know where little silica nanoparticles like these form on Earth today is in midtemperature hydrothermal vents” where the escaping fluid is roughly 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), says German, a marine geochemist at WHOI. “It seems like compelling evidence that there could be submarine vents active today on the seafloor of Enceladus.”

    In other words, by studying the ocean’s extremes on Earth, WHOI researchers are setting the stage to examine a world disconnected from ours by more than 746 million miles (1.2 billion kilometers), German adds.

    The vent sites on Enceladus could share an exciting similarity with newly studied sites on our own planet.

    An unusual cluster of deep vents called the Von Damm field, which German helped identify in the Caribbean Sea less than a decade ago, turns out to have a unique chemistry: It emerges from rare ultramafic rock, which is found in the Earth’s mantle today. In the presence of heat and crushing pressures below the ocean floor, those rocks react with seawater to create something truly mind-boggling: organic compounds, the building blocks of life.

    “Based on our measurements, we could make the case definitively that organic compounds are getting synthesized spontaneously, without any input from an existing life-form. Just rocks and water, as a geologic process, are generating the chemical building blocks that are essential to creating life,” German says.

    The same may be happening on Enceladus.

    German and his colleagues are hoping to be among the first oceanographers to peer inside the mysteries of another planet. Th rough WHOI’s Exploring Ocean Worlds program, they’re currently using oceanographic techniques to study water-rich moons like Enceladus in our solar system. (Another 20 ocean worlds in our solar system are under consideration by NASA, five of which are already confirmed: Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, which are moons of Jupiter; Titan, another moon of Saturn, and Triton, a moon of Neptune.) It’s about as distant as any oceanographer could dream of going, even with robotic means.

    Julie Huber works closely with German. “The space and ocean science communities have really been coming together to study this over the last few years,” she says. “One of NASA’s key missions is exploring the origins of life: Where did we come from? Where are we going? How does life adapt to extreme environments? Lots of scientists are trying to answer those questions here on Earth, but now is the first time we’re poised to go to another place in our solar system and ask those questions.”

    Eventually, researchers like Huber and German want to expand on the undersea robotics knowledge that WHOI has already invested decades in developing. Instead of designing autonomous vehicles for the open ocean on Earth, however, they’re hopeful they can develop a probe that will operate on its own while submerged beneath the ice of Enceladus.

    Creating a robot like this would need to take into account all the insights scientists have gained from studying polar ice and deep vent sites on our own planet. It will need to survive as many as seven years in the vacuum of space, which can reach temperatures that dip near absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius; -459 degrees Fahrenheit). After that, it’ll need to land successfully on Enceladus, dig through several miles of surface ice, deploy itself into the moon’s ocean, and find vents autonomously. It’s a tall order. But it’s something that German, Huber, and other researchers are confident they can handle within the next decade.

    German points to WHOI’s Nereid Under Ice—or NUI—a new remotely operated vehicle built in 2014.

    It was designed with a similar mission in mind. Although it can be steered by humans directly over a thin fiber-optic cable, NUI is smart enough to operate autonomously on its missions and return safely to the ship from which it was deployed. Forays like this, German says, are dress rehearsals for such projects farther afield on ocean worlds like Enceladus. He believes those future explorations will help answer one of humankind’s most profound questions.

    “I don’t think civilization could ask a bigger question than ‘Are we alone?’” he says. “It’s amazing to know that oceanographers have the skill set to potentially answer that question within the coming decades without even leaving our own solar system.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US) is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.

    The Institution is organized into six departments, the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Ocean Research, and a marine policy center. Its shore-based facilities are located in the village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts(US) and a mile and a half away on the Quissett Campus. The bulk of the Institution’s funding comes from grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation(US) and other government agencies, augmented by foundations and private donations.

    WHOI scientists, engineers, and students collaborate to develop theories, test ideas, build seagoing instruments, and collect data in diverse marine environments. Ships operated by WHOI carry research scientists throughout the world’s oceans. The WHOI fleet includes two large research vessels (R/V Atlantis and R/V Neil Armstrong); the coastal craft Tioga; small research craft such as the dive-operation work boat Echo; the deep-diving human-occupied submersible Alvin; the tethered, remotely operated vehicle Jason/Medea; and autonomous underwater vehicles such as the REMUS and SeaBED.

    WHOI offers graduate and post-doctoral studies in marine science. There are several fellowship and training programs, and graduate degrees are awarded through a joint program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US). WHOI is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. WHOI also offers public outreach programs and informal education through its Exhibit Center and summer tours. The Institution has a volunteer program and a membership program, WHOI Associate.

    On October 1, 2020, Peter B. de Menocal became the institution’s eleventh president and director.


    In 1927, a National Academy of Sciences(US) committee concluded that it was time to “consider the share of the United States of America in a worldwide program of oceanographic research.” The committee’s recommendation for establishing a permanent independent research laboratory on the East Coast to “prosecute oceanography in all its branches” led to the founding in 1930 of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution(US).

    A $2.5 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation supported the summer work of a dozen scientists, construction of a laboratory building and commissioning of a research vessel, the 142-foot (43 m) ketch R/V Atlantis, whose profile still forms the Institution’s logo.

    WHOI grew substantially to support significant defense-related research during World War II, and later began a steady growth in staff, research fleet, and scientific stature. From 1950 to 1956, the director was Dr. Edward “Iceberg” Smith, an Arctic explorer, oceanographer and retired Coast Guard rear admiral.

    In 1977 the institution appointed the influential oceanographer John Steele as director, and he served until his retirement in 1989.

    On 1 September 1985, a joint French-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution identified the location of the wreck of the RMS Titanic which sank off the coast of Newfoundland 15 April 1912.

    On 3 April 2011, within a week of resuming of the search operation for Air France Flight 447, a team led by WHOI, operating full ocean depth autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) owned by the Waitt Institute discovered, by means of sidescan sonar, a large portion of debris field from flight AF447.

    In March 2017 the institution effected an open-access policy to make its research publicly accessible online.

    The Institution has maintained a long and controversial business collaboration with the treasure hunter company Odyssey Marine. Likewise, WHOI has participated in the location of the San José galleon in Colombia for the commercial exploitation of the shipwreck by the Government of President Santos and a private company.

    In 2019, iDefense reported that China’s hackers had launched cyberattacks on dozens of academic institutions in an attempt to gain information on technology being developed for the United States Navy. Some of the targets included the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The attacks have been underway since at least April 2017.

  • richardmitnick 12:26 pm on June 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Climate change-resistant corals could provide lifeline to battered reefs", , , Corals that withstood a severe bleaching event and were transplanted to a different reef maintained their resilient qualities., , , In 2015 nearly half of Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs were affected by the most severe bleaching event to date., Marine Biology, , Women in STEM- Penn biologist Katie Barott   

    From Penn Today: Women in STEM- Penn biologist Katie Barott “Climate change-resistant corals could provide lifeline to battered reefs” 

    From Penn Today


    U Penn bloc

    University of Pennsylvania


    Katherine Unger Baillie

    Corals that withstood a severe bleaching event and were transplanted to a different reef maintained their resilient qualities, according to a new study led by Katie Barott of the School of Arts & Sciences.

    Penn biologist Katie Barott and colleagues found that corals maintain their ability to resist bleaching even when transplanted to a new reef. Image: S. Matsuda.

    In 2015 nearly half of Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs were affected by the most severe bleaching event to date. Coral bleaching occurs when warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures prompt corals to expel the algae that normally live inside them and on which the corals rely for food.

    Bleaching events are dismaying, but corals can sometimes recover, while others resist bleaching altogether. In a new study in the journal PNAS, researchers led by Katie Barott of the University of Pennsylvania found that these battle-tested, resilient corals could thrive, even when transplanted to a different environment and subjected to additional heat stress. The findings offer hope that hardy corals could serve as a founding population to restore reefs in the future.

    “The big thing that we were really interested in here was trying to experimentally test whether you an take a coral that seems to be resistant to climate chage and use that as the seed stock to propagate and put out on a different reef that might be degraded,” Barott says. “The cool thing was we didn’t see any differences in their bleaching response after this transplant.”

    Mass coral bleaching events are getting increasingly frequent, raising worries that corals will become victims of climate change in the near future. Yet Barott and colleagues have been studying the corals that resist bleaching, with an eye toward buying corals more time to hang on in the face of warming and acidifying ocean waters.

    One strategy they and others have envisioned, and which has been trialed in areas such as the Great Barrier Reef, is coral transplantation. Researchers could replenish reefs damaged by climate change—or other anthropogenic insults, such as sedimentation or a ship grounding—with corals that had proved sturdy and able to survive in the face of tough conditions.

    For this to work, however, would require the coral “survivors” to continue to display their resilient characteristics after being moved to a new environment.

    “If you take a coral that is resistant to bleaching in its native habitat, it could be that the stress of moving to a new place might make them lose that ability,” Barott says.

    Just as a fern that grew well in the shade might wilt if moved to a sunny plot, the conditions of a new environment, including water flow rate, food access, light, and nutrient availability, could could affect the resilience of transplanted corals.

    Barott and colleagues went after this question with an experiment in two reefs in Hawaiʻi’s Kāneʻohe Bay on the island of Oʻahu: one closer to shore with more stagnant waters and another farther from shore with higher flow. In each area, the researchers identified coral colonies that had resisted bleaching during the 2015 bleaching event and collected samples from them the following year. Corals are clonal organisms, and so a chunk taken from a colony can regrow and will have the same genetics as the “mother” coral. For each colony, they kept some samples on their native reef and transplanted others to the second reef.

    After the corals had spent six months at their new location, the biologists also put coral samples from each site in tanks in the lab and simulated another bleaching event by raising the water temperature over a period of several days.

    Carefully tracking the corals’ health and the conditions of the surrounding environment, the team measured photosynthesis rates, metabolism, and calcification rates, as well as the health of the symbiotic algae. They found that bleaching-resistant corals stayed that way, even in a new environment.

    “What was really novel is that we had this highly replicated experiment,” Barott says, “and we saw no change in the coral’s bleaching response.”

    The researchers also looked at how well the corals reproduced the summer that followed their collection. A coral’s native site conditions had an impact on their future reproductive fitness, they discovered.

    “The corals from the ‘happy’ site—the outer lagoon that had higher growth rates prior to the bleaching event—generally seemed a little happier and their fitness was higher,” Barott says. “That tells us that, if you’re going to have a coral nursery, you should pick a site with good conditions because there seems to be some carryover benefit of spending time at a nicer site even after the corals are outplanted to a less ‘happy’ site.”

    The “happy” site, the lagoon farther from shore, had higher flow rates than the other reef, which is closer to shore, less salty, and more stagnant. “Higher flow rates are really important for helping corals get rid of waste and get food,” Barott says.

    Barott, who started the work as a postdoc at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (US), is continuing to pursue research on coral resiliency in her lab at Penn, including an investigation of the effects of heat stress and bleaching on reproductive success and the function of coral sperm.

    While the results of the transplantation study are promising, she says that it would only be a temporary solution to the threat of climate change.

    “I think techniques like this can buy us a little bit of time, but there isn’t a substitute for capping carbon emissions,” she says. “We need global action on climate change because even bleaching-resistant corals aren’t going to survive forever if ocean warming keeps increasing as fast as it is today.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at University of Pennsylvania is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

    The University of Pennsylvania(US) is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The university claims a founding date of 1740 and is one of the nine colonial colleges chartered prior to the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin, Penn’s founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.

    Penn has four undergraduate schools as well as twelve graduate and professional schools. Schools enrolling undergraduates include the College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Engineering and Applied Science; the Wharton School; and the School of Nursing. Penn’s “One University Policy” allows students to enroll in classes in any of Penn’s twelve schools. Among its highly ranked graduate and professional schools are a law school whose first professor wrote the first draft of the United States Constitution, the first school of medicine in North America (Perelman School of Medicine, 1765), and the first collegiate business school (Wharton School, 1881).

    Penn is also home to the first “student union” building and organization (Houston Hall, 1896), the first Catholic student club in North America (Newman Center, 1893), the first double-decker college football stadium (Franklin Field, 1924 when second deck was constructed), and Morris Arboretum, the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The first general-purpose electronic computer (ENIAC) was developed at Penn and formally dedicated in 1946. In 2019, the university had an endowment of $14.65 billion, the sixth-largest endowment of all universities in the United States, as well as a research budget of $1.02 billion. The university’s athletics program, the Quakers, fields varsity teams in 33 sports as a member of the NCAA Division I Ivy League conference.

    As of 2018, distinguished alumni and/or Trustees include three U.S. Supreme Court justices; 32 U.S. senators; 46 U.S. governors; 163 members of the U.S. House of Representatives; eight signers of the Declaration of Independence and seven signers of the U.S. Constitution (four of whom signed both representing two-thirds of the six people who signed both); 24 members of the Continental Congress; 14 foreign heads of state and two presidents of the United States, including Donald Trump. As of October 2019, 36 Nobel laureates; 80 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences(US); 64 billionaires; 29 Rhodes Scholars; 15 Marshall Scholars and 16 Pulitzer Prize winners have been affiliated with the university.


    The University of Pennsylvania considers itself the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, though this is contested by Princeton University(US) and Columbia(US) Universities. The university also considers itself as the first university in the United States with both undergraduate and graduate studies.

    In 1740, a group of Philadelphians joined together to erect a great preaching hall for the traveling evangelist George Whitefield, who toured the American colonies delivering open-air sermons. The building was designed and built by Edmund Woolley and was the largest building in the city at the time, drawing thousands of people the first time it was preached in. It was initially planned to serve as a charity school as well, but a lack of funds forced plans for the chapel and school to be suspended. According to Franklin’s autobiography, it was in 1743 when he first had the idea to establish an academy, “thinking the Rev. Richard Peters a fit person to superintend such an institution”. However, Peters declined a casual inquiry from Franklin and nothing further was done for another six years. In the fall of 1749, now more eager to create a school to educate future generations, Benjamin Franklin circulated a pamphlet titled Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania, his vision for what he called a “Public Academy of Philadelphia”. Unlike the other colonial colleges that existed in 1749—Harvard University(US), William & Mary(US), Yale Unversity(US), and The College of New Jersey(US)—Franklin’s new school would not focus merely on education for the clergy. He advocated an innovative concept of higher education, one which would teach both the ornamental knowledge of the arts and the practical skills necessary for making a living and doing public service. The proposed program of study could have become the nation’s first modern liberal arts curriculum, although it was never implemented because Anglican priest William Smith (1727-1803), who became the first provost, and other trustees strongly preferred the traditional curriculum.

    Franklin assembled a board of trustees from among the leading citizens of Philadelphia, the first such non-sectarian board in America. At the first meeting of the 24 members of the board of trustees on November 13, 1749, the issue of where to locate the school was a prime concern. Although a lot across Sixth Street from the old Pennsylvania State House (later renamed and famously known since 1776 as “Independence Hall”), was offered without cost by James Logan, its owner, the trustees realized that the building erected in 1740, which was still vacant, would be an even better site. The original sponsors of the dormant building still owed considerable construction debts and asked Franklin’s group to assume their debts and, accordingly, their inactive trusts. On February 1, 1750, the new board took over the building and trusts of the old board. On August 13, 1751, the “Academy of Philadelphia”, using the great hall at 4th and Arch Streets, took in its first secondary students. A charity school also was chartered on July 13, 1753 by the intentions of the original “New Building” donors, although it lasted only a few years. On June 16, 1755, the “College of Philadelphia” was chartered, paving the way for the addition of undergraduate instruction. All three schools shared the same board of trustees and were considered to be part of the same institution. The first commencement exercises were held on May 17, 1757.

    The institution of higher learning was known as the College of Philadelphia from 1755 to 1779. In 1779, not trusting then-provost the Reverend William Smith’s “Loyalist” tendencies, the revolutionary State Legislature created a University of the State of Pennsylvania. The result was a schism, with Smith continuing to operate an attenuated version of the College of Philadelphia. In 1791, the legislature issued a new charter, merging the two institutions into a new University of Pennsylvania with twelve men from each institution on the new board of trustees.

    Penn has three claims to being the first university in the United States, according to university archives director Mark Frazier Lloyd: the 1765 founding of the first medical school in America made Penn the first institution to offer both “undergraduate” and professional education; the 1779 charter made it the first American institution of higher learning to take the name of “University”; and existing colleges were established as seminaries (although, as detailed earlier, Penn adopted a traditional seminary curriculum as well).

    After being located in downtown Philadelphia for more than a century, the campus was moved across the Schuylkill River to property purchased from the Blockley Almshouse in West Philadelphia in 1872, where it has since remained in an area now known as University City. Although Penn began operating as an academy or secondary school in 1751 and obtained its collegiate charter in 1755, it initially designated 1750 as its founding date; this is the year that appears on the first iteration of the university seal. Sometime later in its early history, Penn began to consider 1749 as its founding date and this year was referenced for over a century, including at the centennial celebration in 1849. In 1899, the board of trustees voted to adjust the founding date earlier again, this time to 1740, the date of “the creation of the earliest of the many educational trusts the University has taken upon itself”. The board of trustees voted in response to a three-year campaign by Penn’s General Alumni Society to retroactively revise the university’s founding date to appear older than Princeton University, which had been chartered in 1746.

    Research, innovations and discoveries

    Penn is classified as an “R1” doctoral university: “Highest research activity.” Its economic impact on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 2015 amounted to $14.3 billion. Penn’s research expenditures in the 2018 fiscal year were $1.442 billion, the fourth largest in the U.S. In fiscal year 2019 Penn received $582.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health(US).

    In line with its well-known interdisciplinary tradition, Penn’s research centers often span two or more disciplines. In the 2010–2011 academic year alone, five interdisciplinary research centers were created or substantially expanded; these include the Center for Health-care Financing; the Center for Global Women’s Health at the Nursing School; the $13 million Morris Arboretum’s Horticulture Center; the $15 million Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at Wharton; and the $13 million Translational Research Center at Penn Medicine. With these additions, Penn now counts 165 research centers hosting a research community of over 4,300 faculty and over 1,100 postdoctoral fellows, 5,500 academic support staff and graduate student trainees. To further assist the advancement of interdisciplinary research President Amy Gutmann established the “Penn Integrates Knowledge” title awarded to selected Penn professors “whose research and teaching exemplify the integration of knowledge”. These professors hold endowed professorships and joint appointments between Penn’s schools.

    Penn is also among the most prolific producers of doctoral students. With 487 PhDs awarded in 2009, Penn ranks third in the Ivy League, only behind Columbia University(US) and Cornell University(US) (Harvard University(US) did not report data). It also has one of the highest numbers of post-doctoral appointees (933 in number for 2004–2007), ranking third in the Ivy League (behind Harvard and Yale University(US)) and tenth nationally.

    In most disciplines Penn professors’ productivity is among the highest in the nation and first in the fields of epidemiology, business, communication studies, comparative literature, languages, information science, criminal justice and criminology, social sciences and sociology. According to the National Research Council nearly three-quarters of Penn’s 41 assessed programs were placed in ranges including the top 10 rankings in their fields, with more than half of these in ranges including the top five rankings in these fields.

    Penn’s research tradition has historically been complemented by innovations that shaped higher education. In addition to establishing the first medical school; the first university teaching hospital; the first business school; and the first student union Penn was also the cradle of other significant developments. In 1852, Penn Law was the first law school in the nation to publish a law journal still in existence (then called The American Law Register, now the Penn Law Review, one of the most cited law journals in the world). Under the deanship of William Draper Lewis, the law school was also one of the first schools to emphasize legal teaching by full-time professors instead of practitioners, a system that is still followed today. The Wharton School was home to several pioneering developments in business education. It established the first research center in a business school in 1921 and the first center for entrepreneurship center in 1973 and it regularly introduced novel curricula for which BusinessWeek wrote, “Wharton is on the crest of a wave of reinvention and change in management education”.

    Several major scientific discoveries have also taken place at Penn. The university is probably best known as the place where the first general-purpose electronic computer (ENIAC) was born in 1946 at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. It was here also where the world’s first spelling and grammar checkers were created, as well as the popular COBOL programming language. Penn can also boast some of the most important discoveries in the field of medicine. The dialysis machine used as an artificial replacement for lost kidney function was conceived and devised out of a pressure cooker by William Inouye while he was still a student at Penn Med; the Rubella and Hepatitis B vaccines were developed at Penn; the discovery of cancer’s link with genes; cognitive therapy; Retin-A (the cream used to treat acne), Resistin; the Philadelphia gene (linked to chronic myelogenous leukemia) and the technology behind PET Scans were all discovered by Penn Med researchers. More recent gene research has led to the discovery of the genes for fragile X syndrome, the most common form of inherited mental retardation; spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, a disorder marked by progressive muscle wasting; and Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the hands, feet and limbs.

    Conductive polymer was also developed at Penn by Alan J. Heeger, Alan MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa, an invention that earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. On faculty since 1965, Ralph L. Brinster developed the scientific basis for in vitro fertilization and the transgenic mouse at Penn and was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2010. The theory of superconductivity was also partly developed at Penn, by then-faculty member John Robert Schrieffer (along with John Bardeen and Leon Cooper). The university has also contributed major advancements in the fields of economics and management. Among the many discoveries are conjoint analysis, widely used as a predictive tool especially in market research; Simon Kuznets’s method of measuring Gross National Product; the Penn effect (the observation that consumer price levels in richer countries are systematically higher than in poorer ones) and the “Wharton Model” developed by Nobel-laureate Lawrence Klein to measure and forecast economic activity. The idea behind Health Maintenance Organizations also belonged to Penn professor Robert Eilers, who put it into practice during then-President Nixon’s health reform in the 1970s.

    International partnerships

    Students can study abroad for a semester or a year at partner institutions such as the London School of Economics(UK), University of Barcelona [Universitat de Barcelona](ES), Paris Institute of Political Studies [Institut d’études politiques de Paris](FR), University of Queensland(AU), University College London(UK), King’s College London(UK), Hebrew University of Jerusalem(IL) and University of Warwick(UK).

  • richardmitnick 9:44 am on May 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Life in the ‘hothouse’ may be precarious for marine species", , , Marine Biology,   

    From Yale University (US) : “Life in the ‘hothouse’ may be precarious for marine species” 

    From Yale University (US)

    May 13, 2021
    Fred Mamoun

    By Jim Shelton

    © stock.adobe.com

    The rise and fall of marine mollusks during ancient “hothouse” periods may offer a jarring glimpse of the fate of marine life over the next few centuries, a new study says.

    Writing in the journal Current Biology, researchers at Yale, Stanford, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln say mollusks such as clams, sea snails, and cephalopods will be particularly vulnerable in tropical regions if global climate projections hold true.

    The researchers analyzed 145 million years’ worth of data, in increments of approximately 10 million years. They looked at geochemical data that reveal past ocean temperatures, fossil data of mollusks, and models for habitability and biodiversity.

    Their analysis suggests that by the year 2300, upper ocean temperatures (up to about 200 meters deep) in tropical latitudes will mirror those of “hothouse” eras millions of years ago, when upper ocean temperatures rose well past 68 degrees Fahrenheit and sometimes past 85 degrees. These periods saw significant biodiversity loss at low latitudes, the researchers said.

    “That’s when you start to see a dramatic decrease in species diversity,” said lead author Thomas Boag, a postdoctoral fellow in Earth and planetary sciences at Yale who conducted the research as a graduate student at Stanford. “We’re already seeing a loss of diversity of species at the equator.”

    Currently, sea surface temperatures near the equator top out at 82 or 83 degrees Fahrenheit.

    But the cause of species loss isn’t just a matter of temperature, Boag said. Rather, it is an intricate balance of ocean temperature, oxygenation of the water, and the physiological composition of species themselves that determines whether life thrives or begins to wither.

    That’s why global changes in species diversity in the ancient oceans don’t resemble a swinging pendulum between “hothouse” and “icehouse” periods, with the equator in the center. Indeed, the fossil record shows instances when species diversity peaked far away from the equator.

    Boag and his co-authors — Stanford University (US) Ph.D. student Richard Stockey and University of Nebraska–Lincoln (US) postdoc William Gearty — said their analysis explains the uneven nature of species diversity for marine life over millions of years.

    “All of this information, when you put it together, fits perfectly with what we know from the fossil record,” Boag said.

    Looking to the future, the new analysis places rising ocean temperatures and their interactions with dissolved oxygen in the ocean as the primary driver for stifling biodiversity. The researchers said their projections for 2100 and 2300 show the planet’s low latitudes — near the equator — are at particular risk.

    “Based on our model and past temperature extremes, 50% loss of modern, low-latitude diversity does seem possible in a worst-case climate scenario,” Boag said.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Yale University (US) comprises three major academic components: Yale College (the undergraduate program); the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; and the professional schools. In addition, Yale encompasses a wide array of centers and programs, libraries, museums, and administrative support offices. Approximately 11,250 students attend Yale.

    Yale University (US) is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Collegiate School was renamed Yale College in 1718 to honor the school’s largest benefactor, Elihu Yale.

    Chartered by Connecticut Colony, the Collegiate School was established in 1701 by clergy to educate Congregational ministers. It moved to New Haven in 1716 and shortly after was renamed Yale College in recognition of a gift from East India Company governor Elihu Yale. Originally restricted to theology and sacred languages, the curriculum began to incorporate humanities and sciences by the time of the American Revolution. In the 19th century, the college expanded into graduate and professional instruction, awarding the first PhD in the United States in 1861 and organizing as a university in 1887. Yale’s faculty and student populations grew after 1890 with rapid expansion of the physical campus and scientific research.

    Yale is organized into fourteen constituent schools: the original undergraduate college; the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; and twelve professional schools. While the university is governed by the Yale Corporation, each school’s faculty oversees its curriculum and degree programs. In addition to a central campus in downtown New Haven, the university owns athletic facilities in western New Haven, a campus in West Haven, Connecticut, and forests and nature preserves throughout New England. As of September 2019, the university’s assets include an endowment valued at $30.3 billion, the second largest endowment of any educational institution in North America. The Yale University Library, serving all constituent schools, holds more than 15 million volumes and is the third-largest academic library in the United States. Students compete in intercollegiate sports as the Yale Bulldogs in the NCAA Division I – Ivy League.

    As of October 2020, 65 Nobel laureates, five Fields Medalists and three Turing award winners have been affiliated with Yale University. In addition, Yale has graduated many notable alumni, including five U.S. Presidents; 19 U.S. Supreme Court Justices; 31 living billionaires; and many heads of state. Hundreds of members of Congress and many U.S. diplomats; 78 MacArthur Fellows; 252 Rhodes Scholars; 123 Marshall Scholars; and nine Mitchell Scholars have been affiliated with the university.

    Yale traces its beginnings to “An Act for Liberty to Erect a Collegiate School”, a would-be charter passed during a meeting in New Haven by the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut on October 9, 1701. The Act was an effort to create an institution to train ministers and lay leadership for Connecticut. Soon after, a group of ten Congregational ministers, Samuel Andrew; Thomas Buckingham; Israel Chauncy; Samuel Mather (nephew of Increase Mather); Rev. James Noyes II (son of James Noyes); James Pierpont; Abraham Pierson; Noadiah Russell; Joseph Webb; and Timothy Woodbridge, all alumni of Harvard University(US), met in the study of Reverend Samuel Russell located in Branford, Connecticut to donate their books to form the school’s library. The group, led by James Pierpont, is now known as “The Founders”.

    Originally known as the “Collegiate School”, the institution opened in the home of its first rector, Abraham Pierson, who is today considered the first president of Yale. Pierson lived in Killingworth (now Clinton). The school moved to Saybrook and then Wethersfield. In 1716, it moved to New Haven, Connecticut.

    Meanwhile, there was a rift forming at Harvard between its sixth president, Increase Mather, and the rest of the Harvard clergy, whom Mather viewed as increasingly liberal, ecclesiastically lax, and overly broad in Church polity. The feud caused the Mathers to champion the success of the Collegiate School in the hope that it would maintain the Puritan religious orthodoxy in a way that Harvard had not.

    Naming and development

    Coat of arms of the family of Elihu Yale, after whom the university was named in 1718

    In 1718, at the behest of either Rector Samuel Andrew or the colony’s Governor Gurdon Saltonstall, Cotton Mather contacted the successful Boston born businessman Elihu Yale to ask him for financial help in constructing a new building for the college. Through the persuasion of Jeremiah Dummer, Elihu “Eli” Yale, who had made a fortune in Madras while working for the East India Company overseeing its slave trading activities, donated nine bales of goods, which were sold for more than £560, a substantial sum of money at the time. Cotton Mather suggested that the school change its name to “Yale College.” The name Yale is the Anglicized spelling of the Iâl, which the family estate at Plas yn Iâl, near the village of Llandegla, was called.

    Meanwhile, a Harvard graduate working in England convinced some 180 prominent intellectuals to donate books to Yale. The 1714 shipment of 500 books represented the best of modern English literature; science; philosophy; and theology at the time. It had a profound effect on intellectuals at Yale. Undergraduate Jonathan Edwards discovered John Locke’s works and developed his original theology known as the “new divinity.” In 1722 the Rector and six of his friends, who had a study group to discuss the new ideas, announced that they had given up Calvinism, become Arminians, and joined the Church of England. They were ordained in England and returned to the colonies as missionaries for the Anglican faith. Thomas Clapp became president in 1745 and while he attempted to return the college to Calvinist orthodoxy, he did not close the library. Other students found Deist books in the library.


    Yale College undergraduates follow a liberal arts curriculum with departmental majors and is organized into a social system of residential colleges.

    Yale was swept up by the great intellectual movements of the period—the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment—due to the religious and scientific interests of presidents Thomas Clap and Ezra Stiles. They were both instrumental in developing the scientific curriculum at Yale while dealing with wars, student tumults, graffiti, “irrelevance” of curricula, desperate need for endowment and disagreements with the Connecticut legislature.

    Serious American students of theology and divinity particularly in New England regarded Hebrew as a classical language along with Greek and Latin and essential for the study of the Hebrew Bible in the original words. The Reverend Ezra Stiles, president of the college from 1778 to 1795, brought with him his interest in the Hebrew language as a vehicle for studying ancient Biblical texts in their original language (as was common in other schools) requiring all freshmen to study Hebrew (in contrast to Harvard, where only upperclassmen were required to study the language) and is responsible for the Hebrew phrase אורים ותמים (Urim and Thummim) on the Yale seal. A 1746 graduate of Yale, Stiles came to the college with experience in education, having played an integral role in the founding of Brown University(US), in addition to having been a minister. Stiles’ greatest challenge occurred in July 1779 when British forces occupied New Haven and threatened to raze the college. However, Yale graduate Edmund Fanning, Secretary to the British General in command of the occupation, intervened and the college was saved. In 1803, Fanning was granted an honorary degree LL.D. for his efforts.


    As the only college in Connecticut from 1701 to 1823, Yale educated the sons of the elite. Punishable offenses for students included cardplaying; tavern-going; destruction of college property; and acts of disobedience to college authorities. During this period, Harvard was distinctive for the stability and maturity of its tutor corps, while Yale had youth and zeal on its side.

    The emphasis on classics gave rise to a number of private student societies, open only by invitation, which arose primarily as forums for discussions of modern scholarship literature and politics. The first such organizations were debating societies: Crotonia in 1738, Linonia in 1753 and Brothers in Unity in 1768. While the societies no longer exist, commemorations to them can be found with names given to campus structures, like Brothers in Unity Courtyard in Branford College.

    19th century

    The Yale Report of 1828 was a dogmatic defense of the Latin and Greek curriculum against critics who wanted more courses in modern languages, mathematics, and science. Unlike higher education in Europe, there was no national curriculum for colleges and universities in the United States. In the competition for students and financial support, college leaders strove to keep current with demands for innovation. At the same time, they realized that a significant portion of their students and prospective students demanded a classical background. The Yale report meant the classics would not be abandoned. During this period, all institutions experimented with changes in the curriculum, often resulting in a dual-track curriculum. In the decentralized environment of higher education in the United States, balancing change with tradition was a common challenge because it was difficult for an institution to be completely modern or completely classical. A group of professors at Yale and New Haven Congregationalist ministers articulated a conservative response to the changes brought about by the Victorian culture. They concentrated on developing a person possessed of religious values strong enough to sufficiently resist temptations from within yet flexible enough to adjust to the ‘isms’ (professionalism; materialism; individualism; and consumerism) tempting him from without. William Graham Sumner, professor from 1872 to 1909, taught in the emerging disciplines of economics and sociology to overflowing classrooms of students. Sumner bested President Noah Porter, who disliked the social sciences and wanted Yale to lock into its traditions of classical education. Porter objected to Sumner’s use of a textbook by Herbert Spencer that espoused agnostic materialism because it might harm students.

    Until 1887, the legal name of the university was “The President and Fellows of Yale College, in New Haven.” In 1887, under an act passed by the Connecticut General Assembly, Yale was renamed to the present “Yale University.”

    Sports and debate

    The Revolutionary War soldier Nathan Hale (Yale 1773) was the prototype of the Yale ideal in the early 19th century: a manly yet aristocratic scholar, equally well-versed in knowledge and sports, and a patriot who “regretted” that he “had but one life to lose” for his country. Western painter Frederic Remington (Yale 1900) was an artist whose heroes gloried in combat and tests of strength in the Wild West. The fictional, turn-of-the-20th-century Yale man Frank Merriwell embodied the heroic ideal without racial prejudice, and his fictional successor Frank Stover in the novel Stover at Yale (1911) questioned the business mentality that had become prevalent at the school. Increasingly the students turned to athletic stars as their heroes, especially since winning the big game became the goal of the student body, and the alumni, as well as the team itself.

    Along with Harvard and Princeton University(US), Yale students rejected British concepts about ‘amateurism’ in sports and constructed athletic programs that were uniquely American, such as football. The Harvard–Yale football rivalry began in 1875. Between 1892, when Harvard and Yale met in one of the first intercollegiate debates and 1909 (the year of the first Triangular Debate of Harvard, Yale and Princeton) the rhetoric, symbolism, and metaphors used in athletics were used to frame these early debates. Debates were covered on front pages of college newspapers and emphasized in yearbooks, and team members even received the equivalent of athletic letters for their jackets. There even were rallies sending off the debating teams to matches, but the debates never attained the broad appeal that athletics enjoyed. One reason may be that debates do not have a clear winner, as is the case in sports, and that scoring is subjective. In addition, with late 19th-century concerns about the impact of modern life on the human body, athletics offered hope that neither the individual nor the society was coming apart.

    In 1909–10, football faced a crisis resulting from the failure of the previous reforms of 1905–06 to solve the problem of serious injuries. There was a mood of alarm and mistrust, and, while the crisis was developing, the presidents of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton developed a project to reform the sport and forestall possible radical changes forced by government upon the sport. President Arthur Hadley of Yale, A. Lawrence Lowell of Harvard, and Woodrow Wilson of Princeton worked to develop moderate changes to reduce injuries. Their attempts, however, were reduced by rebellion against the rules committee and formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The big three had tried to operate independently of the majority, but changes did reduce injuries.


    Yale expanded gradually, establishing the Yale School of Medicine (1810); Yale Divinity School (1822); Yale Law School (1843); Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (1847); the Sheffield Scientific School (1847); and the Yale School of Fine Arts (1869). In 1887, as the college continued to grow under the presidency of Timothy Dwight V, Yale College was renamed Yale University, with the name Yale College subsequently applied to the undergraduate college. The university would later add the Yale School of Music (1894); the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (founded by Gifford Pinchot in 1900); the Yale School of Public Health (1915); the Yale School of Nursing (1923); the Yale School of Drama (1955); the Yale Physician Associate Program (1973); the Yale School of Management (1976); and the Jackson School of Global Affairs which will open in 2022. It would also reorganize its relationship with the Sheffield Scientific School.

    Expansion caused controversy about Yale’s new roles. Noah Porter, moral philosopher, was president from 1871 to 1886. During an age of tremendous expansion in higher education, Porter resisted the rise of the new research university, claiming that an eager embrace of its ideals would corrupt undergraduate education. Many of Porter’s contemporaries criticized his administration, and historians since have disparaged his leadership. Levesque argues Porter was not a simple-minded reactionary, uncritically committed to tradition, but a principled and selective conservative. He did not endorse everything old or reject everything new; rather, he sought to apply long-established ethical and pedagogical principles to a rapidly changing culture. He may have misunderstood some of the challenges of his time, but he correctly anticipated the enduring tensions that have accompanied the emergence and growth of the modern university.

    20th century

    Behavioral sciences

    Between 1925 and 1940, philanthropic foundations, especially ones connected with the Rockefellers, contributed about $7 million to support the Yale Institute of Human Relations and the affiliated Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology. The money went toward behavioral science research, which was supported by foundation officers who aimed to “improve mankind” under an informal, loosely defined human engineering effort. The behavioral scientists at Yale, led by President James R. Angell and psychobiologist Robert M. Yerkes, tapped into foundation largesse by crafting research programs aimed to investigate, then suggest, ways to control sexual and social behavior. For example, Yerkes analyzed chimpanzee sexual behavior in hopes of illuminating the evolutionary underpinnings of human development and providing information that could ameliorate dysfunction. Ultimately, the behavioral-science results disappointed foundation officers, who shifted their human-engineering funds toward biological sciences.


    Slack (2003) compares three groups that conducted biological research at Yale during overlapping periods between 1910 and 1970. Yale proved important as a site for this research. The leaders of these groups were Ross Granville Harrison; Grace E. Pickford; and G. Evelyn Hutchinson and their members included both graduate students and more experienced scientists. All produced innovative research, including the opening of new subfields in embryology; endocrinology; and ecology, respectively, over a long period of time. Harrison’s group is shown to have been a classic research school. Pickford’s and Hutchinson’s were not. Pickford’s group was successful in spite of her lack of departmental or institutional position or power. Hutchinson and his graduate and postgraduate students were extremely productive, but in diverse areas of ecology rather than one focused area of research or the use of one set of research tools. Hutchinson’s example shows that new models for research groups are needed, especially for those that include extensive field research.


    Milton Winternitz led the Yale School of Medicine as its dean from 1920 to 1935. Dedicated to the new scientific medicine established in Germany, he was equally fervent about “social medicine” and the study of humans in their culture and environment. He established the “Yale System” of teaching, with few lectures and fewer exams, and strengthened the full-time faculty system. He also created the graduate-level Yale School of Nursing and the Psychiatry Department and built numerous new buildings. Progress toward his plans for an Institute of Human Relations, envisioned as a refuge where social scientists would collaborate with biological scientists in a holistic study of humankind, unfortunately, lasted for only a few years before the opposition of resentful anti-Semitic colleagues drove him to resign.

    Before World War II, most elite university faculties counted among their numbers few, if any, Jews, blacks, women, or other minorities. Yale was no exception. By 1980, this condition had been altered dramatically, as numerous members of those groups held faculty positions. Almost all members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences—and some members of other faculties—teach undergraduate courses, more than 2,000 of which are offered annually.

    History and American studies

    The American studies program reflected the worldwide anti-Communist ideological struggle. Norman Holmes Pearson, who worked for the Office of Strategic Studies in London during World War II, returned to Yale and headed the new American studies program. Popular among undergraduates, the program sought to instill a sense of nationalism and national purpose. Also during the 1940s and 1950s, Wyoming millionaire William Robertson Coe made large contributions to the American studies programs at Yale University and at the University of Wyoming. Coe was concerned to celebrate the ‘values’ of the Western United States in order to meet the “threat of communism”.


    In 1793, Lucinda Foote passed the entrance exams for Yale College, but was rejected by the President on the basis of her gender. Women studied at Yale University as early as 1892, in graduate-level programs at the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

    In 1966, Yale began discussions with its sister school Vassar College(US) about merging to foster coeducation at the undergraduate level. Vassar, then all-female and part of the Seven Sisters—elite higher education schools that historically served as sister institutions to the Ivy League when most Ivy League institutions still only admitted men—tentatively accepted, but then declined the invitation. Both schools introduced coeducation independently in 1969. Amy Solomon was the first woman to register as a Yale undergraduate; she was also the first woman at Yale to join an undergraduate society, St. Anthony Hall. The undergraduate class of 1973 was the first class to have women starting from freshman year; at the time, all undergraduate women were housed in Vanderbilt Hall at the south end of Old Campus.

    A decade into co-education, student assault and harassment by faculty became the impetus for the trailblazing lawsuit Alexander v. Yale. In the late 1970s, a group of students and one faculty member sued Yale for its failure to curtail campus sexual harassment by especially male faculty. The case was party built from a 1977 report authored by plaintiff Ann Olivarius, now a feminist attorney known for fighting sexual harassment, A report to the Yale Corporation from the Yale Undergraduate Women’s Caucus. This case was the first to use Title IX to argue and establish that the sexual harassment of female students can be considered illegal sex discrimination. The plaintiffs in the case were Olivarius, Ronni Alexander (now a professor at Kobe University[神戸大学; Kōbe daigaku](JP)); Margery Reifler (works in the Los Angeles film industry), Pamela Price (civil rights attorney in California), and Lisa E. Stone (works at Anti-Defamation League). They were joined by Yale classics professor John “Jack” J. Winkler, who died in 1990. The lawsuit, brought partly by Catharine MacKinnon, alleged rape, fondling, and offers of higher grades for sex by several Yale faculty, including Keith Brion professor of flute and Director of Bands; Political Science professor Raymond Duvall (now at the University of Minnesota(US)); English professor Michael Cooke and coach of the field hockey team, Richard Kentwell. While unsuccessful in the courts, the legal reasoning behind the case changed the landscape of sex discrimination law and resulted in the establishment of Yale’s Grievance Board and the Yale Women’s Center. In March 2011 a Title IX complaint was filed against Yale by students and recent graduates, including editors of Yale’s feminist magazine Broad Recognition, alleging that the university had a hostile sexual climate. In response, the university formed a Title IX steering committee to address complaints of sexual misconduct. Afterwards, universities and colleges throughout the US also established sexual harassment grievance procedures.


    Yale, like other Ivy League schools, instituted policies in the early 20th century designed to maintain the proportion of white Protestants from notable families in the student body, and was one of the last of the Ivies to eliminate such preferences, beginning with the class of 1970.

    Town–gown relations

    Yale has a complicated relationship with its home city; for example, thousands of students volunteer every year in a myriad of community organizations, but city officials, who decry Yale’s exemption from local property taxes, have long pressed the university to do more to help. Under President Levin, Yale has financially supported many of New Haven’s efforts to reinvigorate the city. Evidence suggests that the town and gown relationships are mutually beneficial. Still, the economic power of the university increased dramatically with its financial success amid a decline in the local economy.

    21st century

    In 2006, Yale and Peking University [北京大学](CN) established a Joint Undergraduate Program in Beijing, an exchange program allowing Yale students to spend a semester living and studying with PKU honor students. In July 2012, the Yale University-PKU Program ended due to weak participation.

    In 2007 outgoing Yale President Rick Levin characterized Yale’s institutional priorities: “First, among the nation’s finest research universities, Yale is distinctively committed to excellence in undergraduate education. Second, in our graduate and professional schools, as well as in Yale College, we are committed to the education of leaders.”

    In 2009, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair picked Yale as one location – the others are Britain’s Durham University(UK) and Universiti Teknologi Mara (MY) – for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s United States Faith and Globalization Initiative. As of 2009, former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo is the director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and teaches an undergraduate seminar, Debating Globalization. As of 2009, former presidential candidate and DNC chair Howard Dean teaches a residential college seminar, Understanding Politics and Politicians. Also in 2009, an alliance was formed among Yale, University College London(UK), and both schools’ affiliated hospital complexes to conduct research focused on the direct improvement of patient care—a growing field known as translational medicine. President Richard Levin noted that Yale has hundreds of other partnerships across the world, but “no existing collaboration matches the scale of the new partnership with UCL”.

    In August 2013, a new partnership with the National University of Singapore(SG) led to the opening of Yale-NUS College in Singapore, a joint effort to create a new liberal arts college in Asia featuring a curriculum including both Western and Asian traditions.

    In 2020, in the wake of protests around the world focused on racial relations and criminal justice reform, the #CancelYale movement demanded that Elihu Yale’s name be removed from Yale University. Yale was president of the East India Company, a trading company that traded slaves as well as goods, and his singularly large donation led to Yale relying on money from the slave-trade for its first scholarships and endowments.

    In August 2020, the US Justice Department claimed that Yale discriminated against Asian and white candidates on the basis of their race. The university, however, denied the report. In early February 2021, under the new Biden administration, the Justice Department withdrew the lawsuit. The group, Students for Fair Admissions, known for a similar lawsuit against Harvard alleging the same issue, plans to refile the lawsuit.

    Yale alumni in Politics

    The Boston Globe wrote that “if there’s one school that can lay claim to educating the nation’s top national leaders over the past three decades, it’s Yale”. Yale alumni were represented on the Democratic or Republican ticket in every U.S. presidential election between 1972 and 2004. Yale-educated Presidents since the end of the Vietnam War include Gerald Ford; George H.W. Bush; Bill Clinton; and George W. Bush. Major-party nominees during this period include Hillary Clinton (2016); John Kerry (2004); Joseph Lieberman (Vice President, 2000); and Sargent Shriver (Vice President, 1972). Other Yale alumni who have made serious bids for the Presidency during this period include Amy Klobuchar (2020); Tom Steyer (2020); Ben Carson (2016); Howard Dean (2004); Gary Hart (1984 and 1988); Paul Tsongas (1992); Pat Robertson (1988); and Jerry Brown (1976, 1980, 1992).

    Several explanations have been offered for Yale’s representation in national elections since the end of the Vietnam War. Various sources note the spirit of campus activism that has existed at Yale since the 1960s, and the intellectual influence of Reverend William Sloane Coffin on many of the future candidates. Yale President Richard Levin attributes the run to Yale’s focus on creating “a laboratory for future leaders,” an institutional priority that began during the tenure of Yale Presidents Alfred Whitney Griswold and Kingman Brewster. Richard H. Brodhead, former dean of Yale College and now president of Duke University(US), stated: “We do give very significant attention to orientation to the community in our admissions, and there is a very strong tradition of volunteerism at Yale.” Yale historian Gaddis Smith notes “an ethos of organized activity” at Yale during the 20th century that led John Kerry to lead the Yale Political Union’s Liberal Party; George Pataki the Conservative Party; and Joseph Lieberman to manage the Yale Daily News. Camille Paglia points to a history of networking and elitism: “It has to do with a web of friendships and affiliations built up in school.” CNN suggests that George W. Bush benefited from preferential admissions policies for the “son and grandson of alumni”, and for a “member of a politically influential family”. New York Times correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller and The Atlantic Monthly correspondent James Fallows credit the culture of community and cooperation that exists between students, faculty, and administration, which downplays self-interest and reinforces commitment to others.

    During the 1988 presidential election, George H. W. Bush (Yale ’48) derided Michael Dukakis for having “foreign-policy views born in Harvard Yard’s boutique”. When challenged on the distinction between Dukakis’ Harvard connection and his own Yale background, he said that, unlike Harvard, Yale’s reputation was “so diffuse, there isn’t a symbol, I don’t think, in the Yale situation, any symbolism in it” and said Yale did not share Harvard’s reputation for “liberalism and elitism”. In 2004 Howard Dean stated, “In some ways, I consider myself separate from the other three (Yale) candidates of 2004. Yale changed so much between the class of ’68 and the class of ’71. My class was the first class to have women in it; it was the first class to have a significant effort to recruit African Americans. It was an extraordinary time, and in that span of time is the change of an entire generation”.


    The President and Fellows of Yale College, also known as the Yale Corporation, or board of trustees, is the governing body of the university and consists of thirteen standing committees with separate responsibilities outlined in the by-laws. The corporation has 19 members: three ex officio members, ten successor trustees, and six elected alumni fellows.

    Yale’s former president Richard C. Levin was, at the time, one of the highest paid university presidents in the United States. Yale’s succeeding president Peter Salovey ranks 40th.

    The Yale Provost’s Office and similar executive positions have launched several women into prominent university executive positions. In 1977, Provost Hanna Holborn Gray was appointed interim President of Yale and later went on to become President of the University of Chicago(US), being the first woman to hold either position at each respective school. In 1994, Provost Judith Rodin became the first permanent female president of an Ivy League institution at the University of Pennsylvania(US). In 2002, Provost Alison Richard became the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge(UK). In 2003, the Dean of the Divinity School, Rebecca Chopp, was appointed president of Colgate University(US) and later went on to serve as the President of the Swarthmore College(US) in 2009, and then the first female chancellor of the University of Denver(US) in 2014. In 2004, Provost Dr. Susan Hockfield became the President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US). In 2004, Dean of the Nursing school, Catherine Gilliss, was appointed the Dean of Duke University’s School of Nursing and Vice Chancellor for Nursing Affairs. In 2007, Deputy Provost H. Kim Bottomly was named President of Wellesley College(US).

    Similar examples for men who’ve served in Yale leadership positions can also be found. In 2004, Dean of Yale College Richard H. Brodhead was appointed as the President of Duke University(US). In 2008, Provost Andrew Hamilton was confirmed to be the Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford(UK).

    The university has three major academic components: Yale College (the undergraduate program); the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; and the professional schools.


    Yale’s central campus in downtown New Haven covers 260 acres (1.1 km2) and comprises its main, historic campus and a medical campus adjacent to the Yale–New Haven Hospital. In western New Haven, the university holds 500 acres (2.0 km2) of athletic facilities, including the Yale Golf Course. In 2008, Yale purchased the 17-building, 136-acre (0.55 km2) former Bayer HealthCare complex in West Haven, Connecticut, the buildings of which are now used as laboratory and research space. Yale also owns seven forests in Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire—the largest of which is the 7,840-acre (31.7 km2) Yale-Myers Forest in Connecticut’s Quiet Corner—and nature preserves including Horse Island.

    Yale is noted for its largely Collegiate Gothic campus as well as several iconic modern buildings commonly discussed in architectural history survey courses: Louis Kahn’s Yale Art Gallery and Center for British Art; Eero Saarinen’s Ingalls Rink and Ezra Stiles and Morse Colleges; and Paul Rudolph’s Art & Architecture Building. Yale also owns and has restored many noteworthy 19th-century mansions along Hillhouse Avenue, which was considered the most beautiful street in America by Charles Dickens when he visited the United States in the 1840s. In 2011, Travel+Leisure listed the Yale campus as one of the most beautiful in the United States.

    Many of Yale’s buildings were constructed in the Collegiate Gothic architecture style from 1917 to 1931, financed largely by Edward S. Harkness, including the Yale Drama School. Stone sculpture built into the walls of the buildings portray contemporary college personalities, such as a writer; an athlete; a tea-drinking socialite; and a student who has fallen asleep while reading. Similarly, the decorative friezes on the buildings depict contemporary scenes, like a policemen chasing a robber and arresting a prostitute (on the wall of the Law School) or a student relaxing with a mug of beer and a cigarette. The architect, James Gamble Rogers, faux-aged these buildings by splashing the walls with acid, deliberately breaking their leaded glass windows and repairing them in the style of the Middle Ages and creating niches for decorative statuary but leaving them empty to simulate loss or theft over the ages. In fact, the buildings merely simulate Middle Ages architecture, for though they appear to be constructed of solid stone blocks in the authentic manner, most actually have steel framing as was commonly used in 1930. One exception is Harkness Tower, 216 feet (66 m) tall, which was originally a free-standing stone structure. It was reinforced in 1964 to allow the installation of the Yale Memorial Carillon.

    Other examples of the Gothic style are on the Old Campus by architects like Henry Austin; Charles C. Haight; and Russell Sturgis. Several are associated with members of the Vanderbilt family, including Vanderbilt Hall; Phelps Hall; St. Anthony Hall (a commission for member Frederick William Vanderbilt); the Mason, Sloane and Osborn laboratories; dormitories for the Sheffield Scientific School (the engineering and sciences school at Yale until 1956) and elements of Silliman College, the largest residential college.

    The oldest building on campus, Connecticut Hall (built in 1750), is in the Georgian style. Georgian-style buildings erected from 1929 to 1933 include Timothy Dwight College, Pierson College, and Davenport College, except the latter’s east, York Street façade, which was constructed in the Gothic style to coordinate with adjacent structures.

    Interior of Beinecke Library

    The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is one of the largest buildings in the world reserved exclusively for the preservation of rare books and manuscripts. The library includes a six-story above-ground tower of book stacks, filled with 180,000 volumes, that is surrounded by large translucent Vermont marble panels and a steel and granite truss. The panels act as windows and subdue direct sunlight while also diffusing the light in warm hues throughout the interior. Near the library is a sunken courtyard, with sculptures by Isamu Noguchi that are said to represent time (the pyramid), the sun (the circle), and chance (the cube). The library is located near the center of the university in Hewitt Quadrangle, which is now more commonly referred to as “Beinecke Plaza.”

    Alumnus Eero Saarinen, Finnish-American architect of such notable structures as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis; Washington Dulles International Airport main terminal; Bell Labs Holmdel Complex; and the CBS Building in Manhattan, designed Ingalls Rink, dedicated in 1959, as well as the residential colleges Ezra Stiles and Morse. These latter were modeled after the medieval Italian hill town of San Gimignano – a prototype chosen for the town’s pedestrian-friendly milieu and fortress-like stone towers. These tower forms at Yale act in counterpoint to the college’s many Gothic spires and Georgian cupolas.

    Yale’s Office of Sustainability develops and implements sustainability practices at Yale. Yale is committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 10% below 1990 levels by the year 2020. As part of this commitment, the university allocates renewable energy credits to offset some of the energy used by residential colleges. Eleven campus buildings are candidates for LEED design and certification. Yale Sustainable Food Project initiated the introduction of local organic vegetables fruits and beef to all residential college dining halls. Yale was listed as a Campus Sustainability Leader on the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s College Sustainability Report Card 2008, and received a “B+” grade overall.

    Notable nonresidential campus buildings

    Notable nonresidential campus buildings and landmarks include Battell Chapel; Beinecke Rare Book Library; Harkness Tower; Ingalls Rink; Kline Biology Tower; Osborne Memorial Laboratories; Payne Whitney Gymnasium; Peabody Museum of Natural History; Sterling Hall of Medicine; Sterling Law Buildings; Sterling Memorial Library; Woolsey Hall; Yale Center for British Art; Yale University Art Gallery; Yale Art & Architecture Building and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London.

    Yale’s secret society buildings (some of which are called “tombs”) were built both to be private yet unmistakable. A diversity of architectural styles is represented: Berzelius; Donn Barber in an austere cube with classical detailing (erected in 1908 or 1910); Book and Snake; Louis R. Metcalfe in a Greek Ionic style (erected in 1901); Elihu, architect unknown but built in a Colonial style (constructed on an early 17th-century foundation although the building is from the 18th century); Mace and Chain, in a late colonial early Victorian style (built in 1823). (Interior moulding is said to have belonged to Benedict Arnold); Manuscript Society, King Lui-Wu with Dan Kniley responsible for landscaping and Josef Albers for the brickwork intaglio mural. Buildings constructed in a mid-century modern style: Scroll and Key; Richard Morris Hunt in a Moorish- or Islamic-inspired Beaux-Arts style (erected 1869–70); Skull and Bones; possibly Alexander Jackson Davis or Henry Austin in an Egypto-Doric style utilizing Brownstone (in 1856 the first wing was completed, in 1903 the second wing, 1911 the Neo-Gothic towers in rear garden were completed); St. Elmo, (former tomb) Kenneth M. Murchison, 1912, designs inspired by Elizabethan manor. Current location, brick colonial; and Wolf’s Head, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, erected 1923–1924, Collegiate Gothic.

    Relationship with New Haven

    Yale is the largest taxpayer and employer in the City of New Haven, and has often buoyed the city’s economy and communities. Yale, however has consistently opposed paying a tax on its academic property. Yale’s Art Galleries, along with many other university resources, are free and openly accessible. Yale also funds the New Haven Promise program, paying full tuition for eligible students from New Haven public schools.

  • richardmitnick 10:54 am on May 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Time running out to save coral reefs", , Marine Biology   

    From ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (AU) : “Time running out to save coral reefs” 

    From ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (AU)



    Morgan Pratchett (AEST, Townsville, Australia)
    +61 (0)488 112 295

    Ryan Lowe (AWST, Perth, Australia)
    +61 (0)466 492 719

    Scott Smithers (AEST, Townsville, Australia)
    +61 (0)428 752 433

    Chris Cornwall (NZST, Wellington, New Zealand)


    Melissa Lyne / Coral CoE (AEST, Sydney, Australia)
    +61 (0) 415 514 328

    Saving coral reefs requires immediate and drastic reductions in global carbon emissions. Photo of bleached reef at Yamacutta Flat. Credit: Morgan Pratchett.

    New research [PNAS] on the growth rates of coral reefs shows there is still a window of opportunity to save the world’s coral reefs—but time is running out.

    The international study was initiated at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE), which is headquartered at James Cook University (AU).

    Co-author Professor Morgan Pratchett from Coral CoE at JCU said the results show that unless carbon dioxide emissions are drastically reduced the growth of coral reefs will be stunted.

    “The threat posed by climate change to coral reefs is already very apparent based on recurrent episodes of mass coral bleaching,” Prof Pratchett said. “But changing environmental conditions will have other far-reaching consequences.”

    Co-author Professor Ryan Lowe, from Coral CoE at The University of Western Australia (UWA) (AU), said modern coral reef structures reflect a balance between a wide range of organisms that build reefs, not just corals. This includes coralline algae—a rock-hard alga that bind reefs together.

    “While the responses of individual reef organisms to climate change are increasingly clear, this study uniquely examines how the complex interactions between diverse communities of organisms responsible for maintaining present day coral reefs will likely change reef structures in the future,” Prof Lowe said.

    The joint lead authors, Dr Christopher Cornwall and Dr Steeve Comeau (who are now at Victoria University of Wellington (NZ) and Sorbonne University [Sorbonne Université] (FR) French National Centre for Scientific Research [Centre national de la recherche scientifique, [CNRS] (FR) Villefranche Sur Mer Oceanography Laboratory [Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche sur Mer (FR), respectively) calculated how coral reef growth is likely to react to ocean acidification and warming under three different climate-change carbon dioxide scenarios: low, medium and worst-case.

    The findings suggest that under an intermediate emissions scenario, some reefs may even keep pace with sea-level rise by growing—but only for a short while.

    “All reefs around the world will be eroding by the end of the century under the intermediate scenario,” said co-author Dr Scott Smithers, from JCU. “This will obviously have serious implications for reefs, reef islands, as well as the people and other organisms depending upon coral reefs.”

    The study gives broader projections of ocean warming and acidification—and their interaction—on the net carbonate production of coral reefs.

    Warming oceans bring more marine heatwaves, which cause mass coral bleaching. Ocean acidification affects the ability of calcifying corals to form their calcium carbonate skeletons, a process called ‘calcification’. Warming waters also reduce calcification.

    The data in the study include net calcification, bioerosion and sediment dissolution rates measured or collated from 233 locations across 183 distinct reefs. 49% of the reefs were in the Atlantic Ocean, 39% in the Indian Ocean and 11% in the Pacific Ocean.

    These were then modelled against three Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emissions scenarios for low, medium and high-impact outcomes on ocean warming and acidification for 2050 and 2100.

    The projections show that even under the low-impact case, reefs will suffer severely reduced growth, or accretion, rates.

    “While 63% of reefs are projected to continue to accrete by 2100 under the low-impact pathway, 94% will be eroding by 2050 under the worse-case scenario,” Dr Cornwall said. “And no reef will continue to accrete at rates matching projected sea-level rise under the medium and high-impact scenarios by 2100.”

    “Our study shows changing environmental conditions challenge the growth of reef-building corals and other calcifying organisms, which are important in maintaining the structure of reef systems,” Prof Pratchett said.

    “Saving coral reefs requires immediate and drastic reductions in global carbon emissions.”

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Great Barrier Reef

    The ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies acknowledges that Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the original inhabitants and traditional custodians of this continent and that they have unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land and waters. At our James Cook University headquarters, we acknowledge the Bindal and Wulgurukaba peoples and pay our respects to Elders past and present. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies is committed to working towards the achievement of genuine and sustainable reconciliation between Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider community.

    The Australian Research Council [ARC] (AU) is one of the Australian government’s two main agencies for competitively allocating research funding to academics and researchers at Australian universities. The other is the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

    The ARC’s mission is to deliver policy and programs that advance Australian research and innovation globally and benefit the community. It supports fundamental and applied research and research training through national competition across all disciplines except clinical and other medical and dental research, for which the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is primarily responsible. Established as an independent body under the Australian Research Council Act 2001, the ARC reports to an Australian government minister, currently the minister for education and training. ARC is the primary source of advice to the government on investment in the national research effort.

  • richardmitnick 8:52 am on May 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford study finds climate warnings in ancient seas", A fossil study from Stanford University suggests the diversity of life in the world’s oceans declined time and again over the past 145 million years during periods of extreme warming., , , Many tropical ocean species will have to migrate to cooler waters or perish as the world warms., Marine Biology, Not only are you having a loss of diversity when ocean temperatures rise but that pattern is maintained over millions of years., , The findings paint a grim future for tropical marine ecosystems – and the many coastal communities who rely on them for food., The team found evidence for that pattern in fossil records for marine mollusks going back to the Early Cretaceous., Until now little has been known about how the relationship between ocean temperature and marine biodiversity has played out through geological time.   

    From Stanford University (US) : “Stanford study finds climate warnings in ancient seas” 

    Stanford University Name

    From Stanford University (US)

    May 7, 2021
    Josie Garthwaite

    Many other factors are also expected to negatively impact habitat viability during hyperthermal events, such as physical changes to coral reef habitats. Credit: iStock.

    A fossil study from Stanford University suggests the diversity of life in the world’s oceans declined time and again over the past 145 million years during periods of extreme warming.

    The research, published May 6 in Current Biology, adds to evidence that the ocean temperatures projected to result if global warming is left unchecked in the coming centuries would kill off many species of marine animals and shift most survivors away from the equator.

    In modern oceans, equatorial waters have generally boasted the greatest biodiversity. Scientists for decades have warned that many tropical ocean species are close to their physiological limits at current temperatures, meaning they’ll have to migrate to cooler waters or perish as the world warms. And recent research suggests climate change is already driving a global shift in the distribution of modern marine species.

    But until now, little has been known about how the relationship between ocean temperature and marine biodiversity has played out through geological time.

    “What’s important about our study is it shows not only are you having a loss of diversity when ocean temperatures rise but that pattern is maintained over millions of years,” said geologist Thomas Boag, who co-authored the study with William Gearty and Richard Stockey while all three were PhD students at Stanford University’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth).

    The team found evidence for that pattern in fossil records for marine mollusks going back to the Early Cretaceous, around the time when the first flowering plants appeared and the Rocky Mountains began to rise. They used cal data as a proxy for past temperature. “There are some elements and molecules that can record the temperature of different places on Earth at a given time, and then they get preserved in the rock record,” explained Gearty, who is now a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (US). “Measures of those molecules tell us roughly what the temperature was at the time and place on Earth where the rock was formed.”

    In colder periods with temperatures akin to those in the modern era, diversity tends to peak at low latitudes. During hot periods such as the Early Eocene or Late Paleocene, when average annual temperatures climbed well past 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit), the researchers found biodiversity peaks at much higher latitudes and steeply declines near the equator.

    Why biodiversity drops off

    Armed with these data, the team developed a numerical model of the relationships between ocean surface temperature and biodiversity of cold-blooded marine animals, including mollusks. Building on a growing effort to apply knowledge from animal physiology to understand the fossil record in the context of a changing environment, the team then applied principles of thermodynamics and physiology to explain that relationship.

    The results suggest ocean biodiversity increases exponentially with sea surface temperature up to about 20-25 C (68-77 F). Beyond that threshold, biodiversity drops off due to the limits of aerobic metabolism: As temperatures rise, water’s oxygen content falls, while animals’ need for oxygen grows.

    This is similar to the way a mountain climber might need extra oxygen to reach the summit due to a combination of physical exertion and thin air at high altitude. Mountaineers have the option to carry an oxygen tank, but marine animals – particularly cold-blooded species that rely on the external environment to regulate their body temperature and metabolism – are pushed to migrate. Stationary and slow-moving creatures, such as sponges or sea stars, would more likely face extinction. “Cold-blooded animals in the ocean are a critical group when considering climate change,” said Boag, who is now a postdoctoral scholar at Yale. “They have a much more direct physiological response to climate change than warm-blooded animals do.”

    While changes in the temperature of the water at the ocean surface vary by region, the global average is an important climate change indicator [EPA] – and it has been consistently higher since around 1970 than at any other time since reliable observations began in 1880.

    According to the authors, temperatures that make it hard for cold-blooded sea creatures to breathe have likely been among the biggest drivers for shifts in the distribution of marine biodiversity for at least 145 million years. “During global change events, the real killer is usually temperature and oxygen synergistically working together, as opposed to the oceans becoming really acidic or salinity changing rapidly, or loss of continental shelf area,” Boag said.

    The findings paint a grim future for tropical marine ecosystems – and the many coastal communities who rely on them for food – in the absence of action to dramatically slow global warming. Stockey said, “Our analyses indicate that many equatorial marine animals are living close to their thermal limits in the modern ocean and are unlikely to be able to adapt to warming oceans over the coming centuries.”

    This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (US).

    See the full article here .

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    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University (US)

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members.

    Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private research university located in Stanford, California. Stanford was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford Jr., who had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year. Stanford is consistently ranked as among the most prestigious and top universities in the world by major education publications. It is also one of the top fundraising institutions in the country, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.

    Leland Stanford was a U.S. senator and former governor of California who made his fortune as a railroad tycoon. The school admitted its first students on October 1, 1891, as a coeducational and non-denominational institution. Stanford University struggled financially after the death of Leland Stanford in 1893 and again after much of the campus was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Following World War II, provost Frederick Terman supported faculty and graduates’ entrepreneurialism to build self-sufficient local industry in what would later be known as Silicon Valley.

    The university is organized around seven schools: three schools consisting of 40 academic departments at the undergraduate level as well as four professional schools that focus on graduate programs in law, medicine, education, and business. All schools are on the same campus. Students compete in 36 varsity sports, and the university is one of two private institutions in the Division I FBS Pac-12 Conference. It has gained 126 NCAA team championships, and Stanford has won the NACDA Directors’ Cup for 24 consecutive years, beginning in 1994–1995. In addition, Stanford students and alumni have won 270 Olympic medals including 139 gold medals.

    As of October 2020, 84 Nobel laureates, 28 Turing Award laureates, and eight Fields Medalists have been affiliated with Stanford as students, alumni, faculty, or staff. In addition, Stanford is particularly noted for its entrepreneurship and is one of the most successful universities in attracting funding for start-ups. Stanford alumni have founded numerous companies, which combined produce more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, roughly equivalent to the 7th largest economy in the world (as of 2020). Stanford is the alma mater of one president of the United States (Herbert Hoover), 74 living billionaires, and 17 astronauts. It is also one of the leading producers of Fulbright Scholars, Marshall Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, and members of the United States Congress.

    Stanford University was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford, dedicated to Leland Stanford Jr, their only child. The institution opened in 1891 on Stanford’s previous Palo Alto farm.

    Jane and Leland Stanford modeled their university after the great eastern universities, most specifically Cornell University. Stanford opened being called the “Cornell of the West” in 1891 due to faculty being former Cornell affiliates (either professors, alumni, or both) including its first president, David Starr Jordan, and second president, John Casper Branner. Both Cornell and Stanford were among the first to have higher education be accessible, nonsectarian, and open to women as well as to men. Cornell is credited as one of the first American universities to adopt this radical departure from traditional education, and Stanford became an early adopter as well.

    Despite being impacted by earthquakes in both 1906 and 1989, the campus was rebuilt each time. In 1919, The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace was started by Herbert Hoover to preserve artifacts related to World War I. The Stanford Medical Center, completed in 1959, is a teaching hospital with over 800 beds. The DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory(US)(originally named the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center), established in 1962, performs research in particle physics.


    Most of Stanford is on an 8,180-acre (12.8 sq mi; 33.1 km^2) campus, one of the largest in the United States. It is located on the San Francisco Peninsula, in the northwest part of the Santa Clara Valley (Silicon Valley) approximately 37 miles (60 km) southeast of San Francisco and approximately 20 miles (30 km) northwest of San Jose. In 2008, 60% of this land remained undeveloped.

    Stanford’s main campus includes a census-designated place within unincorporated Santa Clara County, although some of the university land (such as the Stanford Shopping Center and the Stanford Research Park) is within the city limits of Palo Alto. The campus also includes much land in unincorporated San Mateo County (including the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve), as well as in the city limits of Menlo Park (Stanford Hills neighborhood), Woodside, and Portola Valley.

    Non-central campus

    Stanford currently operates in various locations outside of its central campus.

    On the founding grant:

    Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve is a 1,200-acre (490 ha) natural reserve south of the central campus owned by the university and used by wildlife biologists for research.
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is a facility west of the central campus operated by the university for the Department of Energy. It contains the longest linear particle accelerator in the world, 2 miles (3.2 km) on 426 acres (172 ha) of land.
    Golf course and a seasonal lake: The university also has its own golf course and a seasonal lake (Lake Lagunita, actually an irrigation reservoir), both home to the vulnerable California tiger salamander. As of 2012 Lake Lagunita was often dry and the university had no plans to artificially fill it.

    Off the founding grant:

    Hopkins Marine Station, in Pacific Grove, California, is a marine biology research center owned by the university since 1892.
    Study abroad locations: unlike typical study abroad programs, Stanford itself operates in several locations around the world; thus, each location has Stanford faculty-in-residence and staff in addition to students, creating a “mini-Stanford”.

    Redwood City campus for many of the university’s administrative offices located in Redwood City, California, a few miles north of the main campus. In 2005, the university purchased a small, 35-acre (14 ha) campus in Midpoint Technology Park intended for staff offices; development was delayed by The Great Recession. In 2015 the university announced a development plan and the Redwood City campus opened in March 2019.

    The Bass Center in Washington, DC provides a base, including housing, for the Stanford in Washington program for undergraduates. It includes a small art gallery open to the public.

    China: Stanford Center at Peking University, housed in the Lee Jung Sen Building, is a small center for researchers and students in collaboration with Beijing University [北京大学](CN) (Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University(CN) (KIAA-PKU).

    Administration and organization

    Stanford is a private, non-profit university that is administered as a corporate trust governed by a privately appointed board of trustees with a maximum membership of 38. Trustees serve five-year terms (not more than two consecutive terms) and meet five times annually.[83] A new trustee is chosen by the current trustees by ballot. The Stanford trustees also oversee the Stanford Research Park, the Stanford Shopping Center, the Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University Medical Center, and many associated medical facilities (including the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital).

    The board appoints a president to serve as the chief executive officer of the university, to prescribe the duties of professors and course of study, to manage financial and business affairs, and to appoint nine vice presidents. The provost is the chief academic and budget officer, to whom the deans of each of the seven schools report. Persis Drell became the 13th provost in February 2017.

    As of 2018, the university was organized into seven academic schools. The schools of Humanities and Sciences (27 departments), Engineering (nine departments), and Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (four departments) have both graduate and undergraduate programs while the Schools of Law, Medicine, Education and Business have graduate programs only. The powers and authority of the faculty are vested in the Academic Council, which is made up of tenure and non-tenure line faculty, research faculty, senior fellows in some policy centers and institutes, the president of the university, and some other academic administrators, but most matters are handled by the Faculty Senate, made up of 55 elected representatives of the faculty.

    The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) is the student government for Stanford and all registered students are members. Its elected leadership consists of the Undergraduate Senate elected by the undergraduate students, the Graduate Student Council elected by the graduate students, and the President and Vice President elected as a ticket by the entire student body.

    Stanford is the beneficiary of a special clause in the California Constitution, which explicitly exempts Stanford property from taxation so long as the property is used for educational purposes.

    Endowment and donations

    The university’s endowment, managed by the Stanford Management Company, was valued at $27.7 billion as of August 31, 2019. Payouts from the Stanford endowment covered approximately 21.8% of university expenses in the 2019 fiscal year. In the 2018 NACUBO-TIAA survey of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, only Harvard University(US), the University of Texas System(US), and Yale University(US) had larger endowments than Stanford.

    In 2006, President John L. Hennessy launched a five-year campaign called the Stanford Challenge, which reached its $4.3 billion fundraising goal in 2009, two years ahead of time, but continued fundraising for the duration of the campaign. It concluded on December 31, 2011, having raised a total of $6.23 billion and breaking the previous campaign fundraising record of $3.88 billion held by Yale. Specifically, the campaign raised $253.7 million for undergraduate financial aid, as well as $2.33 billion for its initiative in “Seeking Solutions” to global problems, $1.61 billion for “Educating Leaders” by improving K-12 education, and $2.11 billion for “Foundation of Excellence” aimed at providing academic support for Stanford students and faculty. Funds supported 366 new fellowships for graduate students, 139 new endowed chairs for faculty, and 38 new or renovated buildings. The new funding also enabled the construction of a facility for stem cell research; a new campus for the business school; an expansion of the law school; a new Engineering Quad; a new art and art history building; an on-campus concert hall; a new art museum; and a planned expansion of the medical school, among other things. In 2012, the university raised $1.035 billion, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.

    Research centers and institutes

    DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory(US)
    Stanford Research Institute, a center of innovation to support economic development in the region.
    Hoover Institution, a conservative American public policy institution and research institution that promotes personal and economic liberty, free enterprise, and limited government.
    Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, a multidisciplinary design school in cooperation with the Hasso Plattner Institute of University of Potsdam [Universität Potsdam](DE) that integrates product design, engineering, and business management education).
    Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, which grew out of and still contains the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project.
    John S. Knight Fellowship for Professional Journalists
    Center for Ocean Solutions
    Together with UC Berkeley(US) and UC San Francisco(US), Stanford is part of the Biohub, a new medical science research center founded in 2016 by a $600 million commitment from Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg and pediatrician Priscilla Chan.

    Discoveries and innovation

    Natural sciences

    Biological synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) – Arthur Kornberg synthesized DNA material and won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959 for his work at Stanford.
    First Transgenic organism – Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer were the first scientists to transplant genes from one living organism to another, a fundamental discovery for genetic engineering. Thousands of products have been developed on the basis of their work, including human growth hormone and hepatitis B vaccine.
    Laser – Arthur Leonard Schawlow shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics with Nicolaas Bloembergen and Kai Siegbahn for his work on lasers.
    Nuclear magnetic resonance – Felix Bloch developed new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements, which are the underlying principles of the MRI.

    Computer and applied sciences

    ARPANETStanford Research Institute, formerly part of Stanford but on a separate campus, was the site of one of the four original ARPANET nodes.

    Internet—Stanford was the site where the original design of the Internet was undertaken. Vint Cerf led a research group to elaborate the design of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP/IP) that he originally co-created with Robert E. Kahn (Bob Kahn) in 1973 and which formed the basis for the architecture of the Internet.

    Frequency modulation synthesis – John Chowning of the Music department invented the FM music synthesis algorithm in 1967, and Stanford later licensed it to Yamaha Corporation.

    Google – Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford. They were working on the Stanford Digital Library Project (SDLP). The SDLP’s goal was “to develop the enabling technologies for a single, integrated and universal digital library” and it was funded through the National Science Foundation, among other federal agencies.

    Klystron tube – invented by the brothers Russell and Sigurd Varian at Stanford. Their prototype was completed and demonstrated successfully on August 30, 1937. Upon publication in 1939, news of the klystron immediately influenced the work of U.S. and UK researchers working on radar equipment.

    RISCARPA funded VLSI project of microprocessor design. Stanford and UC Berkeley are most associated with the popularization of this concept. The Stanford MIPS would go on to be commercialized as the successful MIPS architecture, while Berkeley RISC gave its name to the entire concept, commercialized as the SPARC. Another success from this era were IBM’s efforts that eventually led to the IBM POWER instruction set architecture, PowerPC, and Power ISA. As these projects matured, a wide variety of similar designs flourished in the late 1980s and especially the early 1990s, representing a major force in the Unix workstation market as well as embedded processors in laser printers, routers and similar products.
    SUN workstation – Andy Bechtolsheim designed the SUN workstation for the Stanford University Network communications project as a personal CAD workstation, which led to Sun Microsystems.

    Businesses and entrepreneurship

    Stanford is one of the most successful universities in creating companies and licensing its inventions to existing companies; it is often held up as a model for technology transfer. Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing is responsible for commercializing university research, intellectual property, and university-developed projects.

    The university is described as having a strong venture culture in which students are encouraged, and often funded, to launch their own companies.

    Companies founded by Stanford alumni generate more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, equivalent to the 10th-largest economy in the world.

    Some companies closely associated with Stanford and their connections include:

    Hewlett-Packard, 1939, co-founders William R. Hewlett (B.S, PhD) and David Packard (M.S).
    Silicon Graphics, 1981, co-founders James H. Clark (Associate Professor) and several of his grad students.
    Sun Microsystems, 1982, co-founders Vinod Khosla (M.B.A), Andy Bechtolsheim (PhD) and Scott McNealy (M.B.A).
    Cisco, 1984, founders Leonard Bosack (M.S) and Sandy Lerner (M.S) who were in charge of Stanford Computer Science and Graduate School of Business computer operations groups respectively when the hardware was developed.[163]
    Yahoo!, 1994, co-founders Jerry Yang (B.S, M.S) and David Filo (M.S).
    Google, 1998, co-founders Larry Page (M.S) and Sergey Brin (M.S).
    LinkedIn, 2002, co-founders Reid Hoffman (B.S), Konstantin Guericke (B.S, M.S), Eric Lee (B.S), and Alan Liu (B.S).
    Instagram, 2010, co-founders Kevin Systrom (B.S) and Mike Krieger (B.S).
    Snapchat, 2011, co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy (B.S).
    Coursera, 2012, co-founders Andrew Ng (Associate Professor) and Daphne Koller (Professor, PhD).

    Student body

    Stanford enrolled 6,996 undergraduate and 10,253 graduate students as of the 2019–2020 school year. Women comprised 50.4% of undergraduates and 41.5% of graduate students. In the same academic year, the freshman retention rate was 99%.

    Stanford awarded 1,819 undergraduate degrees, 2,393 master’s degrees, 770 doctoral degrees, and 3270 professional degrees in the 2018–2019 school year. The four-year graduation rate for the class of 2017 cohort was 72.9%, and the six-year rate was 94.4%. The relatively low four-year graduation rate is a function of the university’s coterminal degree (or “coterm”) program, which allows students to earn a master’s degree as a 1-to-2-year extension of their undergraduate program.

    As of 2010, fifteen percent of undergraduates were first-generation students.


    As of 2016 Stanford had 16 male varsity sports and 20 female varsity sports, 19 club sports and about 27 intramural sports. In 1930, following a unanimous vote by the Executive Committee for the Associated Students, the athletic department adopted the mascot “Indian.” The Indian symbol and name were dropped by President Richard Lyman in 1972, after objections from Native American students and a vote by the student senate. The sports teams are now officially referred to as the “Stanford Cardinal,” referring to the deep red color, not the cardinal bird. Stanford is a member of the Pac-12 Conference in most sports, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in several other sports, and the America East Conference in field hockey with the participation in the inter-collegiate NCAA’s Division I FBS.

    Its traditional sports rival is the University of California, Berkeley, the neighbor to the north in the East Bay. The winner of the annual “Big Game” between the Cal and Cardinal football teams gains custody of the Stanford Axe.

    Stanford has had at least one NCAA team champion every year since the 1976–77 school year and has earned 126 NCAA national team titles since its establishment, the most among universities, and Stanford has won 522 individual national championships, the most by any university. Stanford has won the award for the top-ranked Division 1 athletic program—the NACDA Directors’ Cup, formerly known as the Sears Cup—annually for the past twenty-four straight years. Stanford athletes have won medals in every Olympic Games since 1912, winning 270 Olympic medals total, 139 of them gold. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, and 2016 Summer Olympics, Stanford won more Olympic medals than any other university in the United States. Stanford athletes won 16 medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics (12 gold, two silver and two bronze), and 27 medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics.


    The unofficial motto of Stanford, selected by President Jordan, is Die Luft der Freiheit weht. Translated from the German language, this quotation from Ulrich von Hutten means, “The wind of freedom blows.” The motto was controversial during World War I, when anything in German was suspect; at that time the university disavowed that this motto was official.
    Hail, Stanford, Hail! is the Stanford Hymn sometimes sung at ceremonies or adapted by the various University singing groups. It was written in 1892 by mechanical engineering professor Albert W. Smith and his wife, Mary Roberts Smith (in 1896 she earned the first Stanford doctorate in Economics and later became associate professor of Sociology), but was not officially adopted until after a performance on campus in March 1902 by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
    “Uncommon Man/Uncommon Woman”: Stanford does not award honorary degrees, but in 1953 the degree of “Uncommon Man/Uncommon Woman” was created to recognize individuals who give rare and extraordinary service to the University. Technically, this degree is awarded by the Stanford Associates, a voluntary group that is part of the university’s alumni association. As Stanford’s highest honor, it is not conferred at prescribed intervals, but only when appropriate to recognize extraordinary service. Recipients include Herbert Hoover, Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard, Lucile Packard, and John Gardner.
    Big Game events: The events in the week leading up to the Big Game vs. UC Berkeley, including Gaieties (a musical written, composed, produced, and performed by the students of Ram’s Head Theatrical Society).
    “Viennese Ball”: a formal ball with waltzes that was initially started in the 1970s by students returning from the now-closed Stanford in Vienna overseas program. It is now open to all students.
    “Full Moon on the Quad”: An annual event at Main Quad, where students gather to kiss one another starting at midnight. Typically organized by the Junior class cabinet, the festivities include live entertainment, such as music and dance performances.
    “Band Run”: An annual festivity at the beginning of the school year, where the band picks up freshmen from dorms across campus while stopping to perform at each location, culminating in a finale performance at Main Quad.
    “Mausoleum Party”: An annual Halloween Party at the Stanford Mausoleum, the final resting place of Leland Stanford Jr. and his parents. A 20-year tradition, the “Mausoleum Party” was on hiatus from 2002 to 2005 due to a lack of funding, but was revived in 2006. In 2008, it was hosted in Old Union rather than at the actual Mausoleum, because rain prohibited generators from being rented. In 2009, after fundraising efforts by the Junior Class Presidents and the ASSU Executive, the event was able to return to the Mausoleum despite facing budget cuts earlier in the year.
    Former campus traditions include the “Big Game bonfire” on Lake Lagunita (a seasonal lake usually dry in the fall), which was formally ended in 1997 because of the presence of endangered salamanders in the lake bed.

    Award laureates and scholars

    Stanford’s current community of scholars includes:

    19 Nobel Prize laureates (as of October 2020, 85 affiliates in total)
    171 members of the National Academy of Sciences
    109 members of National Academy of Engineering
    76 members of National Academy of Medicine
    288 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    19 recipients of the National Medal of Science
    1 recipient of the National Medal of Technology
    4 recipients of the National Humanities Medal
    49 members of American Philosophical Society
    56 fellows of the American Physics Society (since 1995)
    4 Pulitzer Prize winners
    31 MacArthur Fellows
    4 Wolf Foundation Prize winners
    2 ACL Lifetime Achievement Award winners
    14 AAAI fellows
    2 Presidential Medal of Freedom winners

    Stanford University Seal

  • richardmitnick 7:18 am on May 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New marine symbiosis unseen for 270 million years", , , Marine Biology, ,   

    From University of Warsaw [Uniwersytet Warszawski] (PL) and Science Alert (AU) : “New marine symbiosis unseen for 270 million years” 

    From University of Warsaw [Uniwersytet Warszawski] (PL)



    Science Alert (AU)

    30 April 2021

    A symbiotic relationship between two marine lifeforms has just been discovered thriving at the bottom of the ocean, after disappearing from the fossil record for hundreds of millions of years.

    Scientists have found non-skeletal corals growing from the stalks of marine animals known as crinoids, or sea lilies, on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, off the coasts of Honshu and Shikoku in Japan.

    “These specimens represent the first detailed records and examinations of a recent syn vivo association of a crinoid (host) and a hexacoral (epibiont),” the researchers wrote in their paper, “and therefore analyses of these associations can shed new light on our understanding of these common Paleozoic associations.”

    During the Paleozoic era, crinoids and corals seem to have gotten along very well indeed. The seafloor fossil record is full of it, yielding countless examples of corals overgrowing crinoid stems to climb above the seafloor into the water column, to stronger ocean currents for filter-feeding.

    Prof. Mikołaj Zapalski from the UW Faculty of Geology with researchers from Japan and Poland described an ecological “living fossil” unseen for 273 million years. Their article appeared in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

    Credit: Zapalski et al., Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2021.

    Credit: Zapalski et al., Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2021.

    Palaeozoic seafloors were inhabited by numerous organisms interacting with each other. One of these associations was corals growing on sea lilies (crinoids). As corals grew on crinoids, they were lifted above the seafloor, thus profiting from stronger feeding currents. Fossils of crinoid-coral associations are known from Palaeozoic rocks, and the youngest are known from rocks dated from ca. 273 million years ago. While both corals and crinoids are known from younger rocks, such associations are unknown neither from Meso- and Cenozoic strata nor contemporary seas.

    In a research article [above], Prof. Mikołaj Zapalski from the UW Faculty of Geology with collaborators from Japan and Poland described an ecological “living fossil” unseen for 273 million years; non-skeletal corals growing on crinoid stalks. The investigated animals were collected from depths exceeding 100 m near the Pacific coasts of Honshu and Shikoku. The research was conducted using microtomography scanning and revealed that, unlike their Palaeozoic counterparts, recent corals do not modify the host’s skeleton. Despite such differences in the skeletal record, the newly discovered coral-crinoid associations may serve as a good model of relevant Palaeozoic interactions.

    See the full University of Warsaw [Uniwersytet Warszawski] (PL)article here.

    10 MAY 2021

    A symbiotic relationship between two marine lifeforms has just been discovered thriving at the bottom of the ocean, after disappearing from the fossil record for hundreds of millions of years.

    Scientists have found non-skeletal corals growing from the stalks of marine animals known as crinoids, or sea lilies, on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, off the coasts of Honshu and Shikoku in Japan.

    “These specimens represent the first detailed records and examinations of a recent syn vivo association of a crinoid (host) and a hexacoral (epibiont),” the researchers wrote in their paper, “and therefore analyses of these associations can shed new light on our understanding of these common Paleozoic associations.”

    During the Paleozoic era, crinoids and corals seem to have gotten along very well indeed. The seafloor fossil record is full of it, yielding countless examples of corals overgrowing crinoid stems to climb above the seafloor into the water column, to stronger ocean currents for filter-feeding.

    Yet these benthic besties disappeared from the fossil record around 273 million years ago, after the specific crinoids and corals in question went extinct. Other species of crinoids and corals emerged in the Mesozoic, following the Permian-Triassic extinction – but never again have we seen them together in a symbiotic relationship.

    Well, until now. At depths exceeding 100 meters (330 feet) below the ocean’s surface, scientists have found two different species of coral – hexacorals of the genera Abyssoanthus, which is very rare, and Metridioidea, a type of sea anemone – growing from the stems of living Japanese sea lilies (Metacrinus rotundus).

    The joint Polish-Japanese research team, led by paleontologist Mikołaj Zapalski of the University of Warsaw in Poland, first used stereoscopic microscopy to observe and photograph the specimens.

    Then, they used non-destructive microtomography to scan the specimens to reveal their interior structures, and DNA barcoding to identify the species.

    They found that the corals, which attached below the feeding fans of the crinoids, likely didn’t compete with their hosts for food; and, being non-skeletal, likely didn’t affect the flexibility of the crinoid stalks, although the anemone may have hindered movement of the host’s cirri – thin strands that line the stalk.

    It’s also unclear what benefit the crinoids gain from a relationship with coral, but one interesting thing did emerge: unlike the Paleozoic corals, the new specimens did not modify the structure of the crinoids’ skeleton.

    This, the researchers said, can help explain the gap in the fossil record. The Paleozoic fossils of symbiotic corals and crinoids involve corals that have a calcite skeleton, such as Rugosa and Tabulata.

    Fossils of soft-bodied organisms – such as non-skeletal corals – are rare. Zoantharia such as Abyssoanthus have no confirmed fossil record, and actiniaria such as Metridioidea (seen as a dry specimen in the image below) also are extremely limited.

    (Zapalski et al., Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2021)

    If these corals don’t modify the host, and leave no fossil record, perhaps they have had a long relationship with crinoids that has simply not been recorded.

    This means the modern relationship between coral and crinoid could contain some clues as to Paleozoic interactions between coral and crinoid. There’s evidence to suggest that zoantharians and rugose corals share a common ancestor, for instance.

    The number of specimens recovered to date is small, but now that we know they are there, perhaps more work can be done to discover the history of this fascinating friendship.

    “As both Actiniaria and Zoantharia have their phylogenetic roots deep in the Palaeozoic, and coral-crinoid associations were common among Palaeozoic Tabulate and Rugose corals, we can speculate that also Palaeozoic non-skeletal corals might have developed this strategy of settling on crinoids,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

    “The coral-crinoid associations, characteristic of Palaeozoic benthic communities, disappeared by the end of Permian, and this current work represents the first detailed examination of their rediscovery in modern seas.”

    See the full Science Alert (AU) article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    University of Warsaw [Uniwersytet Warszawski] (PL), established in 1816, is the largest university in Poland. It employs over 6,000 staff including over 3,100 academic educators. It provides graduate courses for 53,000 students (on top of over 9,200 postgraduate and doctoral candidates). The University offers some 37 different fields of study, 18 faculties and over 100 specializations in Humanities, technical as well as Natural Sciences.

    It was founded as a Royal University on 19 November 1816, when the Partitions of Poland separated Warsaw from the oldest and most influential University of Kraków. Alexander I granted permission for the establishment of five faculties – law and political science, medicine, philosophy, theology and the humanities. The university expanded rapidly but was closed during November Uprising in 1830. It was reopened in 1857 as the Warsaw Academy of Medicine, which was now based in the nearby Staszic Palace with only medical and pharmaceutical faculties. All Polish-language campuses were closed in 1869 after the failed January Uprising, but the university managed to train 3,000 students, many of whom were important part of the Polish intelligentsia; meanwhile the Main Building was reopened for training military personnel. The university was resurrected during the First World War and the number of students reached 4,500 in 1918. After Poland’s independence the new government focused on improving the university, and in the early 1930s it became the country’s largest. New faculties were established and the curriculum was extended. Following the Second World War and the devastation of Warsaw, the University successfully reopened in 1945.

    Today, University of Warsaw [Uniwersytet Warszawski] (PL) consists of 126 buildings and educational complexes with over 18 faculties: biology, chemistry, journalism and political science, philosophy and sociology, physics, geography and regional studies, geology, history, applied linguistics and Slavic philology, economics, philology, pedagogy, Polish language, law and public administration, psychology, applied social sciences, management and mathematics, computer science and mechanics.

    The University of Warsaw [Uniwersytet Warszawski] (PL) is one of the top Polish universities. It was ranked by Perspektywy magazine as best Polish university in 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2016. International rankings such as ARWU and University Web Ranking rank the university as the best Polish higher level institution. On the list of 100 best European universities compiled by University Web Ranking, the University of Warsaw [Uniwersytet Warszawski] (PL) was placed as 61st. QS World University Rankings previously positioned the University of Warsaw [Uniwersytet Warszawski] (PL) as the best higher level institution among the world’s top 400.

  • richardmitnick 7:38 am on May 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Revealed- coral fights back against crown of thorns starfish", , , Marine Biology,   

    From University of Sydney (AU) : “Revealed- coral fights back against crown of thorns starfish” 

    U Sidney bloc

    From University of Sydney (AU)

    5 May 2021

    Ivy Shih
    Assistant Media and Public Relations Adviser (Health)
    +61 439 160 475

    Coral can fight back against attacking juvenile crown of thorns starfish – using stinging cells to injure and even kill, showing that coral are not as passive as people may think.

    Coral are not completely defenceless against attacking juvenile crown of thorns starfish and can fight back to inflict at times lethal damage, new research has found.

    This occurs during a period of the crown of thorns starfish life cycle, where small juveniles shift from a vegetarian diet of algae to coral prey. But this change in diet makes the juveniles more vulnerable to attack by coral.

    Population outbreaks of adult crown of thorns starfish, alongside coral bleaching is one of the greatest threats to tropical reef habitats.

    Video footage shows when the tube feet (small tube-like projections on the underside of a starfish’s arm used for movement) of juvenile crown of thorns starfish reaches out to touch the coral, the entire arm curls back to avoid the corals’ defensive stinging cells. To protect themselves, coral polyps have stinging cells in their sweeper tentacles and outer tissue called nematocysts, that are also used to capture food.

    A small juvenile crown of thorns starfish (approx. 15 mm) retreating after being stung by coral polyps. Credit: Dione Deaker.

    This encounter damages the arms of juvenile crown of thorn starfish, delaying their growth into adulthood. Researchers also saw a 10 percent fatality rate among the juvenile crown of thorns starfish they studied. However, most juveniles that survived arm damage were able to regenerate partially lost arms.

    The research, published in Marine Ecology Progress Series, was led by Dione Deaker, a PhD student at the University of Sydney, and her supervisor Professor Maria Byrne. The marine scientists say that this is the first study of injury and regeneration in juvenile crown of thorn starfish following damage caused by natural enemies.

    The researchers emphasise the results give a fascinating insight into coral behaviour but the behaviour is not enough to protect it from other threats such as human-caused climate change, overfishing and water pollution.

    Ms Deaker says the period when young crown of thorns starfish shift from a vegetarian diet to eating coral, which is an animal, is a critical one. This is because young crown of thorns starfish who survive have the potential to contribute to population outbreaks that could devastate tropical reefs and coral.

    Previous research [Biology Letters]led by Ms Deaker and Professor Byrne has shown juvenile starfish can survive on algae for more than six years when they were previously thought to change diets at four months old, lying in wait until there is an abundance of coral.

    Caught on tape

    Marine biologists have reported seeing injured juvenile starfish and have suggested that it may be been caused by predators.

    “However, seeing it caused by coral came as a complete surprise,” said Ms Deaker.

    “This shows that the coral use stinging cells as protection to strike back in an attempt to give itself a fighting chance against attacking coral predators.”

    In the study, Ms Deaker and Professor Byrne, along with colleagues at the national Marine Science Centre, Coffs Harbour, monitored the condition, growth and survival of 37 juvenile crown of thorns in isolation away from potential predators and reared them on a diet of coral prey for over 3 months.

    They found coral stings caused injuries that severely reduced the arm length of the starfish by up to 83 percent.

    37.8 percent of juveniles were damaged by coral and four juveniles (10.8 percent) with severe injuries did not recover and died.

    The sting attacks from the coral also delayed the growth of juveniles, extending the time they need to maintain a vegetarian diet.

    The young starfish had a reflex response to being stung when they encountered coral. Their arms recoiled and twisted when their tube feet came into contact with the coral polyps.

    A juvenile crown of thorns starfish with arm regeneration after injury. Credit: Dione Deaker.

    “Sometimes the juveniles never recovered and died, but in most cases injured juveniles recovered and can regenerate their arms in about 4 months,” said Ms Deaker.

    “Despite being prey of crown of thorns starfish, coral can potentially influence the survival of juveniles and the appearance of a population outbreak on a reef by delaying their transition into an adult that can reproduce.”

    Armed with these observations, the study shows that coral are a risky food choice for young crown of thorns starfish.

    Although coral injury was able to slow down the growth of the juvenile starfish, their ability to regenerate shows the resilience of this reef predator as a highly prolific species.

    Professor Byrne said: “The importance of this study in showing the disconnect between size and age of the juveniles reinforces how challenging it is to understand the dynamics of adult population replenishment.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    University of Sydney (AU)
    Our founding principle as Australia’s first university, U Sydney was that we would be a modern and progressive institution. It’s an ideal we still hold dear today.

    When Charles William Wentworth proposed the idea of Australia’s first university in 1850, he imagined “the opportunity for the child of every class to become great and useful in the destinies of this country”.

    We’ve stayed true to that original value and purpose by promoting inclusion and diversity for the past 160 years.

    It’s the reason that, as early as 1881, we admitted women on an equal footing to male students. Oxford University didn’t follow suit until 30 years later, and Jesus College at Cambridge University did not begin admitting female students until 1974.

    It’s also why, from the very start, talented students of all backgrounds were given the chance to access further education through bursaries and scholarships.

    Today we offer hundreds of scholarships to support and encourage talented students, and a range of grants and bursaries to those who need a financial helping hand.

    The University of Sydney (AU) is an Australian public research university in Sydney, Australia. Founded in 1850, it is Australia’s first university and is regarded as one of the world’s leading universities. The university is known as one of Australia’s six sandstone universities. Its campus, spreading across the inner-city suburbs of Camperdown and Darlington, is ranked in the top 10 of the world’s most beautiful universities by the British Daily Telegraph and the American Huffington Post.The university comprises eight academic faculties and university schools, through which it offers bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.

    The QS World University Rankings ranked the university as one of the world’s top 25 universities for academic reputation, and top 5 in the world and first in Australia for graduate employability. It is one of the first universities in the world to admit students solely on academic merit, and opened their doors to women on the same basis as men.

    Five Nobel and two Crafoord laureates have been affiliated with the university as graduates and faculty. The university has educated seven Australian prime ministers, two governors-general of Australia, nine state governors and territory administrators, and 24 justices of the High Court of Australia, including four chief justices. The university has produced 110 Rhodes Scholars and 19 Gates Scholars.

    The University of Sydney (AU) is a member of the Group of Eight, CEMS, the Association of Pacific Rim Universities and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

  • richardmitnick 10:57 am on May 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Thousands of baby sea stars born at UW lab are sign of hope for endangered species", , Marine Biology,   

    From University of Washington (US) : “Thousands of baby sea stars born at UW lab are sign of hope for endangered species” 

    From University of Washington (US)

    The underside of an adult sunflower sea star at UW Friday Harbor Laboratories.Dennis Wise/University of Washington.

    Just a few days shy of the first day of spring, scientists at Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island had reason to celebrate.

    Dozens of juvenile sea stars, no bigger than a poppy seed, had successfully metamorphosed from floating larvae to mini star — the important first step toward becoming an adult. Between now and then, these sunflower sea stars, the largest sea star species in the world, will grow up to 24 arms and a colorful body the size of a serving platter.

    These young animals represent the first attempt to raise sunflower sea stars in captivity. The species, once abundant from Alaska to Southern California, was nearly destroyed by a mysterious wasting disease that has affected many sea stars in the ocean, but none so catastrophic as the sunflower star. In December, the species was listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, prompting a new focus on recovery efforts — including captive breeding.

    The project, a partnership between the University of Washington and The Nature Conservancy, aims to learn more about sunflower sea stars and explore eventual reintroduction to the wild, if determined to be advisable. The research team currently is raising sea stars in several phases of development, including newly born larvae, mini juveniles and fully grown adults.

    “What we’re attempting to do here is to raise a new generation of sea stars in the lab,” said Jason Hodin, research scientist at Friday Harbor Labs who is leading the captive rearing efforts for the UW. “We’re hoping that our efforts can help in the process of recovery of the sunflower sea star and, ultimately, recovery of the health of ecosystems like the kelp forests that are under threat right now.”

    Top to bottom: Sunflower sea star larvae, about a month old, seen under a microscope; one-year-old juvenile sea stars; adult sea stars. Dennis Wise and Kiyomi Taguchi/University of Washington.

    Kelp forests are already facing increased pressure from marine heat wave events and, combined with exploding sea urchin populations, these threats contribute to an uncertain future for the kelp forest ecosystems that provide important habitat for thousands of marine animals while supporting coastal economies.

    Before the wasting disease took hold in 2013, sunflower sea stars were common from Baja California, Mexico, to Alaska and were important predators, especially for purple sea urchins. Now, with 90% of the sunflower sea star population gone and other factors, sea urchins have multiplied and are feeding on, and decimating, kelp forests.

    Research assistant Fleur Anteau, front, checks on year-old juvenile sunflower sea stars in the UW lab as research scientist Jason Hodin, back, examines month-old sea star larvae under a microscope.Dennis Wise/University of Washington.

    “The loss of this important predator has left an explosion of purple urchins unchecked and has contributed to devastated kelp forests along the West Coast, making this ecosystem more vulnerable and less resilient to the stressors it’s already facing,” said Norah Eddy, associate director of The Nature Conservancy’s California Oceans Program. Eddy and senior scientist Walter Heady are working with the UW team to advance the sea star captive breeding program.

    The UW research team first collected about 30 healthy adult sea stars from among the last-known wild colonies in the Salish Sea. Each adult star has a unique color pattern and was named, affectionately, by researchers based on its physical characteristics. For example, “Clooney” is named for his silver hairlike features, “Fanta” is bright orange, and “Prince” boasts purple tips on each arm.

    Every two days the adult stars devour wild mussels and clams collected near San Juan Island, and the researchers are confident the animals know when feeding time is based on their behavior and activity levels.

    Adult sunflower sea stars feeding on mussels at UW Friday Harbor Laboratories. The stars suck out and ingest the soft tissues of mussels, then discard the shells, which collect at the bottom of the tank. Credit: Dennis Wise/University of Washington.

    About a year ago, Hodin and collaborators successfully bred several adult stars, and they soon discovered the challenge of raising the early juvenile stages — a feat never previously accomplished for this species, and for very few types of sea stars at all. After a challenging year of trial and error, they saw 14 juveniles cross the one-year mark, proving the likelihood they will make it to adulthood. The stars are expected to be fully grown adults after two or three years, but even that isn’t certain for a species that has never before been grown in captivity and is hard observe over time in the wild.

    “Unless an organism lays down signs of yearly growth, like tree rings, it’s hard to know how old it is,” Hodin said. “For sunflower stars, we’ll only know that through raising them in the lab or going out year after year to a population and trying to measure the same stars.”

    This past January, the researchers applied what they had learned from the first round and successfully produced tens of thousands of new larvae. The tiny critters, living in mason jars and seen clearly only under a microscope, are being raised in varying water temperatures, in part to test whether the species can survive warmer ocean temperatures expected under climate change.

    The first few larvae to undergo the dramatic metamorphosis process into juvenile form — essentially the mini version of an adult — were raised at warmer temperatures, which is a positive sign for the sunflower sea star to recover in the midst of a warming world, Hodin said.

    “These are not typical ocean temperatures around here, and yet their apparent success indicates that the larvae at least are robust to temperature increases expected with climate change,” Hodin explained.

    The first step of this project is to learn as much about the life cycle and biology of the sunflower sea star, which is only a step away from extinction in the wild. There are no specific plans for reintroduction yet, and any future effort would involve more discussion among scientists and permission from wildlife agencies, Hodin said.

    “If we can raise them in the lab, it might be possible to reintroduce them to the wild in areas where they’ve disappeared,” he said. “In the meantime, we’re learning more every day from these first-ever lab-raised sunflower stars.”

    This research is funded by The Nature Conservancy.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Washington (US) is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

    The University of Washington (US) is a public research university in Seattle, Washington, United States. Founded in 1861, University of Washington is one of the oldest universities on the West Coast; it was established in downtown Seattle approximately a decade after the city’s founding to aid its economic development. Today, the university’s 703-acre main Seattle campus is in the University District above the Montlake Cut, within the urban Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest. The university has additional campuses in Tacoma and Bothell. Overall, University of Washington encompasses over 500 buildings and over 20 million gross square footage of space, including one of the largest library systems in the world with more than 26 university libraries, as well as the UW Tower, lecture halls, art centers, museums, laboratories, stadiums, and conference centers. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees through 140 departments in various colleges and schools, sees a total student enrollment of roughly 46,000 annually, and functions on a quarter system.

    University of Washington is a member of the Association of American Universities(US) and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to the National Science Foundation(US), UW spent $1.41 billion on research and development in 2018, ranking it 5th in the nation. As the flagship institution of the six public universities in Washington state, it is known for its medical, engineering and scientific research as well as its highly competitive computer science and engineering programs. Additionally, University of Washington continues to benefit from its deep historic ties and major collaborations with numerous technology giants in the region, such as Amazon, Boeing, Nintendo, and particularly Microsoft. Paul G. Allen, Bill Gates and others spent significant time at Washington computer labs for a startup venture before founding Microsoft and other ventures. The University of Washington’s 22 varsity sports teams are also highly competitive, competing as the Huskies in the Pac-12 Conference of the NCAA Division I, representing the United States at the Olympic Games, and other major competitions.

    The university has been affiliated with many notable alumni and faculty, including 21 Nobel Prize laureates and numerous Pulitzer Prize winners, Fulbright Scholars, Rhodes Scholars and Marshall Scholars.

    In 1854, territorial governor Isaac Stevens recommended the establishment of a university in the Washington Territory. Prominent Seattle-area residents, including Methodist preacher Daniel Bagley, saw this as a chance to add to the city’s potential and prestige. Bagley learned of a law that allowed United States territories to sell land to raise money in support of public schools. At the time, Arthur A. Denny, one of the founders of Seattle and a member of the territorial legislature, aimed to increase the city’s importance by moving the territory’s capital from Olympia to Seattle. However, Bagley eventually convinced Denny that the establishment of a university would assist more in the development of Seattle’s economy. Two universities were initially chartered, but later the decision was repealed in favor of a single university in Lewis County provided that locally donated land was available. When no site emerged, Denny successfully petitioned the legislature to reconsider Seattle as a location in 1858.

    In 1861, scouting began for an appropriate 10 acres (4 ha) site in Seattle to serve as a new university campus. Arthur and Mary Denny donated eight acres, while fellow pioneers Edward Lander, and Charlie and Mary Terry, donated two acres on Denny’s Knoll in downtown Seattle. More specifically, this tract was bounded by 4th Avenue to the west, 6th Avenue to the east, Union Street to the north, and Seneca Streets to the south.

    John Pike, for whom Pike Street is named, was the university’s architect and builder. It was opened on November 4, 1861, as the Territorial University of Washington. The legislature passed articles incorporating the University, and establishing its Board of Regents in 1862. The school initially struggled, closing three times: in 1863 for low enrollment, and again in 1867 and 1876 due to funds shortage. University of Washington awarded its first graduate Clara Antoinette McCarty Wilt in 1876, with a bachelor’s degree in science.

    19th century relocation

    By the time Washington state entered the Union in 1889, both Seattle and the University had grown substantially. University of Washington’s total undergraduate enrollment increased from 30 to nearly 300 students, and the campus’s relative isolation in downtown Seattle faced encroaching development. A special legislative committee, headed by University of Washington graduate Edmond Meany, was created to find a new campus to better serve the growing student population and faculty. The committee eventually selected a site on the northeast of downtown Seattle called Union Bay, which was the land of the Duwamish, and the legislature appropriated funds for its purchase and construction. In 1895, the University relocated to the new campus by moving into the newly built Denny Hall. The University Regents tried and failed to sell the old campus, eventually settling with leasing the area. This would later become one of the University’s most valuable pieces of real estate in modern-day Seattle, generating millions in annual revenue with what is now called the Metropolitan Tract. The original Territorial University building was torn down in 1908, and its former site now houses the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.

    The sole-surviving remnants of Washington’s first building are four 24-foot (7.3 m), white, hand-fluted cedar, Ionic columns. They were salvaged by Edmond S. Meany, one of the University’s first graduates and former head of its history department. Meany and his colleague, Dean Herbert T. Condon, dubbed the columns as “Loyalty,” “Industry,” “Faith”, and “Efficiency”, or “LIFE.” The columns now stand in the Sylvan Grove Theater.

    20th century expansion

    Organizers of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition eyed the still largely undeveloped campus as a prime setting for their world’s fair. They came to an agreement with Washington’s Board of Regents that allowed them to use the campus grounds for the exposition, surrounding today’s Drumheller Fountain facing towards Mount Rainier. In exchange, organizers agreed Washington would take over the campus and its development after the fair’s conclusion. This arrangement led to a detailed site plan and several new buildings, prepared in part by John Charles Olmsted. The plan was later incorporated into the overall University of Washington campus master plan, permanently affecting the campus layout.

    Both World Wars brought the military to campus, with certain facilities temporarily lent to the federal government. In spite of this, subsequent post-war periods were times of dramatic growth for the University. The period between the wars saw a significant expansion of the upper campus. Construction of the Liberal Arts Quadrangle, known to students as “The Quad,” began in 1916 and continued to 1939. The University’s architectural centerpiece, Suzzallo Library, was built in 1926 and expanded in 1935.

    After World War II, further growth came with the G.I. Bill. Among the most important developments of this period was the opening of the School of Medicine in 1946, which is now consistently ranked as the top medical school in the United States. It would eventually lead to the University of Washington Medical Center, ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top ten hospitals in the nation.

    In 1942, all persons of Japanese ancestry in the Seattle area were forced into inland internment camps as part of Executive Order 9066 following the attack on Pearl Harbor. During this difficult time, university president Lee Paul Sieg took an active and sympathetic leadership role in advocating for and facilitating the transfer of Japanese American students to universities and colleges away from the Pacific Coast to help them avoid the mass incarceration. Nevertheless many Japanese American students and “soon-to-be” graduates were unable to transfer successfully in the short time window or receive diplomas before being incarcerated. It was only many years later that they would be recognized for their accomplishments during the University of Washington’s Long Journey Home ceremonial event that was held in May 2008.

    From 1958 to 1973, the University of Washington saw a tremendous growth in student enrollment, its faculties and operating budget, and also its prestige under the leadership of Charles Odegaard. University of Washington student enrollment had more than doubled to 34,000 as the baby boom generation came of age. However, this era was also marked by high levels of student activism, as was the case at many American universities. Much of the unrest focused around civil rights and opposition to the Vietnam War. In response to anti-Vietnam War protests by the late 1960s, the University Safety and Security Division became the University of Washington Police Department.

    Odegaard instituted a vision of building a “community of scholars”, convincing the Washington State legislatures to increase investment in the University. Washington senators, such as Henry M. Jackson and Warren G. Magnuson, also used their political clout to gather research funds for the University of Washington. The results included an increase in the operating budget from $37 million in 1958 to over $400 million in 1973, solidifying University of Washington as a top recipient of federal research funds in the United States. The establishment of technology giants such as Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon in the local area also proved to be highly influential in the University of Washington’s fortunes, not only improving graduate prospects but also helping to attract millions of dollars in university and research funding through its distinguished faculty and extensive alumni network.

    21st century

    In 1990, the University of Washington opened its additional campuses in Bothell and Tacoma. Although originally intended for students who have already completed two years of higher education, both schools have since become four-year universities with the authority to grant degrees. The first freshman classes at these campuses started in fall 2006. Today both Bothell and Tacoma also offer a selection of master’s degree programs.

    In 2012, the University began exploring plans and governmental approval to expand the main Seattle campus, including significant increases in student housing, teaching facilities for the growing student body and faculty, as well as expanded public transit options. The University of Washington light rail station was completed in March 2015, connecting Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood to the University of Washington Husky Stadium within five minutes of rail travel time. It offers a previously unavailable option of transportation into and out of the campus, designed specifically to reduce dependence on private vehicles, bicycles and local King County buses.

    University of Washington has been listed as a “Public Ivy” in Greene’s Guides since 2001, and is an elected member of the American Association of Universities. Among the faculty by 2012, there have been 151 members of American Association for the Advancement of Science, 68 members of the National Academy of Sciences(US), 67 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 53 members of the National Academy of Medicine(US), 29 winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, 21 members of the National Academy of Engineering(US), 15 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, 15 MacArthur Fellows, 9 winners of the Gairdner Foundation International Award, 5 winners of the National Medal of Science, 7 Nobel Prize laureates, 5 winners of Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research, 4 members of the American Philosophical Society, 2 winners of the National Book Award, 2 winners of the National Medal of Arts, 2 Pulitzer Prize winners, 1 winner of the Fields Medal, and 1 member of the National Academy of Public Administration. Among UW students by 2012, there were 136 Fulbright Scholars, 35 Rhodes Scholars, 7 Marshall Scholars and 4 Gates Cambridge Scholars. UW is recognized as a top producer of Fulbright Scholars, ranking 2nd in the US in 2017.

    The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) has consistently ranked University of Washington as one of the top 20 universities worldwide every year since its first release. In 2019, University of Washington ranked 14th worldwide out of 500 by the ARWU, 26th worldwide out of 981 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and 28th worldwide out of 101 in the Times World Reputation Rankings. Meanwhile, QS World University Rankings ranked it 68th worldwide, out of over 900.

    U.S. News & World Report ranked University of Washington 8th out of nearly 1,500 universities worldwide for 2021, with University of Washington’s undergraduate program tied for 58th among 389 national universities in the U.S. and tied for 19th among 209 public universities.

    In 2019, it ranked 10th among the universities around the world by SCImago Institutions Rankings. In 2017, the Leiden Ranking, which focuses on science and the impact of scientific publications among the world’s 500 major universities, ranked University of Washington 12th globally and 5th in the U.S.

    In 2019, Kiplinger Magazine’s review of “top college values” named University of Washington 5th for in-state students and 10th for out-of-state students among U.S. public colleges, and 84th overall out of 500 schools. In the Washington Monthly National University Rankings University of Washington was ranked 15th domestically in 2018, based on its contribution to the public good as measured by social mobility, research, and promoting public service.

  • richardmitnick 11:55 am on May 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "How do Corals Exist in Low-Light Environments?", , Marine Biology, Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems, Schmidt Ocean Institute (US)   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute (US) : “How do Corals Exist in Low-Light Environments?” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute (US)

    Amy Carmignani

    “I have known for some time that I wanted to be involved in coral research. I love diving underwater and entering that vibrant, alien-like world. I am naturally overcurious, passionate, and determined to solve the mysteries of our world’s threatened ecosystems. Chasing those extraordinary experiences has always been my thing, so when my supervisor pitched the idea of researching the understudied Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems on a world-class science vessel, there was no way I was passing on that opportunity.

    A diverse benthic community. It is hoped the discoveries and outcomes for the expedition will provide visibility and new insights into the diversity, ecology, and importance of mesophotic reefs to ecosystem integrity in Australia and around the world. Credit: Conor Ashleigh/SOI.

    Our adventure commenced in Darwin (AU). The humidity reminded me of the tropical, south-east Asian waters I had visited before that catalyzed my passion today for coral reefs and conservation. After joining the rest of the science crew, which included field leaders Dr Karen Miller and Dr Nerida Wilson, we ventured to the port and met our floating home for the next few weeks. Joining the R/V Falkor did not disappoint. Firstly, the vessel is themed around the nostalgic childhood movie The Never-Ending Story, with its sidekick ROV SuBastian and boats Atreyu and Auryn, so naturally, it already held a special place in my heart. Secondly, the huge 83-meter vessel resembled more of a space ship than a boat, with two large, spherical structures standing amongst multiple levels of technical equipment and infrastructure. As the magnitude of the expedition quickly set in, I felt highly honoured to be a part of its science team.

    The crew is nothing short of amazing and enabled a breezy transition into working on board. Following an excitement-building two-day steam out across the Timor Sea, ROV SuBastian was put to work. Within the first 48 hours, we had seen giant sponges, brightly coloured gorgonians, sea stars, nudibranchs, hydroids, black corals, a nautilus, and even sea snakes, which was an incredible find considering their population demise about 20 years ago.

    Research assistant and honours student Amy Carmignani from Curtin University (AU) tests a hard coral specimen in the the wet lab from ROV SuBastian after Dive 411. One of Amy’s roles aboard the RV Falkor is to take samples of hard (Scleractinia) corals and carry out an eco physiology study on them. Back in Perth, further study looking at different parts of their eco-physiology will be studied. Credit: Conor Ashleigh / SOI.

    For my research, I am looking at the ecophysiology of scleractinian corals. Those are the hard, reef-building corals that rely on microscopic algae living in their cells (zooxanthellae) to transform sunlight into food. As light attenuates with depth, it is poorly understood how these corals utilize their energy budgets for growth and reproduction in these environments. I want to analyse how deep the mesophotic corals at Ashmore Reef occur, whether they are reliant on autotrophy or heterotrophy for food, how morphological adaptations may differ between species and conspecifics of different depths and importantly, whether the corals are currently reproductive. I was not expecting to find many corals below 50 metres. However, several colonies form the depth-specialist genus Leptoseris started appearing around 65 metres on our first dive! This positively boosted my expectations for the rest of the expedition.

    Research assistant and honours student Amy Carmignani from Curtin University tests a hard coral specimen in the the wet lab from ROV SuBastian. Credit: Conor Ashleigh / SOI.

    Working in the lab is a fast-paced, systematic, fun, often manic process, ensuring each specimen is treated correctly with the appropriate data accurately recorded. My first process is measuring the fluorescence levels of the corals using a Pulse Amplifier Modulator Fluorometer. I then take DNA and tissue samples for the West Australian Museum before drying out a skeletal sample for taxonomic identification. A cleaned coral subsample is frozen for isotopic analysis, and lastly, a larger tissue fragment is fixed in formalin for histological analysis. This will allow me to closely analyse the coral tissue and comparatively examine nanostructures and cellular components of the polyps. Schmidt Ocean Institute has provided me with access to resources that are incomparable to anything I have worked with previously, including scientific equipment and professional personnel on board.

    All aspects of this expedition are ones I will never forget, (very) late nights in the lab, to picturesque sunsets on the top deck. This experience has been pivotal for my career, not only in expanding my knowledge and skills in scientific research but also for the connections I have developed, both personally and professionally. Opportunities for students such as this one provided by Schmidt Ocean Institute are significant in growing the minds and skills of budding scientists and preparing the next generation of researchers for addressing the modern issues surrounding environmental conservation that are imperative to the future health of our global ecosystems.”

    ROV SuBastian documented a Leptoseris reef building coral on the sea floor of Ashmore Reef. On the expedition to Ashmore Reef, Leptoseris corals have been found at 72m. Credit: SOI / ROV SuBastia.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute (US) is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

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