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Marine Sciences faculty excel not just in teaching and research, but in outreach to the community.

William Fitzgerald and his Lifetime Achievement Award for mercury research. Photography by Daniel Buttrey

William Fitzgerald and his Lifetime Achievement Award for mercury research.
Photography by Daniel Buttrey

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Emeritus William Fitzgerald received the Kathryn R. Mahaffey Lifetime Achievement in Mercury Research from the International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant. Fitzgerald created the first accurate global mercury cycling models and estimated for the first time the differences between natural and human-made levels of mercury in the environment.

Professor J. Evan Ward was a visiting Fulbright Scholar in the Department of Biosciences at the University of Exeter in England. Ward’s research looked at the effects of manufactured nanoparticles on shellfish. He also delivered guest lectures in the Aquatic Biology and Resource Management program, and held a workshop on bivalve physiology.

Craig Tobias in his laboratory. Photography by Daniel Buttrey.

Under the direction of Associate Professor Julie Granger and Associate Professor Craig Tobias, the department has created an Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer facility. This machine can use variants of chemical elements – known as isotopes – to identify sources of pollution, whether from the atmosphere, from agricultural runoff, or from wastewater, for example. Among other projects, they will also use the machine to determine temperatures hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Students in Assistant Professor Penny Vlahos starred on an episode of Aqua Kids, a nationally-syndicated TV show that aims to motivate young people to take an active role in aquatic environments. The episode was titled “Citizen Science,” and Vlahos showed middle school students how the average person can contribute to scientific research.

The Marine Sciences faculty members were, as a whole, involved in grant-funded projects totaling $19.5 million, including funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as states, local and private sources.

Penny Vlahos on board the Project Oceanology boat, showing students how to collect samples in the water.

Penny Vlahos on board the Project Oceanology boat, showing students how to collect samples in the water.

Marine Sciences professors participated in three outreach days at Avery Point in the 2011-2012 year. They served as moderators, science and rules judges, graders, and more for the 2012 Quahog Bowl, the southern New England regional National Ocean Sciences Bowl. They hosted the Marine Science Day conference, sponsored by the Long Island Sound Foundation, which attracts 4th through 8th graders to the campus to learn about the ocean. A new outreach program, Meet Your Estuary Day, was also organized by Associate Professor Mike Whitney.


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