REU Mentors and Potential Student Research Project Topics

REU cruise results

Dr. Lisa Campbell (Program Co-Director) is a biological oceanographer whose research focuses on phytoplankton ecology, with particular emphasis harmful algal blooms. She operates a network of automated imaging instruments on the Texas coast -- the Texas Observatory for Algal Succession Time-series (TOAST). From this phytoplankton time series, successful early warning has been provided for eight harmful algal bloom events. Potential REU projects: 1- Time series analysis of HAB species using data from the Imaging FlowCytobot; 2- Interannual variation in phytoplankton community structure and composition in Texas coastal waters; 3- Bloom initiation of individual dinoflagellate species in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. Ping Chang is a climate dynamist and physical oceanographer whose research interests span a wide range of topics in climate dynamics with a current focus on high-resolution climate modeling and prediction. He leads multiple research projects in global and regional climate studies, including the role of ocean eddies in climate, response of hurricanes and atmospheric rivers to climate change, and seasonal-to-decadal climate prediction.

Dr. Steve DiMarco  is a professor in the Department of Oceanography and Ocean Observing Team Leader in the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group at Texas A&M University. He is a charter member of the US National Science Foundation – University National Oceanographic Laboratory System – Ocean Observing Science Committee and has served on the UNOLS Regional Class Research Vessel Science Oversight Committee. Dr. DiMarco is an observational oceanographer whose research has focused on interdisciplinary studies in which physical and biogeochemical processes overlap. He is deeply involved in regional, national, and international programs implementing new technologies and methodologies associated with ocean observing systems and involve applied problems associated with societal concerns of human impact of the marine environment. The results of his research have been used to guide management policies and drive agency decision in the US and abroad. He has authored or co-authored 50+ peer-reviewed journal publications, 20 technical reports and more than 130 conference abstracts. Dr. DiMarco’s students have researched a wide variety of topics, including oil spill preparedness and response, oceanographic conditions during offshore petroleum exploration and production, coastal hypoxia and upwelling, the relation of harmful algal blooms to ocean circulation, oceanic response to hurricanes, meso-scale and coastal circulation patterns and the use of coupled physical and biogeochemical numerical modeling in the coastal ocean.

Dr. Jessica Fitzsimmons (Program Director) is a chemical oceanographer whose research focuses on the biogeochemistry of trace metals in the ocean. She studies both the processes that control the cycling of bioactive trace metals that are required as nutrients to phytoplankton (such as iron) as well as the delivery of pollutant trace metals to the oceans (such as lead and mercury). Her work utilizes inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry to determine trace metal concentrations, speciation, and isotope signatures. Potential REU projects include: 1 - Investigating the spatial and/or temporal variability of pollutant trace metal delivery to coastal Gulf of Mexico; 2 – Exploring the concentrations, speciation, size partitioning, and/or isotope signatures of metals from a variety of open ocean research cruises, including Station ALOHA (Hawaii), the Pacific, the West Antarctic Peninsula continental shelf, and the Western Arctic Ocean.

 Dr. Gerardo Gold-Bouchot is a chemical oceanographer with interests in the biogeochemistry of chomophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) in coastal ecosystems using spectroscopic techniques. He studies changes in CDOM in coastal ecosystems, and particularly the changes from estuaries to the continental shelf. He is interested in how environmental gradients along estuaries, and stratification in the coastal ocean, affect CDOM and in particular its redox state. Potential REU projects include: 1) the analysis of water samples collected during the REU cruise in the Gulf of Mexico; 2) analysis of samples from Galveston Bay, from the river mouths to the ocean; and 3) analysis of samples from a cruise in 2018 after Hurricane Harvey

Dr. Darren Henrichs is a biologist with research interests in applying machine learning to biology, simulation modeling of phytoplankton, and time series analysis of phytoplankton community dynamics. Potential REU projects include: 1 - Use of reinforcement learning for training a phytoplankton behavioral model; 2 - Application of recurrent neural networks for developing a predictive model of the phytoplankton community using historical time series; 3 - Development and application of an image classifier using a convolutional neural network for use on a mini-computer (e.g. Raspberry Pi); 4 - Identifying key environmental factors driving changes/succession in the phytoplankton community; 5 - Identifying potential origins of bloom forming species using an individual-based model.

Dr. Spencer Jones is a physical oceanographer who studies the transport of ocean tracers (like heat, salt, and nutrients) by ocean mixing and by the large scale ocean circulation. He combines ocean models with methods from Calculus 1&2 to understand how the ocean works. Potential projects include: 1 - Exploring how eddies impact ocean heat uptake by using python to analyze pre-existing ocean model output, 2 -analyzing the trajectories of parcels that are advected by an ocean model and creating new ways of visualizing these trajectories, and 3 - examining deep ocean tracer distributions during the last glacial maximum.

Dr. Andrew Klein is a Geographer whose research focuses on the application of remote sensing and Geographic Information Science (GISci) to study the cryosphere. Dr. Klein is actively involved in using these technologies to study the localized human impacts in the marine and terrestrial environments surrounding U.S. scientific stations in the Antarctic. Dr. Klein and his students also use remote sensing to study glacier recession in the tropics. He has been actively involved in developing algorithms to measure snow extent and snow albedo from satellites, especially that collected by the NASA’s MODIS instrument. Dr. Klein’s potential REU topics will revolve around using mapping and geospatial analysis to investigate human impact in the local terrestrial and marine environments surrounding McMurdo and Palmer Stations, Antarctica as determined from over a decade of geochemical and biological measurements.

Dr. Yina Liu  is a chemical oceanographer interested in understanding processes affecting the production and fate of organic compounds, from natural dissolved organic matter (DOM) to anthropogenic compounds as well as different cell metabolites. She employs state-of-the-art mass spectrometry to study the production and transformation of organic molecules through biotic and abiotic mechanisms. Potential REU projects include: 1 - Assessing the performance of solid-phase extraction (SPE) methods for organic compounds with diverse chemical properties; 2 - Understanding the occurrence of emerging contaminants in different water bodies; and 3 - Using data science to understand possible chemical characteristics of halogenated volatile organic compound precursors.

Dr. Alejandro Orsi is a sea-going physical oceanographer with research focused on ocean currents, sea surface exchange of gasses, primary productivity, ocean mixing, stratification and circulation. Through REU projects, students will learn 1 - unique skills on the reduction, quality control and analysis of large datasets derived from in-situ  (CTD, ADCP, currents and CTD times series) and satellite-borne (sea-ice, reanalysis winds, among others) sensors; 2 - characterize the summer 2014 and 2015 stratification of waters off the Totten Glacier based on Underway CTD data, contrast to other areas around Antarctica with similar settings; 3 - characterize the concurrent upper-layer flow patterns based on Shipboard ADCP data, relate to high-resolution MultiBeam bathymetric data; 4 -characterize the currents structure and variability at tidal to seasonal scales based on time series from six 1-yr moorings equipped with current meters and CTD sensors.

Dr. Shari Yvon-Lewis is a chemical oceanographer who studies the role of the ocean in regulating important atmospheric gases. Her current research focuses on marine trace gas biogeochemistry of halogenated volatile organic carbon compounds such as freons, solvents like carbon tetrachloride, and natural compounds like methyl bromide.  She also studies greenhouse gases such as methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.  Potential REU projects include:  1 - Measuring air-sea fluxes of methane or nitrous oxide; 2 - Investigating global oceanic uptake and emission of climatically important trace species through models; 3 -Air-sea gas exchange and coastal air quality/water quality. 

Dr. Niall Slowey is a geological oceanographer whose research focuses on paleoceanography, high-resolution seafloor mapping and seismic stratigraphy.

Dr. Yige Zhang is a paleoceanographer interested in using geochemistry as tools to study past changes in climate and global biogeochemical cycles, with the goal of learning lessons for our future. Specific research topics include ocean temperature and atmospheric CO 2 reconstructions, surface and bottom water circulations, upwelling, and Earth system climate sensitivity in the Cenozoic era (65 million years ago to the present). He runs an organic geochemistry lab equipped with gas chromatography, liquid chromatography and isotope ratio mass spectrometry that are specialized at measuring the composition and stable isotopes of lipid biomarkers or “molecular fossils.”