After 2 months of packing, planning, prepping, and fretting, I finally boarded a plane to Bermuda in mid August to take part in a research cruise aboard the R/V Atlantic Explorer. This was set to be the third and final research expedition of my PhD, and I had firm plans to tie up some loose ends from previous sampling and to [hopefully] confirm a few hypotheses I’ve been juggling about for the past year. Like any research expedition, we faced a few hurdles with engine troubles and impending tropical storms, but managed to leave port only 2 days late, and were able tack on an extra day of sampling on the end to make up for lost time. All in all there was no harm done, except maybe to my ever-dwindling research training and support grant, which certainly took a few hard knocks with flight changes. Continue reading Collecting snow in the tropics
This is the second of two articles written by Elizabeth Sargent on the marine nitrogen cycle; the first article covered some of the basics and can be found here
There are three main groups of nitrogen fixing organisms in the ocean: filamentous, heterocystous, and unicellular diazotrophs. The unicells are relatively new to the research scene (discovered in 1998), and are difficult to image due to their size, distribution, and our lack of knowledge about their lifestyle. I have some epifluorescent microscope images of unicellular diazotrophs, but you can get a good idea of what that looks like by picturing the night sky; it’s a whole lot of darkness and some tiny yellow dots. Continue reading Marine nitrogen fixation: the players
This is the first of two articles to be written by Elizabeth Sargent on the marine nitrogen cycle; the second article will go into more depth on nitrogen fixers (or, as Liz refers to them: ‘the diazotrophic organisms I hold near and dear’).
The marine nitrogen cycle is one of the most complicated biogeochemical cycles in the ocean. Nitrogen is a biologically limiting element and changes in its form, or concentration, can cause changes in the cycling of other elements, such as carbon and phosphorus. Marine nitrogen cycling has been and will continue to be an integral component of ocean biogeochemistry, so everyone should know at least the basics. Continue reading The marine nitrogen cycle
Within my first two years of undergrad, I’ve been lucky enough to participate in two research programs, at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City, North Carolina, and at UT’s Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas. Despite nearly 1000 miles separating the two places, there were several striking similarities. Between the charmingly goofy professors, the diverse group of undergrads (many of which are sometimes crammed into one small dorm room), and the laid back atmosphere of beach towns, I felt like I have a pretty good knowledge of what a typical marine science research extravaganza entailed, that is, until all of that was crammed onto a 135-foot boat. Continue reading It takes a special kind of person to be a phytoplankton ecologist