For young oceanographers, one of the most exciting components of their undergraduate and graduate education is the prospect of going to sea aboard a working research vessel, particularly if they get to conduct scientific research for their thesis or as a project technician. Unfortunately, for many students—particularly those at smaller institutions or not affiliated with larger, well-established research programs—obtaining funded shiptime remains a significant hurdle in their practical education.
In light of this, the U.S. University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) Council—with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF)—developed the Chief Scientist Training (CST) cruise initiative. By providing young scientists with information about the UNOLS fleet of research vessels, as well as NSF shared-use facilities aboard those vessels, UNOLS aims to reduce real and perceived hurdles to obtaining shiptime. The CST cruise initiative aims to provide participants with seagoing experience and research opportunities, as well as strategies for planning and executing successful research cruises, from writing a proposal with a seagoing component to post-cruise reporting.
From May 30-June 9, BIOS’s R/V Atlantic Explorer will be hosting the 2014 CST training cruise, led by Dr. Maureen Conte (BIOS Associate Scientist) and attended by fourteen graduate students, post docs, and early career faculty from throughout the US. "It's very rewarding to mentor junior oceanographers and pass along knowledge and insights on how to successfully plan for and execute a research cruise," says Dr. Conte. Sam Monk and Violetta Paba, both research technicians for the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) program at BIOS, will also be joining the cruise.
This year’s cruise will transit between Barbados and Bermuda, allowing the scientists on board to take a variety of measurements of the ocean’s biological, physical, and chemical properties. Each cruise participant will be conducting his/her own research during the cruise, with topics including: understanding the ocean’s role in climate change by studying foraminifera; testing the sensitivity of copepods’ eyes to determine how deep-sea animals use light; and studying the impact of atmospheric aerosols on ocean chemistry.
During the training cruise, participants will be blogging to share information about the research and day-to-day life aboard a working research vessel. You can read the blog, as well as profiles of the individual scientists and their research, at http://csw.unols.org/. (To access the site, the username is “future scientist” and the password is “ocean123”) Learn about the R/V Atlantic Explorer and follow along through photos and daily blog posts—even ask the scientists questions! This is a great opportunity for current oceanography students, as well as younger students who may be interested in an ocean science career, to gain insight into the life of a scientist at sea!