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Carrie McDonough

Carrie McDonough has written 38 posts for oceanbites
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Apply for ComSciCon17 Now!

Applications are open for the Communicating Science 2017 (ComSciCon17) workshop, to be held in Cambridge, MA on June 8-10, 2017! The deadline for applying is March 1st.

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Diversity within Marine Science: We Can Do Better (Guest Post by Danielle Perry)

The lack of diversity within STEM, particularly marine science, is an apparent issue within the scientific community. What is discouraging minorities from pursuing these types of careers? I interviewed minority marine scientists at URI to shed light on what’s causing diversity deficiency within marine science. STEM diversity initiatives are instituted at many universities, but we can do more to encourage diversity as individual scientists. Diverse perspectives within science will only enhance scientific knowledge.

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What Does the US Election Mean for Our Oceans?

The oceans are subject to the whims of national policy, and yet they know no borders. Being poor ocean stewards here in the US could cause serious problems all over the world, as well as affecting the smidgeon of blue we can see from our shores. In this post, I outline a few ideas about how America’s new political landscape might affect ocean science and the future health of our global oceans .

Sperm whales traveling in a pod. Source: Gabriel Barathieu on Wikimedia Commons.

A Junkyard in the Belly of a Whale

A candy wrapper, plastic bags, car parts, packing materials, and fishing gear… it sounds like a list of things you might come across at a landfill or a junkyard, but actually it’s what researchers have found in the bellies of sperm whales. Scientists from Germany, the Netherlands, and France went searching to find out what’s in the belly of a whale, but they didn’t find Pinocchio. Instead, they found a slew of marine debris discarded from human activities.

Caption: The graph above shows signals (peaks) produced when PAHs are related compounds are detected using a gas-chromatograph/mass spectrometer (GC/MS). The red line shows the peaks found when researchers only looked for 64 known PAHs, and the blue line also includes all of the related compounds in the sample that the researchers didn’t specifically target. Source: Gonzalez-Gaya et al., Nature Geoscience 2016.

Beyond CO2: Chemical Consequences of Our Love Affair with Fossil Fuels

Our world relies heavily on the burning of biological materials such as wood or fossil fuels to harness energy. While we all know that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a harmful byproduct of burning fuel, it’s not the only chemical formed during this process. These chemical byproducts may play a bigger and more complex role in the chemistry of our world than we had previously thought. In this study, researchers traveled the world collecting air and water samples from three different ocean basins to learn more about the unknown chemical consequences of burning fossil fuels on a massive scale.

The 2016 SURFO cohort:

Standing from left to right: Christopher Vatral (Eastern Nazarene), Matthew Gentry (UMass Amherst), Jennifer Warmack (Humboldt State), Austin Grubb (Susquehanna), Nicole Flecchia (URI), Ariel Pezner (UCLA), Alexandra Norwood (Arizona State), Scott Goldberg (Northwestern).

Seated from left to right: Jakob Gessay (Coastal Carolina), Annelise Hill (Reed), Elizabeth Wright-Fairbanks (Middlebbury), Adena Schonfeld (Miami), and Whitney Schultz (Colorado School of Mines)

Notes from the Undergrads 2016: Part II

This summer, undergraduate students from all over the United States have come to the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography to conduct oceanography research as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships in Oceanography (SURFO) program. Learn more about what they’ve been up to in Part II of this two-day series of short […]

The 2016 SURFO cohort:

Standing from left to right: Christopher Vatral (Eastern Nazarene), Matthew Gentry (UMass Amherst), Jennifer Warmack (Humboldt State), Austin Grubb (Susquehanna), Nicole Flecchia (URI), Ariel Pezner (UCLA), Alexandra Norwood (Arizona State), Scott Goldberg (Northwestern).

Seated from left to right: Jakob Gessay (Coastal Carolina), Annelise Hill (Reed), Elizabeth Wright-Fairbanks (Middlebbury), Adena Schonfeld (Miami), and Whitney Schultz (Colorado School of Mines)

Notes from the Undergrads 2016: Part I

This summer, undergraduate students from all over the United States have come to the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography to conduct oceanography research as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships in Oceanography (SURFO) program. Learn more about what they’ve been up to in this two-day series of short blog posts they’ve written for oceanbites!

Pregnant “Jamin” Tiger Shark at Tiger Beach, Bahamas (photo by Jamin Martinelli, Shark Researcher, Dive Master, and Field Contributor to this research project)

Guest Post: Tiger Beach, Bahamas: A Safe Haven for Female Tiger Sharks

Over the past few decades, the plight of sharks has been overshadowed by greed for shark fin soup and fears spurred on by movies like Jaws. However, the Bahamas have worked hard to create a safe haven for all shark species through policies and practices. Researchers have recently found that the exciting, cage-free, ecotourism dive spot of Tiger Beach is a very important site for Tiger Shark conservation — Please read on to learn more!

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Inside Oceanbites: Why Do Scientists Blog?

On this International Webloggers’ Day, we decided to turn our focus to the scientist-writers who make Oceanbites possible. Since I created Oceanbites.org in September 2013, I have been so impressed by the enthusiasm of graduate students all over the world who have contributed to the site. Below, I interview a handful of them about their thoughts […]

Svalbard Archipelago, Norway --- Polar Bear Mother and Cubs on Sea Ice --- Image by © Jenny E. Ross/Corbis

What’s in the Hair of a Polar Bear?

The accumulation of toxic methylmercury is a serious threat to wildlife all over the world – especially top predators in polar regions, like polar bears. Young polar bears are often the most vulnerable to detrimental effects of pollutants. To learn more about levels of mercury in polar bear cubs and their mothers, scientists measured total mercury content in samples of hair from bears in Western Hudson Bay.

Juvenile Chinook salmon were monitored in this study. While adult salmon are known to travel far into the open ocean, these salmon were young enough that they had not yet traveled far from their spawning grounds, meaning that chemicals found inside the fish were likely from local sources. (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

Spawning Under the Influence: Drugs and Toxins Found in Salmon

You may think you’re familiar with the side effects of most common medications, but there are other, hidden side effects occurring beneath the surfaces of our oceans, lakes, and rivers. In this study, researchers brought these side effects to light by measuring a wide range of pharmaceuticals, drugs, and other manmade chemicals, in fish from Puget Sound.

Figure 3: La Ranch tidal energy plants, France, - an example of the barrage approach (Image source: Wikipedia)

Tides and Waves: Sources of Endless Energy

Today’s guest post by Amin Mivehchi is a brief introduction on harnessing tidal energy from the power plants of the future: OCEANS! More than 70% of our planet is covered by bodies of water and it’s time to invest in harnessing this infinite source of renewable energy.

The Nathaniel B. Palmer, the icebreaker used in this study. Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Lead Pollution in Antarctic Waters: Have We Cleaned Up Our Act?

Researchers traveled to the far reaches of Antarctica to determine whether lead levels there have declined since humans started cleaning up their act by halting lead emissions. They found that global warming might be negating some of the good we’ve done, as melting glaciers could release stored natural and industrial lead into the ocean.

Since 2013, ComSciCon has helped over 300 graduate students improve their science communication skills through workshops across the country. ComSciCon 2016 will be the 4th annual National Workshop, hosted in Cambridge, MA, from June 9-11.

Calling STEM Grad Students: Apply for ComSciCon 2016!

Applications are now open for the Communicating Science 2016 workshop, to be held in Cambridge, MA on June 9-11, 2016. Graduate students at US institutions in all fields relating to science and engineering, are encouraged to apply.

February Theme Week Survey

Let us know what you’d like to read about in February by choosing one of the options below! Whichever topic gets the most votes will be covered by one full week of posts in February. Create your own user feedback survey Carrie McDonough I am the founder and editor-in-chief of oceanbites, and a 5th year […]

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Blue New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are a great way to work towards being the person you want to be. This year, why not be a little bluer? Along with the rest of the Oceanbites writing crew, I’ve put together a list of suggested New Year’s resolutions that positively impact our troubled oceans, along with links to posts we’ve published this year that address the marine issues you’d be helping to solve!

Microplastics for Dinner

Please Pass the Plastic

Tiny shards and fibers of plastic termed “microplastics” accumulate in seafood with unknown consequences for human health. Now, they’re turning up in a product even more difficult to avoid: Researchers in Shanghai recently found microplastics in table salts bought from supermarkets across China.

Figure 2: Concentrations of toxic pollutants per gram of dried phytoplankton at each sampling location. Higher bars indicate greater total concentrations of POPs in plankton.

Tiny ocean creatures play a big role in the global fate of toxic pollutants

Scientists on the “biggest ever expedition on global change” studied the tiniest creatures in the ocean to learn about their role in accumulating and distributing toxic pollutants in the world’s oceans.

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Notes from the Undergrads: Summer Research Projects in Oceanography (Part II)

Undergraduates from all over the US have come to the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography this summer to pursue research projects in oceanography as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships in Oceanography (SURFO) program. Learn more about what they’ve been up to in the second part of a two-day series of short […]

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Notes from the Undergrads: Summer Research Projects in Oceanography! (Part I)

Undergraduates from all over the US have come to the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography this summer to pursue research projects in oceanography as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships in Oceanography (SURFO) program. Learn more about what they’ve been up to in their series of short blog posts. We’ll be hearing more about what they’ve learned during the summer in upcoming posts!

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