Month: April 2016

Professor Evan Ward’s research video highlighted in TV program about microplastics

Professor Evan Ward of Marine Sciences has been studying how microparticles, including plastics, are captured and ingested by bivalve molluscs (mussels, oysters, clams) for over 20 years.  Recently, one of his research videos of the process, recorded inside living bivalves by means of endoscopy, was highlighted in an Australian TV story about microplastics in the marine environment.  The story was produced by Australia’s leading science TV program, Catalyst, and aired on ABC in that country.  It can also be viewed world-wide on the Catalyst web site, the link to which can be found here:


Ward, Evan                               Ward


Doctoral Student Brittany Sprecher selected for a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation

Doctoral Student Brittany Sprecher is among a select group of researchers from across the United States being awarded a prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.

The primary goal of Brittany Sprecher’s research in biological oceanography is to look at phytate as a growth substrate for dinoflagellates. Dinoflagellates are an important class of primary producers. Key findings will provide a novel perspective on phosphorous utilization in dinoflagellates. If phytate utilization is found, phytate could be used as a molecular marker for future studies to survey the phytate-utilizing ability in global phytoplankton communities.

Assistant Professor Julie Granger is one of four CLAS professors to earn an NSF CAREER award

Assistant Professor of Marine Sciences Julie Granger has been awarded $791,496 over five years for her project, “The biological nitrogen isotope systematics of ammonium consumption and production.”

Granger’s work seeks to create a basis through which researchers can better understand the oceanic nitrogen cycle. Isotopic data can be useful to interpreting nitrogen cycle processes in the ocean that are difficult to measure directly. Granger’s research will investigate the processes behind isotope fractionation, or relative abundance, of ammonium during biological processes. It will investigate whether low concentrations of ammonium in the surface ocean affect isotope fractionation when the ammonium is recycled, and whether there is a trophic isotope effect associated with ammonium recycling by plankton.

The research will create a baseline from which researchers can interpret recycled nitrogen dynamics from ammonium isotope datasets, and will significantly enhance our ability to understand the ocean’s fundamental chemistry and its vulnerability to human impacts.

Granger also plans to integrate science with community-engaged learning by developing an undergraduate field and laboratory course requiring students to present their research to stakeholders in the community. A manual created for this course will be disseminated in open-access forums for teachers to develop similar courses.