Departmental Achievements, Spring 2020

Since the last edition of the newsletter, there has been plenty to celebrate and recognize in the department! Here you’ll find recent publications, new grants, undergraduate achievements, and awards in the Department of Marine Sciences from October 2019 through April 2020.

Awards Description
Prof. Heidi Dierssen Dierssen was awarded with a membership in the Connecticut Academy of Sciences and Engineering. She also was selected as team leader for the PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, and ocean Ecosystems) NASA mission.
Prof. Peter Auster Auster served on the Ecological Experts Working Group for development of the Long Island Sound Blue Plan. The Blue Plan is an effort to implement marine spatial planning to address conflicting human uses of Long Island Sound while conserving natural resources.
Prof. in Residence Ralph Lewis Ralph Lewis received the Dr. Joe Webb Peoples Award from the Geological Society of Connecticut for his contributions to the understanding of Connecticut’s geology over the past 40 years.
Prof. Robert Mason Mason became Chief Editor for the inorganic pollutants section in the new Frontiers journal Frontiers in Environmental Chemistry.


Grants Description
Assistant Prof. Hannes Baumann Baumann received funding by Connecticut Sea Grant to study the potential re-emergence of spawning Atlantic sturgeon in the Connecticut River in collaboration with colleagues from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Prof. Hans G. Dam Linking eco-evolutionary dynamics of thermal adaptation and grazing in copepods from highly seasonal environments. National Science Foundation. P.I. Hans Dam. $ 531,484. 6/1/2020-5/31/2023. The grant will support a postdoc and a graduate student.
Kayla Mladinich (grad student, Prof. J. E. Ward) Connecticut Sea Grant recently funded Kayla Mladinich and the Ward Lab to help critically examining the science of microplastics uptake by oysters.
Tyler Griffin (grad student, Prof. J. E. Ward) Tyler Griffin received a seed grant to study the effect of chlorpyrifos, a common neurotoxic insecticide pollutant in coastal systems, on the taxonomic composition and metatranscriptomic expression of the gut microbiome of blue mussels. In collaboration with Associate Prof. Penny Vlahos.


Undergraduate Recognitions Description
Alex Frenzel (Class of 2021) Alexandra Frenzel just returned from her study abroad in Switzerland. An honors student as well, Alex was recently informed her 2020 SURF proposal was awarded.
Amelia Hurst (Class of 2021) Amelia Hurst was just accepted into the NASA Airborne Science Program. Amelia was awarded University Scholar recognition this past December, the highest distinction that the University bestows on an undergraduate. Amelia is a junior seeking a double degree in Anthropology and Marine Sciences, with honors in both.
Mackenzie Blanusa (Class of 2020) Mackenzie Blanusa was accepted into the summer 2020 Cooperative Institute for Modeling the Earth System (CIMES) Research Internship Program at Princeton University. Mackenzie is a seeking a double degree in Marine Sciences and an Individualized Major titled Atmospheric Sciences, with a minor in mathematics. She is also wrapping up her UConn Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) project.


Publications Summary
Allison Byrd (M.S. 2019, Associate Prof. P. Vlahos) (Tidally resolved observations of organic carbon exchange through Eastern Long Island Sound.)
Brittany Sprecher (graduate student, Prof. S. Lin) Brittany Sprecher published her dinoflagellate gene transformation work in Microorganisms.
(Nuclear Gene Transformation in the Dinoflagellate Oxyrrhis marina.)
Assistant Prof. César B. Rocha Napolitano, Silveira, Rocha and colleagues developed a simple theoretical model to explain the recirculation of a subsurface western boundary current off Brazil. The theory agrees well with the time-mean flow observed by Argo floats and simulated with a regional numerical model. But the numerical model displays large variability due to strong westward-propagating eddies, which are not accounted for by the theory.
(On the Steadiness and Instability of the Intermediate Western Boundary Current between 24° and 18°S.)
Paradise, Rocha and colleagues employed a simple theoretical model to study the sensitivity of atmospheric blocking to climate change. Their model explores the mathematical analogy of blocking phenomena and traffic jams in freeways. The authors found that the present climate lies close to a boundary between a block-dominated state and is highly sensitive to perturbations to the jet stream.
(Blocking Statistics in a Varying Climate: Lessons from a “Traffic Jam” Model with Pseudostochastic Forcing.)
Rocha and colleagues developed new theoretical methods to characterize the strength of horizontal convection–the flow generated by differential heating at a single surface; horizontal convection is motivated by the observation that the ocean is cooled at high latitudes and heated in the tropics. Their mathematical machinery led to new bounds on the heat flux of horizontal convection.
(Improved bounds on horizontal convection.)
Chris Murray (Ph.D. 2019, Assistant Prof. H. Baumann) Dr. Murray and colleagues discovered a fish species that is unusually sensitive to ocean acidification and warming.
(High sensitivity of a keystone forage fish to elevated CO2 and temperature.)
Emma Cross (former postdoc, Assistant Prof. H. Baumann) Dr. Cross and colleagues showed that fluctuations in oxygen and carbon dioxide can benefit offspring of a coastal marine fish.
(Diel and tidal pCO2 × O2 fluctuations provide physiological refuge to early life stages of a coastal forage fish.)
Prof. Hans G. Dam (Antagonistic interplay between pH and food resources affects copepod traits and performance in a year-round upwelling system.)
Associate Prof. Julie Granger and Prof. Craig Tobias This effort involved numerous members of the community, and resulted in a comprehensive guide to insuring inter-comparability of N2 fixation rate estimates among researchers. Granger and Tobias, as well as former lab member Lindsey Potts, contributed to this effort by providing guidelines to ensure reliable N isotope ratio analyses by mass spectrometry.
(A critical review of the 15N2 tracer method to measure diazotrophic production in pelagic ecosystems.)
Julie Pringle (M.S. 2018, Assistant Prof. H. Baumann) Graduate alumnae Julie Pringle discovered that females in a common forage fish are growing faster and therefore survive better than males.
(Otolith-based growth reconstructions in young-of-year Atlantic silversides Menidia menidia and their implications for sex-selective survival.)
Matt Lacerra (M.S. 2019, Associate Prof. D. Lund) Graduate alumni Matt Lacerra showed that rising atmospheric CO2 levels at the end of the last ice age were likely due to weakening of the ocean’s biological pump.
(Less Remineralized Carbon in the Intermediate‐Depth South Atlantic During Heinrich Stadial 1.)
Associate Profs. Penny Vlahos and Mike Whitney Vlahos, Whitney, and colleagues found that 40% of nitrogen delivered to Long Island Sound (LIS) is primarily exported as organic nitrogen, while the rest is either buried in sediments or released as gas.
(Nitrogen budgets of the Long Island Sound estuary.)
Prof. Peter Auster These papers are part of a larger effort to understand the role of higher trophic level predators within marine protected areas with a focus on conserving species interactions as an element of management goals.
(Coordinated hunting behaviors of mixed species groups of piscivores and associated species at Isla del Coco National Park (Eastern Tropical Pacific).)
Prof. Peter Auster and Chris Conroy (former postdoc) The study was used in the recently released Condition Report for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and will be used to revise the management plan for the Sanctuary.
(Time-series patterns and dynamics of species richness, diversity, and community composition of fishes at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (1970-2017).)
Assistant Prof. Samantha Siedlecki (Seasonal-to-interannual prediction of North American coastal marine ecosystems: Forecast methods, mechanisms of predictability, and priority developments.)
(The Importance of Environmental Exposure History in Forecasting Dungeness Crab Megalopae, Occurrence Using J-SCOPE, a High-Resolution Model for the US Pacific Northwest.)
(Exoskeleton dissolution with mechanoreceptor damage in larval Dungeness crab related to severity of present-day ocean acidification vertical gradients.)
Prof. Senjie Lin In collaboration with Prof. Zhi Zhou (Hainan University, China), Prof. S. Lin used genomic profiling to reveal that microplastics depressed growth and the capacity of detoxification in dinoflagellate symbionts of corals.
(Microplastic exposure represses the growth of endosymbiotic dinoflagellate Cladocopium goreaui in culture through affecting its apoptosis and metabolism.)
Prof. Senjie Lin, Associate Prof. Huan Zhang, Brittany Sprecher Members of the Lin Lab joined an international team which published a paper reporting development of functional genetic tools for protists (dinoflagellates and other single-celled eukaryotes).
(Genetic tool development in marine protists: emerging model organisms for experimental cell biology.)