Author: Manning, Cara

Dr. Yipeng He becomes the department’s newest PhD!

Congratulations to Dr. Yipeng He, who successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled “Air-sea exchange of mercury and its species in the coastal and open ocean” on October 28, 2022. Dr. He was a student in Professor Rob Mason’s group and his PhD research included research cruises in the Pacific Ocean (GEOTRACES cruise GP-15), Arctic Ocean, and Long Island Sound to collect measurements of mercury at the air-sea interface. Drs. He, Mason and colleagues have already published some of the thesis results in Environmental Science & Technology and Atmospheric Environment.

Check out some photos from Dr. He’s journey below!

Dr. He will be departing soon for another GEOTRACES research cruise to collect more mercury data!

Dr. Yipeng He and Dr. Rob Mason following a successful thesis defense!


Yipeng He and colleagues on an Arctic research cruise


Yipeng and colleagues coring ice in the Arctic


Yipeng and the Mason lab with their atmospheric mercury sampler

Outreach event for eelgrass restoration

On October 19, members of the Marine Sciences Department participated in an outreach event for a research project that is led by Professors Craig Tobias and Jamie Vaudrey, graduate student Shannon Jordan, and Chris Pickerell from the Cornell Cooperative Extension. The research is funded through the Long Island Sound Study. The researchers are aiming to improve the success of eelgrass restoration by adding a chemical amendment to the sediments when eelgrass shoots are transplanted to a new location.

The outreach event involved bringing community members and scientists together to prepare the eelgrass shoots for transplanting at the new sites in the Niantic River. Shannon and the team have also been conducting lots of field measurements and laboratory experiments in the lead up to the transplanting event. We look forward to learning how the eelgrass grows in its new habitat over the next year!

Shannon Jordan, Josie Mottram, Anagha Payyambally, and Alex Frenzel prepare eelgrass shoots for transplanting

Community members prepare eelgrass shoots for transplanting. Credit: Jamie Vaudrey


Shannon Jordan and Alex Frenzel participate in fieldwork for the project


Shannon, Amelia, Brian and Peter collect sediments for laboratory experiments

Graduate student Mackenzie Blanusa participates in NASA S-MODE cruise

Graduate student Mackenzie Blanusa (a MSc student in Professor Cesar Rocha’s group) has written a blog post about her experience on the NASA Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (S-MODE) research cruise.

Check it out here!

Mackenzie says: “I had been patiently waiting and dreaming about this research cruise for months. Yet a few days before traveling from Connecticut to Oregon for ship mobilization, I couldn’t shake a feeling of denial – like I couldn’t believe I was really going to be out in the Pacific Ocean on a research vessel for an entire month. … S-MODE is wrapping up in a few days and I’ll be on my way back home. The sense of denial I once felt has been replaced with self-confidence and motivation to pursue a career as a seagoing oceanographer. I have learned so much from all the other scientists on board who are more than happy to share their knowledge with a curious graduate student. Although S-MODE is ending, I know this is just the beginning of my journeys at sea.”

Congratulations to Mackenzie and the team on a successful expedition, and we look forward to seeing you back on campus!

Mackenzie (left) and Avery Snyder (right) getting ready to deploy a mixed layer float. Credit: Alex Kinsella

Marine Sciences faculty and students participate in Early College Experience event

On September 23, 2022, the Department of Marine Sciences helped to welcome 200 students from 12 high schools across Connecticut to the Avery Point campus for the annual Early College Experience Cardboard Boat Race event. These students are taking UConn courses at their local high schools and also prepared boats made only from cardboard and duct tape, which they raced in the waters off of Avery Point in the afternoon.

Prior to the races, Professor Matassa shared a presentation on the life of an ecologist and Professor Manning described how oceanographers use new technology to study changing ocean chemistry. Graduate students Mackenzie Blanusa and Riley Pena led a demonstration on the buoyancy of different vegetables. We look forward to seeing some of these high school students join the UConn Husky family in the future!

Congratulations are also on order for Marine Sciences undergraduate Devan Barnum who won the Avery Point community cardboard boat race on September 21, on behalf of the men’s basketball team!

Check out this article in The Day for more photos of the boat race.

The photos below were taken during the event  and are provided by Michael Illuzzi, Gordon Daigle and Cara Manning.
Top: Graduate Students Riley Pena and Mackenzie Blanusa led a demonstration on buoyancy.
Middle: Prof. Matassa conducts a presentation on the life of an ecologist
Bottom: Prof. Manning dressed as a pH indicator for a presentation on changing ocean chemistry.