DNA methylation and “Arms Race” at the molecular level in dinoflagellates

Dr. Senjie Lin and colleagues in several countries published a discovery that DNA methylation, an immune like mechanism in unicellular organisms to silence expression of “invading” DNA, has been “hijacked” by a type of invading DNA (retroposon) in dinoflagellates and other eukaryotes. Recently published in Nature Communications, the work suggests that at least in the dinoflagellates, the acquired DNA methylation can potentially help the invading DNA to evade the immune like machinery of the cell. If proven, this will be an intriguing case of “arms race” at the molecular level.

Link to the publication: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-03724-9


Unlocking the Genomic Mechanisms of the Atlantic Silverside

Hannes Baumann, an assistant professor in the University of Connecticut’s Department of Marine Sciences is the co-PI on a project which has received more than $325,000 from the National Science Foundation for a collaborative project to study this perplexing phenomenon with Nina Therkildsen, PI on this project and assistant professor of natural resources at Cornell University. The total funding for this project is $1.2 million over three years.

Baumann and Therkildsen’s project will begin by characterizing genome-wide patterns of differentiation in silverside fish populations. The silverside exhibits a remarkable degree of local adaptation for several traits including growth rates.

You can read the complete article by Anna Zarra Aldrich here: https://today.uconn.edu/school-stories/unlocking-genomic-mechanisms-atlantic-silverside/.


Hannes Baumann and his research team sampling silversides with a beach seine in Mumford Cove, CT. (Chris Murray/UConn Photo)

ICES Service Award to Ann Bucklin

Ann Bucklin received an award for service from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Council, Science Committee, and Secretariat.

The Service Award was given in recognition of her leading role in the ICES community, including contributions to ICES as Chair of the Working Group on Integrated Morphological and Molecular Taxonomy (WGIMT, see http://www.ices.dk/community/groups/Pages/WGIMT.aspx and http://wgimt.net/) from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2017. Ann remains an active member of WGIMT and ICES!


Annual 2017 meeting of ICES WGIMT in Bolougne-sur-mer, France. Photo P.H. Wiebe (WHOI).

Oceanography Graduate receives NASA New Investigator Award

Building off of her Ph.D. and postdoctoral research in Marine Sciences, Kaylan (Kate) Randolph, from the Dierssen COLORS Lab, was recently awarded a NASA New Investigator Program in Earth Sciences grant to characterize the hyperspectral reflectance of breaking waves with subsurface turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rates, and air entrainment as a function of physical forcing conditions. Kate (pictured on the R.V. Laurence Gould in Punta Arenas, Chile with collaborator Ale Cifuentes-Lorenzen) will be deploying above-water autonomous hyperspectral radiometers from the Air-Sea Interaction Tower at Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (WHOI). These measurements will be paired with subsurface acoustical and optical instrumentation to tackle the physics behind ocean color. Kate’s ongoing efforts to study ocean surface physics also include active collaborations with Chris Zappa at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Ale Cifuentes-Lorenzen at UConn (pending NSF).



There’s so much Plastic in the Oceans Scientists Want to Study it from Space

Meghan Bartels from Newsweek recently interviewed University of Connecticut professor Heidi Dierssen for an article detailing the potential to use satellite imagery to estimate floating marine plastics. Dr. Dierssen recently published a paper with her postdoctoral student Dr. Shungu Garaba in Remote Sensing of the Environment analyzing the spectral properties and potential for remote sensing of marine macro- and microplastics as part of a NASA-funded project for the proposed hyperspectral satellite mission PACE.   Bartels writes:  “To know that it’s actually plastic and not something else floating or even a bubble or a whitecap, we have to have more of a sense of the spectral fingerprint and what’s unique to plastics,” Dierssen said. “It’s going to be very challenging.”


Read the complete article here: http://www.newsweek.com/theres-so-much-plastic-oceans-scientists-want-study-it-space-853787

Where Gases Go: Observing Southern Ocean Air-Sea Flux

Professor Heidi Dierssen and postdoctoral scholar Dr. Kaylan Randolph were coauthors on a new paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society describing a large interdisciplinary experiment airborne campaign in the Southern Ocean.  They evaluated satellite and airborne remote sensing measurements to investigate biogeochemical and physical processes driving air–sea exchange of CO2, O2, and reactive biogenic gases in the Southern Ocean.


Tracking Connecticut’s Living Shoreline

The ocean is filled with a myriad of life forms, but many people don’t think of the shoreline itself as “living.” Through a new project, James O’Donnell, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Connecticut, and collaborators from Sacred Heart University will collect data and develop statistical measures to improve tracking of Connecticut’s living shoreline projects.

Click here to read the complete article:


2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting well attended by UConn Department of Marine Sciences

Almost 30 members of the Department of Marine Sciences attended the 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, Oregon last month. The weeklong conference (February 11-16, 2018) brought together close to 4,000 attendees and covered all topics of oceanography, and other related fields. Many graduate students presented posters and gave oral presentations throughout the week. Professors, post-docs, and research staff presented their work as well. A handful also attended the 4th US Ocean Acidification PI Meeting held the days following the conference.

  • Byrd OSM2018
    Allison Byrd during her oral presentation.
  • Yeh OSM2018
    Heidi Yeh with her poster about the diets of copepods.
  • Staniec OSM2018
    Allison Staniec standing at the podium for her oral presentation.
  • Siedlecki OSM2018
    Samantha Siedlecki, UConn (left) and Janet Nye, Stony Brook (right).
  • Questel and DeHart OSM2018
    Jennifer Questel (left) and Hayley DeHart (right) presenting and enjoying the poster session.
  • Passacantando OSM2018
    Mollie Passacantando participated in the UConn Marine Sciences NSF REU last summer with Dr. Ann Bucklin
  • James and Cross OSM2018
    Molly James (left) and Emma Cross (right) enjoying a coffee break.
  • Hinckley OSM2018
    Undergraduate student Jessica Hinckley standing with her poster on the chemistry of Long Island Sound.
  • Cross OSM2018
    Nina Bednarsek, NOAA (left) and Emma Cross, UConn (right)


Following are those who attended:

Allison Byrd, graduate student

Steven Deignan-Schmidt, graduate student

Michelle Fogarty, graduate student

Jessica Hinckley, undergraduate student

Molly James, graduate student

Yan Jia, graduate student

Christopher Murray, graduate student

Veronica Rollinson, graduate student

Allison Staniec, graduate student

Qiang Sun (1) (2), graduate student

Heidi Yeh, graduate student


Alejandro Cifuentes-Lorenzen, postdoctoral research associate

Emma Cross, postdoctoral research associate

Hayley DeHart, research technician

Lindsey Potts, research technician

Jennifer Questel, postdoctoral research associate

Brandon Russell, former postdoctoral research associate

Peter L Ruffino, research technician

Sydney Twarz, research technician

Holly Westbrook, research technician


Hannes Baumann (1) (2) (3), assistant professor

Ann Bucklin, professor

Hans Dam, professor

James Edson, professor emeritus

Melanie Fewings, assistant professor

Julie Granger, associate professor

Edward Monahan, professor emeritus

Samantha Siedlecki, assistant professor

Penny Vlahos, associate professor

Michael Whitney, associate professor


Human, Climate Disturbances and Mercury Levels in the Hudson River

Mercury is a chemical element that is present at dangerously high levels in some of the fish we eat, especially in historically contaminated coastal ecosystems such as the Hudson River. Drs. Robert Mason and Zofia Baumann from UConn’s Avery Point campus are working with the Hudson River Foundation to study the effects of human and climate disturbance on mercury levels in marine organisms that inhabit the Hackensack River system, a sub-estuary of the Hudson River.

Click here to read the complete article:


Sampling at Berrys Creek Emily sampling at Berrys Creek

Sampling at Berrys Creek

Photo credit: Emily Seelen (left), Brian DiMento (right)

Hannes Baumann’s NSF research in the spotlight

Dr. Hannes Baumann is Assistant Professor in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Connecticut. Here, he leads the Evolutionary Fish Ecology lab that investigates how fish populations adapt to natural variability in their environment, and how they respond to unfolding changes in acidity, oxygen levels and temperature in our oceans and coastal waters. The research involves experimental, field, and modelling approaches to study these effects with the ultimate goal of understanding the vulnerability and potential for adaptation of coastal fish to the combined consequences of marine climate change.

Click here to read the complete article: