Faculty and graduate students volunteer for the 21st annual Quahog Bowl

Faculty and graduate students volunteer for the 21st annual Quahog Bowl.  Faculty and students from the Department of Marine Sciences served as science judges, science graders, and score keepers for the annual Quahog Bowl held on UConn’s Avery Point campus.  Fifteen high-school teams competed in the event which is a regional competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. The competition was won by Ledyard High School of Connecticut, but all teams had a fun and educational day. https://seagrant.uconn.edu/2018/01/18/15-teams-from-ct-ri-to-compete-in-21st-annual-quahog-bowl/

21st annual Quahog Bowl

Photo credit: Judy Benson

From left to right: Matt Sasaki (graduate student), Michael Finiguerra (Assist. Professor), Evan Ward (Professor and Head), Brittany Sprecher (graduate student), and Michelle Fogarty (graduate student).

UConn research vessel gets new life with refit


rvct stretchThe University of Connecticut’s 90 ft oceanographic research vessel R/V Connecticut has new life, with increased capability, thanks to a midlife refit.

The research vessel supports UConn’s Department of Marine Sciences, which is located on the university’s coastal campus at Avery Point, on the shores of Long Island Sound. Within the Department, faculty, staff, and students carry out cutting-edge research using observations and numerical models to conduct cross-disciplinary investigations in biological, chemical, physical and geological oceanography and marine meteorology.

Originally built at a length of 76 feet in 1998, the R/V Connecticut was in need of additional staterooms and lab space to meet the Department of Marine Sciences’ needs.

See http://www.marinelog.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=28194:uconn-research-vessel-gets-new-life-with-refit&Itemid=231


Zooplankton Biodiversity in the Western Antarctic Peninsula region

Ann Bucklin (Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut)
Dan Distel (Ocean Genome Legacy, Northeastern University)

Bucklin image1Expedition ANTARCTIC BLANC (www.AntarcticBlanc.com) sets sail on 12th February 2018 on a 66-foot yacht in Puerto Williams (Chile). The destination is the the Western Antarctic Peninsula region, one of the fastest-warming places on Earth.

Zooplankton samples will be collected for genetic analysis by metabarcoding (DNA sequencing of unsorted samples for a “DNA barcode” gene region). DNA from each sample will be archived at the Ocean Genome Legacy Center (https://www.northeastern.edu/ogl/).


Metabarcoding allows rapid assessment of the zooplankton assemblage and pelagic food web, and better understanding of ecosystem responses to climate change.

See http://antarcticblanc.com/environmental-research/an-ecosystems-response-to-climate-change-metabarcoding-of-zooplankton


Graduate Students Attend 2017 CERF Conference

This past November, a group of graduate students from the Department of Marine Sciences attended the 24th Biennial Conference of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) in Providence, RI. Many prepared either poster or oral presentations for sharing throughout the week, ranging from topics of citizen science to salt marshes. Professors also attended, presented, and convened sessions including: Jaime Vaudrey as the Chair of the Scientific Program Committee, James O’Donnell, Michael Whitney, Hannes Baumann. The full scientific program of the conference can be found here.

CERF 2017

Group of graduate students who attended CERF 2017. (Pictured left to right: Molly James, Michelle Fogarty, Julie Pringle, Maryam Mirhakak, Amin Ilia, Jacob Snyder, James deMayo, Vena Haynes, Steven Deignan-Schmidt, and Yan Jia. Not pictured: Gunnar Hansen.)

In February, more students and professors will attend the 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, OR.

UConn Outstanding Scholars Program Fellowship recipient Tyler Griffin begins graduate studies in Oceanography

Tyler Griffin joins the Oceanography graduate program with a UConn Outstanding Scholars Program Fellowship award. The primary goal of the OSP Fellowship is to recruit and enhance the most academically qualified and promising students entering UConn who are applying to doctoral programs.  OSP recipients represent the very best of the entering graduate student class applying to doctoral programs.  Tyler will be working towards a doctoral degree with Dr. Evan Ward (http://web.uconn.edu/jevanward/index.htm).

Blumenthal, Murphy, Courtney Announce $250,000 Federal Grant to UConn for Study to Aid Future Long Island Sound Cleanup Efforts

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Representative Joe Courtney (CT-2) announced on Tuesday that the University of Connecticut (UConn) was awarded a Marine Debris Research Grant totaling $257,531 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program. The Marine Debris Program is a competitive grant process. UConn will conduct research on the effect of marine debris, like plastic, on oysters from August 2017 through October 2019.  


“Our state depends on a clean Long Island Sound, and UConn has been on the forefront of protecting it and supporting marine businesses. This federal grant will help UConn students and professors do even more. It will support invaluable research on the effects of ocean plastic on shellfish,” said Blumenthal, Murphy, and Courtney. “Connecticut’s oyster fisheries are an important part of the Southeastern Connecticut economy, and they depend on clean oceans. We look forward to reviewing the research over the coming years as we continue to fight for policies in Washington that protect the Sound.


“We are proud to receive this grant. Plastic debris can have profound impacts on marine life. Microplastics, produced by the weathering of debris, can be taken up by shellfish. Our research will examine what types of plastic particles are ingested by oysters in Long Island Sound, might cause them harm, and might be passed up the food chain to humans. The study connects the health of Long Island Sound to safe and sustainable seafood,” said Dr. J. Evan Ward, Professor at UConn’s Department of Marine Sciences in Groton.


gill figure

Micrograph of the gill of a living, actively feeding oyster delivered microplastic fibers (red Nylon, red arrows) and spheres (yellow polystyrene, yellow arrows). Fibers and spheres have been captured by the gill and are being transported to the mouth (magnification about 150 x). Credit: J.E. Ward.

Students from Marine Sciences Excel at the 13th International Conference on Copepoda

UConn Marine Sciences was well represented at the 13th International Conference on Copepoda (http://13icoc.org/), July 16-21, Los Angeles, USA.  The conference was attended by scientists from 30 countries and dealt with all aspects of copepods (tiny crustaceans that are the most abundant animals on the planet).

PhD student Matthew Sasaki received the very first prestigious Kabata award for best student oral presentation for his talk, The remarkable thermal generalist performance curve of Acartia tonsa: Implications for survival in a warming climate. PhD student James deMayo received an award for outstanding poster for his presentation,  Combined effects of warming and acidification on life-history traits of Acartia tonsa, and visiting PhD student  Érika Pinho Correia (Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil) also received an award for outstanding oral presentation for her talk, Is there any pattern of diel vertical migration of microzooplankton in the equatorial Atlantic?. All three students are members of Professor Hans Dam’s research group ( http://marinesciences.uconn.edu/faculty/dam/).

Warm congratulations to Matt, Jimmy and Erika!

Dam lab 13th International Conference on Copepoda

Photo caption:

From left to right: Prof. Hans Dam, James deMayo, Erika Pinho Correia, and Matthew Sasaki at the Student Award Ceremony (Museum of Natural History of Los Angeles) of the 13th International Conference on Copepoda.