Research Summaries

Cody Burns (Dr. Klinck)

Cody is looking into the relationship between water column turbidity, chlorophyll-a concentrations, and external forcings such as wind speed, wind direction, and tidal flow within the Lafayette River. The large amount of data collected regularly from the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club proved to be rather noisy and didn’t show any clear relationships, so Cody will be targeting specific months in search of a clearer correlation.

Ryan Falkowski (Dr. Zimmerman)

Ryan is currently processing LIDAR data collected from two research cruises aboard the department’s coastal research vessel. The two cruises combined produced ~70,000 data files! Ryan is working to compute LIDAR system attenuation (abbreviated ‘Ksys’) and correlate these values with other water column properties, such as chlorophyll-a concentrations and total suspended sediments.

Alissa Hoffman (Dr. Mulholland) - Alissa is interested in the effects sediment resuspension has on cyst germination of harmful algae in the Lafayette River. She has collected sediment cores from Ashland Circle, a neighborhood adjacent to the river, and has conducted experiments in the lab, resuspending sediments and measuring the response of the cysts. So far, resuspension has failed to initiate a bloom. Here’s to hoping!

Tayah Andrews (Dr. Mulholland) 

Tayah is still waiting for a phytoplankton bloom to occur within the local Lafayette River. From there, she will correlate the observed concentrations of harmful algae to light intensity measurements to ascertain any relationship between the two.

Mayanni McCourty (Dr. Schmidt)

Mayanni is quantifying the abundance of different species of foraminifera from a sediment core collected from the Carnegie Ridge. These relative abundance changes reflect changes in the tropical Pacific mean climate state, which has been demonstrated to affect the variability of the El Niño - Southern Oscillation. During a extreme cold period called “Heinrich Stadial 4″, the relative abundances of all foraminifera species decreased sharply, the explanation to which is still being formulated.

Ann Marie May (Dr. Harvey)

Ann Marie has taken the blue crabs collected from First Landing last week and removed the eye stalks for analysis. Those data will be compared to two calibration curves she created in order to create an index that relates Lipofuscin accumulation to the age of the crabs.

Katie Cush (Dr. Hamlington) - Using data from the AVISO and GRACE satellites, as well as data from ARGO floats spanning the entire global ocean, Katie is investigating the role that the El Niño - Southern Oscillation (ENSO) plays in global mean sea level rise. Inputting the data into empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs), Katie has computed the sea level rise anomaly associated with the ENSO, which suggests an approximately 2 millimeter rise in sea level coincident with the large 2015 - 2016 El Niño event!


Noahie Encarnación (Dr. Chappell)

Noahie is culturing diatom species in the lab under different dissolved iron concentrations to assess which genes within the diatom’s DNA are expressed when stressed by iron limitation. Surprisingly, one species of diatom in a solution with no dissolved iron grew similarly to diatoms in a solution with an iron concentration of 40 nanomolar (nM). Noahie is now working to extract RNA to peer into the diatom’s genome and see what is being expressed.

Hannah Weaver (Dr. Hale)

Hannah is taking measurements of many different physical water parameters, such as current direction and velocity, total suspended solids, and wind strength, to assess whether wind events are strong enough to stir the underlying sediments into the water column, potentially initiating harmful algal blooms (a question currently being answered by Alissa). She’s currently sorting through large data sets and running statistical tests, where she’s found some interesting correlations thus far!