Panel: Advances in Oceanographic Research and Technology Development at Sea

Advances in Oceanographic Research and Technology Development at Sea

Wednesday, October 7

Oceanographic research vessels, such as R/V ​Falkor​, are increasingly devoting resources to bringing new technologies, including advanced robotic vehicles, innovative sampling devices, and data processing capabilities onboard that enable more efficient and widespread exploration of the ocean. With the onset of innovation, the gap between conducting research at sea and returning to shore for post-cruise analysis can be decreased, enabling real-time analysis and more targeted data gathering. Innovative technologies also demonstrate the capability to increase remote participation, coordinate robotics for more intelligent data collection, and use high resolution tools to improve visualization and understanding of the ocean environment.

Schmidt Ocean Institute will bring together a panel of engineers and scientists to highlight research technologies which have been successfully used aboard R/V ​Falkor​ that advance how state-of-the-art oceanographic research is conducted. They will discuss the variety of applications of these new innovations, including increasing the efficiency and productivity of marine science research, and present their perspectives on how technology expands the capacity to do more efficient science at sea.

Panelist: Dr. Chris Zappa
Associate Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University (New York, NY)

Dr. Zappa is a tenured Associate Research Professor Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. He is dedicated to understanding the processes that affect ocean-atmosphere interaction and their boundary layers. His focus includes wave dynamics and wave breaking, the effect of near-surface turbulence on heat, mass, and momentum transport, airborne infrared, multispectral and polarimetric remote sensing, upper-ocean processes, polar ocean processes, coastal and estuarine dynamics. He has sailed on Falkor twice, most recently in 2019 to study the sea-surface microlayer using unmanned aerial vehicles to create unprecedented maps to address important questions about the ocean surface’s ability to absorb heat.

Panelist: Dr. Blair Thornton
Associate Professor, Oceanic Engineering, University of Southampton (United Kingdom)

Dr. Thornton is an Associate Professor of Oceanic Engineering at the University of Southampton with an adjunct position at the University of Tokyo in Japan. His research interests focus on developing scalable methods for visual and in situ chemical seafloor observation through improved sensing and autonomy. He is dedicated to fielding systems in real environments and overcoming bottlenecks in the flow of information from data-collection through human interpretation and insight. He sailed on Falkor in 2018 to conduct research using multiple underwater vehicles and custom-built algorithms to perform intelligent deployments of vehicles coupled with in situ chemical sensing.

Panelist: Dr. Samantha Joye
Professor, Marine Sciences, University of Georgia (Athens, GA)

Dr. Joye is an educator, a deep ocean explorer, and an ocean and environmental advocate. She is a Professor in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia. She is an expert in environmental microbiology and geochemistry. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on deep water habitats and extreme environments and tracks the cycling and fate of hydrocarbons, nutrients, sulfur, metals and trace gases. Dr. Joye sailed on Falkor in 2019 to take on an unprecedented biological and chemical study of the vent systems in the Gulf of California applying new technology, including radiation tracking devices and sediment and fluid samplers mounted on ROV SuBastian.

Panelist: Allison Miller
Research Program Manager, Schmidt Ocean Institute (Palo Alto, CA)

Allison is the Research Program Manager at Schmidt Ocean Institute where she is responsible for the management and oversight of all research projects undertaken by Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI). This includes managing scientific grants, contracts, and agreements as they pertain to the scientific research using SOI assets and managing the data created and collected by SOI assets. This position is also responsible for maintaining harmonious and productive relationships with scientists and engineers who work with SOI, as well as supporting the SOI Advisory Board and other scientific and research groups that interact with SOI. Prior to joining SOI, she was a program manager at the National Oceanographic Partnership Program at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. In 2009, Allison dove in the DSV Alvin off the cost of Costa Rica on a mission to service and maintain IODP’s CORK Observatories. She also served as editor for children’s book “Ocean Hide and Seek,” and is Council Secretary for The Oceanography Society.

Panelist: Dr. Kakani Katija
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (USA)

Dr. Katija is a bioengineer dedicated to developing underwater technologies to better observe biological and physical processes where they happen in the ocean. She is currently a Principal Engineer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and leads the Bioinspiration Lab. Her research and engineering development efforts have contributed to our understanding of nutrient cycling, biologically induced mixing of the ocean, the ecology of gelatinous and soft-bodied invertebrates in deep-sea environments, and bioinspired design. Dr. Katija sailed on Falkor in 2019 to test a new technology that allows researchers to study species in situ, something that has never been done before, and will sail again in 2021 to conduct innovative research with the final product.