NameGraduate Program EmailPhoneAdvisorRoom
acquafredda1sm Michael Acquafredda Ecology & Evolution   Munroe 304
  Ananya Agarwal Biochemistry & Microbiology   Falkowski 318B
  Dina Al-Roumi Microbiology 848-932-3448  Bidle 305D
  Erica Ashe Statistics     Kopp  
  Sarah Borsetti Ecology & Evolution   Munroe  
 brown1sm Mike Brown   Oceanography 848-932-3410 Schofield 303E
caracappa1sm Joseph Caracappa Oceanography 848-932-3452 Munroe 205A
  Katrina Catalano Ecology & Evolution   Pinsky  
chen2sm  Zhuomin Chen Oceanography   732-543-6408 Curchitser ENR 201 
  Kuan Yo Cheong Plant Sciences   Falkowski  
clementi  Vincent Clementi Oceanography   Sikes 114A
duzinski3sm  Phil Duzinski Oceanography 215-685-4876  Chant  
free1sm  Chris Free Oceanography   Jensen 309F
  Abigail Golden Ecology & Evolution   Jensen  
grosche1sm  Ashley Grosche Microbiology   Vetriani 204A
hoey1sm  Jennifer Hoey Ecology & Evolution   Pinsky ENR 139
hong1sm  Isabel Hong Oceanography 848-932-3412 Horton 205D
jelen1sm  Ben Jelen Environmental Sci.   Falkowski 318A
Christopher Johns Christopher Johns Oceanography   Bidle 305E
Stanley Ko Stanley Ko Oceanography 848-932-3405  Sherrell 211F
anderson1sm Amy Kuzminov (Anderson) Oceanography 848-932-3492 Severmann 303E
laber2sm  Christien Laber Oceanography 848-932-3448 Bidle 305D
li1sm  Cui Li visiting 856-785-0074 Guo HSRL
  Winnie Liu Earth & Planetary Sci. 848-932-3438  Falkowski 318B
lopez2sm  Alexander G. López Oceanography 848-932-3365 Wilkin 214B
mccrary1sm  Marie McCrary Oceanography   Miller  
jmorson1  Jason Morson Ecology & Evolution   Munroe HSRL
Schuyler Nardelli Schuyler Nardelli Oceanography   Schofield 304
pareja2sm  Luis Fernando Pareja Oceanography 848-932-3364 Chant 214A
patwardhan2sm  Sushmita Patwardhan Oceanography 848-932-3389 Vetriani 204A
schieler1sm  Brittany Schieler Oceanography 848-932-3448 Bidle 305D
lietzke1sm  Sarah Lietzke (Sexton) Oceanography   Haidvogel 214A
Jon Sherman Jonathan Sherman Oceanography 848-932-3439  Adams/Falkowski 318A
Emily Slesinger Emily Slesinger Oceanography   Saba 309D
valenti1sm  Jessica Valenti Oceanography 609-296-5260 ex252 Able / Grothues RUMFS
walker4sm  Jennifer Walker Oceanography 848-932-3412 Horton 205E
wang2sm  Chuning Wang Oceanography  848-932-3364 Chant
 214A
watkins Clifford Watkins Oceanography 848-932-3293  Glenn 103I
watkins Elizabeth-Wright Fairbanks Oceanography   Saba 304

Previous Graduates

anagnostousm  Eleni Anagnostou  Ph.D  2011 
aristizabalsm  Maria Aristizabal  Ph.D  2013 
babilasm  Tali Babila  Ph.D  2014 
carvalho1sm Filipa Carvalho Ph.D. 2017
carvalho1sm Nicole Couto Ph.D. 2017
coleman  Kaycee Coleman  M.S.  2014 
crum  Kevin Crum  M.S.  2014 
diamond  Elizabeth Diamond  M.S.  2012 
esswein  Katherine Esswein  M.S.  2012 
flanagan2sm Patrick Flanagan M.S. 2017
fleming1sm Naomi Fleming Ph.D. 2017
gula  Rachel Gula Ph.D 2017 
guo  Dove Guo  M.S.  2012 
harazin  Katie Harazin  M.S.  2012 
hermes  Anna Hermes  M.S.  2013 
jurisa  Joe Jurisa  Ph.D  2012 
kalansky  Julie Kalansky  Ph.D  2014 
korotky  Kate Korotky  M.S.  2011 
mcsweeney1sm Jacqueline McSweeney Ph.D. 2017
miles  Travis Miles  Ph.D  2014 
nickerson1sm Katherine Nickerson M.S. 2017
provost  Mikaela Provost  M.S.  2013 
schiraldi  Benedetto Schiraldi Jr.  M.S.  2013 
seroka2sm Greg Seroka Ph.D. 2017
seyler  Lauren Seyler  Ph.D  2015 
specht  Jaclyn Specht  M.S.  2017 
tabatabai1sm Seyed Aboozar Tabatabai Ph.D. 2017
vastano2sm Anthony Vastano M.S. 2017
waite1sm  Nicole Waite  M.S.  2015 
weisel  Lauren Weisel  M.S.  2015 
yixu  Yi Xu  Ph.D  2013 
yergey  Matthew Yergey  M.S.  2012 
xug  Guangyu Xu  Ph.D  2015 
zhang  Xinzhong (Peter) Zhang  Ph.D  2014 

 

 

Graduate Students

The Ocean Is Getting More Acidic—What That Actually Means

By Eric Niller - National Geographic

Thanks to carbon emissions, the ocean is changing, and that is putting a whole host of marine organisms at risk. These scientists are on the front lines.

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ Grace Saba steadies herself on the back of a gently rocking boat as she and her crew slide a six-foot long yellow torpedo into the sea. A cheer erupts as the device surfaces, turns on its electronic signal, and begins a three-week journey along the New Jersey coast.

“It’s taken seven years to get this done,” said Saba, who has been working on this experiment since 2011. “I’m so happy, I think I might cry!”

Saba is an assistant professor of marine ecology at Rutgers University, where she is studying how fish, clams, and other creatures are reacting to rising levels of ocean acidity. Acidification is a byproduct of climate change; a slow but exorable real-life experiment in which industrial emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere are absorbed and then undergo chemical reactions in the sea. Rising ocean acidity has already bleached Florida’s coral reefs and killed valuable oysters in the Pacific Northwest.

Now scientists like Saba want to know what might happen to animals that live in the Northeast, a region home to commercially important fishes, wild stocks of quahogs (clams), scallops, and surf clams that can't swim away from growing acidic waters.

"They are just stuck there,” Saba said.

Saba’s torpedo-like instrument is actually an underwater drone, known as a Slocum glider, that is carrying an ocean acidity sensor. This is the first time that oceanographers have married the two technologies—glider and pH sensor—to get a big-picture view of changes underway in the commercially important fishing grounds of the Northeastern United States.

The glider will travel 130 miles from Atlantic City to the edge of the underwater continental shelf and back. It will complete a series of dives to the ocean bottom, sampling water temperature, salinity, and pH as it swims. The glider will feed Saba and colleagues data on changing water chemistry more quickly than the testing conducted every four years by seagoing oceanographic vessels.

Rising Acid

Saba and Rutgers graduate student Liza Wright-Fairbanks are hoping to compare ocean pH measurements to coastal fish spawning grounds. Developing fish and shellfish larvae are most vulnerable to rising ocean acidity.

“We don’t know much about pH throughout the entire water column, especially here along the East Coast and the commercial fisheries here,” said Wright-Fairbanks. “They bring in so much money to the country, but if the shellfish can’t survive than neither can the fishermen.”

Watch: See how carbon dioxide is impacting the ocean, by making it more acidic. This film is part of National Geographic's Shortfilm Showcase, and any views expressed are those of the filmmakers.

Scientists say the pH level of the world’s seas have already dropped—on average from 8.2 to 8.1 on the pH scale (lower numbers are more acidic). That’s a 26 percent drop in the past century (because the pH scale is logarithmic). But as the ocean absorbs more industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, its pH is expected to double to 7.7 pH units by the end of the century, according to Aleck Wang, professor of marine chemistry at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The result is that, by 2100, “you are going to start seeing calcium carbonate shells dissolve,” Wang said. “It’s not going to be that far away.” By killing such critical shelled organisms as corals, oysters, and many plankton, acidic waters may upend the ocean food chain.

Fishermen in the Gulf of Maine are already seeing seasonal changes in ocean acidity that could one day threaten a seafood harvest worth more than $600 million to Maine’s economy. Further south in the Mid-Atlantic region, seafood harvesters worry about their future as well.

“We are all trying to figure out the right path forward,” said A.J. Erskine, owner of a commercial oyster hatchery on the Potomac River in Virginia. “I don’t know if there is a solution, but the more data we have the more knowledge we have. If we don’t know the pH, how can we address it?”

Erskine is part of a group of fishermen, scientists, and state fisheries managers called the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Acidification Network that is pushing for more research and attention on the issue. Scientists at the University of Delaware and NOAA just deployed the first permanent buoy to measure carbon dioxide levels in Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the eastern United States. The moored buoy will help researchers figure out whether the bay can handle more CO2 from the atmosphere while also dealing with man-made pollution from surrounding farms and factories.

In another attempt to study acidification, researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration launched 23-foot long surface drones powered by sail across the Pacific and Arctic Oceans to gather wind, temperature, and acidity data. They hope to eventually use the mobile saildrones to replace aging surface buoys that are tethered to the seafloor.

Grace Saba of Rutgers takes water samples to better understand the changing ocean. PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIC NIILER

And just as some scientists are trying to develop corals that are more resistant to acidic waters, Erskine says that one solution may be to find oysters, clams, and other fish that are resilient as well.

“The way we can do that is by manipulating the tanks in the hatchery,” Erskine said. Of course, that only works for farm- or hatchery-raised species. “It’s more difficult when you are talking about Chesapeake Bay or the Gulf of Maine.”

Gambling on the Future

Back on the boat, Saba, Wright-Fairbanks, and Rutgers research professor Travis Miles spend the morning at sea testing the Slocum glider. They want to make sure its instruments are working perfectly before putting it on auto-pilot and sending it on its environmental mission. Each in turn throws overboard a gray plastic water sampling bottle attached to a rope known as a CTD. Those old-school measurements of water quality are then compared to sensor readings on the glider.