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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Lisa Cugini, (401) 874-6642

Friends of Oceanography Lecture
Explores the Mysteries of Life Buried
Deep Beneath the Ocean Floor

Narragansett, R.I. -- September 18, 2003 -- If there is life on other planets in the solar system, it is probably buried deep beneath the surface.

Dr. Steven D’Hondt, a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, has been studying life deep beneath the seafloor in order to understand the microbial ecosystems living there, their role in Earth’s biogeochemical cycles, and their relevance to the search for life on other planets.

On Tuesday, September 30 at noon, he will present his discoveries in a free public lecture, sponsored by Friends of Oceanography, on "The Search for Subsurface Life." The lecture will be held in the Coastal Institute Auditorium on the URI Bay Campus in Narragansett.

Last year, D’Hondt led an international team of oceanographers on a two-month research cruise to the eastern Pacific to explore the broad oceanic province of subsurface life that has been estimated to constitute one-tenth to one-third of Earth’s living biomass. He is the principal investigator of the NASA Astrobiological Institute URI Lead Team. Other members of the URI team include geological oceanographer Arthur Spivack and biological oceanographer David Smith.

A resident of East Greenwich, D’Hondt received his B.Sc. in geology from Stanford University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in geology from Princeton University. His research interests place particular emphasis on the evolutionary interplay between organisms and their environment. Some of his other projects have focused on the biological and environmental consequences of large asteroid impacts, ocean-climate interactions during warm and cool climate intervals, and the evolution of open-ocean ecosystems.

Established in 1985 to support and promote the activities of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Friends of Oceanography informs and educates the membership and the general public about the scientific, technological, and environmental research that takes place at GSO. The organization sponsors public lectures, open houses, marine-related mini-courses, science cruises on Narragansett Bay, and an annual auction. The Friends office is located in the Coastal Institute building on URI's Narragansett Bay Campus. For information about Friends of Oceanography, call 874-6642.

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Page last revised Friday, September 19, 2003 .