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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
lcugini@gso.uri.edu

URI Graduate School of Oceanography
Inaugural Lecture Series Probes the
Limits of the Earth’s Deep Biosphere

Narragansett, R.I. -- September 30, 2003 -- The URI Graduate School of Oceanography will host the second in a series of Inaugural Lectures scheduled for the 2003-2004 academic year. "Microbial Life in Deeply Buried Marine Sediments: Probing the Limits of Earth’s Deep Biosphere" will be presented on Thursday, October 16, at 12:30 p.m. by Dr. David Smith, URI biological oceanographer. The lecture will be held in Corless Auditorium on the URI Bay Campus in Narragansett.

Smith’s talk will focus on the presence of an active microbial community inhabiting deeply buried marine sediments. Last year Smith and colleagues from URI and oceanographic institutions from all over the world embarked on the first Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) scientific expedition to search for subsurface life. Their studies found microbial abundance in sediment cores that have confirmed their presence down to at least 800 meters below sea floor. Extrapolation of these results suggests that the cumulative biomass in subsurface marine sediments comprises a significant portion of the total biomass on Earth.

Recently, the capabilities of the ODP ship JOIDES Resolution have been expanded to conduct microbiological experiments onboard. This allows for studies to better understand what controls microbial distribution and activity and, consequently, their biogeochemical impact in the marine subsurface.

A resident of Kingston, Smith received a B.S. in marine biology from California State University at Long Beach and a Ph.D. in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. His research interests include marine microbial ecology, water quality microbiology, bioremediation and the microbiology of deeply buried marine sediments.

The audience for the Inaugural Lectures is the scientific community and the general public with an interest in and knowledge of science. Although technical in nature, Smith’s talk will not be aimed specifically at biological oceanographers. The purpose of the talks is to inform the scientific community about the nature and significance of research being carried out by GSO scientists.

The lectures are free and open to the public. Subsequent lectures will be held every third Thursday of the month at 12:30 p.m. in Corless Auditorium on the URI Bay Campus. For information, call 874-6246.


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