Oceanographer Receives Navy Grant to Enhance Phytoplankton Research

URI Biological Narragansett, R.I. — August 4, 1999 — The microscopic plants in the ocean that scientists call phytoplankton are found in the upper, sunlit waters of all oceans and provide an important food souce for many fish and other marine animals. They are so small and there are so many different kinds of phytoplankton (tens of thousands of different species), that scientists require special instrumentation to study them. URI Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) biological oceanographer Dr. Jan Rines of Wakefield recently was awarded $103,385 by the Office of Naval Research to acquire an Imaging and Analysis System to study how the physical properties of the ocean interact with how certain species of phytoplankton are distributed throughout the water column. The Imaging and Analysis System is a specialized piece of equipment that includes microscopes, digital and video cameras, and computers and computer-based hardware and software. The system will allow Rines and her colleagues to assess, at sea and in real time, the kinds and characteristics of phytoplankton in the water column as well as allow scientists to share their information with other ships, with land-based scientists, and in the classroom. In addition, the system will enhance the capability of her Bay Campus laboratory to perform and analyze experiments directed at understanding how biological and physical factors work together to produce certain patterns of phytoplankton distribution. “We are excited about the new, upgraded capabilities that the Imaging and Analysis System will bring to our laboratories at the Bay Campus and at sea,” said Rines. “Accurate descriptions of patterns and the ability to study the processes at work in the ocean are critical to understanding and predicting how the marine ecosystem responds to physical changes in the environment.” The Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island is the country’s largest marine science education program, and one of the world’s foremost marine research institutions. Founded in 1961 in Narragansett, Rhode Island, the Graduate School of Oceanography serves a community of scientists who are researching the causes of and solutions to such problems as acid rain, global warming, air and water pollution, oil spills, overfishing, and coastal erosion. In addition to graduate education and scientific research, the Graduate School of Oceanography provides public education through programs including the JASON Project, Narragansett Bay Classroom, the Office of Marine Education, and Rhode Island Sea Grant. The Graduate School of Oceanography is also home to the Coastal Institute, the Coastal Resources Center and the National Sea Grant Depository. x-x-x For Information Contact: Lisa Cugini, 874-6642, lcugini@gso.uri.edu http://www.gso.uri.edu/