Research faculty member Dr. Colleen Durkin receives Maxwell/Hanrahan Field Biology Award

We are thrilled to announce that SJSU/MLML research faculty member Dr. Colleen Dunkin was awarded the Maxwell/Hanrahan Individual Award in Field Biology.

This prestigious award given by the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation provides $100,000 in unrestricted funds to support individual scientists, elevate their diverse perspectives, and enable them to commit time to observation and experimentation. Dr. Durkin will use the funds to advance her biological oceanography research program focused on the role sinking particles play in carbon export to the deep ocean. Congratulations, Colleen!

Learn more about the Maxwell/Hanrahan Field Biology Award and Dr. Durkin’s work here.

Graduate student Bonnie Basnett featured on Fisherwomen podcast

Graduate student Bonnie Basnett was recently interviewed on the Fisherwomen podcast. Bonnie’s research through the SJSU/MLML Fisheries & Conservation Biology Lab examines diet variation in the lingcod, a large benthic fish species native to the West Coast. In the podcast interview with host Katie Osborn, Bonnie discusses collaborating with sportfishing guides, fieldwork logistics, and why lingcod are such fascinating animals to study.

Listen to the podcast episode here or wherever you get your podcasts.

San José State University celebrates 150 year anniversary with SJSU Heritage Day

On October 20, 2020, San José State University, the administrative campus of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, celebrates 150 years in the city of San Josè! We take great pride in SJSU’s legacy as the oldest public university in California and the founding campus in the California State University system and look forward to the next 150 years.

To kick off the year-long celebration, SJSU has released the first in a series of videos that will explore our heritage and societal contributions but also look ahead to our future. Watch the SJSU Heritage Day video below and don't miss the segment featuring MLML!

Virtual Seminar – Trophic relationships in the benthos: feeding morphology and ecology of macroinvertebrates – October 22nd


Maya deVries, SJSU

Hosted by the Invertebrate Ecology Lab

Presenting: "Trophic relationships in the benthos: feeding morphology and ecology of macroinvertebrates"

MLML Virtual Seminar | October 22nd, 2020 at 4pm

Watch the Live Stream here



Maya’s research reveals how the fundamental relationship between feeding morphology and feeding ecology on the individual level can help to shape the trophic ecology of an ecosystem. My lab further explores how environmental change may alter these relationships. We approach these classic questions in functional morphology and ecology by integrating tools from animal behavior, biomechanics, stable isotope ecology, robotics, and engineering.

Maya deVries Presents: Trophic relationships in the benthos: feeding morphology and ecology of macroinvertebrates

Professor Amanda Kahn joins Nautilus Live Expedition

Professor Amanda Kahn of the SJSU/MLML Invertebrate Ecology Lab is currently serving as a "Scientist Ashore" with the Nautilus Live 2020 Expedition. The focus of this expedition is to shine new light on little-known regions of the deep sea along the North American West Coast, from British Columbia to Southern California. Professor Kahn is assisting with the Central California National Marine Sanctuary portion of the expedition that runs from October 3-16, 2020. Also serving on the expedition team is MLML alumnus Chad King who now works as a Research Specialist with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

To learn more about Professor Kahn's contributions to the Nautilus Exploration Program, check out her profile on the Nautilus Live website.

Virtual Seminar – Using genomic tools to explore fish evolution in extreme environments – October 15th


Liz Alter, CSUMB

Hosted by the Invertebrate Zoology Lab

Presenting: "Using genomic tools to explore fish evolution in extreme environments"

MLML Virtual Seminar | October 15th, 2020 at 4pm

Watch the Live Stream here



Dr. Liz Alter is a population geneticist and evolutionary biologist who recently joined the faculty of the Biology and Chemistry Department at California State University Monterey Bay. She is also a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History. Her research, published in peer-reviewed journals including PNAS and Molecular Ecology, focuses on understanding how aquatic biodiversity is generated and maintained, particularly in extreme environments including urban estuaries and rivers, using the tools of genomics. She directs an undergraduate STEM initiative funded by the National Science Foundation (Bridge to Research in Environmental and Applied Metagenomics), which aims to improve retention and academic success in STEM among underrepresented and first-generation students by immersing them in real-world research experiences, and to simultaneously improve our state of knowledge about pressing local environmental issues. Liz also advises the Scientific Advisory Board of the Billion Oyster Project, which seeks to restore urban marine ecosystems while training high school students in marine science. She received her B.A. in Anthropology and Biology from Yale University, and PhD in Biological Sciences from Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station.

Liz Alter Presents: Using genomic tools to explore fish evolution in extreme environments

A New Research Vessel for Moss Landing Marine Laboratories – San José State University

For nearly sixty years, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and the San José State University Research Foundation have operated Research Vessels owned by the university and the National Science Foundation.  These ships and boats not only afforded our students the experiences of ship-board research activities during class cruises, but also offered invaluable collaborations at sea for our faculty researchers and students with ocean scientists from around the world. Since the sale of the R/V Point Sur to the University of Southern Mississippi in 2015, MLML has been searching for a replacement.

R/V Point Sur Antarctic Expedition 2013

Students on the back deck of the Pt. Sur

Today, San José State University and Moss Landing Marine Labs, in partnership with Ocean Planet Explorers (OPE), are designing and planning to build a purpose-built research vessel for the 21st Century, the OPE 111.  This sail assisted, hybrid-electric propelled 111 feet boat is large enough to carry more than forty students for a class cruise in Monterey Bay and sixteen scientists for multi-day expeditions, but small enough to be operated by a limited crew.

OPE 111 top side view showing solar panels and foredeck area


LOA  -  111’5”

LWL  -  98’4”

Beam  -  22’5”

Draft  -  12’4”

Air Draft  - 125’

Work Deck  -  885 sq ft


Dry Labs  -  920 sq ft

Complement Day Trips  -  50

Complement, over 12 hrs.  -  16

Displacement  -  200,000Lbs

Gross Tonnage (Regulatory)  -  78

Top Speed, Power  -  15 Kts


Top Speed, Sail  -  22 Kts

Endurance  - Trans Oceanic

Dynamic Positioning - Enabled

A-Frame  -  10,000 Lbs SWL

Mizzen Boom  -  10,000Lbs SWL

Sail Control  -  Electric/Hydraulic

This vessel, designed by Tom Wylie, is a paradigm shift from the “traditional” research vessel design. The OPE 111 utilizes wind power, not only for direct propulsion, but also power regeneration by dragging one or more propellers to recharge lithium batteries.  Photo-voltaic cells are incorporated into the top decks to recharge batteries for the hotel loads (i.e. electrical needs in excess of that needed for propulsion such as lighting, ventilation, auxiliary equipment, and science equipment).  This design not only greatly reduces carbon emissions but also allows the ship to operate silently for hours at a time using only electricity for propulsion and other power needs.  This is especially important due to the increase in noise pollution in our oceans, and it allows researchers to perform delicate acoustic experiments without having to filter out engine noise. Modular construction allows future technologies to be easily incorporated into a vessel designed to last for decades.

Schematic of the propose layout for the inside of the OPE 111

We envision that this vessel, besides training the next generation of marine scientists, will be used to examine the most pressing issues facing our oceans, including climate change, ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms, micro plastics and other pollutants, and the health of marine protected areas. The vessel will operate off California, but will able to conduct important research worldwide.
The vessel will be outfitted with state-of-the-art data collection, instrumentation, and sampling equipment such as multi-frequency bio-mass acoustic systems, bottom and water column mapping systems, acoustic doppler current profilers, and a CTD water sampling and profiling system that can measure water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, bioluminence, and other parameters throughout the water column.
This new style of research vessel will serve many purposes, including class cruises, day research trips, and longer duration research voyages. Classes from MLML, CSU campuses, and other local  academic programs (e.g. UCSC, Hopkins/Stanford, Naval Postgraduate School, and community colleges) will be able to take out up to 40 students for oceanographic and biological sampling, and observations of marine mammals and sea birds. The vessel will have the capability of moving up and down the west coast of North America so students from many locations will be able to have access to the sea. Research groups will be able to use the vessel operating out of various ports in central California (e.g. Moss Landing, Monterey, San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, etc.) to conduct coastal sampling programs that study formation of harmful algal blooms, distribution and abundance of plankton and nekton, condition of marine protected areas, physical factors affecting nearshore processes, and many more important topics of interest to California. And this vessel, with its unique and diverse propulsion capabilities, can undertake extended trips around the world to study important aspects of marine science worldwide.

Side view of OPE 111, showing A-frame for launching and recovering scientific gear, and the aft opening for dive operations and gear deployment. This view shows a large container placed on the rear deck to incrase wet lab capabilities for sample processing.

View of the hull and the three electric propellers/thrusters that allow dynamic positioning and precise, quiet control of the vessels position when on station

With help from University Advancement at San José State University, Ocean Planet Explorers  AND MLML/SJSU hope to secure private funding (and possibly some State funding) for this vessel and lay the keel in 2022 with launch, commissioning, and donation to SJSU/MLML in 2023. If you are interest in supporting this exciting endeavor please contact Emily Lane ( the Director of Development for the SJSU College of Science and MLML.


If you want more information about the design features and this project in general, please contact:


Brian Ackerman (MLML Marine Operations Manager) -
Jim Harvey (Director of MLML)  -
See the Ocean Planet Explorers website for more information related to this project.

Virtual Seminar – Ocean Health and Seafood Safety in the Gulf of Guinea – October 8th


Edem Mahu, University of Ghana; MLML alumna

Hosted by the Chemical Oceanography Lab

Presenting: "Ocean Health and Seafood Safety in the Gulf of Guinea"

MLML Virtual Seminar | October 8th, 2020 at 4pm

Watch the Live Stream here



Heavy metal pollution of the aquatic environment continues to be among the most challenging environmental concerns in the Gulf of Guinea. The problem has escalated over the past few decades mainly because of the lack enforcement for regulating industrial effluent discharges into the aquatic environment and the indiscriminate use of toxic metals in artisanal gold mining. The study presents a historical assessment of heavy metal accumulation trends in Ghana’s coastal environment looking into ecotoxicological risks and seafood safety implications.

Dr. Edem Mahu Presents: Ocean Health and Seafood Safety in the Gulf of Guinea