Five SJSU/MLML faculty members receive funding from California Sea Grant & CSU COAST

Three new SJSU/MLML research projects are officially Sea Grant-funded! California Sea Grant has announced funding for a total of seven new research projects led by early-career faculty members throughout the state. The one-year projects focus on two key areas of California Sea Grant’s strategic plan: sustainable fisheries & aquaculture, and coastal resilience. This year, a new partnership with the CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) provided non-federal match to new CSU faculty members whose research focuses on supporting the state of California’s highest priority marine, coastal and coastal watershed related needs for scientific information.

SJSU/MLML faculty will serve as PIs on the following three projects:

  • Chemical oceanographer Dr. Maxime Grand and co-PI research faculty member Dr. Luke Gardner will lead a new project focused on quantifying volatile bromocarbon emissions from seaweed aquaculture in California.
  • Invertebrate ecologist Dr. Amanda Kahn and co-PIs Dr. Kerstin Wasson and Dr. Luke Gardner will investigate the use of energetics and metabolism to enhance Olympia oyster aquaculture and outplanting success.
  • Ichthyologist Dr. Scott Hamilton and phycologist Dr. Michael Graham will serve as co-PIs on a new project led by SJSU professor Dr. Maya deVries investigating whether co-culture of seaweeds and shellfish improves shell integrity in farmed red abalone.

Congratulations to all our SJSU/MLML faculty members and their collaborators on these exciting new ventures! Learn more about all seven newly funded research projects here.

Ocean Protection Council awards $1.3 million in funding to support Elkhorn Slough restoration

We are thrilled to announce that the California Ocean Protection Council has approved $1.3 million in new funding to support restoration of Elkhorn Slough! This restoration will take place on the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in partnership with NOAA and with support from the Elkhorn Slough Foundation.

More than 90% of California’s wetlands have vanished over the past century. Today Elkhorn Slough features the most extensive salt marshes in California south of San Francisco Bay, yet without intervention the remaining marshes are projected to be lost within 50 years due to rising sea levels, subsidence, and tidal erosion. This new funding, generated by California’s Proposition 68, will be used to restore a diversity of species and habitats in the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve including native oysters, eelgrass beds, coastal grasslands, and tidal salt marsh.

Oysters in Elkhorn Slough are at dire risk of local extinction, with no successful reproduction in the wild since 2012. To restore these vanishing filter feeders, scientists have pursued a novel approach, capitalizing on techniques used by commercial oyster farmers. They will bring adult oysters from the slough to the SJSU/MLML Aquaculture Facility, where they will be fed and warmed until they produce larvae. The larvae settle out on clam shells provided by the aquaculturists. When they are dime-sized, the baby oysters will be reintroduced to the restored tidal creeks. 

Lean more about Elkhorn Slough and this exciting new restoration project at www.elkhornslough.org.

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.

Professor Gitte McDonald receives prestigious NSF CAREER Award

MLML is excited to announce that Dr. Birgitte (Gitte) McDonald, faculty member of San José State University, has been awarded a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation for $935,931. The Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) supports promising young scientists, providing funds to allow them to greatly expand their research capability in the early stages of their career. Dr. McDonald will be using the funds to support graduate students and postdocs, develop a new biologging course, and contribute data to an NSF-funded afterschool program. Dr. McDonald’s research program is described below.

As ice-dependent top predators, Emperor Penguins are indicators of both drastic and subtle changes occurring throughout the food web and the state of the sea ice. Like other predators, they are vulnerable to environmental change: these changes permeate through the food web, modifying foraging behavior, and ultimately survival and reproduction. Despite their importance in the Southern Ocean ecosystem, relatively little is known about the mechanisms Emperor Penguins use to find and acquire food. This study combines a suite of technological and analytical tools to gain essential knowledge on Emperor Penguin foraging energetics, ecology, and habitat use during critical periods in their life history.

Specifically, this project (1) investigates the foraging energetics, ecology, and habitat use of Emperor Penguins at Cape Crozier, the 2nd most southern colony, during late chick-rearing. Energy management is particularly crucial during late chick-rearing as parents need to feed both themselves and their rapidly growing offspring, while being constrained to regions near the colony. And (2) study the ecology and habitat preference of Ross Sea Emperor Penguins after the molt and through early reproduction. The post-molt foraging trip may be the most dangerous time for Emperor Penguins as they recover from a 50% loss in protein, while doubling their body mass for the reproduction fast ahead of them. This study fills important knowledge gaps on the energy balance, diet, and habitat use of Emperor Penguins during these critical periods, while also addressing fundamental questions in ecology.

Alumna Brijonnay Madrigal awarded NOAA Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship

MLML alumna Brijonnay Madrigal was recently named a 2020 Nancy Foster Scholar! The highly competitive NOAA Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program supports women and minorities pursuing graduate research in oceanography and marine biology.

Bri received her MS in Marine Science from MLML in 2019. Her master’s thesis research through our Vertebrate Ecology Lab examined the acoustic behavior of killer whales from the Bering and Chukchi Sea in Alaska. She will be heading to the University of Hawaii at Manoa to begin her PhD in the fall.

Learn more about Bri and the Nancy Foster Scholarship Program in the NOAA media release.

Professors Michael Graham and Scott Hamilton receive new California Sea Grant funding

SJSU/MLML Professors Michael Graham of our Phycology Lab and Scott Hamilton of our Ichthyology Lab have received new grant funding from California Sea Grant. Their project titled “Assessment of practical methods for re-establishment of northern California bull kelp populations at an ecologically relevant scale” will focus on restoring native seaweed populations and combatting destructive sea urchin overgrowth.

This grant is one of six funded by California Sea Grant as part of their 2020 Kelp Recovery Research Program. Together the grants total $2.1 million and are funded jointly by California Sea Grant and the California Ocean Protection Council, in collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Read more about Dr. Graham and Dr. Hamilton's new research project here.

Alumna Dr. Edem Mahu receives prestigious FLAIR fellowship from the African Academy of Sciences

We are thrilled to announce that SJSU/MLML alumna Dr. Edem Mahu was recently awarded a 2020 Future Leaders – African Independent Research (FLAIR) fellowship from the African Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society! These prestigious awards provide two years of research funding to outstanding early-career African scientists. Dr. Mahu will use the fellowship support to gauge the impacts of climate change and non-climate stressors on oyster fisheries in the Gulf of Guinea, which sustain impoverished communities in several surrounding countries and are increasingly under threat.

Dr. Mahu first came to MLML in 2010 as a foreign exchange student from the University of Ghana to complete her Master’s degree research with Dr. Kenneth Coale, then Director of MLML. She focused her studies on the potential impact of an oil spill to the sediment microbial activity in Elkhorn Slough. Using oil from the Deep-Water Horizon spill, she combined sediment geochemistry with the fluoroscene diacetate method (recently developed by Dr. Nick Welschmeyer’s lab) to quantify the impact.  Dr. Mahu then returned to MLML to conduct her Ph.D. research working with Dr. Coale and Dr. Ivano Aiello. This time she came bearing sediment cores from several estuaries throughout Ghana. With help from researchers at MLML and USGS she age-dated the cores, performed mineral analysis and trace metal concentrations to develop an understanding of sediment provenance (where the sediments came from) in each one of the corresponding watersheds and link the contamination to specific processes. She returned to the University of Ghana and successfully defended her Ph.D. becoming the first marine biogeochemist in Ghana.

Now a lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr. Mahu continues to collaborate and publish with MLML scientists. She was also recently awarded an OWSD Early Career Fellowship from the United Nations' Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World. Through this fellowship, she is developing affordable and easily accessible soil nutrient testing kits to prevent the spread of fertilizers from farmlands into lagoons and other coastal environments in Ghana. Congratulations on your tremendous success, Dr. Mahu!

Four MLML graduate students receive research grants from Myers Trust!

We are excited to announce that four SJSU/MLML graduate students received research grants from the Dr. Earl H. Myers & Ethel M. Myers Oceanographic & Marine Biology Trust this year. Congratulations to the following students:

Congratulations to all grant recipients! We can’t wait to see the results of your exciting thesis projects.

Four MLML students receive COAST Graduate Student Research Awards!

We are excited to announce that four MLML graduate students received COAST Graduate Student Research Awards this year! Congratulations to Juliana Cornett, Gammon Koval, Lauren Cooley, and Melissa Naugle.

The CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) provides these grants to support CSU graduate students engaged in marine, coastal, and coastal watershed research. Many SJSU/MLML students have been funded by COAST over the years, and we are always thankful for the California State University’s strong support for marine science research.