Wondrous ocean research is happening right in Florida at Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU’s) Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, where the Southeastern National Marine Renewable Energy Center performs marine and hydrokinetic research, manufacturing and assembly of test equipment, and mobilization of marine hydrokinetic projects for its partners such as OceanBased Perpetual Energy and the recent OceanBased Gulf Stream Power Demonstration.
Founded in 1971, FAU’s Harbor Branch is a research community of marine scientists, engineers, educators and other professionals focused on ocean science for a better world. Harbor Branch drives innovation in ocean engineering, at-sea operations, drug discovery and biotechnology from the oceans, coastal ecology and conservation, marine mammal research and conservation, aquaculture, ocean observing systems and marine education.
For example, post-doctoral fellow Shiye Zhao, P.h.D., recently examined the interactions between microbial biomass and plastics in the ocean and how that potentially impacts biodiversity, ecological functions and biogeochemical cycles. This study, published in the journal International Society for Microbial Ecology, was the first estimate of the global biological carbon mass carried by plastic marine debris.
It was reported on October 13, the following week, that researchers from Harbor Branch and Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, in collaboration with Utrecht University, Netherlands, the University of Amsterdam, and The Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, examined cell abundances, size, cellular carbon mass, and how photosynthetic cells differ on polymeric and glass substrates over time. They investigated nanoparticle generation from plastic such as polystyrene, which is known to disintegrate into nanoparticles in sunlight and ultraviolet radiation, and how this might disrupt microalgae.
The best news is that people of all ages worldwide can share these stories about the Harbor Branch progress and also learn and experience the ocean’s mysteries in the process. A number of Harbor Branch virtual programs are currently running—all free and open to the public.
- Discover the scientists and engineers behind the great work being conducted at FAU’s Harbor Branch. During Behind the Science, afun and informal web chat series, our researchers will tell you what inspired them to pursue a career in marine science, share stories about their adventures, and advice they would give to a future scientist! Watch Archived Web Chats Here
- FAU’s Harbor Branch John and Barbara Ferrara Ocean Science Lecture Series is going virtual with monthly speakers in November and December. The first lecture will feature Shirley Pomponi, Ph.D., discussing NEEMO 23: Simulating Space Exploration in a Real-life Undersea Environment on Wednesday, November 4, at 4 p.m. Stay tuned for additional details.
- Get a behind-the-scenes look around FAU’s Harbor Branch! This series will highlight their various research projects, state of the art facilities and equipment, as well as views from our historic 144-acre campus that is located along the Indian River Lagoon. Watch Virtual Tours here.
- Bring Ocean Science for A Better World®right into your home with virtual resources from FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute! Online offerings include lectures, interviews with marine scientists, activities for children and much more! Visit their virtual resources page to learn about these great opportunities for teachers, students and ocean lovers of all ages. Click here to access the Harbor Branch virtual resources.