A Special LabOratory Episode Highlighting the 2020 AGU Ocean Sciences Conference! In this episode we feature interviews from a variety of participants at the Ocean Sciences 2020 Conference in San Diego. We interview a number of Artist/Scientists that attended the conference as well as a diverse group of individuals who represented a wide array of ocean based companies featured at the Exhibit Hall during the conference.
Introduction By David Helvarg of the Blue Frontier Campaign
Fernanda X. Oyarzun
Sean Newsom - Shorebreak Tech
Jeanette McConnell - CAICE
David Dia - Alseamar
Katrina Hoffman - Prince William Sound Science Center
Hi, I'm David Helberg. I'm an author and founder
Blue Frontier, which is ocean conservation and a policy group that wants to know more. About what? The O G. The original scientists and marine science or doing these days. And what lessons can they teach
us? That's why I'm going to lab oratory podcasts and just find out
who they are, what they're saying. And you know,
how would there helping to turn the tide?
Welcome back to lab oratory. Podcast. This is our first of two ocean science Meeting specials. So, Sam, this was your first scientific conference that you've gotten too. What did you think? I
thought it was exhilarating. I thought that everyone I met had such passion. It was great to see that amongst scientists, artists and everyone and anyone in between. Um, it was great, too. Talk about the ocean with all these knowledgeable people and to learn from them and learn about the vast Riese reaches of things that I hadn't even thought to think about. It was quite the undertaking, and I was super impressed. What did you think?
It really hit home for me. I think mainly because I'm in this transitionary time between working for an institution and hopefully going toe. Pursue my PhD. It's great to see folks of all different backgrounds of all different skill levels and knowledge levels being so excited about their work. Whether we talked to somebody who was an undergraduate, a post op or a senior scientist, everybody was so excited with what they were learning about during the conference and who they had the chance to interact with. So it's nice to see that excitement amongst everyone. Yeah,
it was definitely a good crew, and I'm looking forward to a attending. More conferences be seeing if this type of passion lives on another conference is, too. We're coming for you. All right, So So while we were at the conference, we took the opportunity to interview as many people as we could to get a wide variety of who attended this conference. What types of people were presenting, who was all invited or who found themselves in the room.
And today's episode we're going to focus on two categories of folks. People who identify as artists, scientists and folks who were presenting in the exhibit Hall of the conference. The 1st 4 interviews you'll hear are all from various artists, scientists we chatted with during the conference. First up is Laura Girton, who is a professor of earth science at Penn State Brandywine and who has taken up quilting scientific stories. She was also the chair of our presentation session, and that means she proposed to the organizers of the conference that there be a specific session set aside for storytelling and visual arts in education and outreach. Just want to say
thank you again, toe Lara for accepting us. It was great to be a part of this Elaine in conference and to meet her and see your quilts, and we'll be putting them up on Instagram after we're done. But we're going to move ahead. And next up in our interview timeline will be Fernando, your son. She's a larval Ecologist from Chile who has been using sculptures to communicate science. After Fernando, we interview Drew Harvell, someone Fernanda actually sites is being an influence to on her own work. Drew talks about the books she is written on, one of which takes the reader on a historic journey through antique blown sculptures of ocean animals and how she studies the live versions of each glass sculpture to see how they, the actual animals exist in modern
times. Finally, we have Tim Luker, a researcher at scripts who engages with the San Diego community by teaching others how to create vibrant mosaic murals that capture stories of the ocean from how local communities rely on it, toe how vital hiss and others scientific research is. So
let's head on into the San Diego Convention Center and listen to what these artists scientists have to
say chose Blue and White. But it's just to represent getting the stories to the president about any legislator. It's about any neighbor. It's about anyone that
makes decisions about actions they take. What they do with fabric is because we're running out of time. He had all of them. Now
my name is Laura Curtain. I'm a professor of Earth science, offensive for anyone, and I have a PhD in marine geology and geophysics, and on the side I do some quilting. And so the story of my quilting actually goes back to 2018. When Lum, Kan's Louisiana universities surname consortium, invited a group of scientists and a group of science communicators down to their facility and they said, we really need some help because we need help telling stories of what they were calling coastal optimism, things of hope, things of positive impacts that are happening on the coast instead of all the stories of doom and gloom, right? Everything is death, destruction and erosion and all that. So what are the stories of adaptation and resilience? That's what they needed. Help. And so we spent a few days going in the field meeting with local residents, and and I just felt like I needed to do something special and something different so I could have done a blogger post. I mean, I'm a blogger for a D. U. I could've could've done a podcast. So I was like, What is something that is different and unique? And so I'm still thinking about this. When the the meeting was over at Lum calm. I'm on my flight on the plane trying to get back to Philadelphia, Seat belted in. And of course, there's a weather delay because there's always a weather delay in Philadelphia, then started the small talk with the woman sitting next to me, and she was a local person and she said What are you doing here? Lum Calm Coastal optimism blah, blah, blah, and she immediately gets excited. It's his Christmas trees. Christmas trees are awesome. I just got this really weird look on my face. I know, because it was the month of March and she's all raving about Christmas trees and like, there's a story here clearly, then I don't know about. And so I went home and do some searching online and found out about how people in the coastal parishes in Louisiana actually collect their old discarded Christmas trees at the end of the holidays and work with the Louisiana National Guard and place them offshore parallel to the shoreline, and have found ways to reduce the wave energy that is crashing into the shore, which then is lessening the rate of erosion in areas that they're being placed. So so I went to the store and after I learned that story, and it's all about fabric choice to truly this is the hardest part for me. The party spend the most time on getting the right fabrics. Fabrics tell part of the story. You don't want the fabrics to abstract or complicated right, because you want the quotes to be accessible toe all audiences. So So it needs a little bit of explanation. But it's something that draws you in, and you spend some time looking at your like okay, recognize that's water,
that's grass. And so we're to be trees. What I love are these lines. Are they out of necessity or they out of
the great lines are there to help with story telling him to get you looking at pieces of time? Siri's
very well. I'm going to be a little bit selfish, so I am a hot sauce enthusiasts, and you're telling this story before I was wondering why. Oh, my God. So I was wondering if you wouldn't mind explaining this one as well.
Sure, So this was actually my second quill was the Tabasco quilt. So when we got to Louisiana at Lum calm, their tables in their dining hall are filled with every variety and flavor of Tabasco on, and I notice on the Tabasco bottle on the label. It says Avery Island, Louisiana, like they're located there. And so and so I looked it up a little bit and then learned about the challenges they're also having remaining in this coastal community in in that area. So I I found this window pane pattern for the quilt and a quilting magazine. And so they're six panels, if you will in this window, so I have six individual pieces of the story. The story shows a red brick fabric for the border because all the buildings at the Tabasco factory are made of red brick, so and then the purple and the green accents are a shoutout thio, New Orleans officials. So the first window you're looking at the logo for Tabasco, it's cracked, it's fragmented. And that just represents the physical stress that that environment is. Under the second panel, you see this green dome with the salt crystals inside, and you see what looks like water around it that's representing the physical location of the Tabasco factory. It's actually located ah, 150 feet above sea level, which is pretty high for the coast, but it's on top of a salt dome. The third panel, though you see a lot of construction equipment and you see some canals. And that's because in this environment being so close to the coast, there's been a lot of digging and dredging that's gone on toe lay pipelines that are going on an offshore to bring materials back and forth so it has destabilized the coast a lot, and it's allowed for more storm surges to come in. Panel number four of the window shows what looks like a tsunami wave, but it's just representing a rig. It's just a storm surge from Hurricane Rita. So when Hurricane Rita actually hit the area, it flooded. Their storage facility, which was filled with wooden barrels, had mashed up peppers and what they call assault mash. So after they grow the peppers and the national, they sent these wooden caskets for three years before they do the final processing to put them in a bottle. But they lost 60,000 wooden barrels from that storm surge. So there's an economic impact there. Certainly, and they're fact their whole facility. So they've got a choice. They leave or do these day. Now, you can't just pack up and leave if you're using that salt right over at the environment. Your family's been in for generations. And so what they did is we move on to panel number five. I have what looks like a mounded pile of dirt with a lot of grass around it mess to represent the Earth and levees that they started constructing around the factory and of the natural cord grass native to the area that they used to stabilize it. They started working also with local organizations with local residents, and actually helping too use natural resource is and materials to help stabilize the area on what they found was in the final panel. You see a bunch of pictures of animals like eat grits and Black Bear and Gators. They were coming back, and they're actually in that community again, which is where they were before. And so it's a wonderful kind of restoration and and adaptation to an environment that is going to continue to get hurricanes. You can't stop the storms. Can you find a wayto minimize and reduce that impact?
And you said that you were partnering with a few entities to start presenting this.
So, yes, I've been, uh, looking at libraries, and I presented a couple libraries I presented at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia with them. I'd love to get them out to other places because I'm finding everyone has a blanket or a quilt story, whether it was a quilt their grandmother made, or a blanket on their bed from childhood, and the bright colors of the fabrics really draws people in. You don't have to be a scientist to get excited about equipped, so so I think it makes the science accessible. There's no graphs on here. There's no numbers on here. But it's enough where you're going to remember it, and people are coming by and taking pictures. I'm going to show my mom this. I'm gonna tell her upper quilting game, and people are sharing it, which is what I want to talk about it and share.
It tells the story. It is a story, right? And as you were the curator for our discussion, how
how, how did that come to be? So I have been interested in finding other ways for us to be able to communicate science partially because as a college instructor, I teach introductory level earth science classes for non science majors, and so I can't use the jargon. I can't assume that I'm a priority in my student's life. I want them to be able to understand what I'm teaching and realize how relevant it is, how accessible it is to them and why it matters. Someone always looking for what are different ways that I can engage in hook students into my classes. And so that's where the idea of visualizations the idea of storytelling has really become. Part of my identity is an instructor as well, so I've been spending a lot of time reading literature and putting into practice with what I'm finding actually is clicking with my students and so on. And I just want to find out what other people are doing to. There's some great things that are happening, and I don't think we have enough opportunities to come together as a community. Let's be able to share this, which is why I am so excited at Ocean Sciences when we propose this session on storytelling in visualizations, we got so many Addison wait three sessions just for that one. So to have to eat landings in a poster session was just beyond excitement, that there's that many people that have their own stories, that they want to tell about how they're communicating science.
If people wanted to find you or find out more about your work. Where can they access that?
So, yes, they can. So actually, I have. I'm a blogger for American Geophysical Union at Geo Ed Trek so they can go to the website looking up. Or I also have a personal blawg where all these quilts and their stories behind the fabrics are listed. And that's journeys of dr g dot I'm Fernando. You're soon. I'm from Chile. I did my PhD in the United States and University of Washington. I'm a biologist, said Allowable ecology. But I'm hearing the ocean science comforts and art and scientist person. I did an artist, etc. Residency with Mid Ocean Institute. There's a sculpture of me, the work that I did there right now and exhibit and I'm also percent in the work of interdisciplinary community. Let's go ask to first that is Intermix Ferric Interdisciplinary Community Research Network from people from Chile and the United States. How did you become a scientist asking questions? Basically, and it's the same thing for artists. For me, Arjun science is approaching the world, getting marvel I did and starting to ask questions, and we get slightly different tools in the arts and science to answer them. But they're so interconnected that I feel that nowadays wear starting to share more spaces that are interdisciplinary because we're getting these crave off, trying to understand things deeper. And there is urgent needs to understand things deeper because of climate change in so many other things. What do
you think about science history? And were you influenced by anyone in the past of science and or art history?
Both like from when I was little, I wanted to be like your Vinci and at that time and something that is very interesting, I knew more about male scientists and male artists. A. Nowadays I feel so inspired not only by past artists and female artists and female scientists, but also from precedent from Drew Harvell that is here in the conference. And people like Rachel Carson started the ecology movement and people that are maybe not that well known, but are the artists and scientists that are less recognized and they're doing the small little work in their lives. So some systematic people that work identifying the species that now is not cool to be in that area. Those are the people that go in, and they have so much knowledge and they're teaching you about diversity enough so I can say there's so many people that that are interesting out there, that it's it's it's good to look at history. We need to learn where we come from to know where we're going on that. Connects with a lecture of last night. Also that it was about navigation in the Hawaiian tradition. If
there's one thing you could say to the general public about the science world or the art world, anything at all, what would you say?
Approach. Ask questions. I think that one of the things that I have found more, for example, about artists that day no know how to approach scientists inside his agent, two personalities and people interest feel kind of a little bit embarrassed to arrive, Ask questions. But most of the people that I know I'm really happy and passionate about the do so they're really happy to talk with you about fans, conferences, public speaking science affairs podcast like the ones I have is a way to start engaging, is it? This is hard off our culture. Science is part of who we are, like asking questions about the world. So approach engaged participate Drew Harvell, a professor in college and evolutionary biology from Cornell University. I'm here at the Ocean Sciences meeting, super excited to be part of this lightning poster session where I'm doing a poster on my book, a sea of glass and augmented reality cards that were handing out to people that allowed you to print. It projects supercool three dimensional marine invertebrates on your own phones. And that's part of our Alaska glass in vertebrate collection, which I'm the curator of at Cornell. And my book is about using the glass, made 100 and 60 years ago to compare as a time capsule to compare with the living biodiversity of these 800 invertebrate, exquisitely cool glass models that they did 160 years ago. It's not a bad news story, you know that. It's actually we're finding most of them, so that's pretty cool. We started this thinking, Oh, man, we're gonna have extinctions. We won't be able to find stuff. We're finding a lot of these invertebrates of today's oceans, so it's a real reminder of hope that there is so much that we can protect and enjoying are in
the living biodiversity. How did you get into the field? And how did you get into what you're studying right now?
Well, I'm a marine Ecologist. And so, you know, I've been in the field for 40 years and I guess a complete passion for marine invertebrates for for neuter banks and squid and jellyfish and corals. And my current work is focused on the health of ecologically important habitats and organisms in the ocean. So we study the health of coral reefs, started helping eelgrass bads, and we study Ah, big epidemic of sea stars, which are Keystone predators in the ocean. And that's the topic of my new book, Ocean Outbreak. That's just out this year.
And what drew you to write a book?
Well, the first book was a sea of glass, and it was about use our quest to go back and find the living biodiversity matches to the flask of glass. And I guess it was just such an exciting project. And every time I found one of the matches, it was like this jewel in the ocean. Somehow there's this magic about are really beautiful. Art somehow translates our understanding of nature and elevates it in some way, And that sounds crazy that I would ever need my understanding elevated. But somehow every time I find a match, it's the special thing that just expands my heart. So I wrote a book about that because it was just our adventures were awesome, like an Indonesia and Main and the Pacific Northwest. All these crazy dives to find beautiful invertebrates and film them in nature. And then my second book, Ocean Outbreak, is sort of the outcome of most of my research studying tiny monsters in the sea, that air taking down our biodiversity, studying outbreaks in nature and, of course, trying to find solutions. And so the book is also not only about kind of the cool science of chasing these outbreaks around the world, but also ideas that I have for ways we can make our oceans hope. Any mentors, you look up Thio. Oh, I have so many mentors. Well, of course, Jane Lubchenco, right, Because she is, you know, Dr Hero Ocean Sciences. And she's just done so much to elevate the value of marine protected areas, which is one of our most important protections for ocean biodiversity. And then Also, she's She's one of the people that really inspired me to think creatively about how we communicate issues about ocean science. Uh, that I don't want to say it's not worth doing the research if you don't communicate it, But But how much more important to be sure that the message gets out when you do some work? And so I've really taken that to heart Name
is Tom Luker. Uh, my art students called me Dr Tim I'm, a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the co two research group. I came to scripts in 1983 to work with Charles David Keeling. Um, and I started by looking at the buildup of carbon dioxide in the oceans from fossil fuel burning back in the eighties. It was the beginning of time series of measurements. We were making a different ocean sites Bermuda, Hawaii and in various places I'm And then later on, of course, the Keeling curve is the co two record at Modelo that became rather famous over the years. I graduated with a PhD from scripts in 1998 and then I did a post doc with with Dave killing son Ralph Keeling, and we were looking at other measurements of the oceans with atmospheric measurements of Seo, too, and an oxygen to detect upwelling, Flexes of CO two Oxygen and 20 which is another greenhouse gas. And then, later on in my career, I took a break from science and I learned to do mosaic hearts, and I started getting involved with community projects, eventually working with teachers and school kids, teaching them how to make mosaics. But one of my first projects was with a group of school kids in Rancho Santa Fe, California, who had just learned about coral reefs. So we did a mural of coral reefs, and in the process I learned about how I could teach the kids about the marine ecology and what was going down with the coral reefs. And they just love building octopuses in the fish and the crabs and all the different beautiful things that live on the reef. And they actually got to play where they identified so much that a kid would come up to me and say, I remember me. I'm the Octopus girl and I'm not the crab guy. It was just the enthusiasm was amazing. And so it led to year after year more and more school projects, outreach projects, mosaic workshops and and time after time. People just love doing mosaics. And so I started to realize working with all these people that this was just such a great avenue for outreach. Combine the art and the fun of building something out of pieces into this beautiful mural that it just became a very powerful tool. And then, in 2012 I went back to work with Ralph Keeling and scripts, and I've been there since. And in the process, along with doing more and more the research on what's happening with the atmosphere in the build up of greenhouse gases and how that's translating into ocean acidification and heat waves that air actually decimating some of the world's most beautiful coral reefs. It's just become more and more important to talk to people and to get them involved and thinking about these beautiful ecosystems that a lot of people just normally don't think about. So I think one of the most important things about researching the ocean is to understand and communicate to people on planet Earth. What we're doing to the environment by burning fossil fuels and releasing all these gases that air, then causing these dramatic and devastating changes to global communities, especially the coral reef ecosystems, which I love tremendously. So that's my story. Were you always interested in becoming a scientist and then also two parts? What led you to want to pursue artistry? I was sort of trying to pick between being a scientist and being a designer when I was early in my career, but mostly I grew up in Michigan, but I was born in San Diego, and I really wanted to get into a place where I could learn about the oceans because I heard about how great it waas when I was growing up in the Midwest. So I initially went to study oceanography in Florida on and then, But ultimately I really will always wanted to come them working scripts. That was my dream job, and I never imagined that I'd end up being in this research group that would turn out to be so famous. So so early on. I definitely was interested in chemistry in the oceans, and but I didn't know what it was gonna turn it. I never imagined I'd be in a research group that was leading this sort of this investigation of how the whole world is changing what's happening in the oceans from just, you know, burning all these along oil and gas and coal and release. You know, these guys is and then the art thing was just at a point in my career where I was having a hard time, was with their funding challenges and just felt like I wasn't really getting enough of my creative energy into my work. And it just sort of broke out of me one day and I had to try doing something else. And I said, I just I learned how to make these murals with all these pieces of, you know, rejected thrown away materials, stuff that Bradley was gonna end up in a landfill anyway. And turning that into something beautiful that could tell a story just became and and promote. People say, you know, it's really beautiful stuff, so it is really beautiful. So thank you. Yeah. So that to me, one of my great the greatest thing about is just seeing how people react when they see my work. It makes up for all the our painstaking hours and bruises and cuts and sore muscles from cutting stone glass for hours. So would you recommend scientists embrace art to convey their findings? Does Do you find it easier to talk about what you found through art? Absolutely. I think many scientists have already figured out that if they have, if there's something that they like to do, they enjoy doing. And they can use that to help tell the story, whether it's poetry or writing or music or painting, or just any form of art that they can use to help you see people when you start to just give them just full on serious science aboutthe critical crisis that's going on. You see their eyes this immediate glaze over, especially if you use a lot of terminology and big words scientists course left to do. And so to get them involved in a way where they can actually sense and feel things before they hear about them. I think it's really important to to do something to catch their attention when they go walking by and they see this amazing picture of all these great looking fish they think Wow, How did somebody do that and take the time to Goto? I mean, it just captures there their attention and their imagination. And I think that opens the door to learning more about what's going so yeah, I think it's a great tool. Where can people find your work? If you would like them to find you work. Uh, I have a website. If you just do a search on Dr Tim Fine art all one word dot com, And it's It's, of course, in progress because, like everything else, I have time to um and then my daughter and I actually set up a Project Instagram site, and it's called Mural number four Change. And I believe they've linked to it at the American Geophysical Union Instagram account as well within a short interview that they did with me so you might be able to find this
stuff. The artists scientists weren't the only engaging people we interacted with. We also took the time to head over to the exhibit hall, where around 100 different organizations and companies were presenting their products, engaging with potential employees and just overall sharing their organization's mission with those interested in learning
We spoke to four different individuals representing a diversity of organizations all committed to either preserving or learning more about the ocean. First up is Sean Newsome, the principal for Shore Break Tech, a consulting company, and providing aid to companies working with water. He has a stimulating story about how he came into this industry. Next we interviewed Jeanette McConnell, the education, outreach and diversity educator at Case C. A. I. C E. Who taught us a thing or two about aerosols and proves that you don't always need to know where you're going in high school to achieve great things later in life.
Third is David Dia, an economist with a Passion for the ocean, who works promoting autonomous oceanographic vehicles used to study the ocean depths in many capacities. And last but definitely not least is Katrina Hoffman, who worked for the Prince William Sound Science Center up in Alaska, and she talked us through how the center came to be and what it is currently focused on. Studying their booth also captured our attention by hosting a rousing game of Putt Putt golf, in which visitors could win a pop socket.
Renee, of course, 11 and I did
not. You didn't even try. I tried a little bit.
So here, without any further ado, let's take a
listen. My name is Sean Newsome from the principal of a company called Shore Break Tech. And we do business development and consulting for what we call blue tech companies, Which are anybody having to do with water fresh or salt. So primarily, I work with unmanned systems, remotely operated vehicles, unmanned surface vessels on In this case, where you met me today, an unmanned sailing vessel which we call a semi Submersible sailing vessel.
How did you get involved in this line of work?
I dropped out of U. C s D. Where I was studying film to join the Navy because I wanted to find a very high paying job. That was dangerous because I was young and immature, and I found a very high paying job that was dangerous in the Navy. So I went and did that for six years on. Then when I got out, uh, as you used to do back then, I was looking at the classifieds in the back of the local paper, and I found a job in a company called Deep Sea Power in Life, and it was for $10 an hour, assembling cameras and lights for robot submarines and divers. So I felt like, Well, it's not the job I got offered That I turned down because of the pay was very low compared to the jobs that I was offered. But I didn't want to do those types of jobs. Um, but I thought, at least I'm back in the industry that I'm interested because I've been a waterman my whole life here in San Diego. Serve her body surfer, spear fishing, boating, etcetera s. So I took that job, and that's really what launched my career, being around the right people doing the right things on the right projects. I got really lucky, just accidentally put myself in the right place. So at the time, deep Sea Power Light was working on all the lighting for all the Titanic documentaries and that James Cameron film. So help me move from being a bench tech, doing sauntering and parting cables to working in sales within just a few months on other than a short hiatus toe work in automation for better pay. I've worked in the maritime industries. Other than that, six years plus two years for a visual arts degree. Um, since 1987 I've been working under in the water underwater. Do
you draw any
parallels between the art world and the science? You seem to dabble in both.
Yeah, well, I did that on purpose because I felt if I had a degree on both sides of my brain, I could win any argument. I also thought it was good for not that I really want to win any argument. It was really good for sales and marketing, but I do have an anecdote about that. One of things. I wait when I've worked in the past for bigger companies. Now I work for myself. Give a pep talk to the new new engineers coming out of college. So to me, the only thing between being an engineer and being an artist is an engineer has a new objective purpose, and an artist has a subject of purpose. So if you tell an engineer and an artist or a group of engineers and a group of artists to design a cue, the engineer's gonna Each one of them indefinitely is gonna find a 1,000,000 different ways to get to the Cube. None of them are going to use the same methods they're not gonna end up with. Same drawings may not use the same software packages, but they will know when they're done because they're drawing will match the description given to them for the Cube. An artist has to decide when they're done with the Cube, and only the artist knows when they're done with the cute. But they both are probably using the same tools and going through the same methodology. So I tell people the interesting artists and engineers, one is objective, the other one's subject
to someone looking to get into your field or your area. Is there any one way to do it? Would you say kind of? Would you have any advice towards that? One thing
do is on the most obvious things is Blue Stem is a term that's really and education. Now I sit on the advisory panel for Blue Stand for the San your Unified School district, for example, and they're using San Diego's Ocean kindergarten through 12th grade and they're handing off the program through the Great, So that's a continuous or continuous process. And amazingly enough, over half of San Diego school Children have never put their foot in the Pacific Ocean. So this is just ridiculous. So one thing is, take participate in this kind of programs on Thio. It's not just that, but there's like the robo sub competition, which happens here, and I, you know, I go like I'm going to football games. I mean, for me, it's just a highlight. You have to, you know, pay attention to robotics. And in my case, I have to know what's going on in robotics on that happens across many industries, you know, it's in the automotive industry. So, you know, in my case, it's basically just hanging out with the right people and reading the right stuff. I have a visual arts degree, and I have a certificate in nuclear engineering from the U. S. Navy, so I don't even have an engineering degree technically, But I probably you know why I'm comfortable saying I'm a subject matter expert in unmanned systems because I've been involved in it for so long. You know, A lot of people were self taught, so that's where I come from so I would say, Really, you have to be passionate about what you're doing. I totally am. And, uh, you know, be around the right people.
What have you seen? Change Over the course of your 10 years in this industry? We're really interested in the histories of things and how Right now, everyone studies with computers, but they didn't really have that back in the time. Has there been as you're working on what you're working on? Has there been vast changes and maybe what has been made obsolete?
I think I think that's a great question. I've I used to live in Ocean Beach, which is like Venice Beach of San Diego, and I remember being the only guy on my block who had the Internet, and everybody came over to see what that waas and I got that because my boss put the Internet in my house because I was willing to work at home on only because I wanted to get the Internet for free. That was, like 93 I think. Itwas And so in response to your question before I answer it, working in the type of technologies and I work in, we're pretty much way ahead of the curve, so I've got to experience a lot of technology. Early on, I owned the first digital camera that was available to the public, and I use it to do manuals for underwater housings of camera lighting systems. For me, the most disruptive thing that's happened is that the cost of things coming down that make it possible for us to explore our oceans, which are, as we all know, that cliche fastly on unexplored. Right? So that's what's really exciting. And that's what I focus on with my business. I'm either working with such highly technical, unique systems that you can justify the price but primarily worked with highly disruptive systems that are bringing the ability to do science to the masses because people can afford them.
Why should we study the ocean?
All right, The ocean produces more oxygen in trees. So all through school we all paid attention to photosynthesis, and all our teachers ever did was talk about the importance of leads. And but more oxygen comes out of the ocean that comes from Liza. We never got taught that right. Basically, everything we eat is dependent upon the ocean. Most of our rainfall. I'm not a scientist, but I mean, it starts with, you know, condensation off the ocean on there's, you know, there's the classic cliche what we don't know. And there's a whole bunch we don't know about the ocean ridiculously little. Then we know about the ocean for studying, but the ocean is a really good indicator of what we're doing to ourselves. So when we see things like the Pacific gyre and we see a swirling mass of trash the size of some United States in the United States, that's makes it all easier for people. Maybe relate to all the trash that's in downtown San Diego that we don't see swirling and a big mask so that it helps us kind of understand. You know, the science is a little bit too. I know. For me, it's exciting. It's it's, I tell people it's It's harder to go, in my opinion, to explore the ocean than to explore space on the reason is because to go to space, you only travel through one atmosphere into a relatively sterile environment. When you're going into the ocean, you're traveling through an atmosphere about every three meters into a very caustic environment, at least for electron ICS. I find it quite refreshing and good for my complexion right by, So it's a very difficult proposition. That's why you mean so much more about people developing spaceships than you read about people developing underwater stations for for layman's terms. So it's it's a It's a difficult thing to do as well. But bringing down the cost of these technologies that let us do it is really helping and watching kids have the passion about our environment and our oceans. At my age. Now of being a waterman while I get a little water, I just thinking about it That makes me feel more comfortable in a zay as I age that I feel comfortable that their generations that are going to start exploring the oceans. And I'm gonna get a lot of those answers that I don't have right now from our younger generation.
And what you're doing is making it more accessible. It's just a pleasure. Can anybody contact you or contact your company or find out more about what it is that you do?
Absolutely happy? My company is short break tech. Ah, Shore break is my favorite type of wave. Bobby's body serves so has even tied into my company. Name s a short break. Tec t c h dot com on you. Can you look me up there,
Miss Jeanette McConnell?
And what brings you to ocean Sciences?
U s So I'm here with the research center that I worked for cold The Center for aerosol Impacts on chemistry of the environment. Horse name ever. But they study aerosols and they look a lot at sea spray. Aerosol. So all the stuff that, like, flies off the ocean and then look at how once it hits the atmosphere was chemistry that's happening. And how is that impacting our environment?
What brought you Thio? Join this?
Yeah. So I have a PhD in chemistry. But when I finished my PhD, I did not want to do research anymore. And I made a big shift into science education. And so I did science education for, like, 8 to 12 for awhile. And now I've had the opportunity to come back into the university setting, and I work with this research center to bring their science to a wider audience.
What are some important things? I guess we should know going deeper into
air assaults. See that they're everywhere. One of the coolest things I think about is that at the center of like everything cloud, there's aerosols. You need them to make cloudy water, aerosols and a change in pressure. That's what this demo is here, where I could make a cloud in a bottle. Um, but there's lots more to do it then, right? And some aerosols. They kind of get a bad rap sometimes, But some are actually really good, you know. So over the Sierra Nevada's in order for it to snow, you must have some Marisol there, and you need specific types of aerosols to make, like snowing clouds versus cubs that are just like white, fluffy and don't of any precipitation. And so the group is studying that, and then also looking at how it effects other things that happen in the atmosphere. And then last year they actually took the ocean into the lab, so they there was like a 30 meter wave tank full of actual ocean water that they drug in from the scripts here. And then they there was a big paddle in there, and it made waves and so they attached. Because it was in the lab, they were able to attach really fancy instruments like mass specs and things like that, too. The tank that was full of ocean water and so they could do really high level instrumentation analysis in the lab on the ocean, just something that's not possible when you're like out at sea. So it was pretty cool. Yes, like 100 researchers all working together on the project so
cool I will this benefit us as a society, or how would this benefit? In general,
eso aerosols air one of the most poorly understood parts of our atmosphere, and it's specifically their effect on climate and climate change. They're radiative forcing meaning, Do they cool or heat? The planet is like a big giant air bar, and so there's a lot of understanding that needs to still happen. And so that's what this center is for. Understanding that really fundamental chemistry of those air feels.
How did you want to study what you were studying?
It was all just serendipitous. I, like, just got the opportunity to do a PhD and said yes, and then when ended,
it did you always wanted to study chemistry as a kid.
No, no. I mean, I did kind of like science. I liked asking questions, but I didn't know I would do chemistry. As actually I did terrible in chemistry in high school and was suspended from the class. Actually, it was like one of the few places I actually got in trouble. It was, wasn't allowed to go a couple of times. And then now I have a PhD in chemistry. So I think it's fun story, too, because you don't have to be good at it. You just like high school. If you choose a direction leader, that works. But it was all just opportunities. Come came my way and I said Yes.
And if there's one thing that you like that I guess broader public to know about, uh, this company and aerosols and what they could do to better understand it or better for the planet,
I think it's just, uh, really pay attention to what people are saying about this and what their views are and then be open to always listening. Andi have those conversations, anything he's not talking about, just talk about it. Everyone should have a slightly different viewpoints and they may or may not like agree with you. But I still think we just need to start talking about this more all of this stuff to do science in the climate on and eventually we'll get to a place where the world is healthier.
Fingers cross. If you're an average layperson, how can they learn about the findings of what
this business is doing? Well, we've got website, um, case at ucsd dot you e And then there's all of our information is on there. That's a little outreach section as well, with some of the more digestible science formacion rather than just exit papers.
So my name is David David Dia. I'm working with a company that is called Arson Murder. And we're here. Adoption sayings meeting exhibiting or products that are mainly related to autonomous vehicles that operating the ocean in order to collect data in the ocean.
How did you become involved with
so actually I don't have like any other side in TV or engineer by ground? I'm an economist, But at some point in my life, I wanted to work on an industry that would be rated to the ocean to a marine environment. And that's how I I got into the company.
What made you want to do that with anything in particular? Any spark?
I'm from an island on the Mediterranean, so I have been surrounded by the sea on my life. So I guess that what's that's what brought me toe to add in this area.
And so what makes your product special?
So those are autonomous underwater gliders, so those are bakers are going to operate by themselves during long periods of time out on the ocean, like in coastal areas in offshore areas. And they're going to be collecting that on a permanent way on dhe fully by themselves. And it's like the fully by itself. It's important because they're going to correct that on a very cost efficient manner. When you compare to other traditional that I collecting medals. So
what kind of scientists used some particular kind of data doesn't collect?
Yeah, Simon. Actually, there is a large range of sensors that you can integrate into this glider s, so that's going to go like from the classical sensors that are cities. So to measure the temperature of the salinity, the density of water, so that's going to be is reasonable in physical oceanography. But in order feeds off the Santa Graffiti are. Those are variables that you want to have understanding about on yours. Have more 60 application in a certain way, if I can say that that are going to be rated, for example, to observing like zooplankton in the either in the water. So digital imagery of supply Tony the water for people that are doing more ecology related studies. So there is a large range off fears of study that you can study with those instruments.
Katrina Hoffman I work for the Prince William Sound Science Center in Cordova, Alaska. How did the center come to be? The center came to be when several community members in our commercial fishing town, which is home to, ah, very lively salmon industry salmon commercial fishing, harvesting. Uh, they got together and said, You know, there's a lot of awesome ecosystems around here, their unparalleled pretty much anywhere in the world, and no one's really intensively studying them. It would be awesome if we at least got some baseline data or started understanding how things work here. And, um, they got together for a few informal brown bag lunches to talk about this idea that they had. And, um, at some point the Exxon Valdez oil spill happened in our backyard, and they quickly realized that there was not enough baseline data to do an effective damages assessment and when. Wow, that was a good idea and it didn't happen fast enough. But we still incorporated a month later, and we've been in existence ever since, and we're a nonprofit research and education institute. We do ecological research and stem education. Way do education, both within our community and around Alaska. So we send our educators out to other parts of Alaska to do things like, um, oil spill response education. They get kids building remotely operated vehicles. They dio leadership team building engineering exercises and also have to think about practical applications in the real world. Alaska has more coastline than the entire rest of the US put together, and most many Alaskan youth live in coastal communities where things like oil spills or a threat. That's not the only thing we focus on. We d'oh Oceanographic Research in Prince William Sound in the northern Gulf of Alaska. We have a variety of different kinds of fisheries and avian ecology programs on going on in the Sky's the limit Love partnerships. We're soft money funded. So we've been successful for 31 years now at what we're doing. And we're building a new campus, which will have improved laboratories running seawater dormitory space where people like faculty can bring their groups of students for field study programs really in the home of the world's richest waters and in places where you can be on a glacier 30 minutes after you walk out our front door. And how did you become involved in all of this? I became involved because a friend of mine pulled an all nighter in Antarctica looking for his next job, and he's found it at the Prince William Sound Science Center. And when my predecessor retired, he floated the position announcement to me and said, You should take a look at this. I wasn't looking for a new job, and I had never been to Alaska, so I didn't look at it in a month later, he pinned me again and said, I'm serious on. I looked at it and said, Well, holy crap, I'm gonna have to get serious to. This looks like an amazing institution. And it is. So we have about eight principal investigators with PhDs on our staff. We have a number of research technicians who have master's degrees or undergraduate degrees, and we have an education staff and then folks like AmeriCorps, volunteers and interns on dhe. Other general volunteers who help us carry out our mission, which is to advance community resilience and the understanding and sustainable use of ecosystems. What inspired you to go into this field, right? Um, I had what was probably a somewhat typical path in the science. I was a kid who liked to look at things close up. So when we went to the beach, I'd lie in the sand looking at the different shapes of clamshells for hours and collecting them. And I was lucky enough to be a kid who was raised in the Washington D. C area. And my parents took me to the Smithsonian all the time, and I was obsessed with things like gems and minerals and, you know, you name it. I had my collections of stuff that I'd save my money up and spend them on buying samples and organizing them. So I was, I guess I had a systematic brain early on, Um, and so I always made it a priority to focus on science. I had wonderful woman science teachers in high school, and, um, and I went to a college that my grandfather had attended, and it was inland in the middle of Ohio, even though I knew I wanted to be a marine biologist. And it just so happened that my advisor in Ohio had gotten his PhD at Stanford at Hopkins Marine Station, and, um, his expertise was in the Marine sciences, and he kind of helped guide me into what I do today. So every every summer job, every study abroad opportunity I did as a is a younger person. I made sure that it had a connection to Marina Environmental Science, and I ended up getting an internship at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute the very first year that they ran their internship program in 1997. And I can see the man who chose me for the internship from this booth. He's two booths away, and we're still friends now, almost 22 years later, and, um, and that experience changed my life. I did a lot of shit shit based oceanographic research. I worked with some wonderful scientists and several of humor at this meeting and kind of learned about what my natural inclinations and preferences were. Top marine biology. For about a decade, I went into policy work and worked on international Sustainable Charlene Development Policy on the West Coast and with Canada. And then I somehow manage Thio. Combine my ship based oceanographic experience with my education and policy experience in this role as the director of an institute that does work relevant all of those things.
If you could offer any suggestions to up and coming scientists about how to pursue their career, what they should do,
Any one piece of advice I would have is Don't give up. The science world is competitive, and it can be hard to find the right fit. Don't be afraid to talk to people. Introduce yourself. Try and try again. Look for support of advisors and people who will lift you up and boost you. My college advisor and I graduated from college more than 20 years ago. I'm still in touch with him. He's almost 90 now. Same thing for the gentleman who selected me for a really competitive national internship. I was lucky to get an NSF. Are you as an undergrad? I worked with awesome people there, some of whom I'm also still in touch with. So I feel like relationships and networking are important. But if you don't establish the right ones, there are more opportunities out there. So how
can people get in touch with you at the center or how if they want to? I guess to reach out and come work with you is that
you take a look at our website P W s s c dot org's stands for Prince William Sound Science Center. Um, you can watch some short films about our mission and the type of work we do. You can look at our staff list to see who's working with us, and you can look at other pages on our site. That kind of exemplify the diverse array of research and education that were involved in and then just reach out to anyone. You're interested in talking Thio. We're all very approachable and love to find ways to partner and connect support undergrads. Summer technicians that sort of thing.
We hope you've enjoyed this edition of lab oratory. Podcast. Stay tuned to listen to our second Ocean Sciences Special Edition, where we will highlight all of the scientific posters were able to check out while at the conference and hear what each person had to say when we asked them the all important question of why do we study the ocean? Stay
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I'm Renee and this husband laboratory podcast. And this has been our latest lab notebook entry. Catch you on the flip side. So how do we make the
cloud. So put some safety glasses on. I also I wanted to say that I felt that you're just wearing safety glasses on your
head as if they're sunglasses, but
pretty much. Okay, So to make a cloud, three things. Me, water, water. What else? Oxygen. No. What am I talking about? Learning a lot here. And then that's for five years old. The great. And then you need a change in fresh pressure. That's what I've got on so well, Dio is this goes on here. Although this so one of you just put your hand on the bottle.
You don't want to take a picture of you doing it, okay? We're gonna be Oh, you I
could do it. And so just poke five times. Oh, sorry. Give me one more time. No more. One more. Okay. Now feel the bottle. Okay. And if I change the relieve pressure really fast, thanks to the atmosphere, you get water, you get aerosols, which is something for that water to condense onto. And then you get change in pressure and you get information of a demo. Happier.