Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

People
Bioluminescence and Biodiversity Expedition 2007
July 27 - August 1, 2007

Click on any name to read an interview:

Steve Haddock, Lynne Christianson, Rebecca Helm, Brian Johnson, Meghan Powers, Dan Swezey,
Bastian Bentlage, University of Kansas, Leanne Birden, University of Rhode Island, Phil Pugh, National Oceanography Centre, UK, Brad Seibel, University of Rhode Island, Alison Sweeney, UC Berkeley


Steve Haddock   top of page
Chief Scientist, MBARI

http://www.mbari.org/staff/haddock/

What is your role on this cruise?
As the chief scientist, I'll be trying to keep everyone happy while gathering as much data on deep-sea animals as possible.

What are your primary goals?
These cruises with dives to >2000m are rare, so we are trying to get specimens of some of the rare deep jellies which my colleagues and I study. We will also be doing scuba dives for shallow animals, and some trawls for sturdier plankton.

What do you expect to find?
We never know what to expect, but we hope to find some new species of siphonophores and ctenophores (comb jellies), as well as radiolarians, trachymedusae and narcomedusae (two types of hydrozoan jellyfish), and parasitic amphipods living on jellies. We are also testing out a system for getting high-definition images of fluorescence during the dives.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
I love being out at sea, and finding amazing animals in their natural environment. The drawbacks are minor compared to the benefits.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am a research scientist working on bioluminescence and gelatinous zooplankton. I got to this position by allowing my curiosity to lead me to what I enjoy, rather than what I thought I *should* be doing when I grew up.


Rebecca Helm   top of page
Intern, MBARI

What is your role on this cruise?
I will be working to sort and catalogue the animals we collect. In addition, I hope to offer a hand wherever it might be needed, so I am staying flexible.

What are your primary goals?
There are so many mysterious and beautiful jellyfish in the deep. My goal is to collect some of these jellies in order to gain understanding into how they are all related. While on ship I will take, draw and record morphological characteristics of the jellies that we capture and a small sample of each jelly will also be taken for DNA work. Once their DNA has been collected we can compare their genetic code and construct a "family tree" of the jellies that we found.

What do you expect to find?
While I hope to find lots of jellies, my all-time favorite thing about working in the deep is that you never know what you will come across!

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Favorite: Aside from the thrill of discovery, the rush of excitement when we observe something new and from seeing bizarre creatures up close and personal, aside from all of those things I would have to say my favorite part is the ice cream. After an exciting day there is nothing like chatting about all the incredible new finds over a fudgesicle.
Least favorite: Sea sickness. It can also get VERY cold in the control room where all the ROV monitors and controls are housed (the control room is the best place to be for watching the ROV camera feed), so if for some reason I forget my big jacket or extra socks (some people wear gloves) than it can get really chilly.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am an intern under Dr. Steve Haddock. I was fortunate to be granted this opportunity after I applied for the summer spot this past winter. As a recent college graduate the MBARI internship seemed to be the perfect way to gain research experience while also being given an opportunity to participate in deep-sea exploration.


Brian Johnson   top of page
Research Assistant, MBARI

What is your role on this cruise?
I am a research assistant substituting for Dr. Rebecca Hoover, who studies associations between amphipods and jellies.

What are your primary goals?
To collect, draw and identify as many amphipods as possible to bring back to the lab for Rebecca to study.

What do you expect to find?
Hopefully a lot of amphipod/jelly associations.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
This will be my first cruise so I'm very excited about seeing the animals in their element but nervous about getting seasick.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am an undergraduate research assistant going to school to become a marine biologist. I was looking for a lab to work/volunteer in and I came across a great opportunity in the bioluminescence lab here at MBARI. I hope to specialize in taxonomy and scientific illustration once i receive my degree.


Meghan Powers   top of page
Graduate Student, MBARI

What is your role on this cruise?
I am a graduate student working on bioluminescent proteins in a variety of deep sea organisms, and I will be assisting others with their projects.

What are your primary goals?
Since this is my first cruise with MBARI, my primary goal is to learn as much as possible about identifying and collecting deep-sea species.

What do you expect to find?
I expect we'll find an undescribed species or two, and hopefully many bioluminsecent jellies.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
The best part is oberving the animals in their natural environment. Least favorite is being seasick!

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am a graduate research at U.C. Santa Cruz. I've always had a strong interest in science and being able to explore the marine environment was very appealing as an undergraduate. I pursued internships and volunteer experiences throughout my education to help me decide about graduate school. But I have also been very lucky to have amazing mentors along the way who could answer questions and provide guidance about pursuing a career in research.


Dan Swezey   top of page
Research Assistant/Diver, MBARI

What is your role on this cruise?
My main role on this cruise will be to look for new fluorescent features in deep sea fish. On previous cruises, we've found that a number of deep sea fish have red fluorescent coloration on their photophores and even sometimes on their skin when illuminated with blue light. Recently our lab also discovered a deep sea siphonophore (or colonial jellyfish... called Erenna sp.) which seems to be using red light to lure prey in very dark deep sea environments. Based on how strong this jellies stinging cells are, we think it might be eating some kind of fish. This means that there are small fish out there that might be seeing and somehow using red light. So, my main role on this cruise is to observe how red light producing structures are distributed among the different fishes we'll pull up during trawls, or that we might see during ROV dives. It's entirely possible that a lot more fish emit and/or see red light in the deep sea than we've previously known, since traditionally it's been thought that most have evolved not to. My role is to explore this possibility. I'll also be blue water diving with the dive team on the cruise to help them collect pelagic invertebrates for their research. When I'm not doing either of those things, I'll be trying to make myself useful and help out with anything that needs doing.

What are your primary goals?
I hope to find as many new fish that produce red light as possible. I'm also interested in finding other cool inverts that have red fluorescence because we know a couple of squid do this too. Each cruise, we tend to find a couple of new critters with red fluorescence that hadn't been noticed before. I'm also hoping that we might find another Erenna with the ROV so I can dissect out it's stomach contents and see what fish it's eating using molecular tools back in the lab.

What do you expect to find?
We always find lots of cool midwater fish, tons of assorted jellies, radiolarians, ctenophores, crustaceans, cephalopods, larvaceans, chaetognaths.. you name it! That is the coolest part about these cruises in the Monterey Bay- the diversity of life out there is endless and you never quite know what you're going to find everyday.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of a MBARI research cruise is the ROV dive- especially when I get to man the camera! Watching new things pop up in front of the beautiful HD camera is always a mesmerizing experience.

My least favorite part of cruises is the lack of sleep. There's a lot of things that need to be done, and everyone strives to be at the top of their game during a cruise trying to maximize the number of animals we see and discoveries we make. Lets just say it's not a very sleep friendly environment.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I'm employed as a research assistant in the Haddock lab at MBARI. I recently graduated with a BA in Biology from the College of Creative Studies at University of California Santa Barbara (which by the way is a great program at a great school). I decided to become a researcher at MBARI because I've always had an interest in deep sea biology/ecology and wanted to experience research in this field first hand. I contacted Steve Haddock with a project idea pertaining to red fluorescence in deep sea animals a little over a year ago. We kept in touch about the idea and now I'm here making it happen!


Bastian Bentlage   top of page
Graduate Student, University of Kansas

What is your role on this cruise?
I am a visiting scientist from a collaborating lab and hope to learn a lot more about jellyfish from the deep sea during the next week.

What are your primary goals?
My primary goal is to (hopefully) find all those animals that are missing in our collection of jellyfishes.

What do you expect to find?
I am pretty sure that I will be surprised by a lot of the things we'll find. So I have no particular expectations - I am just excited to be a part of this cruise.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
I am still waiting for the day I get seasick, but I can imagine that this is the least favorite part of any cruise for a number of people. I simply love being out at sea hunting for animals most people have never seen or heard about.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am a PhD student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas. Dunno how I wound up becoming a scientist - I just always wanted to be one and make my living with what I love doing.


Leanne Birden   top of page
Graduate Student/Diver, University of Rhode Island

What is your role on this cruise?
My role on the cruise will be to help with the blue water diving for collection. I will also be assisting with the trawl net and running my own experiments. My other task will be helping Dr. Seibel jig for squids. I will also be recording logs of those events.

What are your primary goals?
My primary goal is to work on amphipods (crustaceans). I am hoping to collect them on the dives and in the trawl. I am learning how to identify them and also performing experiments on them related to environmental temperature and oxygen levels.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of a research cruise is that there is almost always something interesting going on. Even when I have down time during my experiments I can check out what other people are working on. I love every minute of being out to sea. The only thing that gets frustrating is it is difficult to motivate yourself to exercise while out to sea. There is so much going on you don't want to take the time to go below deck to work out. But the food is always so good that you really should be exercising to burn some of it off. Luckily the SCUBA diving is a bit of a workout.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am a first year PhD student at the University of Rhode Island. My advisor is Dr. Brad Seibel, who is also attending this cruise. I worked in Dr. Seibel's lab as a technician for a year before becoming a student. I decided to go for my PhD because I love doing research and exploring the oceans. I enjoy going to work every day.


Alison Sweeney   top of page
Evolutionary Biologist, University of California Berkeley

What is your role on this cruise?
I will be continuing my research on squid vision and optical proteins, as well as trying to finish data collection on projects involving organismal transparancy and deep-sea pigmentation.

What are your primary goals?
My goals are to put the finishing touches on some datasets I have in progress, as well as see a couple of organisms I've never seen before.

What do you expect to find?
I expect to find that Humboldt squid have similar visual abilities from the time that they are babies until they are human-sized adults.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of a cruise is having no responsibilities other than working with amazing animals all day (and of course doing all the supporting work necessary to find theses animals, but that part's fun too). My least favorite part is lack of exercise.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am an evolutionary biologist. I became one by going to grad school and finishing a PhD. I decided to become one because there was no other job that would allow me to be creative, work with some of the most amazing organisms on earth, and paid benefits.