Researchers


     

Leg 5 Researchers

Click on any name below to read an interview.

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Peter Brewer

Bill Kirkwood Ed Peltzer
Lynne Christianson Debbie Meyer Elena Perez
Steven Hallam Patrick Mitts

Bill Ussler

Juan Carlos Herguera

Jill Dill Pasteris

Peter Walz

Rendy Keaten

Charlie Paull Sheri White

 

Peter Brewer (top of page)
MBARI Senior Scientist
Ocean Chemist

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

 

 

 



Lynne Christianson (top of page)
MBARI Research Technician  http://www.mbari.org/staff/lynne/ 

 

 

 


Steven Hallam (top of page)
MBARI Postdoctoral Fellow

What is your role on this cruise?
I will be assisting in the collection of sediment samples for microbiological and geochemical analysis.
 

What are your primary goals?
Our hope is to link the vertical microbial community structure of sediments with specific chemical profiles obtained from pore water chemical analysis. We are specifically interested in a subset of methanotrophic archaea that appear to mediate anaerobic methane oxidation. Previous studies have indicated the presence of these microbes in Guaymas sediments.
 

What do you expect to find?
Expectations are hard to describe given that the most interesting science often emerges from unexpected findings and events. However, we do expect to identify specific microbial groups, including methanotrophs at sediment intervals associated with sulphate and methane depletion.
 

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
On long cruises, the ship can feel a little crowded. There is nowhere to go for solitude except your bunk and that is not an option usually, given all the work to do. In contrast though, interacting with all the people on board is a wonderful experience because we share common goals and pool our efforts together to achieve them. And of course, being on the seas, with all that open space around you and the vast deep mystery below is a powerful antidote for claustrophobic feelings.
 

Why did you decide to become a scientist/engineer/etc? How did you become one?
It all started when I was a little kid turning over rocks and tree stumps, stomping through puddles and picking apart owl and other pellets in the woods near my house. It’s that same curiosity and wonder that continues to pull me along now. It is curious and perhaps no accident that I am still working with muddy sediments as an adult scientist. The actual becoming part of scientific work took a lot of school and fieldwork and continues to unfold.


Juan Carlos Herguera (top of page)
CICESE

 

 

 



Rendy Keaten
(top of page)
MBARI Research Technician  

What is your role on this cruise?
During the dives, I'll be doing one of several tasks in the control roomtaking notes in the dive log, updating the ArcView project with navigation information, taking video annotation, or operating the acoustic release for the benthic elevator.
 

For each sample, the notes include: the type of sample (core, rock, push core, or sediment scoop), sample number, location the sample is placed onboard the ROV Tiburon (along with a small sketch if it's a rock), depth of the site, time code on the recording video, and GMT time. We do this so when the ROV comes onboard the ship, we can get each rock correlated with a sample number as we unload it. We also refer to the dive logs later to recall the sample information. 

As the samples are unloaded from the ROV, the wet lab gets very busy. The main focus is to get chemical composition of the water in mud samples. To do this, we have to get the mud samples processing so the pore fluids aren't contaminated by ambient water and atmosphere. We split the cores and put mud sections in pressure squeezers to collect the water. The water samples are then taken to the chemistry van to be analyzed onboard by Bill Ussler. 

After the rock samples come onboard, we wash, measure, and photograph them right away. When we do two dives in one day, this has to get done quickly so we have room to work with the next set of samples. We also cut rock slabs onboard for microscope thin sections and, as soon as, they dry we pack them to be shipped back to MBARI.   

What are your primary goals?
My primary goals are: to learn, for all the science equipment to work, to get all the samples we need, and to walk off the boat with a good idea of what the sulfate-methane boundary is like in the Gulf of California.
 

What do you expect to find?
I expected basalts, some metamorphic rocks, faulting, deep basins, and mud—hopefully lots of mud.
 

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
I hope to see the green flash this time, so I'll try to watch the sunset everyday. Seeing the topography of the ocean floor is always fascinating! My least favorite part is being away from my family, cats included, and green things.

Why did you decide to become a scientist/engineer/etc? How did you become one?
I came to geology by way of civil engineering. I was working with an engineering geologist and decided geology was much more interesting.

 


Bill Kirkwood (top of page)
MBARI Associate Director of Engineering
http://www.mbari.org/staff/kiwi/

 

 



Debbie Meyer (top of page)
MBARI Communications Coordinator/
Research Technician

 

 

 

 


Patrick Mitts (top of page)
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

 

What is your role on this cruise?
My primary responsibility on board the R/V Western Flyer will be as a research technician for Charlie Paull's group. We will be collecting and archiving rock and sediment samples collected by the ROV Tiburon pilots during the dives. We will also collect and analyze pore water samples from the vibracores for sulfate, chloride, and methane concentrations, and we will collect sediments for future radiometric analysis.
 

What are your primary goals?
My primary goal of this cruise is to expand my understanding of biogeochemical processes in methanogenic sediments.
 

What do you expect to find?
I have found that it is better to go on a cruise without major expectations, especially if you are not the P.I. It makes adapting to unforeseen problems that can occur onboard ship during a survey easier. It also allows analysis and interpretation of the data to happen with an unbiased perspective.
 

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of MBARI's research cruises are knowing that what we are viewing and studying are usually sites that have never been seen before. When I see the monitors in the ROV control room, I realize that I am one of a select few in the world that are lucky enough to do oceanography at this level! It is very analagous to space exploration, which fascinated me as a child!
 

My least favorite part is getting someone to take care of my diabetic cat while I'm away. 

Why did you decide to become a scientist/engineer/etc? How did you become one?
Why...enquiring minds still want to know! LOL. I was lucky enough to have a good astronomy/physics professor steer me in the right direction...instead of toward law school!

 


Jill Dill Pasteris (top of page)
Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Washington University   http://eps.wustl.edu/people/Jill_Pasteris

What is your role on this cruise?   
I am a colleague of Peter Brewer's. My research group collaborated with Peter's in the development of the sea floor Raman spectroscopic system. I will help interpret spectra that are collected during the cruise.
 
What are your primary goals?
1) To make new kinds of analyses with the underwater Raman system, particularly on natural gas clathrate hydrates; 2) to test and extend the analytical capabilities of the Raman system (which recently has been upgraded by MBARI).
 
What do you expect to find?
I hope that I am present when some natural gas hydrates are encountered. I hope that we are able to obtain good spectra of the hydrates and that we can detect both methane (the major gas that is trapped in these hydrates) and minor gases in the samples.
 
What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?  
Least favorite: getting seasick (but I'm getting better!)

Favorite: the fresh air, scenery, and excitement of the dives.
 
Why did you decide to become a scientist/engineer/etc.? 
Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by "how things work." Part of this interest stems from the fact that my father was an engineer, and he constantly asked us as children to make observations and to explain what we saw. I loved doing that kind of thing.
 
How did you become one? 
I have loved rocks ever since I was a child. It just seemed natural that I would major in geology in college. I had wanted to be a teacher for many years, as well. That desire and a really keen interest in geology caused me to go to graduate school and get my Ph.D. in geology. 


Charlie Paull (top of page)
MBARI Senior Scientist  
Geologist  
http://www.mbari.org/staff/paull/  

 


 


Ed Peltzer (top of page)
MBARI Senior Research Specialist   http://www.mbari.org/staff/etp3/  

What is your role on this cruise?  
I will be part of the "Greenhouse Gases Team" led by Dr. Peter Brewer. My role on this team is to supervise the design and construction of the gas sampling equipment, prepare it for use on the ROV, direct its use by the ROV pilots during the dive, and collect and analyze the samples after the dives. I also helped design and build the equipment for the gas dissolution experiments. I will load the apparatus with gas before the dives and process the digital imagery and CTD data after the dives. I have also assisted with the development of the Laser Raman Spectrometer and provide all of the thermodynamic calculations for our experiments.  

What are your primary goals?
(1) To collect gas samples from gas vents, sediments, and sites of possible hydrate deposits for compositional analysis by gas chromatography and isotope analysis by mass spectrometry; and (2) to measure the rates of methane and carbon dioxide dissolution at depth in the warm water basins of the Gulf of California.  

What do you expect to find?  
We expect to find gases that are rich in methane and contain significant amounts of ethane, propane, butane, and other heavier hydrocarbons due to the thermogenic origin of the gases. We also expect to find that these gases dissolve faster in the waters of the Gulf of California than at similar depths in Monterey Bay.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?  
Least favorite: Preparing packing lists and customs forms.  

Why did you decide to become a scientist/engineer/etc.?  
When I was growing up, I always had more questions for my science teachers than they had answers. Once I discovered that doing the experiments to find out new things was fun and that you could get paid for it, working for a living at a "regular job" no longer seemed like the thing to do. Later, when I learned that oceanographers get to travel to exotic places and go to sea in ships, there really wasn't any question as to what I wanted to do for my career.  

How did you become one?  
Lots of study and hard work: doing well in high school; 4 years as an undergraduate studying chemistry (Bucknell University); then 5 years of graduate school studying oceanography (UCSD/SIO). Lots of late nights and weekends in the lab and the library. We had a saying at Scripps: "If science were easy, everyone would be an oceanographer!"
   


Elena Perez (top of page)
CICESE
http://www.cicese.mx/


Bill Ussler (top of page)
MBARI Senior Research Specialist

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

 

What is your role on this cruise?

My primary responsibility is the operation of our portable chemistry lab van. This 16-foot-long custom-built container contains a complete analytical laboratory for the analysis of the fluids and gases contained in marine sediments. There are 3 gas chromatographs configured to analyze methane and the low-molecular hydrocarbon gases ethane, propane, butane, and pentane, dissolved carbon dioxide, and dissolved hydrogen sulfide. Two ion chromatographs comprise a system to analyze dissolved cations (sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, strontium, and ammonium) and anions (chloride, bromide, and sulfate) in sea water and pore waters extracted from sediment cores. I will also collect and analyze large volume water samples for the concentration of radium and radon isotopes which can be used to trace fluid circulation through seafloor sediments.

 

What are your primary goals?

My main focus on this expedition is determining the chemistry of fluids and gases contained in surface sediments and ocean waters within and adjacent to the Guaymas Basin.

 

What do you expect to find?

Because the seafloor of the Guaymas Basin is a methane-rich environment, our studies will focus on the geochemistry and microbiology of methane production and its anaerobic consumption. There are large temperature differences across the basin seafloor, and we expect to see comparable spatial differences in the amounts of methane, dissolved inorganic carbon, sulfate, and hydrogen sulfide, and in their stable isotopic values, coupled with changes in the composition of sub-seafloor microbial communities.

 

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?

My favorite part of any research cruise is the discovery of new and interesting facts about the ocean. My least favorite parts are finalizing all the important details necessary for packing the equipment and supplies; and feeling seasick while at sea.

 

Why did you decide to become a scientist/engineer/etc? How did you become one?

I have had a long-standing interest in the sciences since childhood, especially chemistry and geology. Becoming a scientist requires persistence, adaptability, inquisitiveness, and a willingness to learn and do many, often mundane, tasks. Tenacity combined with many years of formal education has allowed me to pursue a rewarding career in the Earth Sciences.

I have two suggestions for future ocean scientists: 1. obtain an undergraduate degree in one of the core sciences (chemistry, physics, or biology) in preparation for graduate work in the marine sciences; and 2. develop technical and engineering skills that can be applied to the development of new techniques and instrumentation. 


Peter Walz (top of page) 
MBARI Research Technician
  http://www.mbari.org/staff/wape/

What is your role on this cruise? 
I will support science operations for Peter Brewer and Charlie Paull. 

What are your primary goals?
Successful deployment of ROV equipment, collection of gas samples, high quality Laser Raman spectra data. 

What do you expect to find?
Seafloor gas venting, hydrate formations, previously undescribed seafloor chemistry and biology. 

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Favorite: Working at sea with other scientists and technicians, problem solving, enjoying the ocean environment, good (free) food. 

Least favorite: Separation from family and home, limited space for exercise, weight gain from eating too much food. 

Why did you decide to become a scientist/engineer/etc.?
During my undergraduate and graduate work, I met numerous research technicians/engineers and could easily imagine following a similar "career" myself. It is important to have role models and find other people that inspire you.  In the best of all worlds, work should be fun and something that you enjoy and enriches your life…and I was determined to never wear a suit and tie five days a week. 

How did you become one?
Interest in science and the oceans from an early age, getting into good schools with opportunities for internships, volunteer work, and being connected to the right people at the right time (i.e. luck).


Sheri White (top of page)
MBARI Postdoctoral Fellow

What is your role on this cruise?
I'm basically in charge of maintaining and using our Laser Raman Spectrometer (LRS)—the first one used in the deep ocean. 

What are your primary goals?
We plan to use the LRS to make in situ measurements of gas vents and gas hydrates at the seafloor. To date we have used the LRS primarily to look at standards that we deploy in the ocean—to test the ability of the instrument to make quality measurements. The Gulf of California cruise will be our first big test of looking at natural targets in the ocean. 

What do you expect to find?
Our main goal is to visit gas vent sites where natural gas bubbles out of the seafloor and forms solid hydrates in the sediment. But if we have time, I wouldn't mind seeing some hot vent sites where superheated, chemically enriched fluid exits the seafloor and supports large biological communities. 

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
I love being out where the water is a deep blue and the ocean rolls beneath you. Sunsets and night skies are beautiful at sea. And with a good group of people, being at sea can be like being at camp, even when you are working hard the whole time. And if the cook is good, you get to eat well and never have to do dishes! 

Why did you decide to become a scientist/engineer/etc? How did you become one?
At first I wanted to be an astronaut and explore outer space, so I got a degree in engineering. Then I learned that there was still a lot of the Earth that was undiscovered and exciting, so I got my doctorate in oceanography. I kind of fell into it, but don't regret it one bit. I love being able to go to sea, work with new instrumentation, and study areas of the seafloor where few (if any) people have ever been.