Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
The Transect Program: Metamorphosis of undergraduate students into ocean scientists

Leslie Sautter, Ph.D.
College of Charleston

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Pacific Forum – 3:00 p.m.

Imagine if, as an undergraduate student, you'd sailed aboard a research vessel for five days and shared with 10 peers complete responsibility for all shipboard scientific operations; from seafloor trawls and plankton tows to ROV dives. Then you'd spent an entire semester analyzing these samples while conducting independent research. Imagine that you had presented your results at both a scientific poster session and oral session, and you'd written a manuscript.

Forty students have participated in one of four NSF-funded Transect Program cruises/courses. These students have proved that at-sea/laboratory research experience is invaluable for investigating ocean science, while it significantly furthered their advancement toward a marine-oriented career. Participants underwent an observable metamorphosis: student à science crew à lab technician à scientist.

The next expansion phase of Transects will coordinate additional undergraduate programs with ocean observation networks, where students will assist with sea-truth data collection and analysis while learning remote observation technology.

Next: Acoustical sensing of the ocean environment