Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Jan Witting, Ph.D.
Sea Education Association

Undergraduate research and education in the high seas

Wednesday – July 18, 2007
Pacific Forum – 3:00 p.m.

While the importance of the global ocean to human affairs is becoming better recognized, the chief challenge of teaching about this environment remains the limited access students have to it. While a common way to attempt to bridge the access gap is to bring remote sensing data in to the classroom, the approach SEA Semester program at Woods Hole takes is to bring some 200 undergraduate students a year to sea on six-week research cruises. During a preceding shore study, the students are guided through the formulation of a novel research project they'll execute on the ships. These are two sailing vessels, equipped with NSF-funded laboratories with broad research capabilities including rosette water samplers, multiple CTD systems, ADCP current profilers, chemistry labs and multiple plankton net systems. This model of research-driven curriculum places the understanding of basic oceanographic concepts in a context of current concerns.