Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

Ocean Life, Planet Health

September 2012 eNEWS

Remembering Laboratory Co-Founder Dr. Charlie Yentsch (1927-2012)
September 21, 2012

Remembering Laboratory Co-Founder Dr. Charlie Yentsch (1927-2012)

Dr. Charlie Yentsch in 2010. Photo by Robert Mitchell.

The Bigelow community was deeply saddened to learn that Dr. Charles S. Yentsch, who founded the Laboratory in 1974 with his wife Dr. Clarice Yentsch, died on September 19, 2012. Charlie was Bigelow Laboratory’s executive director from 1974 to 1987. A distinguished ocean scientist with a career that spanned nearly half a century, he was internationally known for his pioneering work on phytoplankton pigments, which spurred the development and advancement of the field of ocean color remote sensing. Charlie was on the original NASA NIMBUS team, the group responsible for launching the first ocean color sensor into space, the “Coastal Zone Color Scanner.” Thereafter, he was directly involved in promoting the use of satellite sensors for ocean research and was an active advocate for space-based oceanography. Working with equal grace in both scientific and administrative realms, he founded three oceanographic laboratories over his career and published an average of three scientific papers every year. He received numerous awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) in 1999, the prestigious Nils Gunnar Jerlov Award for “advancement of knowledge of the nature and consequences of light in the ocean,” and designation as a Fellow of The Oceanography Society in 2010. “We will always be grateful for the insight and inspiration that Charlie brought to ocean science, and to Bigelow Laboratory in particular, and we are committed to ensuring that his visionary work lives on,” said Laboratory Executive Director Graham Shimmield.

Bigelow Laboratory’s First Colby Semester Program Begins

Bigelow Colby Semester student Grace Reville at work in the field. Photo by David Fields.

Changing Oceans, the first full semester for Colby College students at Bigelow Laboratory began on September 6. Four Colby undergraduates will be in residence at the Laboratory during the College’s fall 2012 semester, earning 16 credits in four interdisciplinary courses taught by Bigelow researchers. The courses cover the ocean environment, biological oceanography, ocean biogeochemistry, and oceanographic field methods. Throughout the semester, students will spend time in the classroom, field, and laboratory, using cutting-edge oceanographic techniques including genomic tools, remote sensing, single-cell analysis, and monoclonal culturing methods.

Recent National Science Foundation Grants Total Over $1.8 Million

Dr. Beth Orcutt has received a $155,000 grant to study the deep biosphere of young and oxic oceanic crust, a “fundamental aim of the international scientific ocean drilling community.” Working with a multidisciplinary team of scientists from the University of Southern California and Texas A&M University, Orcutt will study the microorganisms living in the deep oceanic crust, their abundance, their metabolism, and their impact on global biogeochemical systems. The grant furthers the objectives of recent Integrated Ocean Drilling Program expeditions, which established borehole observatories and collected deep crustal samples from the flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Drs. Pete Countway and Mike Sieracki have received a $756,000 award to conduct research on seasonal plankton bloom dynamics and their potential role as early indicators of ecosystem responses to long-term climate change. The researchers will focus on seasonal cycles of the cyanobacterium Synechococcus, using flow cytometric cell sorting and DNA analysis to measure growth and diversity of Synechococcus populations and their grazers, and investigate how bloom dynamics and ecosystem processes affect and are affected by diversity.

Drs. Ramunas Stepanauskas and Brandon Swan have been awarded a $900,000 grant to conduct a global inventory of chemoautotrophic (non-photosynthetic carbon fixing) microorganisms in the aphotic realm – the dark expanse of the world’s ocean that is below the reach of sunlight. The dark ocean contains one of the largest microbial biomes on the planet and is home to a diversity of microorganisms that impact both local processes and global carbon cycling. Major questions about the role of chemoautotrophy, including the energy sources and metabolic pathways used to support the dark ocean’s microbial ecology and biogeochemistry, are currently unanswered and will be a key focus of this project.

NCMA Director Gives Keynote at Oceans of Potential Conference

Dr. Willie Wilson. Photo by Richard G. Sandifer.

Senior Research Scientist and National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota (NCMA) Director Dr. Willie Wilson was a keynote speaker at the recent Oceans of Potential conference in Plymouth, UK in early September. Wilson’s talk was titled “Marine bioprospecting - a role for bioresource centers in the 21st century.” The conference was organized to “bring together stakeholders from a broad range of disciplines... to place marine science at the heart of an exciting vision of the future.” Conference themes included possibilities and visions for the ocean through innovations in science and technology, bioprospecting, multiple uses of the marine environment, fisheries and aquaculture, and blue carbon and sustainable energy. Keynote presentations were filmed and will be available through Plymouth University’s website.

Dock Float-In

Photo by Joyce McBeth.

Bigelow staff welcomed the arrival of the Laboratory’s new dock on August 29. The 20x50-foot dock will be an integral part of our flowing seawater research laboratory in the Center for Ocean Health — the third science wing of the Ocean Science and Education Campus — and will also be a cornerstone of our education and expedition-based activities.


We’re One of the Best Places to Work!

The Maine State Council of the Society for Human Resources Management has announced that Bigelow Laboratory is one of 42 companies that have been named in the seventh annual “Best Places to Work in Maine” program. The 2012 program recognizes businesses that “have established and consistently fostered outstanding workplace environments.” Partners endorsing the Best Places to Work in Maine program include the Best Companies Group, the Maine HR Convention, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce,, and Mainebiz. A complete list of winners is available on Maine Today’s business webpage.

Café Scientifique Participant Survey
Did you attend a Café Scientifique this summer? We need to hear from you!

The Laboratory’s 2012 Summer Science Conversations drew a record number of people to hear about recent ocean research and current issues in the scientific community. If you attended one (or more) of our science conversations, please take a moment and fill out our online survey. We would like to hear from you about this summer’s program, along with any advice you have for future events. All responses will be kept confidential. In return, we’ll send you a Bigelow plankton refrigerator magnet as a token of our appreciation. We plan to organize additional cafés in the months ahead, and will keep you informed about the schedule as it develops.

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Become a Part of the Future

Photo by Rebecca Fowler.

Building our new state-of-the-art campus requires swift growth in annual funding, and we need your support to forge ahead. Please join our crucial work by making an online tax-deductible gift today. Our donors provide essential support for key research, education, and outreach initiatives, and help us develop new partnerships for a sustainable future. Please Donate Now. Thank you for helping to create one of the most modern ocean research facilities in the country, right here on the coast of Maine!

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Bigelow Laboratory
Board of Trustees
David Coit, Chair
Mary Chatterton
Chip Davison
David Ellis
Robert Healing
Steve Malcom
Richard Morrell, Vice Chair

Helen Norton
Walter Norton
Herb Paris
Randall Phelps
Neil Rolde
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Steve Weems
Colin Woodard
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Brownie Carson
Paul Coulombe
Christopher Flower
Bruce Ferguson
Karin Gregory
Lee Grodzins
Tracy Huebner
Russ Jeppesen
David Knight

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Rick Mitterling
Charles Roscoe
Jonathan Schaffer
Monty Scharff
Kevin Strange
Mike Tetreault
Magdalena Tosteson
David Znamierowski

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