Sea Secrets lectures focus on innovative research

An aerial view of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on Virginia Key. Photo: TJ Lievonen/University of Miami
By Janette Neuwahl Tannen

An aerial view of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on Virginia Key. Photo: TJ Lievonen/University of Miami

Sea Secrets lectures focus on innovative research

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen
The series—which will feature experts discussing their groundbreaking research on corals, ocean and atmospheric science, and how climate change is forcing communities to alter their long-range plans—will begin this week.

How do the immune systems of corals still continue to thrive after living in water that gets warmer every year, coupled with the threat of diseases? This is one of the questions driving the research of cell biologist Nikki Traylor-Knowles, an assistant professor of marine biology and ecology at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Traylor-Knowles will share some of her findings about the surprising and unique physiology of corals, as well as how they compare to human immune systems, at the first of five Sea Secrets lectures starting this week. Register here for her talk on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m.

Hosted virtually by the Rosenstiel School, all of the lectures will be free and open to the public and will take place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Registration is required to attend.

Future lectures will highlight some of the other resourceful research that is being developed at the Rosenstiel School, as well as at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Vero Beach, Florida.

  • CIMAS: From the deepest oceans to the highest clouds

Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 6:30 p.m.

This lecture will explore some of the recent research done at the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS), a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and 10 other Universities hosted at the Rosenstiel School. CIMAS works to increase the scientific understanding of the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere, by supporting NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters, the Argo Ocean monitoring program, aquaculture research, and marine mammal conservation. Register here.

  • Climate Change 2021: Managing floods, heat, and fires to keep people and nature safe

Tuesday, March 9 at 6:30 p.m.

Katharine Mach, associate professor of marine ecosystems and society, will discuss some local and national efforts to safeguard communities from climate risks, such as sea level rise. Mach works with communities to suggest evidence-based and equitable adaptations to climate change and its cascading dangers, such as flooding, fires, and other disasters. Mach was awarded the 2020 Piers Sellers prize for her leading contributions to solution-focused climate research and has participated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is the United Nation’s body tasked with evaluating the science related to climate change. Register here.

  • Restoring Florida’s Coral Reefs: From Colonies to Coastlines

Tuesday, March 30 at 6:30 p.m.

Andrew Baker and Diego Lirman, both professors of marine biology and ecology at Rosenstiel, will share new insights about their effort to retain and restore the precious coral colonies of South Florida. Under attack for the past 75 years, corals are declining across the world, but Lirman and Baker have developed some cutting-edge strategies to cultivate new corals and to help fortify them against climate change. As part of a major grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Lirman and Baker are deploying these methods, while also working with colleagues across the state to develop new ways to protect our coral colonies. Register here.

  • Why are there colors in the ocean?

Tuesday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m.

Because ocean water has a blue hue, it illuminates the movements of tiny particles within it, called phytoplankton. But what if that color did not exist? What new colors might emerge, and how could that help us to learn more about the habitat covering much of our planet? Oceanographer and mechanical engineer Derya Akkaynak, who works from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Vero Beach, studies this issue of vision underwater and uses hyperspectral sensors to investigate how the world looks from animals’ perspectives. She will discuss her underwater research, which has taken her from the depths of the Bering Sea to Antarctica and beyond. Register here.

To read more about the 2021 Sea Secrets lecture series, read the full guide here.