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The Ocean as a Classroom

Promoting shipboard knowledge production to be more accessible for future generations.

Scripps research vessel Sally Ride
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This is Scripps R/V Sally Ride.

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Starting Dec. 16, 2022, scientists and students from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography conducted a six-day research cruise off the coast of San Diego on Scripps research vessel Sally Ride. The cruise offered an educational experience to students who might not have otherwise had the opportunity to go to sea. 

Students conducted various research projects examining the past and present ocean’s productivity by looking at different chemical elements and aerosols, zooplankton and microbial diversity, and the impact of plastic on the seafloor. We led a quarter-long student seminar before the cruise to complement the cruise’s educational goals. This seminar, entitled Shipboard Knowledge Production, focused on understanding the history and legacy of how we have studied the ocean in the past and how we are studying it now to give students a better perspective to develop more diverse and inclusive approaches. 

We facilitated a series of discussions around how to make the collection, analysis, and dissemination of oceanographic knowledge more accessible and inclusive, and sought to highlight these values during the cruise itself. 

Our 22-person science team consisted of 14 graduate students, a postdoctoral researcher, an undergraduate student, a professor, two volunteers, and two research technicians. Our party represented six countries including the United States, Mexico, Ecuador, India, Austria, Malaysia and China. For more than half the party, the cruise was the first time they had participated in a multi-day research cruise.

During the cruise, we conducted multicore deployments, CTD casts, zooplankton net tows, and aerosol sampling at six study sites spanning the California Current. This project was made possible by funding from the UC Ships program. 

If you want to see more day to day activities at the cruise, take a look at this video.

All the videos and photos in the cruise were taken by all the students, scientists, and volunteers: Dick Norris, Tricia Light, Natalia Erazo, Ankitha Kannad, Kaycie Lanpher, Shannon Perry, Ruth Varner, Ziqi Chew, Kanisha Contractor, Anna Effinger, Linqing Huang, Emilio Romero, Emmet Norris, Catherine Wardinski, Laney Wicker, Aoming Yu, Dongran Zhai, Pierina Erazo and Ryan Kraft.

This was written by Natalia Erazo, Tricia Light and Ankitha Kannad. Erazo is a fifth-year graduate student in the lab of biological oceanographer Jeff Bowman working on host-microbiome and chemical ecology, microbial community structure and biogeochemistry in coastal ecosystems. Light is a fifth-year graduate student in the lab of paleobiologist Richard Norris. Her work advances marine barite as a tool for studying the relationship between ocean productivity and climate change. Kannad is a second-year graduate student in the lab of oceanographer Janet Sprintall and the Multiscale Ocean Dynamics lab. She studies upper ocean processes and their influence on monsoons and other climate systems that impact rainfall.

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