Biology & Paleo Environment Events

Current BPE seminar organizing committee: Lorelei CurtinThomas WeissJan-Erik Tesdal

Time and Location: Mondays at 1 pm, Comer Seminar Room


Next seminar:

11/20/17: Chuck Fisher, Penn State

"Covered with Oil in the Ivory Tower"


During the spring of 2010 approximately 800 million liters of oil was released over almost 3 months at a depth of 1,500m from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. About 2.9 million liters of dispersant was applied at depth and another 3.8 million liters was applied at the sea surface in an effort to mitigate the adverse effects of the spill. Hydrocarbons and/or dispersants reached the deep sea floor via a deep-sea plume originating from the source and in the form of oil-containing marine snow raining down from the surface. Our group was asked by the US National Science Foundation and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to assist the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) program in assessing damage to deep sea ecosystems from the spill. Nothing quite like this had been done previously, so we found ourselves inventing techniques and protocols that were not only scientifically sound, but also defensible in a court of law. And, leading 6 cruises over the next 18 months to conduct the initial work. In this presentation I will review the development of the techniques we used to discover new coral communities below 1000m depth in the area of the spill using AUVs, how we identified and then quantified damage to individual corals and communities using ROVS and lab based analyses, and why we chose corals as the indicator taxa for impact to deep sea communities. I will present our original and continuing scientific discoveries in the context of the politics and economics of the oil spill and the NRDA process, and reflect on our responsibilities as scientists and the impacts of litigation on scientific endeavors.


Fall 2017:

Date Speaker Title
Sep 18th Brendan Buckley
Southeast Asian tree rings and hydroclimate: recent developments and future prospects
Sep 25th Tina Lüdecke
Plio-Pleistocene hominin adaptation in the Malawi Rift: Persistent C3 vegetation in heterogeneous wooded savanna ecosystems
Oct 2nd David Talmy
What controls microbial predator-prey ratios in the global ocean?
Oct 13th Dana Royer
Climate crises past and future
Oct 16th Valier Galy
Climate forcing of the terrestrial organic carbon cycle during the last deglaciation: the Himalaya-Bengal fan example
Oct 23rd Kevin Becker
Phytoplankton's 'crash diet' – what lipidomics can tell us about microbial growth and energy flux in the ocean
Oct 30th Rupsa Roy
UMass Dartmouth
Growth Pattern and Intra-Shell Stable Isotopic Systematics of Modern Mollusks from Freshwater Lakes Along and Elevation Transect
Nov 6th   no seminar
Nov 13th Pamela McElwee
What Natural Scientists Should Know about Current Social Science Research on Forests
Nov 20th Chuck Fisher
Penn State
Covered with Oil in the Ivory Tower
Nov 27th Yuri Gorokhovich
Dec 4th Michael Hren
Dec 8th Edward DeLong
U.H. Mānoa