Welcome to marine science! New UGA graduate students get their feet wet.

Beginning graduate students in the University of Georgia Department of Marine Sciences received a quick welcome to the field through a one-week long special course conducted at UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography from August 21-26. Ten students participated, three who will be home-based at Skidaway Institute and seven on the main campus in Athens.

“Our goals were to increase proficiency in methods used in different oceanographic disciplines, to provide an environment to have students from the different campuses get to know each other and work together,” course instructor Jay Brandes said. “Ideally friendships and working relationships will be formed that will increase interactions between the Athens and Savannah campuses.”

The grad student cohort with instructor Jay Brandes (far right) on the beach at Wassau Island.

The highlight of week was a field trip to Wassau Island, with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant educator Dodie Sanders, to perform a beach cleanup, and learn about barrier island geology and biology. Both coming and going, the students collected water and sediment samples to study the local water chemistry, plankton composition and sedimentology.

Marine Extension educator Dodie Sanders uses a stick to draw in the sand to explain how erosion affects barrier islands.

After the field trip, the students performed a variety of analyses including measuring ammonium levels, chlorophyll levels, sediment grain size analyses and phytoplankton compositions.

Additional activities held in the evenings, including presentations by new graduate coordinator Clifton Buck on graduate program requirements and timetables, and by assistant professor Sara Rivero-Calle on diversity-equity-inclusion activities within the department.


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