Speakers Bureau

The Speakers Bureau is one of the many ways Skidaway Institute faculty and staff serve the community. Our experts share their expertise on a wide range of oceanographic and environmental topics to a range of organizations including service clubs, community and civic organizations, professional and educational associations, library groups, senior centers, churches, school groups and museums.

To request a speaker, send an email to External Affairs Manager Michael Sullivan at mike.sullivan@skio.uga.edu. Be sure to include:

*Group to be addressed
*Preferred topic. If possible, provide a first, second and third choice.
*Date and time
*Your contact information

Michael Sullivan

Introduction to UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography
So what is that place at the north end of Skidaway Island, and what are they doing there? Mike Sullivan will answer those questions and more as he describes the history of the institute and profiles its cutting-edge research on the Georgia coast and around the world.

Dr. Clark Alexander

Sea level rise along the Georgia coast: past, present and future
Sea level has been changing in response to climate forcing throughout geologic history. Dr. Alexander will explore how far sea level has fallen and risen in the past; how fast is it rising now; and what can we expect in the future – all issues important to understand if we are to begin to plan for the impact of rising seas, of whatever magnitude, on our coastal environment.

Barrier islands and beach erosion
Our dynamic coast is constantly changing in response to storms, waves and currents. Dr. Alexander will discuss the processes that are acting to shape our coast, how the islands and beaches have developed over time, and how human activities at the coast change how these processes operate.

Earthquakes of the Southeastern United States
Everyone is familiar with the earthquakes that frequently occur on the West Coast of the US, and more recently, in many other parts of the world. But did you know that large earthquakes have been felt along the southeastern coast within recent history? Dr. Alexander will explain how earthquakes are created, the history of earthquakes in the southeast and the outlook for the future.

Dr. Jay Brandes

Plastic and microplastic pollution 
Images such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch have attracted much attention to the problem of marine debris. Dr. Brandes will examine the issue of plastic pollution, especially microplastics,  in the marine environment with a focus on the Georgia coast.

Dr. Cliff Buck

Oceanography 101
We live on or near the coast, yet many of us do not fully understand the important roles the ocean plays in our lives. Dr. Buck, in this general introduction to the science of oceanography, will introduce the audience to the ocean, its features, and the interactions between the ocean, human society and all life on the planet.

Ocean Acidification: The other CO2 problem
Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are impacting the chemistry of the oceans. Dr. Buck will discuss the implications of this planetary scale chemistry experiment.

Dr. Catherine Edwards

Hurricane Gliders – Using Ocean Robots to Improve Tropical Storm Forecasts
The models hurricane forecasters use to predict the paths of storms have become much more accurate in recent years, but they still aren’t great at accurately predicting a storm’s intensity. Now, underwater gliders, operated by researchers at the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, are part of a national effort to use marine robots to improve the accuracy of storm forecast models.

Managing Fisheries with Robots and Artificial Intelligence

Marine robots can be used to map and track marine life that are important to fisheries managers in areas like Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Because fisheries managers, oceanographers and roboticists have different perspectives and knowledge bases, it can be difficult to take advantage of cutting-edge research in each field without significant effort to translate among the groups. However, artificial intelligence can be leveraged to create a multi-level planning tool for a fleet of marine robots to monitor fish populations in a dynamic coastal ocean environment.

Dr. Marc Frischer

Microbiology of the ocean
Dr. Frischer will explore the often overlooked but vitally important role of microbes in the marine environment. These “bottom of the food chain” creatures are the driving force behind much of the biological activity in the ocean.

The Good, the bad and the ugly, microbial contamination in our own backyard
Keeping our water sources clean and safe of microbial pathogens is one of the most essential requirements of modern societies. Dr. Frischer will take you on a historical journey from the Industrial Revolution to modern times exploring the continuing efforts to keep our water supply safe for human consumption and recreation.

Black Gill in Georgia shrimp; Where have Georgia’s shrimp gone?
For the past 20 years, a large percentage shrimp along the southeast U.S. have been affected by a once-mysterious condition known as black gill. Local shrimpers blame this this parasite-driven condition for reduced shrimp harvests in recent years. Dr. Frischer will discuss his research into black gill and how it is affecting Georgia shrimp.

Ocean response to climate change
The ocean both affects global climate change and is affected by it. Dr. Frischer will describe how the ocean fits into the climate change picture and what it means to us.

Dr. Adam Greer

Secret Life of Ocean Critters

Ocean animals live in a world that is relatively inaccessible to us. A variety of tools exist that help us sample marine life, but many of those tools are biased towards certain life forms, so we know relatively little about, for example, fragile gelatinous organisms. Dr. Greer will explore how new technologies, like towed camera systems, provide a glimpse into the world these ocean animals experience, and evidence of new behaviors and survival strategies. He will describe some of these discoveries and what they mean for our understanding of marine life.