Scientists At Sea

Steph Sharuga is a pen pal and Outreach Officer extraordinaire, who earlier in the school year helped connect several Letters to a Pre-Scientist classrooms with marine biology researchers working on a ship off the coast of New Zealand! Steph and her pen pal even got to meet each other over video chat! They were both thrilled, and you can read Steph’s perspective on that experience on the JOIDES Resolution blog. Here, Steph explains in more detail the work she does and how that led to her connecting with the LPS classes.

Credit: Timothy Fulton
Credit: Timothy Fulton

The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) is an international marine research collaboration that coordinates ocean-going expeditions to study the Earth’s history and dynamics through collection of seafloor sediments and rocks. The scientific drilling ship JOIDES Resolution is currently one of three platforms used by the IODP to carry out its expeditions. During JOIDES Resolution expeditions, Onboard Outreach Officers sail on board the ship and share the science and research with students, families, and the general public. I joined the JOIDES Resolution as an Onboard Outreach Officer for Expedition 372. On this expedition, scientists from all over the world came together to conduct research off the coast of the north island of New Zealand. The expedition goals were to learn about the causes and behavior of underwater landslides along the coast to better understand how, where, and when they occurred in the past, as well as how and where they are likely to occur in the future. Scientists also wanted to learn more about the relationship between gas hydrates (i.e. ice-like substances that form in deep-ocean sediments) and underwater landslides.

Steph headshot 1

As an Outreach Officer for the expedition, my role was to translate the exciting geological and geochemical science being done. I was responsible for coordinating, with participation from the science party and technical staff, the story of our expedition that was then shared with the world, including through blogs, social media postings, website updates, live ship-to-shore broadcast events, and more. The live broadcasts are with a wide range of shore-based audiences, including classrooms, museums, professional development workshops, and media outlets. Audiences participate in scientific inquiry through interactive activities that are part of these video broadcast experiences, including Q&A’s with onboard scientists, ship tours, and pre- or post-video conference activities. As an ocean scientist who loves doing science education and outreach, serving as an Outreach Officer on the JOIDES Resolution was a perfect opportunity for me to do this in a unique setting.  I really enjoyed getting to interact with diverse audiences and see how excited both students and the general public got when learning about what we do on the ship.


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