Home >> The Portal Blog < Login >

Monday, January 01, 2018

Creation of Coastal Ecosystem Data Assembly Center (CEDAC)

In conjunction with NOAAs National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), the Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) has developed a Coastal Ecosystem Data Assembly Center (CEDAC) to: (1) provide information services to gather and assess stakeholder requirements; (2) develop and steward the long term coastal data record; (3) enhance the understanding of historical trends, anomalies, and the frequency of event occurrences; and (4) investigate, develop and transition innovative data stewardship solutions to enhance NOAA data management, visualization, and dissemination capabilities.

CEDAC is a multi-disciplinary scientific data exchange, serving the needs of data providers as well as data consumers. NGI data architects are working with NCEI scientists and scientific data stewards to develop capacity for data providers to help simplify data management processes. The CEDAC approach will provide opportunities for data synthesis including fusion, harmonization, and development of integrated products and use-inspired services, many of which will fit within the existing NCEI framework (e.g. World Ocean Database and Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas). Capabilities will transition from NGI research to NOAA operations once fully vetted, and methods developed with Gulf restoration data will be shared for replication across other coastal ecosystems.

Additionally, the NCEI Coastal Data Development program has successfully partnered with and supported the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R), the NOAA Deep Sea Corals Research and Technology Program (DSCRTP), the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER), and several members of the Gulf Coast Restoration efforts. Finally, CEDAC is also envisioned to provide a unified public interface for timely, easy, and convenient public access to the data collections resulting from the Gulf recovery and restoration activities.

Along with this new partnership, we would like to welcome the addition of the following personnel to the NGI ranks.

Barbara Ambrose is a graphic designer. She holds a Bachelor of Art in Website Development and NOAA for over 14 years. Barbara provides graphic design, web graphics and presentations within NOAA and supports other agencies outside of NOAA. Her hobbies include photography and gardening. She also enjoys being involved with outreach in her community.

Megan Cromwell is a Project Scientist supporting the Ocean Exploration and Research data management team, but also lends GIS support where needed. Megan recently completed her Bachelor of Science in Oceanography with a minor in Geographical Information Systems from the University of Southern Mississippi. Megan is a competitive sailor and enjoys gardening in her spare time.

Matt Dornback brings a background of marine science, data management, and outreach to the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. Currently he works with the Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program to manage their data and make it available to the public through deepseacoraldata.noaa.gov. He holds a B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and a M.S. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Southern Mississippi Department of Marine Science. During cruises, Matt manages the data collected from samples collected by the ROV and works with the Science Leads to properly handle and preserve the specimens for further scientific analysis.

Clint Edrington has joined NGI as a Research Program Manager. Clint comes to the NGI from Fugro, the world leading marine survey service provider. While at Fugro, Clint served as Lead Scientist for many deep-water exploration surveys, whereas his onshore responsibilities included managing those projects, reports, and other deliverables. Clint academic background is in geoscience. He holds a BS in geophysics from the University of New Orleans and a MS in geology and a PhD in geological oceanography from Louisiana State University. When not working, Clint enjoys exploring new places and things with his wife, reading, fishing, and, well, just happily existing.

Susan Gottfried is the NOAA Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) Data Management Coordinator. Susan works with all project principals and data management team members to plan and coordinate the disposition of data collected for each expedition aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and for a selected subset of OER-funded extramural expeditions. Susan is the developer of the Cruise Information Management System (CIMS) which tracks progress and metrics of the OER data management workflow for OER sponsored missions. She has worked in a scientific computing environment for the majority of her 28+ years of work experience, including software application support for OER, the Naval Oceanographic Office, and the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service. Susan has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Louisiana State University.

Jonathan Jackson chose a career that reflects his love of the outdoors, especially fishing. He earned a B.S in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Mississippi State University and a M.S. in Fisheries and Aquaculture from Auburn University. Jonathan was then hired as a biologist with a private consultant in Mobile, Alabama, participating in operations including upland stream surveys and ROV surveys of salt domes surrounding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In 2013, his career took him to NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center Mississippi lab where he worked on a Deepwater Horizon National Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) ichthyoplankton project and participated in NOAA Fisheries sampling cruises. Jonathan transferred into NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information in 2015. He is the technical manager for the Harmful Algal Blooms Observing System and is participating in efforts to archive NRDA data. During cruises, Jonathan manages the data collected from samples collected by the ROV and works with the science leads to properly handle and preserve the specimens for further scientific analysis.

Lauren Jackson is a NCEI-CCOG Project Scientist. Prior to joining NCEI, Lauren was a Fisheries Biologist at the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Lab in Pascagoula, MS. Lauren holds a Master of Science in Coastal Sciences from the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Lab and a Bachelor of Science Degree from Auburn University Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures. Her hobbies include fish paintings, swimming, and training for triathlons and marathons.

Kathy Martinolich has worked with NCEI as a Metadata Specialist and Trainer since 2005. She obtained a Bachelor degree in Geography from the University of New Orleans. She has worked on several GIS projects, with an emphasis on the improvement of scientific documentation and data accessibility, often via the vehicle of standard metadata. She enjoys working with a diversity of NOAA projects in this role, and strives to make metadata "as painless as possible" scientists and data managers. Kathy is a native of the Mississippi Coast, and enjoys attending the area many festivals, especially those that feature Gulf Seafood!

David Moffitt has been working with NCEI for two years as a software engineer. He graduated from MSU in 2012 with a degree in bio-engineering, then took extra classes in computer science. He mostly works on NCCOS Geoportal and general data processing and lives in Bay Saint Louis with his dog Lily. Outside of work, David enjoys running, biking, and playing soccer.

Madalyn Newman joins NGI as a Research Scientist supporting NCEI's stewardship of coastal data as a data content manager and processes Okeanos Explorer CTD data. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Marine Science from the University of Southern Mississippi in Long Beach, MS. Madalyn began her career at USM Gulf Coast Research Lab as a Fisheries Ecologist before joining the Pascagoula NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Lab as a Fisheries Biologist for two years, and joined the team at NCEI two years ago. Her hobbies include: kayaking, volleyball, gardening, woodworking, and spending time with her horse Boss, pups Charlie and Pearl, and wonderful husband and family.

Kate Rose is a habitat specialist who serves as content manager for the NOAA Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas. Her duties include collaborating with data partners from many federal and non-federal agencies and institutions to develop geospatial content, metadata and narrative text for the website, and delivering informative briefs and demonstrations to a wide range of audiences. She also represents NOAA and CCOG in the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, providing support for habitat assessment and conservation planning, and overseeing data management projects. Kate completed a B.S. in General Studies-Biology/Geology and a M.S. in Earth and Environmental Studies from the University of New Orleans, where she studied coastal and deltaic geology and geomorphology. She previously worked for the U.S. Geological Survey analyzing geophysical, bathymetric and LIDAR data, and remotely-sensed imagery to map coastal and marine habitats.

Katharine Weathers currently works as a scientist and data content manager for NCEI where she prepares geospatial data packages for long-term archiving and determines best practices for submission. Her past research experience includes looking at bio-physical interactions with emphasis on mesoscale eddies in the Gulf of Mexico using an integrated satellite sensor approach, and research at the ASIST wave-tank at the University of Miami with the Oceans and Human Health project. She received her M.S. in Physical Oceanography from the University of Southern Mississippi and a B.S. in Marine Science and Biology from the University of Miami. Katharine brings a diverse skill to the team, including data collection and management, sample handling and processing, data analysis, troubleshooting and writing scripts, knowledge of multiple programming languages and platforms, and geographic information systems. She is joining the team during this cruise leg to help with sample processing and data management.

Fred Zeile is a retired U.S. Navy Officer. His Commanding Officers tours included Oceanographic Unit FOUR conducting hydrographic surveys in Indonesia and the Naval Oceanographic Command Facility in Keflavik Iceland. Fred was a Vice President with Analysis & Technology Inc. and Anteon Corporation as well as Director of the Ocean Systems Division. Fred has been with NCEI-CCOG since 2006 as the Program Manager and Senior Scientist. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree (Oceanography) from the U.S. Naval Academy, a Master of Science Degree in Meteorology and Oceanography from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a Master of Arts Degree (with distinction) in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, where he also received the President Award in 1986. Fred and his wife, Ingrid, live in Slidell, LA with their three rescue dogs. He enjoys fishing, Saints games, and playing an occasional game of golf with fellow high-handicap hackers.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Researcher Profile: Dr. Kelly Dorgan, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Kelly Dorgan, Ph.D.
Senior Marine Scientist
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Education: 2007 Ph.D. University of Maine


Dr. Kelly Dorgan joined the faculty at Dauphin Island Sea Lab in the fall of 2013.

Dr. Dorgan is interested in how worms and other benthic organisms interact with their environments. Burrowing animals are numerically abundant and ecologically important, both in trophic dynamics and as ecosystem engineers, dramatically altering their physical and chemical environments. Because the opacity of sediments (muds and sands) limits direct observation, Dorgan uses tools from engineering and physics to develop new methods in order to integrate theory and experiments. Muds behave elastically due to the gel-like organic material that fills spaces between the grains, and her work has shown that worms extend burrows by fracturing this organic matrix.

Sands are granular materials with very different mechanical responses to burrowers than muds. Even within muds, burrowers exhibit different behaviors based on body size and sediment properties. Dr Dorgans research therefore focuses on the mechanical properties of sediments as well as the diverse morphologies and behaviors of burrowing animals.

Dr. Dorgan's lab is currently working on several different projects on infauna and sediment properties. They are studying the impacts of benthic infauna on acoustic and geotechnical properties of sediments, focusing on how different functional groups of organisms modify their physical environment. This work is funded by the Office of Naval Research, and has implications for improving techniques to use acoustics to map the seafloor and to find buried objects in sediments with high biological productivity. Additionally, Dr. Dorgan, Dr. Bill Walton, and graduate student Sarah Cole are studying mud blister worms that bore into oyster shells to develop ways to minimize the damage of these worms to farmed oysters along the gulf coast. Dr. Dorgan and graduate student Kara Gadeken are studying how daily changes in oxygen in shallow coastal ecosystems like seagrass beds affect behaviors of infauna and consequently the way the function in these ecosystems.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Researcher Profile: Dr. Adam Skarke, Mississippi State University, Department of Geosciences

Dr. Adam Skarke 
Assistant Professor of Geology
Department of Geosciences
Mississippi State University
Education 2013 Ph.D. Geology, University of Delaware


Dr. Adam Skarke is a geologist with broad research interests in the fields of marine geology and geophysics. Specific research interests include: sediment transport processes, boundary layer hydrodynamics, bedform evolution, coastal/shelf morphodynamics, stratigraphy, physical oceanography, seafloor fluid exchange, and ocean mapping. Adamtechnical approach is field based and focused on the quantitative analysis of, hydrodynamic, geophysical, geological, and meteorological data collected with innovative environmental observing sensors and platforms.

Skarke uses satellite imagery and acoustic instrumentation to investigate the oceanographic and geologic processes that control sediment erosion, transport and deposition in marine environments. His work includes studying how coastal storms alter the shape of coastlines and how gas release from seafloor sediments impacts water quality.

Results of Skarke research may help scientists and environmental managers better understand and mitigate processes detrimental to the health and resilience of marine ecosystems, commercial fisheries, and coastal property and infrastructure.

Recent Publications

Fitzpatrick, P. J., Y. Lau, D. Merritt, R. Moorhead, A. Skarke, K. Kreider, C. Brown, R. Carlon, G. Hine, T. Lampoudi, and A. Leonardi (2015), A review of the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Wave Glide field program. Marine Technology Society Journal, 49, 64-71.

Skarke, A., C. Ruppel, M. Kodis, D. Brothers, and E. Lobecker (2014), Widespread methane leakage from the sea floor on the northern US Atlantic margin, Nature Geoscience, 7(9), 657-661.

Brothers, L., C. Van Dover, C. German, C. Kaiser, D. Yoerger, C. Ruppel, E. Lobecker, A. Skarke, and J. Wagner (2013), Evidence for extensive methane venting on the southeastern US Atlantic margin, Geology, 41(7), 807-810.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Teacher Workshop: Exploring the Deep Ocean with NOAA

Event Date: Saturday, February 10, 2018
Event Time: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Location: Endeavour Hall, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

An essential component of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) mission is to enhance ocean science literacy and enhance understanding why it is important to explore our little-known ocean world. Educators are invited join NOAA OER staff to learn more about the importance of ocean exploration and the current technologies used to explore the deep ocean. This 7-hour Professional Development will introduce standards-based, hands-on activities and other online resources that guide classroom teaching and learning. Ocean health, unique underwater habitats, underwater mapping and remotely operated vehicles are just a few of the topics to be addressed.

Tuition: $25 Registration deposit. Deposit is refundable upon completion of the workshop, OR if notice of cancellation is received at least 72 hours prior to the workshop AND we can fill your space.

Teachers who complete the workshop will receive a $75 stipend.

In addition to the stipend, teachers attending will receive a kit full of supplies (FREE) so they can do these activities back in their classrooms!

Registration Form

Please contact Sara Johnson at (251) 861-2141 x7515 with any questions.
If any workshop is canceled due to low enrollment, all deposits will be refunded.
Funded by the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, through the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Dauphin Island Sea Lab offers Scientific Dive Training Programs

Scientific diving is a tool used by researchers, federal and state agencies, museums/aquariums, and some consulting companies to perform workplace diving operations with the objective of collecting data for scientific or educational purposes. In order to understand what scientific diving is, we first need to take a step back and discuss the entire diving industry. There are two general categories into which all diving can be sorted, recreational and commercial. Scientific diving is a subset of commercial diving, officially established in 1985 by OSHA as a partial exemption to the commercial diving standard.

Commercial diving includes all diving activities where the participants are paid for their work. Because there is an employee/employer relationship in commercial diving, oversight, safety regulations and training requirements are dictated by a regulatory agency, such as OSHA in the United States.

Scientific dive training at DISL is offered to any MESC member requiring dive operations for their research in accordance with AAUS standards.  To be accepted into the program, applicants must submit an application, hold at a minimum, an open water recreational SCUBA certification, pass a medical examination, pass a swim test, demonstrate appropriate levels of underwater proficiency with equipment and dive skill, acquire and maintain emergency care training. Once all prerequisites are met, the diver in training (DIT) must complete a cumulative total of a minimum of 100 hours of practical and theoretical dive training, and successfully pass a written examination.

Detailed information on training topics can be found in the DISL dive manual. Once the training is complete, working dives can be conducted to a depth of 30 feet, however, divers have the option to progress to deeper depth levels by completing a specified number of supervised dives to the next depth level (Table 1). Once certified, the scientific diver is responsible for maintaining any certifications that may expire (i.e. emergency care training), log a minimum of 12 dives during any 12 month period including at least one dive to their deepest depth certification level, and pass medical examinations at intervals determined by their age.

Dive training is continuously ongoing at DISL based on the needs of the researchers. Each year, new graduate students join the Sea Lab and new research projects start up; this means that at any given time, 3-4 people are working toward their scientific diver certification. Under normal circumstances, it takes about 1 year to complete the training, but it is possible to finish much more.
Table 1: Depth Tables and Number of Dives Required
Depth Rating # of Dives Prerequisite Specific Criteria
60 12 30 foot certification Minimum 4 hours dive time
100 4 60 foot certification Demonstrate use of dive tables
130 4 100 foot certification Demonstrat use of dive tables
150 4 130 foot certification Demonstrate understanding of deep diving physics
190* 4 150 foot certification Demonstrate understanding of deep diving physics

Link to DISL Scientific Diving Manual

Monday, January 01, 2018

Education & Outreach Opportunities

The Travelling Trunk Education Outreach Program

Mr James Comans at Desoto Central Middle School, in Mississippi has been chosen to be the first recipient of the Atmospheric Sciences Trunk. This trunk provides a Portable Weather Station and state science curriculum targeted projects and classroom lesson plans as well as a literature component. The trunk program is designed to provide student with direct observation and lessons on understanding and interpretation of the atmospheric sciences.

STEAM: Science Through the Arts, Art Competition

STEAM programs add art to STEM curriculum by drawing on design principles and encouraging creative solutions.

In 2013, a joint resolution was introduced in the United States House of Representatives expressing the sense that adding art and design into Federal programs that target the STEM fields encourages innovation and economic growth in the United States.

The Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) at Mississippi State University is proud to announce a STEAM art competition, where original drawings, paintings , photography, or other renderings, depicting the natural environment, marine, avian, or aquatic species, the ocean, or weather, as related to the Mississippi River, The Gulf Coast, or the Gulf of Mexico Basin, are to be submitted for review. The winner of the competition will have their art featured in the "Portal" Newsletter.

Continuing Education Opportunity

The Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) has joined with the Department of Geosciences and the Center for Distance Education at Mississippi State University to provide Continuing Education and/or 4 hours of Graduate College Credit to teachers and professionals wishing to undertake a 7-10 day geosciences field course. The course locations for this year are Bahamas (split undergrad/grad), Western WA, NY, and Great Plains Storm Chase. A science background is helpful to successfully complete these courses and cost $1250 plus tuition (4 hours of in-state grad credit). (approximately $2978 total) Additionally, for most of the trips the students pay for their meals, but the Bahamas trip includes meals. Students are also responsible for getting to the start location on their own (e.g Seattle, Nassau, Oklahoma City, etc.).

Visiting Scientists to your Classroom or Organization

The NGI can also provide assistance in locating a guest speaker for your classroom or organizations meeting to discuss various topics including Coastal Hazards, Geospatial Data Integration and Visualization, Ecosystem Management Climate Change, and use of UAV/AUVs in the environmental and agricultural sciences.

Lesson Plan Database

NGI along with the INSPIRE program is developing a database of approximately 500 Mississippi Science Curriculum based lesson plans and assignments for k-12 classrooms. These will be linked from our website in the near future. Click Here for Lesson Plans

Monday, January 01, 2018

STEAM Integrated Arts and Sciences Competition

STEAM fields are science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, together with art. STEAM is designed to integrate STEM subjects and the art of design in education.

STEAM programs add art to STEM curriculum by drawing on design principles and encouraging creative solutions.

In 2013, a joint resolution was introduced in the United States House of Representatives expressing the sense that adding art and design into Federal programs that target the STEM fields encourages innovation and economic growth in the United States.

The Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) at Mississippi State University is proud to announce a STEAM art competition, where original drawings, paintings, photography, or other renderings, to be sized at 4.25 inches by 11 inches vertically, depicting the natural environment, marine avian, or aquatic species, the ocean, or weather, as related to the Mississippi River, The Gulf Coast, or the Gulf of Mexico Basin, are to be submitted for review. The winner of the competition will have their art featured in the Newsletter. There is an open submission date as the newsletter is published quarterly.

Please forward submissions digitally to EandO@ngi.msstate.edu or submit them by mail to:

Jonathan Harris
Education and Outreach
Northern Gulf Institute
Box 9627
Mississippi State, MS 39762
Innovation depends on the problem solving, risk taking and creativity that are natural to the way artists and designers think.
~ John Madea