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2012 AAUS Scholarship Recipients Updates - 05/15/13

Julia Stevens
2012 Kathy Johnston Scholar

I am a doctoral candidate finishing my fourth year of Ph.D. work at the University of Alabama under the direction of Julie B. Olson, Ph.D. The graduate program here has a broad focus in biological sciences reaching from molecular and cell biology to ecology and evolution. Our lab is a marine microbial ecology lab, and my dissertation focuses on the bacterial communities associated with the invasive lionfish in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic and in their native Indo-Pacific region. The funds I received through the Kathy Johnston Scholarship Fund awarded by AAUS are allowing me to travel to the Smithsonian research island of Carrie Bow Cay, Belize in June. The work I will complete while there, will allow me to analyze the chemical composition of lionfish mucus for antimicrobial activity as a potential chemical defense mechanism against disease. I am also testing the lionfish-associated bacteria for antimicrobial activity against known fish pathogens. Results could have implications for explaining the success of lionfish in the invaded range as well as potential host-microbe interactions. This project stemmed from previous work of ours, which showed that lionfish harbor a significantly different bacterial community than native Caribbean fishes.

 Photo of Julia Stevens and a lion fish by Cheih-wen Wang


Alexander Modys
2012 Kevin Gurr Scholar

My name is Alexander Modys, and I'm from Fort Myers, Florida. My interests are freediving, SCUBA diving, spearfishing, and surfing. I am currently a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, where I am working on an MS degree in Geology in the Department of Geosciences. My degree focuses on Marine Geology and Paleoceanography. I became interested in marine science at a very early age, exploring the estuary and Gulf of Mexico waters where I grew up and snorkeling the reefs of the Florida Keys. 

My AAUS funded research focuses on a relict Holocene reef system off the coast of Boynton Beach, Florida, constructed from Acropora palmataand Acropora cervicorniscorals. Using a combination of reef coring, stable isotope analysis, and remote sensing, I am working to reconstruct the Holocene reef environment at its northermost termination during the Holocene. Specifically, I am working on determining Holocene reef zonation patterns, paleo-temperatures, and exact age of the reef termination. Using this crucial new data, I will compare Holocene shelf-edge acroporid reef growth at this site to modern shelf-edge acroporid reef growth throughout the Florida Keys. Ultimately, our findings will reveal information on the long-term ecological stability of shelf-edge acroporid reefs in the southeastern Florida.


Jennifer Hellmann
2012 Kathy Johnston Scholar

I am a second year PhD student in the Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology department at The Ohio State University. My laboratory studies the evolution of sociality and my research focuseson the formation, structure, and fitness benefits of social networks. Being well connected within a social network provides several advantages, including increased offspring survival, greater mating opportunities, and higher social rank. However, social networking has not been widely explored outside of primates, and we do not know to what extent individuals in other taxa make decisions on the basis of networking opportunities. My research uses Neolamprologus pulcher, a species of African cichlid with a highly complex social system, to better understand how social networks function in fish. This past spring, I traveled to Lake Tanganyika to examine how colony density affects the ability of individuals to interact with their neighbors. Specifically, I explored how density affects how often males are able to mate with females on other territories and how easily subordinates are able to move between groups in the colony. Social network structure has important implications for information flow, disease spread, mate choice, and social stability, and this project will help elucidate the extent to which spatial patterns and social interactions align, which will provide valuable insight into the evolution of social structures and group organization.

 Photos by Susan Marsh-Rollo


FSU Panama City's Dive Symposium - 04/29/13


PANAMA CITY, Fla. –On Thursday, June 20 from 3:30 to 6:30 pm, Florida State University Panama City will present “Deep Submergence: Past, Present and Future of Ocean Exploration”. The program will feature renowned scientists and adventurers on the cutting edge of ocean engineering and deep sea exploration Don Walsh, PhD, Kurt Uetz and Chris Welsh. The event is free, open to the public and will be held in the Holley Academic Center Lecture Hall. 
Kurt Uetz: DSV Alvin Project Manager
Kurt Uetz is the Project Manager at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for the modernization of the Alvin deep submergence vehicle. Uetz’s oversight of this $40 million project to redesign and implement major upgrades to the Alvin submersible systems will increase its working depth from 4500 meters (2.8 miles) to 6500 meters (4.04 miles) and its operational capability with the Naval Sea Systems Command.
Captain Don Walsh: USN (Retired), PhD:
Don Walsh is an oceanographer, ocean engineer and retired Navy Captain. In 1960, he, along with his co-pilot, Jacques Piccard, descended to the ocean’s deepest point aboard the bathyscaphe Trieste. More than fifty years later, in 2012, film director James Cameron made the second manned descent to Challenger Deep in his submersible Deep sea Challenger. 
Chris Welsh: Virgin Oceanic, USA
Chris Welsh is an accomplished entrepreneur, sailor and aviator who co-founded the business venture Virgin Oceanic with Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson in 2009. The company’s mission is “to explore the possibilities of enabling adventurers and pioneers to participate in oceanic exploration.” The Virgin Oceanic deep sea submersible, Deep Flight Challenger, is currently being developed and tested to dive to the depths of Challenger Deep. The sub’s innovative design prefigures the future of deep sea passenger vehicles.

Master's Thesis Survey - 04/23/13


Kristen Richards is asking for any and all members to help her with her master's thesis by filling out a short online survey regarding underwater technology.  She is asking for 2-3 responses from each OM.  Follow the link below to participate!

Scientific Diving Course in Albania - 02/26/13


Scientific Diving Course in Albania

The Albanian Center for Marine Research (ACMR) is offering a Scientific Diving Course for the 2013 field season. Students will gain diverse diving experience, participate in ongoing underwater research, and learn diving theory and methods in classroom sessions taught by experts in the field from institutions including East Carolina University, the Albanian Institute of Archaeology, and RPM Nautical Foundation. Deadline to apply is April 15, 2013. For more information, visit www.aaus.org or check out www.albaniamarinecenter.org.


Rebreather Forum 3.0 - Consensus Findings and Recommendations - 06/12/12





(May 18-20, 2012)



The Forum acknowledged the overwhelming evidence demonstrating the efficacy of checklists in preventing errors in parallel fields that share similar technical complexity. Two recommendations regarding checklists were consequently agreed:

1.   The Forum recommends that rebreather manufacturers produce carefully designed checklists, which may be written and/or electronic, for use in the pre-dive preparation (unit assembly and immediate pre-dive) and post-dive management of their rebreathers.

•      Written checklists should be provided in a weatherproof or waterproof form; and,

•      The current version of these checklists annotated with the most recent revision date should be published on the manufacturer’s website.

2.   The Forum recommends that training agencies and their instructors embrace the crucial leadership role in fostering a safety culture in which the use of checklists by rebreather divers becomes second nature.


Training and Operations

1.   The Forum applauds and endorses the release of pooled data describing numbers of rebreather certifications by training agencies and encourages other agencies to join ANDI, IANTD, and TDI in this initiative.

2.   The Forum endorses the concept of making minimum rebreather training standards available in the public arena.

3.   The Forum endorses the concept of a currency requirement for rebreather instructors. We recommend that training agencies give consideration to currency standards with respect to diving activity, class numbers, and unit specificity for their instructors.

4.   The Forum recognizes and endorses the industry and training agency initiative to characterize “recreational” and “technical” streams of sport rebreather diver training. These groups will have different operational, training and equipment needs.


Accident Investigation

1.   The Forum recommends that training agencies provide rebreather divers with a simple listof instructions that will mitigate common errors in evidence preservation after a serious incident or rebreather fatality. These instructions will be developed under the auspices of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society Diving Committee in consultation with the relevant RF3.0 presenters.

2.   The Forum endorses the concept of a widely notified centralized “on-call” consultation service to help investigators in avoiding errors or omissions in the early stages of a rebreather accident investigation and to facilitate referral to expert investigative services.

3.   The Forum recommends that in investigating a rebreather fatality the principal accident investigator invite the manufacturer of the incident rebreather (or other relevant equipment) to assist with its evaluation (including the crucial task of data download) as early as is practicable.

4.   The Forum endorses the DAN worldwide initiative to provide a means of on-line incident reporting with subsequent analysis and publication of incident root causes.


Design and Testing

1.   The Forum recommends that all rebreathers incorporate data-logging systems, which record functional parameters relevant to the particular unit and dive data, and allow download of these data. Diagnostic reconstruction of dives with as many relevant parameters as possible is the goal of this initiative. Footnote: An ideal goal would be to incorporate redundancy in data logging systems, and as much as practical, to standardize the data to be collected.

2.   The Forum endorses the need for third party pre-market testing to establish that rebreathers are fit for purpose. Results of a uniform suite of practically important unmanned testing parameters such as canister duration, and work of breathing (qualified by clear statements of experimental parameters) should be reported publicly. Ideally, this testing should be to an internationally recognized standard.

3.   The Forum acknowledges recent survey data indicating a poor understanding of rebreather operational limits in relation to depth and carbon dioxide scrubber duration among trained users, and therefore recommends that:

·         Training agencies emphasize these parameters in training courses; and,

·         Manufacturers display these parameters in places of prominence in device documentation and on websites.

4.   The Forum strongly endorses industry initiatives to improve oxygen-measurement technologies, and advocates consideration of potentially beneficial emerging strategies such as dynamic validation of cell readings and alternatives to galvanic fuel cells.

5.   The Forum identifies as a research question the issue of whether a mouthpiece-retaining strap would provide protection of the airway in an unconscious rebreather diver.

6.   The Forum identifies as a research question the efficacy of a full-face mask for use with sport rebreathers.


Kevin Flanagan Student Travel Award - 06/06/12


The Kevin Flanagan Student Travel Award is a competitive award developed to support the professional development of students engaged in diving science or the study of diving science. The award was created in memory of Kevin Flanagan (1970-2012), an AAUS board member (2009-2011) and diving safety officer (1998-2012).

To qualify applicants must:

·   Be a current member of AAUS (student or full member).

·   Be enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student.

Electronic submission of the following is required:

·   Two page curriculum vitae (including academic history and connection to diving).

·   Brief essay (600-1000 words) describing relevant personal history, aspirations and the professional benefits to be derived from attending an AAUS meeting.

·   Budget page (numbers plus brief justification) for travel expenses requested from AAUS (maximum $800; smaller amounts may be requested).

·   Letter of support from one faculty member (submitted with the package or directly to AAUS Foundation).

Submit application package to:

·   aausfoundation@gmail.com - specify 'Kevin Flanagan Student Travel Award competition.'

The deadline for 2012 applications is July 01. Only complete applications will be considered. Award winners will be notified by August 01.

Donations to help fund this award can be given at www.aausfoundation.org. Please indicate "K Flanagan Fund" on the donation page. 

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