Scientific research doesn’t always take place in a laboratory; so neither should your science class. At Florida A&M University’s Environmental Sciences Institute, students now have the opportunity to join a program that gives them access to the biggest science lab in the world … the ocean.
Students at Sea is a three day research cruise that takes place off the Florida panhandle in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The purpose of these cruises is to give the students at Florida A&M University a hands-on field research experience. We carry out an ecosystem inventory, and we collect samples from the water using a Niskin rosette and a CTD. We also collect plankton samples from the water column, both phytoplankton and zooplankton. And finally, the last operation that we do, is we do a sediment grab sample because we want to see what the water column productivity looks like and how it affects the sediments.”
The Students at Sea program aims to broaden the horizon for students who may not have traditionally considered a career in environmental science. Since over 90 percent of the ocean is unexplored, the program is literally opening up a whole new world of discovery and opportunity.
“This trip in particular has helped me to realize a couple of things that, um, I hadn’t noticed in the past. It brings me closer to the ocean and allows me to see up close what I study in the classroom and textbooks.”
“As a young child I used to watch Discovery Channel and see Jacques Cousteau and people like that and wonder if I could ever be like that.”
“Through the courses that I’ve taken, I’ve been able to see the medicinal aspect of the marine environment that most people aren’t aware of – the types of advantages that it gives the society. And most people aren’t aware of the types of things we can get from it, the things we can learn from marine organisms. So, it gives you a lot more insight on what you can do with this type of research and its applications.”