Science in the Southern Ocean

Meet the Scientists

Research on the Great Southern Coccolithophore Belt is being conducted by scientists from a number of research laboratories and universities, including Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences; Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences; Dalhousie University; The Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom; National Oceanography Centre, Southampton; Scripps Institution of Oceanography; and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.


Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences


Dr. William “Barney” Balch, Chief Scientist/Senior Research Scientist

Barney is interested in factors that affect the distribution of phytoplankton in space and time, with an emphasis on coccolithophores, one of the main sources of calcium carbonate on the globe. Recent work has focused on ocean acidification. Advanced ocean optics technology is used to study phytoplankton by measuring their pigments and light absorbtion properties. Ocean color and temperature data make it possible to calculate rates of photosynthesis, and estimate the amount of chlorophyll and phytoplankton biomass in the water. Some topics the Balch Lab Group is studying include: How do long-term changes in climate affect the biomass and primary production of the Gulf of Maine? What are the effects of ocean acidification on the distribution and abundance of phytoplankton populations? How do changes in phytoplankton community structure, particularly changes in abundance of calcifyng phytoplankton such as coccolithophores, affect the ocean’s ability to reflect, absorb, or scatter light, and how might this feed back on oceanic and climatological conditions?

Barney is the Chief Scientist for the Great Belt Cruise, meaning he has the responsibility of planning and coordinating the entire cruise, and managing the science party while at sea.  He also plays in the Maine band, Novel Jazz, and may or may not have brought his trombone on the trip.


Bruce Bowler, Research Associate

Bruce is a member of the Balch Lab Group and has worked with Barney for a number of years.  He has a background in computer science and contributes his mad computer skills to the group’s remote sensing efforts and managing the vast amounts of data collected on the cruise.




Dave Drapeau, Research Associate

Dave is a member of the Balch Lab Group and has degrees in Biological Sciences and Oceanography.  Dave does a little bit of everything at sea, including instrument deployment, deck experiments and troubleshooting the instruments the Balch group uses to collect data. He is an ocean science textbook come to life and is always happy to share his extensive knowledge.




Laura Lubelcyzk, Research Technician

Laura is a member of the Balch Lab Group and studied environmental sciences as an undergraduate.  While at sea, she assists the Balch group with instrument deployment and processing water samples.  She spends much of her time on research expeditions, most recently on cruises in the Atlantic and the Bering Sea.



Marina Van der Eb, Undergraduate Intern 

Originally from Brooksville, Maine, Marina is a Marine Science major at the University of Maine, Orono and has joined the Balch Lab Group for the cruise to assist with CTD deployments and sample handling activities.  She has previous research cruise experience, having sailed on the SSV Robert C. Seamans as part of a SEA semester program in 2010.


Dr. Ben Twining, Senior Research Scientist

Ben is interested in the interactions between metals and planktonic organisms in marine and aquatic environments. Plankton play important roles in the global carbon cycle and form the base of most aquatic food webs. In many systems, the physiology and ecology of these organisms are influenced by the concentration, chemical speciation, and resulting bioavailability of trace metals such as Fe, Cu, Zn, Ni, Cd and Hg. Conversely, biological processes such as cellular uptake and the production of organic ligands influence the geochemistry and fate of metals in these systems. The Twining Lab Group utilizes state-of-the-art analytical tools such as synchrotron x-ray fluorescence microscopy, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, and voltammetry to address questions of metal speciation, bioavailability, accumulation, trophic transfer, recycling and biogeochemistry in varied aquatic and marine systems.


Sara Rauschenberg, Research Associate

Sara is a member of the Twining Lab and assists Ben in collecting water samples with their Niskin Bottles and sample processing in their mobile clean lab.  She spends several months at sea each year, most recently in various parts of the Atlantic Ocean.





Angel Ruacho, Undergraduate Intern

Angel graduated from UC Irvine Fall 2011 with a B.S. in Earth and Environmental Science.  As an undergrad he conducted research in modeling particulate organic carbon fluxes in the ocean and presented that research at the 2011 ASLO meeting in Puerto Rico.  Angel spent the summer of 2011 in a NSF-REU Program at Bigelow Laboratory, working with Dr. Ben Twining and Dr. Jochen Nuester, looking at organic ligand production through copepod grazing, in other words, trace metal work.  Angel has applied to Ph.D. programs at Scripps, Woods Hole, and USC in chemical oceanography and is still waiting to hear back from them; Angel is working with Dr. Ben Twining on the cruise while he waits for his acceptance letters.


Rebecca Fowler, Education Director

Rebecca is Bigelow Laboratory’s Education Director and is running education and outreach efforts on the Great Belt cruise.  She is designing activities to bring the cruise to Maine schools and is also assisting the Balch Group with sample processing, specializing in filtering and running the FlowCam.




Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences


Becky Garley, Research Technician

Becky works for BIOS scientist Dr. Nick Bates, researching marine biogeochemistry and the links between carbon dioxide, the ocean and climate.  On the cruise Becky will be measuring the total alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon both in the water column and in other experiments.  She likes ice cream.  A lot.




Kristen Shake, Research Technician

Kristen is from Anchorage, Alaska and recently earned her M.S. in Oceanography from the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Fairbanks, Alaska and also has a B.S. in Geography–Environmental Sciences from UAF. As a master’s student, Kristen sought to supplement her regional knowledge of the Northern Gulf of Alaska (GOA), one of the state’s most productive fisheries, with hands-on research into its complex carbon biogeochemistry. Her current projects include analyzing the effects of seasonal aragonite undersaturation states in the GOA and examining the seasonal influence of glacial meltwater and freshwater run off on the surface water chemistry of western Prince William Sound.  Kristen plans to draw upon her interdisciplinary background of natural resource management and the physical sciences and pursue a PhD in the area of marine policy. Beyond the classroom, her interests include hiking, kayaking, and skiing.  She’s an honorary member of the BIOS group and will be assisting Becky Garley with her work during our cruise.


Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom


Cecilia Balestreri, PhD Student

Cecilia is a PhD student in the Brownlee Lab at the MBA.  Funded by the United Kingdom NERC National Ocean Acidification project, she is studying genetic and physiological variability in natural coccolithophore populations.




National Oceanography Centre, Southampton


Jason Hopkins, PhD Student

Jason is based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton in the UK.  His project is based around trying to understand what makes coccolithophores bloom.  His work ranges from the large scale – using satellite data to look at variations in the global distribution of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi – to the smaller scale, growing coccolithophores in the lab to try and determine how changes in environmental conditions affects their development. During the cruise he will be mainly helping Helen Smith with her work but also taking the opportunity to meet new people and hopefully gather data and new ideas to help him in his work.


Helen Smith, PhD Student

Helen is studying ocean acidification and the efficiency of the biological carbon pump, or particle export for short.  Her work is part of the UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme which is examining how ocean acidification affects surface ocean biology and biogeochemistry.  On the cruise she’ll be looking at particles, known as marine snow, that are sinking from the surface layer of the ocean and that transport organic and inorganic carbon to the deep sea.  She’ll use a tool called the Marine Snow Catcher to collect 100 liters of water at a time and will use the captured particles for marine snow experiments.


Scripps Institution of Oceanography


Scripps Institution provides marine technical support to scientists on the cruise in the form of the following people:

Brent De Vries, Computing Resources Technician

Brent supports all on board information technology including computer systems, networks, software, data collection instruments, sonars, and iPods.  An average day of work for Brent involves troubleshooting the Windows blue screen of death while dolphins frolic astern.




Matt Durham, Resident Technician

Matt is the ship’s Resident Technician (Res Tech) and is from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  He’s responsible for coordinating deck operations (the deployment and recovery of scientific instruments), the safety of the scientists and managing communication between the science staff and ship’s crew.  He has traveled much of the world while working on Scripps ships and can be found scuba-diving whenever possible.  Likes: writing haiku, dressed knots, the Steelers, winning at cards.  Dislikes: having to remind scientists not to wear flip-flops on deck.


Melissa Miller, Marine Chemistry Technician

Melissa collects sea water samples from the CTD and analyzes them for nutrient concentrations (nitrate, phosphate, silicate, nitrite and ammonia), dissolved oxygen, and salinity.  Dr. Balch and his colleagues then use this data as a reference point for their experiments. Melissa spends about a third of her year out at sea and enjoys meeting new people and seeing new places, even if it means working 12 hour days with no weekends!


Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution


Dr. Phoebe Lam, Associate Scientist

My primary role is to see whether higher concentrations of calcite in the upper water column leads to more sinking particles. This is important for understanding how different ecosystems affect the role that the ocean plays in absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. Sinking particles are one of the ways that the ocean helps to transfer CO2 from the atmosphere to the depths of the ocean, where there is a greater storage capacity for carbon. This research complements Ben Twining’s dissolved trace metal work and adds to our growing database of particulate iron speciation in the ocean.


Dan Ohnemus, PhD Student

Dan is a PhD student in Chemical Oceanography at MIT-WHOI.  The focus of his research, with his advisor Phoebe Lam, on the Great Belt Cruise is the bioavailability of iron.  In the ocean, iron acts as an important micronutrient to phytoplankton, helping control which organisms can grow and how productive the are.  Incubation studies with both naturally and artificially labeled forms of iron are used to investigate which microogranisms are utilizing particulate iron, and how they’re going about acquiring it.  He will also be helping to deploy and maintain the McLane Pumps, which are in situ pumps used to filter particles from the water column.


Sarah Rosengard, Graduate Student

Sarah is a graduate student at WHOI, helping Phoebe Lam’s group sample water at depths along the transect.  Sarah is interested in exploring how organic carbon is exported down the water column within the context of understanding the oceanic carbon sink.  Sarah is from Queens, NY and this is her first research cruise.