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What is science?

Meet the scientists!

Dr. Mark Abbott
Dr. Dick Barber
Liesl Hotaling
Dr. Susan Humphris
Dr. Martin Jeffries
Dr. Evelyn Sherr
Dr. Barry Sherr
Dr. Walker O. Smith, Jr.

The bold words that are on this page are words that are in the glossary to the right of each scientist. You can find their meanings below. If you want to see the whole glossary, click here.

Dr. Mark Abbott, Dean of the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Professor of Biological Oceanography, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.

Dr. Mark AbbottMark Abbott is a professor of biological oceanography. He is interested in how ocean circulation affects the distribution of phytoplankton, the microscopic green plants of the sea. He uses Earth-orbiting satellites to study these processes as well as data from ships and buoys. This research will help us understand how the Earth’s climate affects the health of the ocean. He has worked off the coast of Oregon and California as well as in the Southern Ocean between New Zealand and Antarctica.

Read the interview with Mark

biological oceanography:
the science that studies the plants and animals of oceans and seas

the movement of something from place to place (as in ocean circulation)

the spread or range of something

small plants (best seen with a microscope) floating in the upper layer of the ocean

too small to be seen with the human eye

a collection of measurements or observations

Dr. Dick Barber, Professor of Biological Oceanography, Duke University, Beaufort, North Carolina.

Dr. Dick BarberDick Barber is a biological oceanographer employed by Duke University to teach and carry out basic research. He teaches undergraduate classes and he advises graduate students. His area of research involves primary productivity and its regulation by environmental processes and factors. That is, he studies how fast oceanic phytoplankton grow and what regulates their growth rate. Of course, temperature and light are important, but in many regions of the ocean, the supply of nutrients is the key process regulating phytoplankton growth. The big surprise in recent years is that in some areas the nutrient that is most important is iron, because in these areas there is plenty of nitrogen and phosphorus but not enough iron.

Read the interview with Dick


primary productivity:
the growth of plants through photosynthesis. This term is used to describe the growth of phytoplankton in the ocean

(as in primary productivity regulation by environmental processes); a process, method, or law of nature that controls or restricts action

having to do with the surroundings

series of actions that produce something; a series of changes or acts

small plants (best seen with a microscope) floating in the upper layer of the ocean

something in food used by plants and animals to help them grow

a gas with no color or smell; a chemical element. It makes up about 80% of the air around Earth. It is a part of all living things

a chemical element that is important to living things. It helps plants grow

Liesl Hotaling, Internet Training Specialist, Center for Improved Engineering and Science Education (CIESE), Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey.

Liesl HotalingLiesl Hotaling is an Internet Training Specialist for the Center for Improved Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. Most recently, she worked with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to create an Internet-based, ground level ozone educational project called Air Pollution: What's the Solution? Previous to working with CIESE, Ms. Hotaling served as a classroom teacher. She also has worked as a field scientist for the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium at Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

Read the interview with Liesl

a form of oxygen that is found in the Earth’s atmosphere

Dr. Susan Humphris, Senior Scientist, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA.

Dr. Susan HumphrisSusan Humphris is a Senior Scientist in Geology and Geophysics, and Director of the Deep Ocean Exploration Institute at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She is a marine geochemist who studies both the distribution of seafloor hot springs along the mid-ocean ridge system, and the chemical reactions that take place between volcanic rocks and circulating seawater during the formation of hot springs. Susan uses submersibles and remotely-operated vehicles to directly observe and sample rocks from the seafloor, and has spent more than three years at sea on various oceanographic research ships. She has worked in the eastern Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

Read the interview with Susan


the science that studies the physical properties of the Earth and how it has changed over time. To do this, some scientists study rocks on Earth, and other scientists study other planets

the study of some part of the Earth and its systems

having to do with the sea or ocean

a vessel or ship that can function underwater

vehicle (ROV):

an unmanned underwater machine used to explore the deep ocean and the seafloor. The ROV may contain cameras and other sensors. It may be able to take samples from the ocean floor. The ROV is connected to a ship with cables. It is operated by people on board the ship.

Dr. Martin Jeffries, Research Professor of Geophysics, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska.

Dr. Martin JeffriesMartin Jeffries is a Research Professor of Geophysics. This means that he has a contract that does not require him to teach (but he does anyway, most recently classes on snow and ice for K-12 teachers). Snow and ice are what interest him. Over the years his research has taken him to northern Norway to study glacier hydrology, the Canadian High Arctic to study ice shelves and ice islands (icebergs), the Arctic Ocean to study sea ice properties and processes, and Antarctica to study sea ice thickness and formation. In Alaska he has been studying lake ice since the early 1990s. He currently has a project that involves fieldwork on ice growth and decay, and conductive heat flow at frozen ponds only 30 miles from home. He has lived in Alaska a little over 17 years. It only took him 14 years to realise that there is interesting science to be done in his own backyard. No more seasickness for him (at least not for the moment)!

Read the interview with Martin

the study of some part of the Earth and its systems

snowfall that has increased over many years to form a mass of ice

("hydro"= water; "logy"=the science of) the science of water (liquid and solid). The water under study can be on the surface of the land (rivers, lakes, oceans), in the soil and rocks, or in the air.

conductive heat flow:
the transfer of heat from warm and cold objects (like water in ponds) next to each other

Dr. Evelyn Sherr, Dr. Barry Sherr, Professors of Biological Oceanography, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

Drs. Barry and Evelyn SherrEvelyn Sherr and Barry Sherr are professors of microbial oceanography. They study single-celled organisms (such as bacteria and protists) that are the base of the marine food web. (To see photos of these organisms, visit this site.

The Sherrs are interested in knowing how the organic matter produced by phytoplankton is used by other organisms in the food web. The Sherrs say they do "mom and pop" science. They are entrepreneurs who share their job, just as Barry’s parents had a "mom and pop" variety store in Greenwich Village, New York. As faculty members at a research university, the Sherrs mentor students, teach classes, conduct research, and serve on committees. About one-third of their time is spent on actual hands-on research. The Sherrs say that "Everything we do is done together–sharing grants, advising students, going to sea to collect data, analyzing data, and writing papers." As they say, there are lots of parts to a researcher’s professional life: planning future research projects, raising money for that research, doing research, and thinking about what their next questions will be. Now they are doing research in the Arctic and off the coast of Oregon. For more information about their work, visit this site.

Read the interview with Evelyn and Barry

like something that can only be seen with a microscope

the science and study of oceans

small, single-celled organisms such as protozoa and some algae

food chain, food web:
the plants and animals that feed upon each other in a place, habitat, or system

any plants or animals

based on carbon, an element in living organisms

small plants (best seen with a microscope) floating in the upper layer of the ocean

business people, often those who work for themselves or who start new businesses

money for a specific research purpose

to separate into parts for study; to explain and examine

a collection of measurements or observations

Dr. Walker O. Smith, Jr., Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, The College of William & Mary, Gloucester Point, VA.

Dr. Walker O. Smith Jr.Walker Smith is a professor of marine sciences. He is interested in phytoplankton, which are the photosynthetic microorganisms that are the base of nearly all marine food webs. He is especially interested in what controls the growth of these organisms in the ocean, and what their fate is after they have reached a certain abundance. In recent years he has become interested in the role of iron, as it has been shown that this element has a tremendous impact on the ocean. Walker has done research cruises in a variety of environments, but he has focused on polar systems such as the Antarctic and Arctic. Here is a link to an online interview with Walker.

Read the interview with Walker

having to do with the sea or ocean

small plants (best seen with a microscope) floating in the upper layer of the ocean

photosynthetic microorganisms:
single-celled organisms that grow through photosynthesis

food chain, food web:
the plants and animals that feed upon each other in a place, habitat, or system

any plants or animals

a large amount

surroundings; physical, chemical, and biological factors that act upon an organism or an ecological community