Transforming Research in Oceanography through Education, Ethnography and Rapidly Evolving Technologies: An NSF-INSPIRE project.

Monday, 15 December 2014
Christopher R German1, Katherine Lynn Croff Bell2, Amy Pallant3, Zara Mirmalek4, Sheila Jasanoff4 and Kanna Rajan5, (1)WHOI, Woods Hole, MA, United States, (2)Ocean Exploration Trust, Narragansett, RI, United States, (3)The Concord Consortium, Concord, USA, Concord, MA, United States, (4)Harvard University, Kennedy School, Cambridge, MA, United States, (5)University of Porto, Faculty of Engineering, Porto, Portugal
This paper will discuss a new NSF-INSPIRE project that brings together research conducted in the fields of Ocean Sciences, Education & Human Resources and Computer and Information Science & Engineering. Specifically, our objective is to investigate new methods by which telepresence can be used to conduct cutting edge research and provide authentic educational experiences to undergraduate students, remotely. We choose to conduct this research in an Oceanographic context for two reasons: first with the move toward smaller research ships in the national Oceanographic research fleet, we anticipate that access to berth space at sea will continue to be at a premium. Any component of traditional oceanographic research that can be ported to shore without loss of effectiveness would be of immediate benefit to the Ocean Sciences. Equally, however, we argue that any improvements to work place and/or education practices that we can identify while delivering research and education from the bottom of the deep ocean should be readily mappable to any other scientific or engineering activities that seek to make use of telepresence in less extreme remote environments. Work on our TREET project, to-date, has included recruitment of 6 early career scientists keen to take advantage of the research opportunity provided, together with two senior science mentors with experience using Telepresence and a cohort of undergraduate students at three of the ECS partner Universities, spanning 4 time zones across the continental US. Following a 12-week synchronous on-line seminar series taught in Spring-Summer 2014, the entire team joined together at the Inner Space Center in Sept-Oct 2014 to participate, virtually, in a cruise of research and exploration to the Kick’Em Jenny underwater volcano and adjacent cold seep sites, conducted by the Ocean Exploration Trust’s ROV Hercules aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus. Our presentation will include preliminary results from that cruise.