Program Lets Undergraduate Students Learn about Science at Sea
Daniel Hauptvogel, instructional assistant professor in the University of Houston’s Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, recently sailed on the R/V Sikuliaq as chief scientist and lead instructor for a STEMSEAS (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics Student Experiences Aboard Ships) cruise in Alaska from October 2-9.
STEMSEAS is a National Science Foundation-funded program that utilizes ship time on federally funded U.S. research vessels when they are in-between research expeditions. Undergraduate students are brought on board while ships transit from one U.S. port to another and are given the experience of what it is like to be a scientist at sea. The program is intended to increase the number and diversity of students seeking a STEM degree.
This was Hauptvogel’s first time to apply for and be selected as an instructor for the program. “I heard about STEMSEAS from my old Ph.D. advisor, who thought I would be a good fit for it given my position at UH EAS,” Hauptvogel said.
Eleven undergraduate students from around the country participated in this cruise, each with a unique background and interest in STEM and STEM communication. Guided by a team of four instructors and two teaching assistants, students participated in activities and collected data about the physical properties of seawater, analyzed the DNA of microorganisms in the seawater, and looked at marine sediment collected from the ocean floor of the Bering Sea. Students then worked on a project that interested them most from the data that was collected.
Additionally, students participated in workshops on career development in STEM, which also included discussions of graduate school, research, potential careers, and STEM communication.
The STEMSEAS program is funded for at least 2 more years and any student with an interest in STEM can apply, even if they are not a STEM major. The 2019 dates will be announced soon. Interested students can apply at http://mlp.ldeo.columbia.edu/stemseas/.