2024 JT-SURF Research Projects - Descriptions

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Sarah Aarons - Assistant Professor, Geoscience Research Division Research Areas: Geochemistry, Polar Science

This project would involve using radiogenic isotopes to trace how the source of loess (fine grained wind blown sediment) deposited in central North America during the transition during the last glacial maximum into the present day warm period. 

JT-SURF fellows will gain hands-on experience in sample processing, clean lab chemistry, and will gain a comprehensive understanding of the paleoclimate in North America during this time period. A typical day will consist of working in the lab for several hours preparing reagents and performing column chemistry, and spending time making map figures and reading background literature. The principal investigator will be providing the day-to-day supervision of the student.

Simone Baumann-Pickering - Associate Professor, Marine Physical Laboratory Research Areas: Marine Ecology, Acoustics

Passive Acoustic Monitoring data has been collected within US Navy Training Areas in the Atlantic since 2008. A comprehensive analysis will be conducted for toothed whale echolocation signals, and anthropogenic sound sources, resulting in several management reports. 

JT-SURF fellows will work with a postdoctoral fellow and several staff researchers to run automated routines for signal detection and classification, and to evaluate output for accuracy. They will evaluate time series generated from this effort and provide scientific figures for reports. Day-to-day supervision will be through the postdoc and staff scientists, with weekly interactions with the principal investigator through lab meetings.

Yassir Eddebbar - Assistant Research Scientist, Climate, Atmospheric Science and Physical Oceanography Research Area: Climate Sciences

This project involves the analysis of high resolution satellite observations of sea surface temperature and chlorophyll and autonomous Biogeochemical Argo float and mooring observations of physical and biogeochemical properties to evaluate the variability of key biogeochemical tracers in the equatorial Pacific, including oxygen, carbon and nutrients. Key processes of interest include variability of nutrients and carbon in upwelling associated with the seasonal cycle and El Niño events and how they modulate the productivity and carbon in the upper tropical Pacific. 

JT-SURF fellows will gain hands-on skills analyzing multiple data streams using python and shell coding. Data analysis skills will include learning how to import and process data from different sources, conduct various types of time series analysis to characterize variability and relationships between variables, and create figures for visualization and communicating results. JT-SURF fellows will also gain communication skills by creating a poster and preparing progress talks through the project. The PI will be the main mentor for the student. 

Wenyuan Fan - Assistant Professor, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics Research Area: Seismology

Wenyuan Fan is an observational seismologist. His research program focuses on seismic sources and uses onshore and offshore, dense array seismic observations to investigate earthquakes, slow earthquakes, subduction zone processes, environmental processes, and their interaction and triggering.

Jack Gilbert - Professor, Center for Marine Biotechnology & Biomedicine. Sarah Allard - Assistant Project Scientist. Research Area: Microbial Oceanography.

The Gilbert lab studies the role of microorganisms and environmental and human health. Research in our lab spans 3 major areas: the human microbiome in nutrition, disease, and mental health; microbial ecology of the built environment; and marine microbial ecology in human and environmental health. Our lab is particularly interested in how microbial interactions present opportunities to ameliorate anthropogenic impacts in marine environments and treat and prevent disease in mammalian gut microbiomes. The JT-SURF fellow will work with a graduate student to perform bioinformatic analyses related to microbial dynamics following fecal microbiota transplants and coral bleaching events. The JT-SURF fellow will also have the opportunity to help with ongoing research projects in the lab related to bioremediation.

Research work in the Gilbert lab includes hands-on microbiology lab work and computer-based data analysis work, and occasional field work. This position will be primarily computer-based. The JT-SURF fellow will be supervised day-to-day by PhD student Sho Kodera, with further support from Dr. Gilbert, Dr. Allard, and other lab members.

Sarah Gille – Professor, Physical Oceanography.  Matthew Mazloff - Associate Researcher, Physical Oceanography.  Lynne Talley - Professor, Physical Oceanography. Research Areas: Physical Oceanography, Polar Science.

The California Current is the region of ocean just upstream of the continental US. Conditions in the California Current drive weather and climate as well as shaping maritime activities (e.g. fisheries). The region is well monitored, and because of that, it is a convenient test bed for exploring research approaches that will later be applied across the planet. The research opportunity will focus on analyzing data and models in the region in the context of multiple projects:  understanding how DDT and other contaminants that were dumped on the sea floor could be redistributed in the San Pedro Basin off of Los Angeles, evaluating atmosphere–ocean coupling in high-frequency radar data along the coast, assessing model results that are constrained by the new Surface Water and Ocean Topography satellite, investigating coastal and open ocean exchanges with the help of machine learning tools, or examining biogeochemical processes using profiling floats. There are also possibilities to extend work to examine the Southern Ocean or the tropical Pacific, taking advantage of the global array of profiling floats.

Research will focus on data analysis and/or computer modeling of the ocean. The work is primarily computer based and will be supervised by a project scientist (Dr. Saulo Soares) and/or graduate student (Ishwari Mulkalwar or Ben Taylor) in combination with the PIs (Sarah Gille, as well as Matt Mazloff and Lynne Talley). We normally hold weekly meetings for the group working on the project and interact with REU students on a daily basis.

This project includes a remote/virtual option.

Paul Jensen - Professor, Center for Marine Biotechnology & Biomedicine Research Area: Marine Natural Products

We study microbes in the ocean and the natural products they produce. The goal is to find new medicines. This project targets the discovery of new natural products with activity against the malaria parasite and other neglected diseases. It will involve learning basic techniques in microbiology, analytical chemistry, and the genetics behind natural product biosynthesis.

Activities will include preparing media, growing bacteria, generating organic extracts, submitting them for screening, analyzing active extracts, and isolating active compounds. Genome sequencing may also be involved. The JT-SURF fellow will be mentored by a postdoctoral scholar.

Lisa Levin - Emeritus / Professor, Integrative Oceanography Division Research Areas: Deep-Sea Biology, Marine Benthic Ecology

Methane seep discovery. This project will characterize the biodiversity of deep-sea methane seeps in the Gulf of Alaska (2000 m to 5000 m), working to understand the fate of methane emerging from the sea floor.

JT-SURF fellows will sort invertebrates from sediments and rock samples using a dissecting microscope.  They will learn to sieve, sort and identify deep-sea invertebrates, collate, plot and present biodiversity data. There may be additional processing of stable isotope samples. Supervision would be by graduate students and the PI.

Dan Lubin - Researcher, Climate, Atmospheric Science and Physical Oceanography Research Areas: Climate Sciences

The project involves analyzing meteorological and solar radiation measurement data over the Antarctic Peninsula region in support of a forthcoming field program at Palmer Station, Antarctica. The objective is to describe changes in solar radiation reaching the surface, and cloud optical properties, in response to changing local meteorological conditions influenced by large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns. This project will lead to a standalone research paper in a leading atmospheric or climate science journal.

JT-SURF fellows will analyze a variety of data, in most likely order: (1) several years of continuous surface ultraviolet radiation measurements from Palmer Station, (2) meteorological data from automatic weather stations on the Antarctic Peninsula, (3) ERA5 meteorological reanalysis data, and (4) satellite remote sensing ocean color (phytoplankton bloom) imagery. The intern will work directly under the principal investigator.

Kate Ricke - Assistant Professor, Climate, Atmospheric Science and Physical Oceanography Research Areas: Climate Sciences

The Ricke Lab is a group of climate change scientists applying tools from the natural and social sciences to understand the impacts of climate change and how to mitigate them. Our group is co-located between Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego. Our work combines quantitative Earth system modeling and large data set analysis techniques to study how uncertainty and heterogeneity in the projected impacts of climate change intersect with people's diverse preferences for how to address them in order to better understand climate policy and decision making. We currently work on a number of topics including climate geoengineering (deliberate interventions in the Earth system to counteract climate change), quantitative estimation of past and future human migration due to climate hazards, and the air quality equity implications of climate regulations. Potential SURF projects would involve analysis of output data from climate model simulations and/or environmental observations of temperature, precipitation and sea level rise in order to support any of the above projects, primarily using the Python programming language. 

JT-SURF fellows will spend the majority of their time conducting analysis of large climate data files using Python, under the daily supervision of a postdoctoral and PhD student mentor. The JT-SURF fellow will meet weekly with the PI and be expected to attend biweekly group meetings.

Lynn RussellProfessor of Climate and Atmospheric Sciences Research Area: Atmospheric Chemistry

Observations of cloud chemistry in the atmosphere are needed to support the relevance of past and future laboratory and modeling studies, as measurements may change how cloud formation is represented in climate models, may alter interpretation of correlations between aerosol and meteorological properties, and may affect which emissions are regulated. The DOE-funded Eastern Pacific Cloud Aerosol Precipitation Experiment (EPCAPE) campaign was conducted in La Jolla from February 2023 to February 2024, siting an array of cloud, aerosol, and precipitation instrumentation at the Scripps Pier and the nearby Mt. Soledad. EPCAPE will provide unprecedented characterization of coastal clouds, their seasonal changes, and their diurnal evolution. This project will analyze EPCAPE observations.

JT-SURF fellows will work closely with a graduate student to analyze EPCAPE measurements. 

This project includes a remote/virtual option.

Brice Semmens – Associate Professor, Marine Biology Research Division Research Area: Marine Ecology

SURF students in my lab have worked with imaging and data processing for the grouper moon project, a long-term research and monitoring program based out of the Cayman Islands that focuses on Nassau, grouper, an endangered reef fish. Students have also carried out DNA surveys and methodological studies to better understand how these emerging tools can be used for ecosystem and conservation monitoring.

JT-SURF fellows will be working with the PI, postdocs, and graduate students in the lab to develop and implement a study that benefits either the Grouper Moon Project or our recent efforts to develop eDNA monitoring methods.

This project includes a remote/virtual option.