Category Archives: Scientific Research

Cliff Buck to chair ASLO session

Cliff Buck will chair a session at the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography 2017 Aquatic Sciences meeting which will be held in Honolulu, Hawaii, Feb. 26-March 3.

The chaired session is titled “Linking atmospheric deposition to the biogeochemistry of aquatic and marine systems.” Additional information can be found here:

He and Chris Marsay will both give talks in a different session, titled “Biogeochemical cycling of trace elements and isotopes in the Arctic Ocean.” For additional information, see:

Cliff was also selected to participate in an ASLO leadership training workshop. The purpose of the workshop is to build leadership skills and approaches among ASLO members so that they may feel comfortable to take on leadership roles in the Society and other scientific organizations and teams.

UGA Skidaway Institute research paper selected for Research Spotlight

A research paper by SkIO’s Aron Stubbins has been selected by the Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences to be featured as a Research Spotlight on the journal’s website and in the magazine Eos. Research Spotlights summarize the the best accepted articles for the Earth and space science community.

Aron’s paper, titled “Low photolability of yedoma permafrost dissolved organic carbon,” followed-up on earlier research into a massive store of carbon—relics of long-dead plants and other living things—preserved within ancient Arctic permafrost. That research showed the long-frozen permafrost is thawing, and the organic material it has preserved for tens of thousands of years is now entering the environment as dissolved organic matter in streams and rivers. Bacteria are converting the organic material into carbon dioxide, which is being released into the atmosphere.arctic-carbon-2-wsq

The current paper examines the effect of sunlight on the dissolved carbon compounds. The researchers discovered that sunlight changes the chemistry of the permafrost carbon, however sunlight alone does not convert the permafrost carbon to carbon dioxide. The researchers concluded the decomposition of organic materials via bacteria is mostly likely the key process for converting permafrost carbon within rivers into carbon dioxide.

The research team includes co-lead author Robert Spencer of Florida State University; co-authors Leanne Powers and Thais Bittar from UGA Skidaway Institute; Paul Mann from Northumbria University; Thorsten Dittmar from Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg; Cameron McIntyre from the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre; Timothy Eglinton from ETH Zurich; and Nikita Zimov from the Russian Academy of Science.

Aron and Kevin attend Chile conference

Aron Stubbins and Kevin Ryan attended the 1st IberAmericano Limonology Conference in early November where Aron gave a plenary talk and chaired a symposium, and Kevin gave a talk in Spanish. Aron’s talk was on the Pulse-Shunt Concept, which is a new concept for the cycling and transport of river carbon. This was in connection with his NSF Macrosystems grant. Kevin’s talk addressed continuous assessment of carbon cycling and transport in the Connecticut River – part of the Pulse-Shunt NSF Macrosystems project.

The following week, they visited the Universidad Austral de Chile’s Coastal Research Center and their Limnological Research Center.

Kevin (right) with a Chilean grad student (cewnter) and Jorge Nimptsch, Aron's collaborator and professor at Universidad Austral de Chile

Kevin (right) with a Chilean grad student (center) and Jorge Nimptsch, Aron’s collaborator and professor at Universidad Austral de Chile

“We also visited some rivers we are studying that are being impacted by salmon farming and some streams draining native and non-native forest, that we are also studying,” Aron said.

Aron also gave a public lecture sponsored by the “American Corner”, a US Embassy Sponsored program. The talk was at the Centro de Estudios Científicos (Center for Scientific Studies; and attended by high school children, the public and local scientific community.

UGA Skidaway Institute scientist authors paper on coral superoxide production

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUniversity of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography researcher Julia Diaz recently co-authored a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science. The paper, titled Dark Production of Extracellular Superoxide by the Coral Porites astreoides and Representative Symbionts, appeared in the journal’s November 24th issue.

The lead authors were Tong Zhang from Nankai University, as well as Diaz. Additional co-authors included Caterina Brighi from the Imperial College London in London, U.K.; Rachel Parsons from the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences; Sean McNally from the University of Massachusetts; and Amy Apprill and Colleen Hansel, both from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The paper examines the production of superoxide by the Porites astreoides species of coral. Superoxide is an oxygen (O2) molecule with an extra electron, giving it a negative charge. Scientists believe it may have both beneficial and harmful effects on the coral, ranging from helping it resist disease to damage through coral bleaching. The research team determined the Porites astreoides coral produces superoxide, but that production is not related to photosynthetic activity or the presence of light. This led the team to question whether the superoxide production may play a beneficial role in coral physiology.

The paper can be accessed here:

UGA Skidaway Institute associate professor cited for top research articles

Aron Stubbins is one of just a handful of researchers cited in the journal Limnology and Oceanography for authoring two of the journal’s top scientific papers over the past 60 years.

Limnology and Oceanography is an official publication of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography and is considered a premier scientific journal. In its recently published 60th anniversary issue, the journal collected and republished the 10 most cited research papers for each of the last six decades. Aron authored or co-authored two of those papers, one in 2008 and the other in 2010.

“It came as quite a surprise to see two articles show up on the list,” Aron said. “I was at a conference and wasn’t really checking my email when one of my colleagues let me know.”

The journal used the number of times a paper was cited in future studies as the yardstick to determine which papers should be included on the list. It is one commonly used method for measuring the impact of a scientist’s work.

“The list isn’t really about popularity,” he said. “It’s about usefulness. That people have found some of my work useful over the years is rewarding.”

The 2008 paper was titled “Absorption spectral slopes and slope ratios as indicators of molecular weight, source, and photobleaching of chromophoric dissolved organic matter.” The lead author was John Helms. Aron was a co-author along with four other scientists. The research team developed a new method for extracting new information from a relatively common and simple test of the color of dissolved organic matter.

Aron was the lead author, along with nine co-authors, of the second paper, “Illuminated darkness: Molecular signatures of Congo River dissolved organic matter and its photochemical alteration as revealed by ultrahigh precision mass spectrometry.” The study examined organic carbon carried to the ocean by the Congo River — after the Amazon, the second largest river in the world in terms of carbon and water flow. The research team studied how sunlight degrades organic material, including which compounds are degraded, which are not and what new compounds are created when sunlight shines on river water.

“His inclusion in this seminal volume is quite an honor for Dr. Stubbins,” UGA Skidaway Institute Interim Director Clark Alexander said. “This recognition validates what we have always known, that he is conducting groundbreaking and meaningful research that is recognized around the world.”

All 60 papers can be found at


Liz Harvey to co-chair ASLO session

Liz Harvey will co-lead a special session entitled “Louder than words: chemical communication structures marine ecosystems” during the 2017 ASLO Meeting, February 26-March 3, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the marine environment, chemical communication mediates species interactions thereby playing a central role in influencing population-level and large-scale oceanographic processes. This interdisciplinary session will include studies from the intertidal to the open ocean that investigate how chemical cues regulate processes such as behavior, reproduction, foraging strategies, settlement, mortality, defense, competition, and the transfer of energy and nutrients within and among ecosystems.

Kristen Whalen of Haverford College will co-chair the session with Liz.

Jay Brandes invited to chemical oceanography conference

Jay Brandes was an invited attendee of the NSF-sponsored “Chemical Oceanography Meeting: A Bottom-Up Approach to Research Directions (Come Aboard)” in Honolulu, Hawaii, October 13-17.hawaii-conf-w

The conference was held to commemorate the 25th meeting in the Dissertations In Chemical Oceanography (aka. DISCO) meeting, also held at the same location. Jay was a prior attendee of the 1996 DISCO meeting, and was selected as the representative of his class.  DISCO meetings offer a select group of newly-minted Ph.D.’s the opportunity to meet with their fellow peer group and with funding program managers to network and to learn about what each agency (e.g. NSF, NOAA) looks for in a successful grant application. This year’s meeting was extended by one day to overlap with the COME-ABOARD meeting to allow for further networking and discussion of the possible future directions of research in the field of chemical oceanography.

At the Come Aboard conference, discussion on the future of chemical oceanography research was focused on six themes:

  • Role of technology in research
  • Large scale programs
  • Communications
  • Interactions with biology and with traditional chemistry
  • Oceanography at interfaces
  • Communicating science to the public

A report summarizing these discussions is to be published in a peer-reviewed Journal next year. Jay is a member of the writing team for this summary report, and is focusing on the communicating science section.