Friday, June 19, 2015

WHOI Graduation

Biology faculty at the 2015 WHOI Commencement
Greetings everyone!  Every 5 years, the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering hosts a graduation ceremony at WHOI for all students who have graduated that year, and in the years since the last Woods Hole commencement.  We had a great turnout this year with 36 students participating in the ceremony, along with faculty from WHOI and MIT.  Congratulations and best wishes for the next phase of your education journeys!

This year's Biological Oceanography PhD Recipients were:
Amalia Aruda Almada 2015
Santiago Herrera Monroy 2015
Kristen Rachel Hunter-Cevera 2014 
September 2010 - June 2014 Degree Recipients:
Master of Science:
Skylar Bayer 2010
Abigail J. Heithoff 2011
Kevin Richberg 2010
Doctor of Philosophy:
Ann N. Allen 2013                            Jamie W. Becker 2013
Michael L. Brosnahan 2011              Joanna Gyory 2011
Elizabeth Halliday 2012                    Li Ling Hamady 2014
Anne Kathryn M. Kauffman 2014    Kelton W. McMahon 2011
Colleen M. Petrik 2011                     Christine Thompson 2011
Meredith M. White 2013                  Louie Wurch 2011
Maya Yamato 2012

There were also several awards announced at the ceremony.

The 2015 Arnold B. Arons Award for Excellence in Teaching, Advising, and Mentoring was awarded to Dr. Heidi Sosik (Biological Oceanography) and Dr. William Jenkins (Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry).

Dr. Kristen Hunter-Cevera was awarded the Ruth and Paul Fye Award for the best graduate student paper in Biological Oceanography from 2010-2015 (

Julie van der Hoop received the Ruth and Paul Fye award for best student Interdisciplinary paper.
Students Camrin Braun and Megan May were recipients of the Grassle Fellowship

Please join me in congratulating our students, advisors and award winnners!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fall 2014

Greetings everyone! 

It's the start of a new year in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Biological Oceanography.  Please welcome our two new students this year - Deepa Rao (working with Mick Follows at MIT) and Laura Weber (working with Amy Apprill at WHOI).

It's also the time when JPBO students are finishing up their dissertations to get on the MIT fall degree list.  I'm a little late with this item, but please join me and her committee (Neubert & Sosik co-advisors, Solow, Chisholm and Post) in congratulating Kristen Hunter-Cevera on her successful defense of her thesis work on August 19, 2014.  She also recently published one of her chapters in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.  Go to the link and see what great work she's done!

Friday, August 15, 2014

JPBO Alum Wins Ecological Society Award

Joint Program alumna Prof. Mercedes Pascual has been awarded the Robert H. MacArthur Award by the Ecological Society of America (ESA).  One of the society's most prestigious awards, the MacArthur Award "is given biannually to an established ecologist in mid-career for meritorious contributions to ecology, in the expectation of continued outstanding ecological research. The recipient is invited to prepare an address for presentation at the annual meeting of the society and for publication in Ecology." 

Prof. Pascual is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and the Rosemary Grant Collegiate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. As a Joint Program Student she was supervised by Hal Caswell. Her dissertation research focussed on "the interplay of scales in nonlinear ecological systems, with an emphasis on the mismatch of scales between biological variables and environmental forcings in the plankton."  Since then, Prof. Pascual has worked on a diversity of topics including the relationship between food web structure and dynamics and the effects of climate variability and climate change on the dynamics of infectious diseases such as cholera and malaria."  The ESA recognized her for devoting "enormous energy to fostering diversity of ecological researchers in the US and mentoring junior researchers worldwide," in addition to her research accomplishments.

A brief biography of Robert MacArthur, written by his colleague Edward O. Wilson and his Ph.D. supervisor, G. Evelyn Hutchinson, is worth reading.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Congratulations to Mike Neubert and Britt Raubenheimer!

I'd like to restart the WHOI Biology Education Blog with a post announcing that Britt and Mike are the recipients of the 2014 Arnold B. Arons Award for Excellence in Teaching, Advising, and Mentoring!! 

This award was established by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to honor the memory of Dr. Arnold B. Arons, long serving Trustee and Honorary Trustee of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. It is conferred periodically every two to five years to a WHOI Scientific Staff or Senior Technical Staff member who has demonstrated sustained excellence in teaching, advising/mentoring or has shown exceptional promise in these activities during early career involvement in the education programs of the Institution. 

Both Britt (a faculty member in AOPE) and Mike (a faculty member in Biology) are dedicated and effective teachers and mentors, and this was robustly demonstrated in the letters written by past and present students and colleagues for their nominations.  Please join me in congratulating both of them!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yamato Wins Award at Marine Mammal Biennial

Joint Program student Maya Yamato has won the John G. Shedd Award for the Overall Best Student Presentation at the 19th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals. Her talk, "The auditory anatomy of the minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata): Insights into potential sound reception pathways in a baleen whale," was co-authored by Darlene Ketten, Julie Arruda, Scott Cramer, and Kathleen Moore. Maya and her collaborators, "combined classical dissection with biomedical imaging techniques such as X-ray computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging to describe the anatomy of the minke whale head with a focus on the ear region."

Congratulations Maya!

Photo credit: Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology
PS.  Both Maya and I know that is not a minke whale.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stocker Newest Member of JCBO

Roman Stocker, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT, has been appointed to JCBO.  Prof. Stocker's appointment began November 1, and will last for three years.

Prof. Stocker's research "focuses on the physical ecology of microorganisms and on microscale transport phenomena."

Please join me in welcoming Roman to the Joint Program.

2012 Admissions Schedule

I can't believe another year has come and gone.  A new admissions season always reminds me how fast time flies.  

This year Assistant Scientist Aran Mooney will join Matt Johnson and me as the Biology Department representatives on the Admissions Advisory Committee.  Aran, Matt and I will have many applications to read.  If we look sleepy around the end of January, you will know why!

Here is the schedule of important admissions dates:
  • January 5: Application deadline
  • January 12: Files available for Admissions Committee review
  • January 26: First cut by Disciplinary Committees (to approximately 15 applicants)
  • January 30: Biology Department admissions meeting (cull list to approximately 10)
  • February 9: Admissions Advisory Committee "Pizza" meeting
  • February 14: JCBO admissions meeting
  • February 16: Joint Program Committee meeting (final decisions)
  • February 16: Begin notifying applicants
  • March 12-13: Open House (12th at MIT, 13th at WHOI)
Please mark your calendars now and, if at all possible, save March 13th, even if you don't think a new student will be joining your lab this year.  Open House is much more engaging for prospective students when there are lots of us around.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Biology Students Win Fellowships

Kristen Hunter-Cevera
Harriet Alexander
Please join me in congratulating JP Bio Students Harriet Alexander, Kristen Hunter-Cevera and Emily Moberg. Harriet and Kristen both won prestigious three-year fellowships from the Department of Defense. The National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowships are awarded to "individuals who have demonstrated the ability and special aptitude for advanced training in science and engineering."

In addition, Harriet and incoming student Emily Moberg were awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships.  According to the website, "the reputation of the GRFP follows recipients and often helps them become life-long leaders that contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching. Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners, U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, Google founder, Sergey Brin and Freakonomicsco-author, Steven Levitt."

But don't worry, Harriet, Kristen and pressure!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Entering JP class of 2011 is complete!

The dust has now settled and the results are in! The entering class of 2011 is now complete. They are:

  • Alexander Bergan (UC San Diego; advisors: Gareth Lawson & Andone Lavery)
  • Alexis Fischer (Wellesley College; advisor: Don Anderson)
  • Jesse McNichol (Mount Allison Univ.; advisor: Stefan Sievert)
  • Emily Moberg (MIT; advisor: Mike Neubert)
  • Julie Van der Hoop (Dalhousie Univ.; advisor: Michael Moore)
Thanks to everyone who helped in the admissions process, from evaluating applications, to giving open house tours.  Special thanks to Tricia Morin Gebbie and Ronni Schwartz who made the process go so smoothly.

Monday, April 4, 2011

JP Student wins AGU Award

The accolades continue to accumulate for Biology JP students and postdocs. Here's news that Santiago Herrera has won an Outstanding Student Paper Award for his presentation Biodiversity of the Deep-Sea Benthic Fauna in the Sangihe-Talaud Region, Indonesia: Observations from the INDEX-SATAL 2010 Expedition. Santiago gave his presentation at the 2010 AGU Fall meeting in San Francisco. The selection committee said, "Your presentation was recognized as among the best of a strong group of student presenters, which sets an example for your fellow students and the entire AGU membership."  Among the 14 co-authors were fellow JP student Eleanor Bors and Santiago's advisor, Tim Shank. You can find the abstract here.  Congratulations Santiago!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bio Postdoc Wins Society of Toxicology Award

At the Society of Toxicology (SOT) annual meeting this week in Washington, DC, WHOI Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Alicia Timme-Laragy won the first place award for postdoctoral research from the Molecular Biology Specialty Section of SOT. Here she is presenting her poster "Nrf2b: a novel Nrf2 paralog in zebrafish" (co-authored by S l Karchner, D G Franks, M J Jenny, and M E Hahn).  Good work Alicia!

Monday, February 21, 2011

JP Biology Grad Wins ASLO Prize

Recent MIT/WHOI Joint Program graduate Joanna Gyory has won the Best Poster Prize at this year's ASLO Aquatic Sciences Meeting for her poster "Turbidity as a cue for synchronous reproduction in the barnacle Semibalinus balanoides."  The poster was coauthored by her Ph.D. advisor Jesus Pineda.  Congratulations Joanna!

Friday, February 4, 2011

2011 Ocean Ventures Fund Competition


The Ocean Ventures Fund was created in response to the traditionally conservative and time consuming funding procedures of federal agencies. The intent of OVF is to promote hard-to- fund research and innovation by encouraging scientists to take chances in following their curiosity.


OVF is open to all students in the MIT/WHOI Joint Graduate Program in Oceanography and Oceanographic Engineering. The research idea and the proposal text must come from the graduate students, not his/her supervisor. Students are the Principal Investigators. Both disciplinary and interdisciplinary proposals are encouraged, as are projects relating to EPA- funded research.


The submission deadline for OVF proposals is April 1, 2011. Proposals will be reviewed during April 2011 by the WHOI Education Coordinators, Dean, and Associate Dean. Award decisions will be made and notices will be sent in May for research start-up on June 1, 2011. At least 8 awards may be given in 2011.


With the exception of the following, OVF proposals should follow NSF guidelines. The explanatory text may not exceed four pages (maximum of six with illustrations). A cover letter must recap the proposal in lay person's terms and include reasons for applying to OVF. Remember to state clearly the research objective and why it is important.

The OVF Proposal must include the following sections in this order: 1. Cover letter, no longer than one page. 2. Endorsement letter, no longer than one page, from student's advisor. 3. Title page with abstract, including signatures of department chair and advisor. 4. Explanatory text, not to exceed four pages (excluding figures). 5. Bibliography. 6. Budget; should not exceed $15,000.00. 7. Curriculum Vitae. 8. Please provide the proposal in hard copy and pdf format to your Education Coordinator.


Budgets may be used be for your stipend, if you are unsupported by a research grant. Salary support for technical assistance may also be included, as well as cost of equipment, supplies, travel, and computer time. Budgets must be calculated using WHOI (i.e., not MIT) rates.


Proposals are judged on: 1. Quality of science and how clearly you express it. 2. Appropriateness for funding by OVF, as opposed to funding by conventional research sources.

Submit your proposals, by April 1, to your education coordinator.

Education Coordinators: Biology, Mike Neubert; MC&G, Mark Kurz; G&G, Delia Oppo; AOPE, Tim Stanton; Physics, Steve Lentz

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Faces

The students of the entering class of 2010 have now almost completed their first semester in the Joint Program. With the change in season, they will soon begin their migration phase, moving frequently between Cambridge and Woods Hole. Here are their faces...why not introduce yourself if you see them?

Emily Brownlee
Sosik Lab 
Esther Shyu
Caswell Lab
Katherine Pitz
Anderson Lab

Nicholas Macfarlane
Tyack Lab
Harriet Alexander
Dhyrman Lab
Oscar Sosa
DeLong Lab
Jeanette Wheeler
Mullineaux & Helfrich Labs

Eleanor Bors
Shank Lab

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Student Representatives on Education Assembly

Li Ling Hamady and Skylar Bayer have been elected by their fellow JP students to represent them on WHOI's Educational Assembly.  Thank you Li Ling and Skylar for agreeing to serve!

As the official "discipline representative" for the Biology Department,  Li Ling will also be helping me with a variety of tasks, including finding peer mentors for the new students.  I encourage senior students to participate, and first year students to not be shy about asking questions of your mentors about navigating the Joint Program.

2011 Admissions Schedule

The 2011 Joint Program Admissions season is right around the corner, and I'm anticipating another record year for the number of applications. (Great for the JP; not so great for my sleep schedule!) Assistant Scientist Matt Johnson has recently been appointed to the Admissions Advisory Committee, joining Lauren Mullineaux and me as representatives of the Biology Department.

Please mark your calendars with the following important dates:
  • January 5: Application deadline
  • January 12: Files available for Admissions Committee review
  • January 26: First cut
  • January 31: Biology Department admissions meeting
  • February 10: Admissions Advisory Committee "Pizza" meeting
  • February 11: JCBO admissions meeting
  • February 18: Joint Program Committee meeting
  • March 14-15: Open House
Note: Students are beginning to settle on the graduate programs to which they will apply, so it's a perfect time to update your webpage.  (If you are like me, it was time to do this 5 years ago!)

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

    The 2011 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) competition is now open.  Some of the deadlines are:
    • November 15, 2010 (Monday): Interdisciplinary Fields
    • November 19, 2010 (Friday): Geosciences
    • November 22, 2010 (Monday): Life Sciences
    The competition is not only open to current undergraduates.  In particular, the GRFP website states that "if you...
    • are currently in your final year of your undergraduate program
    • finished your baccalaureate degree and are planning to attend graduate school in Fall 2011
    • are a first year graduate student (started in Fall 2010), or
    • are in the first semester of your second year in graduate school (started Fall 2009)...
    you are within the eligible amount of completed graduate study. As long as you are pursuing a research-focused Master's or PhD in an NSF-supported field and meet the citizenship requirements, you are eligible for the GRFP."

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Handbook Update

    At its last meeting, JCBO approved a small change to the curriculum. Students are now highly encouraged to take 7.410 Applied Statistics in order to satisfy their statistics requirement. They will need to petition for any course substitution. The course is being offered in the Spring so that students may enroll during the same semester that they take Biological Oceanography in Woods Hole.

    This change to the curriculum is reflected in the updated Handbook for Students and Advisors, which also includes minor format changes (e.g., the links should work again).

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    What Is "Accepted Scientific Practice"?

    The following report was sent to me by Hal Caswell:

    As most everyone knows, in 2009 a number of email messages among climate researchers were stolen from the University of East Anglia. One of the researchers was Dr. Michael Mann at Penn State University. Mann was accused of various kinds of academic misconduct; Penn State carried out an investigation and found no evidence to support the allegations. However, they generated another investigation aimed not at academic misconduct (faking data, etc.), but rather at the more difficult issue of whether Dr. Mann followed "accepted scientific practices" in his conduct. This is more difficult because it involves figuring out what "accepted scientific practices" actually are.

    The report of that investigation has recently been released. There is an outstanding 3-part discussion of the report on the blog Adventures in Ethics and Science, with lots of links to the official reports and to other sources for this important investigation. As part of their task, the investigators interviewed several scientists to get their opinions about accepted practice; one of those was WHOI's own Bill Curry.

    Here are the links:
    Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Joint Program Summer Picnic

    The Annual Joint Program Summer Picnic took place on Saturday, July 10 on the Quissett ball field. This year’s picnic was organized by JP student representatives Claire Pontbriand (G&G) and Maya Yamato (Biology). Maya reports that the event was a smashing success:

    This year’s picnic was nothing like the ones that the Joint Program has ever seen before. In an effort to raise awareness about WHOI on the MIT campus, meet new people, and show off our beautiful campus to non-JP MIT students, we chartered 2 buses to provide round-trip transportation from MIT to the Quissett ball field. We got a tremendous response, with the 106 event tickets selling out two weeks in advance and more MIT graduate students emailing us constantly asking us if they could come crash the event. (Unfortunately, we had to turn them down). 

    Despite the ominous weather forecast, it turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day. We fired up the grills, had lunch, and had a MIT vs. Joint Program kickball match. This was followed by soccer, Frisbee, basketball, and a trip to the beach across the street. The MIT students were excited to see our other campus, get to know more about the Joint Program, and, needless to say, incredibly jealous. The picnic was a huge success and we definitely accomplished our mission to increase awareness about our great institution. The next time we meet fellow graduate students at MIT, they might not need an explanation about WHOI or the Joint Program! 

    Participants included Joint Program students and MIT students from the following groups: EECS, MechE, EAPS, Biology, Biological Engineering, MIT-SRP, MTL-summership, Physics, PAOC, Aero/Astro, Technology and Policy, Nuclear Science and Engineering, and CSAIL. Funding was generously provided by the MIT Student Activities Office, MIT Graduate Student Council Funding Board, the MIT Biology Department, the MIT Graduate Association of Mechanical Engineers, the MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Graduate Students Association, the MIT Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science Graduate Student Advisory Council, and the WHOI Academic Programs Office.