Six scientists from Horn Point Laboratory were featured on WHCP 101.5 FM, Cambridge's community radio station, on Diane Marquette's MidShore MidDay show. They shared stories about how they got into their fields, discoveries that stood out to them, and what they want the public to know about the work they do and why they do it. Listen to the interviews below:
Graduate student Melanie Jackson on oysters as water filters
Melanie Jackson spoke about her efforts to understand how much nitrogen that oysters, a known filter, can pull from the water.
"We know that the oysters can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day, and they're removing algae from the water. That's their normal food source, and those algae are filled with pollution, such as nitrogen and phosphorous. The oysters are consuming those algae and bringing all of that stuff to the sediment and storing it there on the bottom, so that our waters aren't as polluted. Some of that algae goes to oyster growth—we need that so that we can actually eat them—and some of it's just going to go to waste, or into biodeposits in the sediment."
Professor Raleigh Hood & graduate student Jacqueline Tay on jellyfish in Chesapeake Bay
Graduate student Jacqueline Tay, who has been studying jellyfish alongside her adviser, Raleigh Hood, answered some commonly asked questions, such as "What are jellyfish good for? "and "How many are there in Chesapeake Bay?"
"In the Chesapeake Bay, we have one of the longest records of jellyfish in the world. It started in the 1960s at our sister laboratory, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, in Solomons, Maryland. It consisted of a scientist named Dave Cargo going out every day, walking along a pier, and counting how many jellyfish are there. And that's how we know most of what we know about natural populations of jellyfish."
Graduate student Blake Clark on the wonder of wetlands
Blake Clark talks about his graduate studies at Horn Point Laboratory, including his research about wetlands and estuaries and the chemistry of each and how they interact.
"Wetlands are very productive. We live in Dorchester County, and we have one of the coolest wetlands out there: Blackwater Wildlife Refuge. ... These wetlands grow every year. They get massive. What they're doing is taking a bunch of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and making it into organic matter, or living tissue. ... That's why the wetland grows. You go out there, and it has a bunch of peat. Well, peat is dead plant matter, for the most part. I'm interested in what happens when you have tidal water that comes into the wetland and that peat loses some of its organic matter in the form of this stuff called dissolved organic carbon. It is why the Blackwater is black."
Associate Professor Victoria Coles on approaching climate change as a scientist
Victoria Coles spoke about her training as a physical oceanographer, her transition over time to focus more to chemistry and biology, and her discoveries of climate change both around the world and at Chesapeake Bay.
"Probably my most famous discovery happened really early, and that's partly because over time we understand more about the importance of the things that we find, and so what seems kind of neat at the beginning could turn out to have even more importance later on. We were seeing really large changes in the properties of the ocean near the Arctic. At the time we weren't sure if that was due to climate change, and now we know it was."
Assistant Professor Sairah Malkin on bacteria found around the world
Sairah Malkin, a microbial ecologist, discussed microorganisms that do their part to help Chesapeake Bay and how she studies something that can't readily be seen without a microscope.
"There's an expression in microbial ecology that says, 'Everything is everywhere, but the environment selects.' What that means is that we probably have all the genes of all the bacturia just about found all over the Earth, so if we go to the deep sea in the Pacific Ocean, or Chesapeake Bay, or we go to a lake in Wisconsin, we'll be able to find all the different components that make up all of the microbes. But in every location, the environment will narrow down what's actually found and can thrive there by the temperature, by the oxygen concentration, and everything else that creates the environment."