A group of biologists from Universities throughout the United States gathered to discuss the improvement of the research facilities at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI).  This meeting was funded by a National Science Foundation planning grant written by PI Dr. Bill Louda (Florida Atlantic University) and Co-PIs Dr. Dave Philipp (University of Illinois), Dr. Brian Lapointe (Florida Atlantic University), and Aaron Shultz (CEI).  The expert panel, along with their individual research interests, is listed below.  The three day meeting started off with a tour of The Island School and CEI campus, and an excursion to some of the natural points of interest on the island.

DSC07559_resizeSeveral group meetings were held to discuss other research stations in the region (E.g., Central Caribbean Marine Institute, Florida Keys Marine Lab, etc.), current research projects at CEI, how to diversify the research portfolio at the institute, and the infrastructure needed to meet current and future demands.  The following are highlights from the discussions: the need for an ecosystem based approach to our research initiatives; the need for water quality analysis; and more lab space for visiting researchers and graduate students.  Overall, it was a very productive site visit that will aid in the development of the full NSF laboratory improvement grant.  CEI looks forward to collaborating with these researchers in the future.

EXPERTS PANEL:

Dr. Joe Boyer: Past director of the Southeast Environmental Research Center (SERC) at Florida  International University (FIU). Developed the NSF-funded Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) of coastal south Florida.Prsently director of the Environmental Science program at Plymouth State in New Hampshire. Specializes in microbial ecology, biogeochemistry and indicators of ecosystem health. Interests include science, policy and management.

Dr. Gary Hitchcock: Director of the Undergraduate Research Program of the University of Miami Rosenteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (UM-RSMAS). Specializes in environmental factors that regulate primary production in the pelagic ecosystem and energy transfer to consumers, notably copepods.

Dr. Rudolf Jaffe: Director of FIU-SERC. Organic biogeochemist specializing in molecular markers (aka ‘biomarkers’) for the biogeochemical cycling of carbon (C) in present and paleo-environments. Large focus on natural dissolved organic matter (DOM), its chemical identification / characterization, photodegradation, bioavailability and how climate change affects these processes.

Dr. Tom Bianchi: Endowed Chair in Geosciences, University of Florida, Gainesville. Studies carbon cycling in estuaries and coastal ocean systems. Biomarkers of colloidal and particulate organic carbon. Causes and events of hypoxia / anoxia (dead zones). Biogeochemical dynamics of food chains.

Dr. Clay Cook: Presently an affiliate Professor at FAU-HBOI and the Smithsonian Marine Station in Ft. Pierce. Previous NSF Program Officer, recipient of NSF-FSML grants, and past director of the Bermuda Biological station. Research has included algal-animal symbioses, such as endosymbionts (zooxanthellae) of anenomes, and coral bleaching.

Dr. Hnas Paerl: The Kenan Distinguished Professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Specializes in microbially mediated recycling of nutrients, primary production , marine phytoplankton / harmful algal blooms, atmospheric Nitrogen sources, hypersaline microbial mats and global warming effects on all of these processes.

Dr. Edie Widder: Co-Founder, President and Senior Scientist of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association (ORCA). Specialist in marine bioluminescence and deep-sea exploration / observation.