Student Cohort for Undergraduate research in marine Biosciences Abroad (SCUBA)
Coral reef ecosystems are endangered world-wide. Understanding the current status, trends, and prognosis of coral reef health might eventually lead to repairing damaged coral reefs. The (UT) LSAMP STEM Pathways project offers an exciting opportunity for undergraduate students to participate in one of a number of marine bioscience field research experiences at a location in the Caribbean Sea related to coral reef ecosystems. A small group of qualified students will be selected to a.) contribute to a research project led by Midland College and the University of Texas at Arlington, or b.) design & execute their own research project (with prior approval from the SCUBA director). Preference will be given, but not limited to, qualified community college applicants. If you are ready for adventure and meet the minimum requirements (below) you should apply!
A list of the ongoing Midland College / UT-Arlington coral reef ecosystem research projects available for students to participate in are:
- General assessment of the status of the coral reef’s health
- Coral tissue inflammation / susceptibility to disease
- Phytoplankton enumeration / characterization in ocean water.
- Marine bacteria isolation / characterization (both in ocean water and in coral mucus)
- Marine bacteria genetics
- Coral genetic variation
- Marine ion-nutrient measurements (both in ocean water and in coral mucus)
- Water quality measurements (i.e. ocean water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, oxidation-reduction potential, conductivity, turbidity, etc.)
- Marine engineering (the development of low cost, autonomous, sensors; the development of new coral health assessment tools)
What will you do as part of the SCUBA program?
SCUBA students and research mentors will spend two weeks in the summer months at a Caribbean location for field research. During these two weeks, students will: a.) acquire data / samples as part of a marine science project and b.) analyze the data / samples collected. Acquiring data and samples will require scuba diving. It is anticipated that 90% of the sample/data analysis will occur at the field site.
Transportation, meals, and lodging for the field study will be provided by the SCUBA program. In addition, each student in the SCUBA cohort will receive a stipend of $2000.
Each student in the SCUBA cohort will present results from their marine science project at (at least) 1 scientific conference following their summer experience. It is anticipated that this work, will eventually be included in a peer-reviewed publication.
Minimum qualifications for successful SCUBA candidates (at the time of departure for field research). These are preferred requirements. Students not meeting these requirements may still be selected:
- Full-time status majoring in a STEM (i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) field (no exceptions)
- have at least 28 college credit hours (highly suggested)
- have at least 16 college credit hours in science (highly suggested)
- have a minimum 2.8 GPA (3.2 preferred)
- Be certified for “open water” scuba diving down to a 60 ft depth (at time of departure)
- Be 18 years of age (at time of departure)
- Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S. (no exceptions)
The deadline for applications to be submitted for the Summer 2024 expedition is October 27, 2023 at midnight CST
The deadline for all (2x) letters of recommendation in support of a student’s application is November 3, 2023 at midnight CST.
Prior to departure, SCUBA cohort students will be required to:
- Have regular contact with the SCUBA director and their respective research mentor(s). These communications will include: internet contact via e-mail/skype; tutorials on the background science, any laboratory assays to be performed, data/sample collection, and international travel.
- Travel to a practice dive site (at least once in Spring 2024). This event will entail two things; a check-out of the student’s competence in basic diving/safety skills* and practice on underwater maneuvers for data/sample collection with the entire SCUBA group. The cost(s) of the practice dive trip (estimated = $500) will be the student’s responsibility.
- Secure a passport, secure health insurance card, secure a diver certification card, secure a secondary identification card (i.e. a driver’s license).
*Even though the student may be certified for open water diving, it is imperative that their diving/safety skills be compatible with other divers in the SCUBA group. If diving/safety skills are deemed inadequate by the SCUBA director and Midland College staff, remedial practice may be in order. Ultimately, the SCUBA director will decide whether the student is allowed to dive with the SCUBA group.
The UT System LSAMP program is funded by the National Science Foundation grant number HRD-1202008 and HRD-1826745. Funding for the Bridge to the Doctorate projects is provided by NSF grant numbers HRD-0832951 (BD 2008-2010), HRD-0929727 (BD 2009-2011), HRD-1139929 (BD 2011-2013), HRD-1301858 (BD 2013-2015), and HRD-1810898 (BD 2018-2020).