MSI Advancement Awardees

The Marine Studies Initiative (MSI) Advancement Award will support cultivating transdisciplinary collaborations, including through focus on human dimensions of the ocean and coasts; expanding and enhancing educational opportunities at the coast; and further strengthening inclusive excellence in marine-related programs.

View the MSI Advancement Awardees who received funding during 2022 and learn more about their projects below.

Congratulations to the selected MSI Advancement awardees for the 2022 calendar year!

Creative Coast Project

Leaders: Michael Boonstra and Andrew Myers

Creative Coast is a four-credit, five-day intensive experiential learning studio art course that focuses on the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, the Hatfield Marine Science Center and the surrounding Central Oregon Coast. The places will serve as outside studios and the people, history, ecology, and immediate sensory experiences the inspiration for creating site responsive artworks. Five days and four nights will be spent camping on site at Cape Perpetua, interacting and learning from the people and places associated with the area with the goal of creating artwork informed by these immediate site-based interactions. Guided by USFS rangers and others through talks and walks through the area, we will learn about and explore the unique ecosystems consisting of rocky intertidal zones and old growth forests, while also considering the history of human interaction with the landscape. Visiting artists, scholars and scientists will join us throughout the week.

As part of the experience, each student will produce a portfolio of site observations through sketches, photography, video, sound recording and/or writing as well as a final project. Final projects must use the landscape as a creative catalyst for idea generation and be suitable for presentation at the State of the Coast Conference the following fall.

This course is open to all creative disciplines including but not limited to: Studio art/photography/video, Music, Writing, Performance, Digital media.

Enhancing Student Engagement in Marine Studies Through Coastal Experiences

Leader: Francis Chan

Building on the experiences of the Beaver Connect and allied programs, the program will take advantage of the power of the coastal experience to engage first year students in ocean disciplines. By visiting iconic locales we aim to 1) broaden a student’s perspectives on what marine studies entails and how they intersect with their interests, and 2) enhance a student’s sense of belonging as a college student and as the next generation of students in marine sciences. Students will visit Newport’s working waterfront, the Otter Rock Marine Reserve, and share lunch together and meet for a day of conversations and hands-on activities at HMSC.

Marine science researchers and practitioners will join in sharing their work and experiences, but the emphasis is not to have afternoon of academic lectures. Instead, the aim is to show students the passion and excitement that we have for marine science. We further want to show students possible paths in marine science and to give students a sense of how they too might be able to access those paths. Above all, we aim to show students that OSU faculty and staff are vested in their individual success and that they can see themselves in our vibrant community. We see this as a pilot for growing a marine studies engagement experience that extends beyond STEM students and beyond the natural sciences to include social science, the humanities and the arts.

Tribal Impacts from Outdoor Recreation in Marine Systems 

Leaders: Lara Jacobs and Ashley D'Antonio

This project focuses on tracing the pathogenic and ecological impacts of outdoor recreation activities that take place in marine areas that a Tribe in Washington uses for subsistence purposes. MSI funding provides support for us to identify the prevalence of antibiotic resistance susceptibility in E. coli isolates that were collected from two marine ecosystems. This element of the project will provide more information to Tribal entities and the National Park Service, so governing officials can understand how outdoor recreation activities may impact Indigenous peoples’ subsistence foods and other ecosystem elements. Additionally, we will create and facilitate public-focused educational workshops that will help outdoor recreationists understand how they can be part of the solution in minimizing human waste and camping impacts in marine ecosystems through appropriate behavioral modifications.

(Re)defining Coastal-Community Resilience for Post-Diaster Recovery Travel Award 

Leader: Shawn Rowe

Contemporary understanding of coastal resilience is largely based on social and economic research in post-disaster contexts, both anthropogenic (e.g., oil spills) and non-anthropogenic (e.g., hurricanes, tsunamis, wildfire).  In 2018, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, where Puerto Rico experienced not only massive losses in agriculture and fisheries, but also significant damage to education infrastructure island wide, our team redesigned an existing service-learning course (BRR 399/599) over spring break in Puerto Rico to respond to needs identified by the community, university and school partners. We explicitly recruited URM undergraduate students from the MANNRS and SACNAS programs on campus and secured funding for supporting their participation. Leaders and students designed 6 needs-based projects in collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico and local school partners. All activities were designed from the ground up to be inclusive of and provide opportunities for URM students in agriculture, science, engineering and education at OSU as well as to address serious need in Puerto Rican communities devasted by natural disaster. For 2022, we are again travelling to Puerto Rico for service learning and experiential education over the first week of summer term as a BRR 399/599 course, and we will be working directly with PR Sea Grant faculty, USDA Tropical Agriculture researchers, USDA Tropical Forest researchers, UPR Mayaguez Extension faculty and a local school in a course titled Stronger Together: Resilient Coastal Communities/Natural Resources Education for Island Nations. This project partners with MSI to fund MAST students, especially first-generation students from minoritized communities and groups, to participate by covering travel and program fees for two students.  

Diseases of Marine Mammals

Leader: Carla Schubiger

This award will be used to create the 4xx/5xx course Diseases of Marine Mammals that will be part of the new Marine Mammal Graduate Certificate. This course will introduce students to the mechanisms of infectious diseases, and the paradigm of ONE HEALTH as the health of animals, the environment, and humans are tightly interconnected due to shared environments. In marine mammals, that interface is provided by the advancement of humans, their companion animals, and their effluents into the coastal environment.

A specific focus of the class will be zoonotic diseases, aka diseases that are transmitted between humans, their pets, and marine mammals. The COVID-19 pandemic has once again shown how quickly zoonotic diseases can make the interspecies jump and cause havoc in a previously naïve population. This has happened several times in recorded history, and marine mammals have been and still are impacted by such diseases. For example, the human measles virus likely originated from a virus that first caused severe illness in cattle. The close contact of humans with cattle during domestication then caused severe devastation due to measles in humans, including up to the 17th century in Native American populations. Today viruses similar to measles are causing mass mortalities in cetaceans (dolphins, whales, and porpoises) and pinnipeds (particularly seals and sea otters). In addition, the canine distemper virus (related to measles) is also evidence of a species jump and has caused mass die-offs in seals and might be correlated to mass mortalities of Northern Sea Otters in the Pacific Northwest over the last twenty years.

The course will discuss many more of these zoonotic diseases, including influenza that has established a reservoir in marine mammals and can be a source of human re-infection, and diseases transmitted from human’s best friends (cats and dogs) to marine mammals. In addition, the class will include guest lectures and field trips to learn from professionals working on marine mammal health and learn about current research on this topic. The course will be built on practices of contemporary andragogy and include principles of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework for researched-based teaching and truly inclusive classrooms.

Incorporating Indigenous Youth into Knowledge of Apex Predator Ecology 

Leader: Jessica Shulte

Salmon play critical ecological roles in aquatic systems, transporting important nutrients to the rivers and forests where they were born and contributing billions of dollars to the region’s economy. For thousands of years, they have also played important roles in Native American cultures, impacting religion, livelihood, and cultural identity. Accordingly, salmon have been heavily managed to ensure viability of the stocks. However, despite measures to accurately model salmon populations, effects of sharks have been absent from these efforts. The broadnose sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus; BSS) is a large, abundant apex predator in the marine ecosystems of the northern California Current System (NCCS). Though BSS likely exert significant ecosystem effects, their role in the NCCS has largely been overlooked —especially in relation to culturally and economically important fisheries. These results have direct consequences for management of coastal marine ecosystems, economics of coastal communities, and, in turn, on the native communities that rely on these factors.

As part of a comprehensive study researching BSS, Jess will work with indigenous youth to help remedy systematic deficiencies in understanding marine trophic dynamics from an indigenous art perspective while bringing shark research techniques to underrepresented communities that have cultural and economic ties to coastal ecosystems.

Pernot Microbiology Summer Camp to Visit and Engage with Scientists and Stakeholders at Hatfield Marine Station 

Leader: Rebecca Vega-Thurber

The Pernot Microbiology Camp is an experiential learning program for historically underrepresented or underserved students interested in a STEM career. During this week-long immersive science camp high-students will learn about three subfields of microbiology including, Food System Science, Human Health and Disease, and Aquatic Microbiology. Students will conduct microbiology focused laboratory experiments, learn critical science skills, go on field trips, and hear from diverse speakers across the field of microbiology about career avenues and opportunities in science, technology, and education. MSI funding provides us with the opportunity to take students to the Hatfield Marine Station along the Oregon coast where they will see marine science research taking place in real time. Not only will we provide this hands-on experience, but we will also host informational sessions where students can learn how to fill out the FAFSA application, how to look for scholarships or research opportunities, as well as discuss non-traditional paths to higher education.The aim of this camp is to provide students with an introduction to microbiological concepts and laboratory techniques relevant to college level curriculum.

Looking through the lens: Combing community science and photography to study diets of tufted puffins and other marine birds

Leader: Rachael Orben

One of the major hurdles to increasing our ecological knowledge of coastal birds in Oregon is a lack of specific diet information and how this varies over space and time. This is particularly relevant for the emblematic tufted puffin. In Oregon, tufted puffin populations declined substantially in the 1980s.  In 2020, the species was reviewed by the USFWS for listing under the ESA. Very little is known about the status of the few birds (<500) nesting in Oregon due to their sensitive and often inaccessible nesting habitat (off-shore rocks). Dietary data would allow managers to link tufted puffin populations to their marine prey in coastal Oregon.

The advent of digital cameras and associated technological advances have improved the capacity of photographers to capture elusive animals in motion. Tufted puffins fly into Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, Oregon carrying bill loads of prey and are a challenging and striking photographic subject. The tufted puffin is visually stunning, with black plumage, a large orange bill, and yellow tufts. The community science initiative Birds with Fish encourages professional and skilled amateur photographers to share photos of marine birds with prey items in their bills and talons via our website.

Funding from the Marine Studies Initiative will help support a field technician based in Cannon Beach to photograph tufted puffins bring bill loads back to feed their chicks. The colony of tufted puffins at Haystack Rock presents a unique opportunity for photographing tufted puffins with prey and a unique wildlife viewing experience. In addition to the collecting prey photos, each morning or evening on the beach offers place-based outreach opportunities as the beach is a popular place for coastal visitors.