Research and Education

Environmental Institute

 

General Research Focus

Biogeochemical cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in coastal environments. Physical and biogeochemical controls on Red Tide blooms phytoplankton community interactions. Integration of research in community college and undergraduate education.

Current Research Projects

Using GIS With Real-Time Water Quality Assessment to Guide Scientific Inquiry and Learning in a Community College Environmental Studies Program

UWF Environmental Science graduate student, Fritz Langerfeld, mentors NWFSC students as part of this project
UWF Environmental Science
graduate student, Fritz
Langerfeld, mentors
NWFSC students as part of
this project

This is a collaborative project between Dr. Allison Beauregard, of the Mattie Kelly Environmental Institute, and Dr. Matthew Schwartz, of the University of West Florida's Environmental Studies Department. The overarching goal of this project is to introduce community college students to the use of research technology and geographical information systems (GIS) through the development of a new course in Aquatic Environmental Science at Northwest Florida State College. During the new course, which will begin during the Spring 2010 term, NWFSC students will be guided by Beauregard, Schwartz, and a UWF graduate student to use field instruments to measure water quality variables, including temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and nutrients, during field trips in the Choctawhatchee Estuary. While still in the field, students on several boats in different parts of the Estuary will use a wireless broadband interface to access the GIS system at UWF to compile and generate maps of student data to show a whole-basin view of variations in water quality parameters. One of the major goals of the project is to assess the academic benefits of using research technology in the classroom. This project is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation awarded to Dr. Allison Beauregard of the Mattie Kelly Institute at NWFSC and Dr. Matthew Schwartz of UWF.

Linking Cutting-Edge Oceanographic Research with Community College Students

Dr. Huber's Skype video chat session with students in Beauregard's Oceanography course.
Dr. Huber's Skype video chat session with students
in Beauregard's Oceanography course.

This is a collaborative project between Dr. Allison Beauregard of the Mattie Kelly Environmental Institute and Dr. Julie Huber from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This project is a unique education and outreach effort that links cutting edge oceanographic research with community college students, a group traditionally far removed from research science. As part of the project, students in Beauregard’s “Introduction to Oceanography” class (Fall 2009) will communicate with Huber from on-board a research ship (R/V Cape Hatteras) heading out from the Cayman Islands to conduct the first field test of Nereus – the world’s deepest diving underwater research vessel. To illustrate the immense pressure that the robotic research vessel Nereus will encounter during such deep-sea research, students will be also decorate Styrofoam cups and send them to the mother ship to meet Dr. Huber before she embarks. During the cruise, Huber’s team will attach the cups to the Nereus during one of its deployments. Because of the extremely high pressure experienced deep in the ocean, the cups will shrink down to about a third of their original size and the team will send the research souvenirs back to the class. Another important aspect of the project is the opportunity for up to four NWFSC students to be selected for a summer internship (two during summer 2010 and two during summer 2011) working directly with Huber in her lab in Massachusetts on microbial life from the deep sea vents. This connection of community college students with world-class scientists in the field promotes better understanding of research and potentially may encourage more students to major in the sciences. This outreach project is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation awarded to Dr. Julie Huber of MBL and Dr. Allison Beauregard of NWFSC.

Investigating the Biogeochemical Links to Red Tides in the Choctawhatchee Estuary

Beauregard identifying phytoplankton species under a microscope.
Beauregard identifying phytoplankton
species under a microscope.

This is a collaborative project between Dr. Allison Beauregard, of the Mattie Kelly Environmental Institute, and Dr. Matthew Schwartz, of the University of West Florida's Environmental Studies Department. This project is focused on the occurrence of red tides locally in the Choctawhatchee Estuary. Our study includes a comparison between two local bayous - one that has a history of red tide outbreaks and one that has no history of red tide outbreaks. There are three parts of this project, including 1) routine sampling of water quality parameters (dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll a concentration, and nutrient concentrations) in the bayous; 2) bioassay incubation experiments using water collected from the two local bayous; and 3) weekly monitoring of the phytoplankton species present.