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Addtional GCE Outreach

Overview

Hammock field crew
(photo courtesy of Merryl Alber)

The goal of GCE outreach is to enhance scientific understanding of Georgia coastal ecosystems by the public, coastal managers, and scientists. GCE scientists speak directly to the public in a variety of forums regularly giving seminars and public presentations, contributing articles to newsletters and other popular publications, and talking to the media about coastal issues. GCE personnel on Sapelo Island routinely provide tours of the site to visitors to both the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve and the UGA Marine Institute.

Student Training

We routinely involve undergraduate students in our research, averaging approximately 10 per year. Undergraduates who have participated in GCE-II have come from UGA, Univ. of South Carolina, Univ. of Houston, Indiana Univ., Univ. of Florida, Univ. of West Florida, and Georgia Southern. We have also had international students, from Univ. of Toulon and the Var., France and Christian-Albrecht University, Kiel, Germany. These students have had opportunities to give presentations about their research at meetings (Benthic Ecology, Southeastern Estuarine Research Society, Estuarine Research Federation) and helped to write papers (Wason and Pennings 2008, Ewers et al. submitted).

One of our former REU students (Nathan McTigue), who worked on the hammock project, recently contacted us to state the following:

“I think often about the summer's work, and how much I really enjoyed it. It was so gratifying to finally get my nose out of the books and do some field work. Although the books are important, I had so much fun participating in the 'doing' part of science. By about the beginning of July, I had a totally new and improved understanding of the word 'ecology'. I really only understood that which I previously learned (the books) by the doing (the field). On top of that, the amount of data we collected this summer is just awesome. Maybe I have a skewed opinion since I've never worked in the field like that before, but I'm impressed by us. Anyway, thanks for the experience.”

A. Burd includes GCE data in both his undergraduate and graduate courses. In his undergraduate “Biological Oceanography” course and as well as in his freshman seminar, “Earth: The Ocean Planet”, GCE data are used in discussions of coastal marine systems and in explanations of processes occurring in these systems. In his graduate level course, "Quantitative Methods in Marine Science", students undertake small projects analyzing GCE time series data, examining relationships between variables such as discharge and salinity, salinity and productivity etc.

In the spring of 2009, C. Meile conducted a Seminar series at UGA that focused on GCE-LTER research. The series used video-conferencing to include researchers from other sites (Univ. of Houston, Skidaway Inst. of Oceanography, UGA Marine Institute) and included presentations by 5 GCE PIs and 5 graduate students. This was supplemented by in-class meetings where LTER synthesis papers were discussed. In 2008 S. Pennings participated in a cross-institution graduate course on Functional Ecology that was facilitated by NCEAS and involved scientists from 7 universities. Students at UH analyzed GCE data as part of the course activities, and plan to publish a paper based on their work.

Graduate students are an integral part of the research at the GCE LTER. There are currently a total of 22 students from 4 institutions engaged in LTER activities, and over the past three years, 10 LTER students have completed their degrees.

Other Outreach

GCE scientists and staff give talks to the public about GCE research and coastal issues on a routine basis. On the Georgia coast, we also partner with organizations such as the Altamaha Riverkeeper, Georgia DNR, NADP, SINERR, TNC and USGS to collect data of mutual interest. For example, GCE is currently working with SINERR to examine how increasing tidal circulation by replacing a culvert with a bridge will affect the health of a large marsh upstream of the culvert on Sapelo Island.

Finally, the GCE web site provides public access to information and data from decades of research on Sapelo Island and the Georgia coast for scientists, educators, students, policy makers and the general public. Over 350,000 visits from 198 distinct countries and territories have been logged on the GCE web site since its introduction in December 2000, accounting for over 1.2 million page views. More than 70,000 visits to the GCE web site were logged over the past year alone. We also host the UGA Marine Institute bibliography in our database and provide access to citations and a reprint request service. In addition, we provide web hosting for the Georgia Coastal Research Council and Sapelo Island Microbial Observatory, plus several legacy web sites including the Georgia Rivers LMER and the Sea Grant Georgia Coast Data Set.

LTER
NSF

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants OCE-9982133, OCE-0620959 and OCE-1237140. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.