Higher Ed STEM Training with an Ocean Observation System

This curriculum development proposal will serve as a proof of concept demonstrating that ocean exploration can be used to develop some of the same skills and aptitudes important for space exploration. A marine autonomous recording unit will be deployed for three months on the ocean bottom near a system of ocean passes in the Andreanof Islands. College students early in their education will be trained to use computer software programs that perform automated search functions. They will use this software to systematically search hours of recordings and locate cetacean vocalizations. They will program pattern recognition software to accomplish this task, and then they will measure acoustical properties of the vocalizations. They will then analyze these data sets to determine the species of cetaceans present, the times and duration of their occurrence, the relative intensities of their signals, and inferences regarding their behaviors. Students will learn how the same technology and analytical skills are employed in Earth and space observations. This project will help to attract and retain rural Alaskan and native Alaskan college students in STEM disciplines.


Name: Hector Douglas, Assistant Professor of Biology

Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Award: Higher Education, Project

Funding Period: 2011