May 30, 2017 by Dr. G
I need to start this story with a little of my own history… when I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in geology at Bucknell University, I knew I had a strong interest in learning more about the ocean. Bucknell didn’t offer any oceanography courses, so I decided to pursue some opportunities on my own. One of those opportunities was to spend the fall semester of my junior year at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. At that time, Boston University had a Marine Program (BUMP) that allowed students to stay at MBL and take one course per month focused on marine science topics. My coursework included organism/sediment relationships, mass extinctions and the changing biosphere, microbial geology, and marine pollution. This one semester was the best four months of learning in all my years of schooling (content-learning and mentoring), with excellent laboratory and field experiences.
Unfortunately, one of the experiences I did not have that semester was an opportunity to get out on the ocean. A short distance from MBL was the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). As students, we would sometimes head to WHOI for events that ranged from speakers to steel drum band concerts. I also visited the WHOI Ocean Science Exhibit Center several times to learn from their displays, and I think I purchased every book on ocean exploration they had in the store! But my time to get on a WHOI ship or to even catch a glimpse of deep-sea submersibles such as the Alvin would have to wait…
…fast-forward to May 2017, when I saw this tweet, by WHOI:
— WHOI (@WHOI) May 12, 2017
I immediately applied to participate. I’ve been a part of two previous social media “socials” (American Museum of Natural History and NASA/AGU) and learned quite a bit while having a lot of fun! This social was close enough to travel to (just over an hour train ride from Philly) and would give me an opportunity to take photos and bring back information to college students enrolled in my oceanography course and K-12 teachers/students. And if I was selected to participate, I would get to satisfy one of my goals from my undergraduate years of getting on a WHOI ship! (OK, so the ship would be tied to the pier – but still, it’s something!)
For my students that are reading this and are wondering, “so what’s the big deal about WHOI? And what is even WHOI?” Founded in 1930, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is, according to their website, “the world’s leading, independent non-profit organization dedicated to ocean research, exploration, and education. Our scientists and engineers push the boundaries of knowledge about the ocean to reveal its impacts on our planet and our lives.” Check out this video below to receive an overview from WHOI of “who we are, what we do, and why that matters.”
I was excited to receive the good news that I was selected for the #ArmstrongSocial and made it to Fleet Week in NYC amid some wet and dreary weather.
— Dr. G (@guertin) May 25, 2017
— Dr. G (@guertin) May 26, 2017
I documented my R/V Neil Armstrong social experience in a Storify and through my Instagram account. You can also search Facebook and other social media accounts with the hashtag #RVNeilArmstrong to see the photos others took (like The Explorers Club – a great Facebook album!). Please also visit the WHOI website for a virtual tour of the R/V Neil Armstrong, and visit the ship’s website. Of course, if you are in my oceanography courses in the future, you’ll be hearing more about the contributions of this research vessel and WHOI’s various ROVs (like Jason/Medea) and AUVs (like REMUS SharkCam)!
— Dr. G (@guertin) May 26, 2017
Although I am so grateful for the ships that have informed my oceanographic education and research experiences, from the Wallops Island Marine Science Consortium (now Chincoteague Bay Field Station) to University of Miami-RSMAS to the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, I’m pleased that I can now say I’ve toured and photo-documented WHOI’s newest ship, the R/V Neil Armstrong, one of only seven large ships in the U.S. academic research fleet. I look forward to continuing to share stories of the technology and innovations that Neil Armstrong brings to learning about the ocean. Thank you for the opportunity, WHOI, and I hope you continue to do more social media socials so that others can learn and share (and maybe satisfy a long-time wish of seeing a WHOI ship up close!).
— Dr. G (@guertin) May 27, 2017