January 2020

Adam Schaefer, MPH, co-author and an epidemiologist from  Florida Atlantic University’s  Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute collaborated with FAU's Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to test a newly developed method that can detect even low-dose human exposure to microcystins and nodularin in human urine.

To assess human exposure to microcystins during the 2018 algal blooms, FAU researchers collected urine, nasal swabs and blood from residents of St. Lucie, Indian River, Palm Beach and Martin counties as a part of a cross-sectional exposure study. Results of the study, published in the journal  Toxins are the first to report microcystin concentrations directly from exposed residents impacted by cyanobacteria in Florida... Read more

Jim Sullivan, Ph.D., is the executive director of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce. “The motto of Harbor Branch is ‘Ocean science for a better world’ and I believe that,” he says. “If I do my job well, this place can do amazing things.”

As a leader in the research of harmful algal blooms, Dr. Sullivan also serves as an expert on both the Red Tide Mitigation Council and the Blue-Green Algae Task Force. Dr. Sullivan explains that it’s critical that the concerned public does not forget about these harmful blooms during off years, and continues to pressure their local, state and federal representatives to deal with water-quality issues... Read more

Annie Page-Karjian, D.V.M., Ph.D., a researcher from FAU Harbor Branch and collaborators, found nearly 70 percent of rehabilitating green sea turtles in warmer seas have a highly contagious disease, called fibropapillomatosis (FP).

About 75 percent of sea turtles taken to rehab facilities with the herpesvirus tumors did not survive.  Diseases of Aquatic Organisms  Journal published the results of the study. This project was funded in part by a grant awarded from the Sea Turtle Grants Program, funded from proceeds from the sale of the  Florida Sea Turtle License Plate... Read more
Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic escape into the ocean. In a recent study, Tracy Mincer, an oceanographer at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution found that tiny plastics get entangled with “marine snow”, the organic material at the surface comprised of dead plankton, shell fragments and feces. As the marine snow sinks to the sea floor, it brings the microplastics that gets ingested by marine life. Microplastics have been found in the digestive tracts of more than 100 different animals... Read more
In the News
Student Spotlight

Welcome to our 2020 Semester by the Sea students! Semester by the Sea (SBTS) is a one-semester program for undergraduate students offered by FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and the Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Atlantic University. SBTS program is designed to provide undergraduate students an opportunity to broaden their educational experience with a semester-long immersion in marine science, with emphasis on marine biology. All courses are taught on FAU's Harbor Branch campus in Fort Pierce, Florida. SBTS is an incredible immersion opportunity for students interested in marine biology. SBTS is very hands-on. One innovative aspect of SBTS is rotation of the two core lab courses, Marine Biodiversity and Marine Ecology, each Wednesday during the whole semester, which permits full-day field trips for each course. FAU Harbor Branch borders the Indian River Lagoon, an estuary with high biodiversity and is a wonderful locale for this immersion in marine biology!

Congratulations to Ashley Morgan, an FAU Harbor Branch graduate student who recently received a $5K  Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation Scholarship for her project, "Marine microplastics: antemortem sampling and biological monitoring techniques to aid surveillance and mitigate impact in wild fish populations"! Ashley is a Ph.D .student in Integrative Biology. She is studying microplastic bioaccumulation in hogfish using antemortem sampling techniques as a means to survey microplastic loads in South Florida marine ecosystems. She plans to compare microplastic concentrations in the Hogfish and their resident waters to analyze bioaccumulation factors. She hopes to further analyze the variety and concentration of adsorbed endocrine disruptors and microbes found on these microplastic particles. 

A delegation from the Politecnico di Milano (Milan, Italy), a leading engineering school in Europe, was hosted at FAU January 27 - 28, 2020. The delegation was led by Prof. Antonio Capone, Dean of School of Industrial and Information Engineering, and Ms. Stefania Grotti, Head of Research Office. The group paid visits to FAU’s Boca Raton campus meeting with colleagues at I-SENSE, and the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Their visit to FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute included a tour of the Ocean Discovery Visitors Center to learn about FAU Harbor Branch’s main research themes, a tour of campus, and a meeting amongst colleagues to learn about ongoing research programs and discuss potential collaborations... Read more
Queen Conch Research and Sea Vegetables

Megan Davis, Ph.D., a research professor at FAU Harbor Branch, spoke to 60 attendees about Harbor Branch’s queen conch research in The Bahamas and Puerto Rico at the Manatee Observation and Education Lunch and Learn series. Also, in January, Dr. Davis gave a presentation and cooking demonstration with sea vegetables grown in the Harbor Branch IMTA (Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture) systems at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute located on FAU's Jupiter campus.
Mission: Ocean Discovery

Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute has a new boat and some big plans for the upcoming tourism season. The 36-passenger pontoon tour boat , Discovery, funded by a grant from the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation, will add to its public education program offerings by providing weekly Indian River Lagoon Research excursions on Fridays beginning Jan. 31 from 10:30 a.m. to noon... Read more

The 2020 John & Barbara Ferrara Ocean Science Lecture Series at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce is underway.

FAU Harbor Branch researchers and distinguished guest lecturers will present weekly lectures each Wednesday through March 18, 2020, at 4 and 7 p.m., in FAU Harbor Branch's Johnson Education Center Auditorium, 5600 U.S. 1 North, in Fort Pierce.

Lectures are free and open to the public; to register for a 2020 season pass to facilitate admission, please visit www.fau.edu/hboi/community/osls.php .

The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) Symposium 2020 "Reassessing IRL Biodiversity" will be held on February 13-14, 2020 in the Johnson Education Center at Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. The IRL Symposium is the result of a multi-institutional, multi-agency effort to provide a forum for discussing Indian River Lagoon science and its application to management of the lagoon. The symposium is open to scientists, decision makers, students, education and outreach professionals, and the interested public. The intent is to facilitate better communication among these groups so that the gaps between research and its application can be narrowed. For more information and to register, visit here. Please note, registration is required to attend.
Sponsored Research Awards
Investigator Name and Research Anticipated Funding and Sponsor
Dennis Hanisak, Ph.D.
A Comprehensive Lagoon-wide Monitoring Plan for the Indian River Lagoon 
Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program (IRLNEP)
Laurent Chérubin, Ph.D.
Loop Current System SSH and subsurface current prediction with a transfer learning approach
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM)
Dennis Hanisak, Ph.D.
Enhancement and Expansion of HBOI’s Indian River Lagoon Observatory Network of Environmental Sensors
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation
About Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute: 
Founded in 1971, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University is a research community of marine scientists, engineers, educators and other professionals focused on Ocean Science for a Better World. The institute drives innovation in ocean engineering, at-sea operations, drug discovery and biotechnology from the oceans, coastal ecology and conservation, marine mammal research and conservation, aquaculture, ocean observing systems and marine education.