Participants aboard the Norwegian, Statsraad Lehmkuhl research vessel which docked at Jamaica’s Port Royal earlier this month, were hosted by UWI's Mona Campus on November 16.
The 33 visiting students and lecturers, who are on the One Ocean Expedition led by University of Bergen (UiB), toured the Mona Campus’ Port Royal Marine Laboratory, then participated in an organised knowledge exchange forum, said a media release.
Mona Campus point and lead organiser Dr Suzanne E Palmer, lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences and academic co-ordinator at the Port Royal Marine Laboratory, said, “It was an inspiring day of knowledge exchange and discussions between international students and lecturers of the One Ocean Field Course and those from the Faculty of Science and Technology here at UWI. We are very much looking forward to building out the partnership with the University of Bergen and colleagues.”
The group comprised postgraduate students from Norway, US, Canada, Spain, Germany, Sweden and The Netherlands, together with two students from UWI Mona, Chauntelle Green and Deron Maitland. They are enrolled as sailing trainees on the "floating university" for three weeks studying ocean sciences. The programme employs active learning methods together with discussions on the consequences and sustainable solutions to climate change. They are being led by an interdisciplinary team of lecturers from the University of Bergen, Scripps/University of California San Diego, University of Washington, University of Texas at Austin, Stanford University, and McGill University.
The release said the tour of the Port Royal Marine Laboratory was led by Palmer and Hugh Small, the lab’s chief scientific officer. It included a visit to its scuba diving facilities and the mangrove nursery which underpin current research projects in coral reef and mangrove restoration.
The forum was held in the Faculty of Science and Technology. Students from the research vessel who completed a one ocean field course webinar series, which ran from September-October, presented their project findings on historical ocean data (including UWI’s Green), sea-level change in the Caribbean (including UWI’s Maitland), hurricanes in the Caribbean, and marine fishable resources (spiny lobster).
Postgraduate research students from Mona’s departments of life sciences, geography and geology, chemistry and physics also showcased their MPhil and PhD research in marine and climate sciences. This included research on microplastics in mangroves, long-term records of hurricanes and pollution, carbon storage in mangroves, coastal and marine nature-based solutions, coral-reef health and water quality, and seagrass ecology.
Prof Michael Taylor, dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, delivering remarks at the forum on behalf of pro vice-chancellor and principal of UWI Mona Prof Dale Webber, said. “The One Ocean Expedition is an effective way to mark the beginning of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. This expedition is an opportunity for people across the globe to achieve a deeper understanding of the importance of the ocean in sustaining life on this planet.”
Speaking at the forum, pro vice-chancellor global affairs Dr Stacy Kennedy said UWI’s participation in the One Ocean Expedition is “a story about the resilience of UWI in the face of adversity and challenges brought on by the pandemic. It is a story of interconnectedness, not only of the SDGs, life on land, land below water, and climate action, but also the interconnectedness of our regions when it comes to ocean science and marine conservation.”
Highlighting the importance of this partnership between the two universities, she further stated, “It is the story of unwavering commitment to partnerships driven by purpose and passion…a passion for knowledge, research, for the application of our research and for global advocacy particularly when it comes to the challenges facing Caribbean islands that have to confront the devastating impact of climate change.”
Prof Kerim Nisancioglu, professor of Climate Dynamics at the Department of Earth Science at the University of Bergen and the co-ordinator of the One Ocean Field Course webinar series, spoke to the formation of the relationship between the UWI and the University of Bergen.
After being docked in Jamaica for four days, the 107-year old, 98-metre-long Statsraad Lehmkukl set sail again on November 16.
Its historic 55,000-mile, One Ocean Expedition continues towards Havana, Cuba, Nassau, Bahamas and then New York, before turning again and sailing south, along South America, then to its Pacific leg. The UWI Mona postgraduate students aboard the vessel, Maitland and Green, will disembark in Nassau, Bahamas.
For more about the One Ocean Expedition, visit the Expedition website https://oneoceanexpedition.com/