Meet the SURFOs: Cassandra Alexander and Lauren Cook

A little programming can go a long way when analyzing relationships, environmental relationships that is, such as between water optical properties and phytoplankton composition or between migrating animals and their physical environment. Whether using MALTAB® or PythonTM, many undergraduate students in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Oceanography (SURFO) program have the opportunity to hone in their programming skills while delving into oceanographic research. The National Science Foundation funds SURFO within their Research Experience for Undergraduates program in Ocean Sciences.

SURFO Cassandra Alexander, a rising senior at Millersville University, is spending ten weeks analyzing phytoplankton abundance and composition from data collected by the Imaging FlowCytobot and comparing results to data obtained from traditional methods of enumeration at the microscope. Cassie’s advisor is Dr. Colleen Mouw and she is closely working with Audrey Ciochetto.

Another SURFO bringing her programming skills to the next level is Lauren Cook who is working with Jaime Palter in relating the vertical migration of small animals deep in the water column to surrounding environmental conditions. Lauren is using data gathered from an Acoustic Doppler current profiler mounted on a merchant vessel regularly transiting between the US coast and Bermuda. In the fall, she will return to the University of South Carolina to complete her B.S. in Marine Science.

Featured Image: Cassie Alexander (left) changing out filters leading to several optical instruments at the pumping station of the GSO dock. Lauren Cook (right) happy to share velocity and backscatter data along a transect crossing the Gulf Stream.