Fall 2017 and Winter Break Happenings

Fall 2017 and Winter Break Happenings

Coming back from summer field season and into the swing of classes during the fall semester in September can be difficult. This year we dealt with it by welcoming Melati Kaye (MESM student) and Diana Beltran (Postdoc) to the lab group!! Elle was away, otherwise there would've been many welcoming cards and drawings. We're stoked to get Melati in the lab group given her background in Indonesia as a freelance reporter for many years - she has a deep knowledge of the ins-and-outs of Indonesia fisheries. Diana comes from a background of doing fish genetics and connectivity work in the Caribbean, specifically Puerto Rico.

Evans spent most of 2017 in Ghana collecting data, as did Elle in Indonesia, so the lab felt lonely, However, we finally got them back after the New Year and office morale immediately increased! We also welcomed Celeste Venolia (MS student) and Kelvin Gorospe (Postdoc) into the group at the start of the New Year - see below for their recent happenings. 

Congratulations to Humphries Lab alum Lauren Josephs on getting her master’s thesis published in the Journal of Environmental Management. Check it out here.

Keep reading below for reports on what folks spent the second half of 2017 and beginning of 2018 doing:


Evans Arizi (PhD Student).  At the moment, all coursework is over for Evans and he is focusing on collecting data for his dissertation. His research looks at the potential efficacy of seasonal and spatial closures on Sardinella populations in coastal Ghana, as well as gear interactions with the fish. Data collection for this research commenced in Summer 2017 and it is still in progress with many field assistants employed in all the coastal regions of Ghana! Throughout Fall 2017, Evans was in Ghana training the assistants to gather data. As part of the requirements for his PhD degree, Evans is preparing to take his comprehensive exams in March. For this reason, Evans has returned to URI and is studying diligently and can be found in the office or library at all hours of the day!


Elle Wibisono (PhD Student). Elle was back in Bali, Indonesia, to do data collection for the first chapter of her dissertation. She had to collect catch data from partner fishers all over central and eastern Indonesia by taking photographs of their fishing ledgers (receipts or logbooks). This entailed a lot of traveling, talking with the fishers over very sweet tea or coffee. Some fishers were transparent about their catches and were very welcoming, others were less so. She got a lot of help from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Indonesia site coordinators throughout the data collection process and is incredibly thankful for their collaboration in the project. Throughout her time in Bali, she also used the TNC Bali office for free internet and coffee and workspace (thanks Peter and Jos!). Being in Bali meant that AM cycling and swimming was back on the agenda, albeit less than usual due to travels and general busy-ness.


Paul Carvalho (PhD Student). During fall 2017, Paul travelled to Indonesia to finalize his research permits and worked on his dissertation proposal. He and Austin made another trip to Indonesia over winter break and collected fish and benthic data from 20 sites in Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia. Collaborators from Bogor Agricultural University joined them on the trip, and Paul learned many new fish species with the help of their seasoned field veterans. In the Spring, he is taking his last class (population dynamics) and teaching three sections of introductory biology lab. Paul plans to return to Indonesia in May and July of this year to collect data from Wakatobi and Lombok.


Kelvin Gorospe (Postdoc). Kelvin spent the last few months preparing to leave Hawaii, which involved selling off and giving away a lot of his things, and being woken up by a false alarm missile attack! In the end, his shipment to Rhode Island was pretty small, only taking with him his piano, his bed, and whatever winter clothes he still owned. He also took the opportunity to go cross-country by train, stopping in Oakland, Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago, and New York City to visit friends and family before finally settling in Providence, Rhode Island. As for his research activities, Kelvin spent Fall 2017 wrapping up his position with NOAA and the University of Hawaii. Before leaving, he managed to submit a manuscript to the journal Frontiers in Marine Science. The study, currently still in review, analyzes NOAA's reef monitoring datasets to recreate baseline biomass benchmarks of Hawaii's coral reef fish communities. Kelvin is excited to delve into his projects of ecosystem-based fisheries management and socio-ecological analyses for Indonesia, as well as Narragansett Bay.


Diky Suganda (MS Student). In December, Diky continued his research, titled “The impact of fisheries management on coral reef fish communities and life-history characteristics in Sunda Banda Seascape.” The time series data is provided by WWF Indonesia. This study is expected to increase our understanding of the impacts of no-take zones to fish community structures and life history characteristics on coral reefs. Diky spent the fall and winter struggling to analyze the (large) dataset, which has proven to be interesting (but also frustrating). 


Melati Kaye (MS Student). Fall was Melati’s first semester at URI; she got started with coursework and preparations for research. Over winter break, Melati was in Indonesia to process permits and set up a field site in Wakatobi. In coordination with the Southeast Sulawesi-based Universitas Halu Oleo (UHO), Melati started gathering a year’s worth of fish landings data across gear types in Wakatobi National Park. While in Sulawesi, she also met with the UHO Bajau sea gypsy student union.


Katie Viducic (MS Student). In the fall, Katie continued to volunteer with NOAA-NMFS, cataloging samples and recording data from the shark samples collected during the summer months. Katie finished verifying all of her data for her thesis and began exploratory analysis. Over winter break, Katie enjoyed the cold weather and went snowboarding in her spare time. She began the writing process for her thesis and continued working on data analysis for the over 800 blue sharks that make up her dataset. Katie will defend her thesis this summer, so she is busy busy!


Diana Beltran (Postdoc). Fall 2017 was Diana’s first semester with the Humphries Lab! Diana reviewed all fish-related literature on environmental DNA (eDNA) and is working on a review paper of the topic. She and Austin are also thinking about future projects and where to find funding to generate baseline genetic information for coral reef fishes around Indonesia. This baseline data would serve as a database to infer variation in community structure when using eDNA and could be used to ask lots of interesting food web and fisheries questions in the Coral Triangle region.


Celeste Venolia (MS Student). Celeste officially joined the lab in January 2018 after spending Fall 2017 teaching at The Ecology School in Saco, Maine. During her winter break, she spent time reviewing R code and doing some preliminary literature review. She is excited to dive into Dynamic Energy Budget (DEB) modelling to study kelp and oysters in integrated multi-trophic aquaculture systems around Rhody as part of a NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy project. 

   
  
   
  
    
  
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    Celeste being pumped about tide pools and being an outdoor educator in Maine

Celeste being pumped about tide pools and being an outdoor educator in Maine


Austin Humphries (Assistant Professor). Austin taught a new course for undergraduates called "Food from the Sea" (AFS 105G) which went off well and kids were stoked to learn about fisheries and aquaculture; numerous students with no background in ocean sciences became interested in ocean food production and its history in New England. Austin gave talks at the ICES conference in Florida as well as the CERF conference in Providence, covering for Lauren Josephs (sick) and Paul Carvalho (field work). Fieldwork for the kelp aquaculture project began, and he also spent two months in Indonesia getting the USAID project up and running. This included teaching workshops, dealing with research permits, and spending a few weeks in Raja Ampat collecting data and having fun underwater. You can check out those adventures here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuD_gom-JII.

Phew, that's a big update! Stay tuned...

Summer 2017 Highlights

Summer 2017 Highlights

Summer for the Humphries Lab was, unfortunately, not endless. However, much happened over the past few months: Lauren Josephs defended her Master’s thesis, the rest of the crew dispersed across three continents to begin or continue fieldwork, and new lab members arrived at URI including Masters student Melati Kaye and Postdoc Diana Beltrán. Here are some updates:

 Lauren and Austin celebrating at Matunuck Oyster Bar after Lauren's defense

Lauren and Austin celebrating at Matunuck Oyster Bar after Lauren's defense

Evans Arizi (PhD Student). As part of Evans’ fieldwork to understand the interaction between sardines and fishing gears, he recruited and trained field assistants for gathering data from eight fishing communities along the entire coast of Ghana in West Africa. In August, Evans was dedicated to carrying out the first official sampling for his dissertation research. He will spend the Fall semester in Ghana collecting data, reviewing literature related to his dissertation, and begin studying for his comprehensive exams.

Elle Wibisono (PhD Student). Elle is back in the The Nature Conservancy's Benoa Fisheries Station (in Bali) with Drs. Peter Mous and Jos Pet, which means debating about details of the project and doing all they can to make it better. Elle has been collecting fishing ledgers from captains and fish traders across Central and Eastern Indonesia. She was unsure how successful this endeavor would be because she was asking captains and fish traders for their bookkeeping. But, for those who actually kept records, Elle and colleagues managed to take pictures and collect data. Obtaining the ledgers mainly involves smiling, a lot, and drinking sweet tea, a lot. Even when the captains and traders did not have ledgers to show, Elle always learned something new while talking to the captains.Elle is spending the Fall semester in Indonesia to continue collecting data and work on finishing the first chapter of her dissertation.

Paul Carvalho (PhD Student). Paul went to Indonesia for the first time this summer to scope study sites for his dissertation research. Due to complications with the never-ending research permit process in Indonesia, Paul spent a week at Bogor Agricultural University working in an office, then traveled to Wakatobi with Austin and Melati to conduct preliminary surveys on reefs on Wangi Wangi, Kaledupa, and Hoga Island. In addition, the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) funded Paul’s Graduate Pursuit team to examine ecological responses to hurricanes, and social/governance systems attempts to transform the qualitative state of coastal ecosystems before and after a hurricane. During Fall semester Paul presents at the Coastal & Estuarine Research Federation conference in Providence, RI, hopes to complete the research permit process, return to Indonesia to collect data for his dissertation, and meet with his SESYNC team in Annapolis MD.

Diky Suganda (PhD Student). Diky spent the summer studying for his comprehensive exams, entering fish landings data from Raja Ampat, Indonesia, and directing a group of enumerators in Raja Ampat for collecting data. Also, Diky harvested tomatoes, parsley, basil, and eggplants from his small garden. This Fall Diky is going to focus on writing his thesis and look for short training courses and workshops to expand his skillset. 

 Diky cleaning up the South Kingstown Beach for Save the Bay

Diky cleaning up the South Kingstown Beach for Save the Bay

Melati Kaye (MS Student). Melati spent part of the summer in Wakatobi, off the tip of Southeast Sulawesi in Indonesia, on a scoping trip with Paul and Austin. Her focus was on fish landings data collection protocol and methods. This meant mornings spent leaping from dock to boat deck to fishmonger canoe as she learned the different players in the local fishery, and nights spent with pictures of the day’s catch and the reef fish identification guide learning the diversity of species caught. Melati landed in Rhode Island in early September to start classes. After four years of tropical living in Indonesia, she is excited to get in some leafpeeping during her bicycle commutes to campus. During Fall semester, Melati is taking Fisheries Oceanography and Advanced Ecology, sorting through initial data from Wakatobi, and refining landings data collection protocol.

Katie Viducic (MS Student). This summer, Katie continued to tag blue sharks to gather migration data for her thesis. She tagged sharks 10-50 miles off Narragansett, RI, with dart tags provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). In addition, Katie continued to volunteer for NMFS and travel to shark tournaments throughout New England where she collected samples for diet, reproduction, age, and growth studies. This Fall semester, Katie will continue data analysis, which she started this summer, and begin writing her thesis.

Austin Humphries (Assistant Professor). Austin participated in a workshop at Columbia University on “Sustainable Food Systems Thinking and Teaching – Creating a Community of Practice”. Austin appreciated learning how other professors teach themes and content related to the courses he teaches. Lauren Josephs, the original graduate student in the lab, successfully defended her thesis on what factors contribute to social success for coastal management and restoration. Next, Austin went off to Indonesia for a month, and began the trip with a talk at the US National Academy of Sciences Indonesian-American KAVLI Frontiers of Science Symposium. Then he spent some time with his collaborators at Bogor Agricultural University before getting out in the field with Paul and Melati in Wakatobi. While in the field, the Wakatobi crew (Austin, Melati, and Paul) had success in determining study site locations for collecting data on the coral reefs and fisheries catch in Wangi-Wangi, the most populated island of Wakatobi. With equipment still wet, Austin landed in Rhode Island and completed Year 2 of his kelp monitoring project in Narragansett Bay. Austin is teaching an introductory course this Fall called “Food from the Sea”, which promises to be loads of work, but rewarding.

We welcome Postdoctoral Scholar, Diana Beltrán to the group this semester! Diana uses genetic approaches to study the dispersal of coral reef fishes and how this informs marine conservation and spatial planning. She is starting work in Indonesia this Fall looking at how different fisheries management strategies influence genetic connectivity of fishes. We are also excited to get really cranking on a local hydroacoustic project with menhaden, a pelagic fish that migrates to our Rhode Island coastal waters and bays, as well as the kelp aquaculture project! And last but not least, we can't wait for two new members to show up in Rhode Island at the beginning of next year, Kelvin Gorospe (postdoc) and Celeste Venolia (MS student). Kelvin will be coming from Hawaii and he specializes in coral reef fish and fisheries, while Celeste will be working on the kelp project and recently graduated from Smith College in Northampton, MA. 

Spring 2017 Semester Highlights

Spring 2017 Semester Highlights

The Humphries Lab just wrapped up spring semester at the University of Rhode Island. For some folks, it is the mark of a second semester, for some it is the mark of a second year. Spring is constantly about transitions- the ebbing away of the cold New England frost, the growth of friendship, and the cyclical nature of discovery, mistakes and rediscovery. 

This Spring, as a lab, we discovered a penchant for delectable potato chips (uh-oh), wakame (seaweed) salad, and for Diky’s cooking to fuel our research. But to balance out the junkiness of potato chips, we sacrificed Paul to be our vegan witch.  A lot of things have happened this semester, from an epic bowling night to a hotpot barbecue picnic to papers being published, grants being funded and proposals being…. proposed. Some exciting, some sad, but all are positive. The most important discovery is the bond we share with each other that transcends science and research. The amount of lab love and pride is ridiculous.

 Bose headphones are compulsory in the Woodward office.

Bose headphones are compulsory in the Woodward office.

Here is a recap from all members of the Humphries Lab (in order of height):

Lauren Josephs (almost Masters). Code name: Mama Loren, plant whisperer. Lauren is the Humphries Lab OG -- she was at the conception of the Humphries Lab. She is very very close to finishing up her master degree. With her thesis defense looming ahead, she has been working relentlessly, and she spontaneously learned how to use 5+ new software programs in an attempt to analyze her results and make dope figures. But she is not just all about dope figures, she also keeps the plants in our lab alive by moving them around for maximum sunlight exposure in our dark basement office. In addition, she presented results from her thesis at an annual Massachusetts Audubon Society Conference and in NRS seminar. Lauren also participated in the Science March, volunteered for SMILE (an education outreach program), and submitted an abstract to present at the Coastal and Estuary Federation Conference in Providence.

Lauren's farewell haiku:
The Humphries O.G.
Parting is such sweet sorrow
Mad World, here I come

 Elle likes lab selfies!

Elle likes lab selfies!

Elle Wibisono (PhD student). Code name: Elle. Elle is finally settling in Rhode Island this semester. She is finally feeling more at home, which means that the quiet shy girl in lab is no longer there. Out goes the shy facade, and in comes the rambunctious cackle. Last spring, she worked on refining the research questions for her dissertation chapters, learned Bayesian statistics, and learned coding in R and Python. As someone with very little to no knowledge in coding, she was constantly amazed by little wins in making sensible plots in R. She presented her research proposal on deep-slope snapper and grouper fisheries in Indonesia. This summer she will be in Bali, Indonesia doing field work and hopefully some cycling and ocean swimming.

Diky (PhD student). Code name: Superdiky. This semester Diky has been spending every waking minute working on his proposal, doing literature review and arranging committee meetings. And cooking. Diky’s food is delectable to say the least. He also introduced the whole lab to Kendric Lamar’s new album, which very quickly became the lab’s research soundtrack. He also coined the lab’s catch phrase: “That’s ok… fine” (said in 10x human speaking speed).  This summer, he will continue to tabulate fieldwork landing/catch data, do data analysis and take his comprehensive exam to advance to candidacy. (Good luck Diky!)

Jack Girard (Undergraduate student). Code name: jack who is john, the dancer. Jack hid his identity as a John the whole semester. As a research assistant, Jack learned how to use R and tinkered with a data set provided by Austin. He filtered, organized, and calculated statistics on Bontosua data and even made figures. Jack graduated this semester and ready to take on the real world. He graduated with a dive regulator as his cord because Jack is quite awesome like that. In addition, Jack is a newly certified SCUBA instructor and received a prestigious award for graduating top of his class in Marine Biology. Jack's memorable moment as part of the Humphries Lab: The look of concern and shock on Elle's face when she learned my name was John and when I almost perfectly hit the regression line for pin the tail on the Donkey.

Jack's farewell haiku:
The Humphries lab wow
Adventurous silly chill
Departing goodbye

 Jack diving in Narragansett Bay, RI.

Jack diving in Narragansett Bay, RI.

Katie (Masters student). Superlative: coolest lab member. For those who are unaware, Katie’s research subjects are sharks, which automatically gives her +15 cool points. We would also catch her saying ridiculous things like, “yeah, I’m gonna go dive with some blue sharks”. We are not jealous Katie. We are not. After this semester, she is finally done collecting blue shark vertebrae and aged nearly 230 vertebrae! This summer she will analyze her data and work on the shark migration portion of her thesis. She will also be working on a shark cage diving boat and going to shark tournaments as a volunteer for the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Evans (PhD student). Code name: Evans. He successfully completed his coursework and his research proposal. Evans’s ticket to return to Ghana was contingent upon the acceptance of the research proposal by the graduate school. But to all of our relief, it was accepted, and all is well. Besides conducting research on fish, he teaches the rest of the lab, Ghanian. Evans discovered his love for clam chowder and introduced the lab to delightful Ghanaian food, such as jollof rice. He will be doing his field work over this summer in Ghana (and meet his son for the first time!).

Paul (PhD student). Code name: Don Carvalho, vegan earth child. Paul is excited to be finished with formal coursework and to focus more on his dissertation research. Earlier in the semester, Paul attended a graduate student workshop in Annapolis, Maryland hosted by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC). During the workshop, Paul joined a team of graduate students from various universities to apply for a SESYNC Graduate Student Research Pursuit (fingers crossed!). In addition, Paul received a two-year student research award from The Nature Conservancy Global Marine Initiative Program to conduct fieldwork on fishing gear selectivity on coral reef fish in Indonesia. Paul is excited to embark on his first field season to Indonesia this summer and gather data for his dissertation and be immersed in Indonesian culture.

 Crazy Burger outing.

Crazy Burger outing.

Max (Undergraduate student). Code name: MAXIMILIAN BENEDIKT BUCHER (actually just his full name). He has learned the dance of Rstudio called the “frustration No.3 in E(rror) Major”. But through persistence and hard work, he has familiarized himself with R in order to analyze data sets. He also learned about different parameters to analyze coral reef fisheries. This summer Max is going to Ghana to work on the SFMP project and assist Evans with his research. 10/10 always the best dressed in lab, Max graduated this spring and celebrated it with friends and family, and of course, good food. Max received the academic excellence award for graduating at the top of his class. This was a well deserved award as Max consistently challenged himself academically while pursuing multiple research opportunities with other professors. Farewell notes from Max: It was a pleasure working with an intelligent and diverse group of people, who are extremely passionate about their work. Humphries lab moment: The positive, food-filled lab environment.

Austin (Assistant Professor). Austin taught Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Science and Management this semester, which went well and had a full class of graduate students from multiple disciplines. Austin gave two seminars, one at UMass Dartmouth’s School of Marine Science and Technology and the other at the University of New England. He also testified at the US Senate in front of the Appropriations Committee to push for future funding priorities of global fisheries research - this was part of a UN Food and Agricultural Organization series of meetings in DC. In addition, Austin secured a $3 million USAID grant for coral reef fisheries research in Indonesia, which commences this summer and continue through 2021. The focal study sites are located in Nusa Tenggara Barat and Raja Ampat, both located in Eastern Indonesia. Austin is collaborating with Bogor Agricultural University, Udayana University, University of Mataram, and University of Papua as well as the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and Rare (an NGO). Austin has also been working with John and Cindy West of Cedar Island Oysters on a local research project for kelp aquaculture, which was just funded for 2 years with a NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy grant. Finally, Austin got another grant to study hydroacoustic sonar in Narragansett Bay to estimate herring and menhaden (pelagic fish) abundance, in collaboration with RI Dept of Environmental Management and FarSounder, an ocean engineering company. As you can see, this summer Austin will be...busy.

That is it for now! Stay tuned for more Humphries Lab updates including the addition of 3 new Postdoctoral Scholars and 2 new graduate students!