Boston Initiative in Marine Biology and Submersible Technology

Lead Pi: Bruce Jackson · 05/2011 - 07/2012

Project Personnel:

Project number: 2011-E/E-69-PD
Strategic Focus Area: Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

Objectives:OBJECTIVES: To incite a passion among nontraditional Boston high school (BHS) students for the Marine and Environmental sciences. ii. Recruit BHS students to associate degree programs in Marine Biotechnology (MBT) and/or Environmental Science (ENV) at MassBay; and iii. Mentor BHS students into doctoral-level tracks in these and related scientific disciplines.Methodology:The specific summer activities that MIT Upward Bound participants will be engaged in at MassBay are:i-The planning and construction of a prototype, marine submersible that will be used to conduct sophisticated underwater mapping, testing, observation and sample collection;ii- Testing of the of the submersible in Boston Harbor;iii- Preliminary SCUBA Diving instruction associated with submersible recovery;iv-Tours of the Biotechnology and ENV Science laboratories and peer-mentor sessions with MassBay scholars enrolled in science programs.We will also utilize the proposed summer activities to recruit MIT Upward Bound participants to the Associate Degree Programs in Marine Biotechnology and NV Science. To this end, we will utilize our developing academic bridge program between the Biotech Programs and local high schools through which high school scholars have advanced to the aforementioned MassBay degree program.Rationale:The marine and environmental sciences have an exceedingly poor record of attracting and retaining ethnic minorities. In fact, there is no other scientific discipline that has a lower percentage of African-Americans, Naive Americans or Hispanic Americans. We believe that this is a peculiar paradox because the work of marine and environmental scientists is replete with exciting experiences uncommon in most other scientific disciplines. The problems this proposal addresses is the paucity of nontraditional people enrolled in undergraduate marine and environmental degree programs and consequently engaged in doctoral-level careers in these disciplines; and the utterly uninspiring manner in which the marine and environmental sciences are typically presented to the local community of minority high school science scholars. To help remedy this situation we will provide minority high school scholars with research experiences that will captivate their imaginations and inspire them to consider the field sciences as a career.Specifically, under the mentorship of minority Marine Biotechnology and Environmental Science scholars, high school participants from MITís Upward Bound Program will conduct exhilarating, ongoing, interdisciplinary research with MassBay scientists and scholars who are studying the ecological impact of the active Souiffre Hills volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, West Indies (British Lesser Antilles). The geological records of Montserrat, spanning thousands of years, and its barren, moon-like landscapes of ash-covered terrain provide a mesmerizing and unrivaled site for interdisciplinary research on geological stress, environmental restoration and species adaptation. Montserrat captivates the scientifically uninitiated and excites the beginning high school science scholar for the filed sciences.