Research at SEA Semester
Undergraduate research is a cornerstone of SEA Semester, with an emphasis on field-based study in the marine and social sciences. SEA faculty and staff are active in their respective fields through grant-funded research projects, participation in professional conferences, and publication in scholarly journals.
Faculty encourage SEA Semester students to contribute new aspects to ongoing research or to develop their own avenues of inquiry, as they guide students through the entire research process from defining the scope of study to final presentation of their work. Many students continue their research upon return to their home institutions, using the field data collected at SEA as the basis of capstone or senior thesis projects. Others remain involved in the research they contributed to during their time at SEA and are subsequently invited as co-authors on presentations and publications resulting from their work.
We invite you to explore the major avenues of research conducted by SEA Semester students and SEA faculty and staff.
Recent SEA Research in the News
Below are highlights from recent SEA research. To view all of our research-related news, click here.
SEA Semester voyage with NASA scientist featured in New York Times
February 11, 2019
SEA Semester in the NEWS
A Young Island on Earth May Reveal Clues to How Water Shaped Mars
By Niraj Chokshi
The New York Times
Four years ago, an underwater volcano erupted in the South Pacific, creating a new island. And NASA took notice.
SEA Semester / NASA research trip to Tonga reported by BBC
February 08, 2019
SEA Semester in the News
New Tonga island ‘now home to flowers and owls’
Scientists have found signs of life on one of the world’s newest islands, just four years after it was spawned by a volcanic eruption.
Unofficially known as Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, it lies in the kingdom of Tonga, and is already nurturing pink flowering plants, sooty tern birds, and even barn owls.
Tonga is made up of over 170 islands in the Pacific Ocean, east of Australia.
A team from the Sea Education Association and Nasa visited the small land mass in October, having previously kept watch through satellite imaging.
Read the full story.
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai - A Science Perspective
February 04, 2019
Rachel Scudder, Chief Scientist
(The following blog post first appeared in October, 2018, and is being reposted due to public interest. See also two student blog posts from Oct. 8 and Oct. 9 about the SSV Robert C. Seaman’s visit to this new island.)
Greetings from the Robert C. Seamans in the middle of the South Pacific.
Over a number of days in the past week the students, faculty, and staff of SPICE 2018, Class S-282, have been extremely privileged to spend time on Hunga Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai (HTHH). The students have done an excellent job of summing up our time there so far, but what we have been doing here is as close to the original explorers of old as you get in the modern day, so here is everything we’ve done all in one place.
Dolphins and Sunsets
February 01, 2019
Thursday began with students conducting a Science Super Station, including deploying a carousel in order to collect samples from throughout the water column, with the deepest from nearly a mile below the surface. As detailed in an afternoon class presentation by Angus from Middlebury, Dayana from Williams, and Charlotte from Wellesley, this information can be critical in understanding oceanographic processes, such as the way temperature and salinity change as the ocean becomes deeper and deeper, and in turn helps us trace the origin of such water.
NASA Scientists join SEA Semester Students on Research Mission
January 31, 2019
SEA Semester in the News
NASA Earth Expeditions
Land Ho! Visiting a Young Island
By Ellen Gray
Excitement was in the air when research scientist Dan Slayback of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, approached a small trio of islands in the South Pacific island nation of Tonga. It was October 8th, and Dan had joined the scientists and students with the Sea Education Association’s SEA Semester South Pacific cruise to visit a three-year-old island he’d only seen from space.