Research, Science & environment

A floating classroom for students

Students get a hands-on education aboard the research vessel Oceanus — and lend their skills to the climate change mission

Jessica Kendall-Bar (left) and Hannah Bourne

The voyage of the Oceanus is senior Jessica Kendall-Bar’s third expedition at sea, which makes her a old hand among the group of students who are plying the California coast for 10 days in the name of research.

Kendall-Bar is majoring in marine science and integrative biology, and the Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley scientists aboard the Oceanus are perfecting seaworthy robots that can send back valuable information about carbon in the ocean and climate change.

A newbie is YiZhuang Liu, a junior majoring in civil engineering who took an Oceans course as a freshman. The course is taught by Jim Bishop, the Berkeley professor leading the Oceanus team.

“I’ve been thinking about this trip since then,” said Liu. “This trip helps me know more about this field of oceanography. I’m interested in pursuing ocean engineering, so this has given me valuable experience. Also, the fact that we’re working at sea makes it a lot more interesting because we are interacting with the ocean. This is a rare experience for people.”

Students Jessica Kendall-Bar (left) and Hannah Bourne

Students Jessica Kendall-Bar (left) and Hannah Bourne get hands-on experience working with water samples in the field. (Berkeley Lab photo by Sarah Yang)

Liu and fellow undergraduate Xiao Fu applied to join this team through Berkeley’s Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP). The program is designed to give students experience working on innovative research projects in the field with UC Berkeley faculty.

Bishop likes to bring along undergraduates who can make key contributions to the project’s mission. William Kumler, for instance, helped as a deckhand and research assistant during the trip.

“With more people on the ship, we use the ship time at maximum efficiency because we can run experiments 24 hours a day,” said Bishop. “This is such a precious opportunity that we can’t afford to waste one minute.”

Read more on the Aboard the Oceanus blog.

Take a photo tour of the Oceanus on Berkeley News.