Thirty-six researchers from 19 institutions from five countries converged on the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for three days (June 16-18) to participate in a workshop designed to enhance the use of data from biogeochemical (BGC) sensors on Ocean Observatories Initiative arrays. A product of the workshop will be the “OOI Biogeochemical Sensor Best Practices and User Guide” designed to standardize the use of BGC sensor measurements and promote best practices in their research application.
In summer 2021 the NSF-funded OOI Biogeochemical Sensor Data Working Group was established to develop guidelines and best practices for using OOI biogeochemical sensor data to broaden users and applications of these data, and build community capacity to produce analysis-ready data products. The Working Group convened regular virtual meetings beginning with a three-day virtual workshop in July 2021. Members developed a draft best practices guide with explicit recommendations for end users working with data from four sensor sub-groups: dissolved oxygen, inorganic carbon parameters, bio-optics, and nitrate. The five chapters of the best practices guide cover background on the OOI arrays and the biogeochemical sensors deployed on them, data QA/QC and data access, and each of the four sensor sub-groups listed above.
Current and prospective OOI biogeochemical sensor data users gathered together with the Working Group members at the June workshop to review and discuss the best practices guide and to explore scientific questions that can be explored with these data. The discussions were lively and productive. Small breakout groups discussed scientific research ideas using OOI biogeochemical sensor data, with the hope that these discussions would kickstart research collaborations, and help inform a planned follow-on peer-reviewed publication (e.g. a Frontiers in Ocean Observing article) to present the exciting science that OOI biogeochemical data and the best practices guide will enable. The second goal of the workshop was to solicit the revisions and edits needed to finalize the best practices guide in advance of dissemination to the wider community through Ocean Best Practices.
The workshop was a huge success. Said participant Michael Vardaro from the University of Washington and a member of the OOI Regional Cabled Array Data Team, “It was a great workshop. I hope we and NSF can inspire other interested early career scientists to organize more workshops like this. They ask hard questions, which ultimately will make the program better!”
Over the past year Sophie Clayton, Old Dominion University, Hilary Palevsky, Boston College, and Heather Benway, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have facilitated the Biogeochemical Working Sensor Data Group meetings and preparation of the best practices guide.
“We’ve spent the past year working with a great group of early career and experienced researchers on developing best practices for maximizing the use of biogeochemical data from OOI sensors, “ said Sophie Clayton.
“The workshop gave us all a great opportunity to meet in person and discuss a wide range of exciting research ideas that the OOI BGC data will enable. We were also so pleased to connect and see how much new progress we made in just three days thanks to being all in the same place together,” added Hilary Palevsky.[media-caption path="/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/BGC-Workhshop.jpeg" link="#"]Participants at the end of a three-day Biogeochemical Sensor Workshop held at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution June 17-19, 2022. Photo: Mai Maheigan ©WHOI.[/media-caption]
The working group members are: Annie Bourbonnais, (University of South Carolina), Susan Hartman (National Oceanography Centre), Hilde Oliver (WHOI), Kristen Fogaren (Boston College), Merrie Beth Neely, (Global Science and Technology – embedded contractor at NOAA), Filipa Carvalho (National Oceanography Centre), Andrew Reed (OOI – CGSN), Isabela Le Bras (WHOI), Alison Chase (University of Washington – Applied Physics Laboratory), Cara Manning (University of Connecticut), Rob Fatland (University of Washington), Ellen Briggs (University of Hawaii at Manoa), Christina Schallenberg (University of Tasmania), Ian Walsh (Freelance Researcher), Jennifer Batryn (WHOI), Christopher Wingard (Ocean Observatories Initiative Endurance Array), Jonathan Fram (Oregon State University (OOI)), Roman Battisti (University of Washington/NOAA PMEL), Dariia Aamanchuk (Dalhousie University), Jennie Rheuban (WHOI), Rachel Eveleth (Oberlin College) and Joseph Needoba (Oregon Health & Science University).
The additional participants who reviewed the draft Best Practices and User Guide and attended the workshop are: Kohen Bauer (Ocean Networks Canada – University of Victoria), Baoshan Chen (Stony Brook University), Jose Cuevas (Boston College), Susana Flecha (Spanish National Research Council), Micah Horwith (Washington State Department of Ecology), Melissa Melendez (University of Hawaii at Manoa), Tyler Menz (Stony Brook University), Al Plueddemann (WHOI/OOI), Sara Rivero-Calle (University of Georgia), Nick Roden (Norwegian Institute for Water Research), Pablo Nicolás Trucco-Pignata (University of Southampton – National Oceanography Centre), Michael Vardaro (University of Washington, OOI), and Meg Yoder Boston College.Read More
Sophie Clayton learned how to swim before she could walk. She spent her early years with her family exploring beaches during summer vacations in the south of France. Her fascination with being in and around the water never waned. Her dad finally relented and bought Sophie her first pair of diving fins when she was seven, even though he thought her curiosity might sweep her away!
Early on, Sophie excelled in math and science, but a move to Scotland at age 16 started her on a new track. Her first stint at higher education landed her in art school, where she majored in fine art, photography her primary medium. After graduating, uncertain of her next steps, she took a gap year in Australia. There, too, the water called her name.
A SCUBA diving course north of Sydney, put her on track to become a divemaster and then a diving instructor. She went on to teach diving on the Great Barrier Reef and in the Maldives, spending seven days a week in the water for the better part of three years.
One day it dawned on Sophie that she needed to better understand the environment in which she had surrounded herself. She decided to become an oceanographer. She headed back to the UK, north west Wales in fact, offering quite a different environment than the tropics, where she earned a degree in oceanography.
From there, the path was rapid and clear—mostly. In 2006 she landed a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) spot at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) advised by physical oceanographer Prof. Annelisa Bracco. She was admitted to the WHOI/MIT Joint Program in oceanography the following year and earned her PhD in Physical Oceanography. After a postdoctoral stint at the University of Washington, Sophie returned to the East coast to join the Ocean and Earth Sciences faculty at Old Dominion University as an Assistant Professor
Always an artist
“I seem to have come full circle from my art school days. Now I’m working with imaging instruments, studying phytoplankton. I get a lot of people asking me: aren’t art and science really different and don’t you feel like art school was a waste? My answer is always ‘Absolutely not!’ I use a lot of my in art school training—independent study and researching around a topic—we were taught to explore ideas and approach them from every angle. I apply the same thought processes to my science now. The difference is the toolkit.”
Sophie excels in making connections, which are not always obvious. While trained in physical oceanography, she studies the interactions between the ocean biology, biogeochemistry, and physics. As a result, she pulls lots of the pieces together in a system to see how they all work in concert. The question she is now exploring is how ocean circulation features, especially fronts and eddies, shape phytoplankton communities. She strives to answer this question by looking at the big picture: the impact of how much light they get, the supply of nutrients, what happens when mixing communities from different places together.
Mentors and Networking
When asked about who helped mentor her along the way, Sophie responded that “lots of people have.” She called out Prof. David Bowers, a physical oceanographer who advised her during her undergraduate studies in the UK, Prof. Annelisa Bracco, her WHOI REU mentor, and Prof. Mick Follows, her graduate advisor at MIT, for their support and guidance at important transitions in her life, but said that many others have helped her on her circuitous path.
“As a grad student, I made a point of going to talk to people about their research and to discuss my work and ideas. I have been really lucky to have built relationships that have come about from these conversations and keeping in touch over the years.” She views her mentors as a combination of senior people, both men and women, who have helped her in her career, and her peers, who have provided practical advice on advancing her science, teaching, and life. “Senior women in particular have shown me what’s possible and served as examples of how it is done.”
When asked for counsel for other women considering careers in science, Sophie suggests taking the time to find the right graduate and post doc advisors. “These folks have a tremendous impact on our lives and our future, so it’s important to take the time to make sure that they are a good fit and you will work well together.” Her other words of advice are “talk to people, chatting about your science is important and you’ll be surprised at not only what you learn but the connections you will make.”
Profiles of Other Exceptional OOI Women[caption id="attachment_20424" align="alignnone" width="300"] Hilde Oliver, Postdoctoral Scholar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution[/caption] [caption id="attachment_20423" align="alignnone" width="300"] Hilary Palevsky, Assistant Professor, Boston College[/caption]