Diving Into Marine Science

       Starting in January, the Ross School in East Hampton will launch a program devoted to the study of marine science. Run through its Innovation Lab, a special academy for students who are enthusiastic about math, science, engineering, media, and technology, the program will provide students interested in marine biology, oceanography, and environmental science with a hands-on, in-depth experience.

       Two students, Evi Kaasik Saunders and Liam Cummings, both from the Shelter Island High School, started at the Ross School this month with merit scholarships to cover the full cost of tuition. One remaining scholarship has yet to be awarded.

       Evi regularly volunteers to help preserve South Fork waterways. Liam has conducted award-winning research on how bacteria found in the mud of creeks and marshes here might be harnessed as an alternative energy source.

       “The marine science program was designed to allow students who are passionate about studying the ocean and biodiversity a chance to acquire valuable expertise in these subjects, apply their skills and knowledge in a real-world context, and cultivate relationships with professionals in the field,” David Morgan, who directs the Innovation Lab, said in a release.

       Working to address issues related to global sustainability, students will collect, analyze, and share scientific data. In addition, participants will spend three weeks during the school’s midwinter term at the University of California at Berkeley’s Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station and take part in summer marine science programs both locally and abroad. Students will also use drones and robotic submarines and conduct independent research projects.

       “For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a marine biologist,” Evi said. “Living on an island my whole life has accentuated the importance of our bays and the organisms within. I worry for the future of our local bays and the organisms that live and depend upon these waters. Being an inquisitive person I want to investigate causes and contribute to solutions.”

       Liam is known for thinking creatively. He said he believes the ocean is similar to outer space in terms of the opportunities for exploration. He has a particular interest in learning how to apply engineering principles to concepts that will help expand our understanding of ocean life.

       Though the program begins next month, Ross is still accepting applications. They can be accessed on the school’s website.