Science Online, meet the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program!

The RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program is headed to Science Online 2012, an annual gathering of scientists, science journalists, science educators, and bloggers from around the world! Director Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, as well as Ph.D. students Julia Wester, Austin Gallagher, and David Shiffman (who Science Online regulars know as WhySharksMatter from Southern Fried Science) will be headed up to Raleigh, NC in January, and we’re really excited! We wanted to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves to the Science Online community.

The RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program is based at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, one of the nation’s elite marine biology labs. We are also affiliated with the Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. Our mission  is to advance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) literacy and marine conservation by combining cutting edge research and outreach activities.

Much of our research focuses on shark biology, behavior, and conservation. Our research has resulted in many scientific publications, a good deal of media coverage, and some conservation success stories! We’re happy to talk to anyone about our diverse research interests- among other topics, Julia studies the psychology of fear as it relates to sharks, Austin studies the vulnerabilities of different shark species to fishing pressure, and David studies the ecological importance of sharks to coral reefs.

Outreach and education are also important parts of what we do. We give public presentations about sharks, and we take high school students out into the field with us to participate in our shark research (so far, over 1,000 students). Anyone can follow our satellite tagged sharks using Google Earth. We have some online “webinars” archived, an online curriculum for educators, and a “virtual expedition” for people who can’t join us live in the field. We also recently taught an intro to marine biology lecture about overfishing over Twitter. We’re really excited to pick the brains of the Science Online community to learn about other ways to use the internet to teach people about science and conservation!

RJD personnel will be involved in two panel discussions at Science Online. Austin Gallagher, who is the Director of the Beneath the Waves Film Festival, will be speaking about using film to explain science (Thursday at 1:30). Dr. Hammerschlag and David Shiffman will be speaking about the uses of social media technology for conservation (Saturday at 9:30).

You can learn more about our program by visiting our website, becoming a Fan on Facebook, reading our blog, or following us on Twitter (Lab account, Dr. Hammerschlag, Julia, Austin, David). You can also buy some stylish RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation program gear, and 20% of the proceeds support our research. We look forward to meeting you all in January!

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