Objectives

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  • Understand challenges associated with marine conservation and environmental sustainability.
  • Introduction to database, storage, collection, modeling and data mining issues.
  • Develop methodological skills for the sciences and combine with data processing.
  • Review literature on conservation and sustainability and learn to critically evaluate.
  • Study issues that cross over technical, social, political, cultural and international boundaries.
  • Understand how to do team based interdisciplinary research and learn to collaborate with students from conservation related disciplines, marine biology and others.
  • Learn how to establish working relationships from student-interns who are part of the Archipelagos Marine Institute of Conservation and may come from other countries and universities.

Learning how to apply computational methods to marine environments and solve problems of conservation, is best done in situ. This course provided unique opportunities to be part of and interact with scientists at the International Archipelagos Marine Institute of Conservation , situated in a majestic setting on the island of Samos, that has a rich infrastructure of boats, equipment and labs for marine exploration, data collection and many projects of a highly compelling nature to prepare the Texas US leaders of the future in energy, conservation, ecology, new materials and technological innovations.

The students were able to work in-situ and get access to valuable data, participate in boat-field trips and understand the environmental issues first hand. They became exposed to exciting ongoing projects that are part of an active marine biology institute in Greece, www.archipelago.gr , on the island of Samos, Greece, near the Turkish coast. They were able to be immersed in international collaborations and teams with other students working there who come from other universities, including, Leeds, Essex Cardiff, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Tulane and others. They were able to mix with students studying marine biology, the impact of warming on seals, photography students, analysis of fisheries, modeling patterns of fishing, collecting data about the mammalian sea life that is unique in that part of the world, and becoming involved in remote sensing projects.

This course also provided exciting opportunities for students to become exposed to state of the art European research projects at the National Center for Scientific Research, Demokritos , the largest research center in Greece, with which UTA already has established a joint Ph.D. program and NSF-funded collaborations. At Demokritos, in beautiful pinewood covered area of 200 acres, 15 minutes east of Athens center by metro, they will visit and receive lectures on robotics, on new energy preserving materials, on sustainability, on data mining, on acoustics that can distinguish different families of whales and doplhins from their sounds, human behavior monitoring, remote sensing, new brain imaging methods that are non invasive, and many others. They were taught how to work in teams and get first hand understanding of the impact of science and technology in improving the quality of life and making policy decisions.

This course also exposed the students to the following three important foreign entities:
Lectures and projects with
(a) The Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR) , which monitors climate changes, geophysical and environmental data in the Aegean Sea, see here ;
(b) The University of Pireas which has large databases of shipping activities in the Mediterranean and
(c) the University of the Aegean Computer Science Department , located in the same island as the Archipelagos research center. Working jointly with students and faculty from the University of the Aegean, the students will be part of an exciting ARTIFICIAL REEF experiment where there are cameras and sensors installed on a reef to monitor rare species of sea life, including dolphins, to whales, sharks and seals. The artificial reef collected data to understand the impact of commercial boats, naval exercise activities, pollution and oil spills and other human activities.

In addition, Students in this course became part of a large UTA-TAMU project with the Oceanography Institute at Texas A&M that monitors oil spills.

Finally, the CSE Department, together with other universities and centers in the US and Greece, are in the process of seeking funding for this effort: http://ec.europa.eu/education/eu-usa/doc1156_en.htm , which assumes prior collaboration and track record that this program provides. In addition, we have put together an international consortium of experts, called SAS that stands for Safe Shipping Systems, to develop risk assessment and emergency response methods to accidents and pollution resulting for unsafe shipping practices. This study abroad program may attract students from other universities in Texas and other states as well as from disciplines such as environmental science, physics, oceanography, chemistry and biology.

© 2013 CSE Study Abroad Program (Greece).