Professors Greer & Gruber to Use NSF Grant to Design, Build Submersible to Study Deep Coral Reef Biology

Weissman Natural Sciences Professors David Gruber (PI) and Edyta Greer (co-PI) were recently awarded a half-million-dollar National Science Foundation grant to design and build a remotely operated vehicle to study deep coral reef biology. The project is a collaborative work with Prof. Vincent Pieribone of the Yale University School of Medicine as well as colleagues from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the University of Rhode Island, Kean University, the University of Miami, Ohio State University, and Haifa University.

This Major Research Instrumentation award from the NSF is to fund the development of a deep water remotely operated vehicle (DeepReef-ROV) to support a variety of benthic ecology and coral studies. The primary use of this submersible will be to explore and characterize the diversity and biology of deep-water coral reef habitats (>30 m), also known as the coral reef "Twilight Zone." Deep coral reefs are one of the most biologically diverse, yet least examined ecosystems on the planet.

The planned submersible will be one of the first vehicles specifically designed to study deep coral reefs. Its planned missions include: 1) cataloging and monitoring biodiversity of deep tropical coral reefs; 2) studying fluorescence and bioluminescence of deep reef organisms; 3) investigating photosynthesis mechanisms of deep reef organisms; and 4) studying microbiological diversity and pharmacoactive chemical diversity.

In addition to the standard faculty research, summer undergraduate research project participants will utilize the submersible.

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