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ODU STUDENT ENROLLS IN GENOMES TO BIOMES COURSE

Leo Procise, an Old Dominion University doctoral student in oceanography, will be spending time on Gilligan's Island this summer, but he doesn't expect his days to be filled with fun and games. He is one of 16 students laboring 80 hours a week in the summer course, "Microbial Oceanography: Genomes to Biomes," at the University of Hawaii's Agouron Institute.

A portion of the course is conducted at the Hawaiian Institute of Marine Biology on Coconut Island, which was shown on television as the tropical setting of Gilligan's boatwreck.

Procise knew what to expect from the coursework and the Pacific isles because another ODU oceanography Ph.D. student, Pete Morton, was among only 12 students accepted for the initial microbial oceanography course at Agouron Institute last summer.

"What a coup to have two in a row from ODU," said Alicia Herr, department manager in chemistry and biochemistry, where Procise and Morton have done some of their research.

"The course has been incredibly challenging thus far," Procise wrote in an e-mail after the first week of the course, which is being held June 25 to Aug. 3. "However, the professors are very good at giving us a steady stream of digestible information at a speed that does not bore the advanced or baffle the beginner."

He added, "Upon completion, I'm sure that I will be eagerly prepared for research at ODU."

The course explores the dynamic and fundamental role marine microbes play in shaping ocean ecology and biogeochemistry. This summer, the students represent research schools such as Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and MIT in the United States, as well as institutions in England, Chile, Lebanon and Canada.

Students who apply for the course are judged according to their research experience. Those who are accepted have all of their expenses paid. Most of the classroom and laboratory sessions are at the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. Also included are 10 days of research cruises on the university's 186-foot R/V Kilo Manoa. The final week is on Coconut Island.

Morton is enthusiastic about the value of the course, but he said the schedule is grueling, with a routine of lectures, labs and colloquia from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

This article was posted on: July 12, 2007

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