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Collaborative Research Leads to CSU Science Success

August 25, 2014

Category: News & Notes

By Stephanie Thara

The juvenile gopher rockfish is one of the species that research faculty are working with to determine how fish are affected by climate change. (photo credit: Jocelyn Douglas)

The juvenile gopher rockfish is one of the species that research faculty are working with to determine how fish are affected by climate change. (photo credit: Jocelyn Douglas)

CSU faculty members continue to make waves in the science community as five CSU researchers have won a prestigious grant of nearly $900,000 from the National Science Foundation to conduct collaborative research on ocean acidification and hypoxia. Dr. Scott Hamilton from Moss Landing Marine Laboratory-San Jose State, Dr. Cheryl Logan from CSU Monterey Bay and Drs. Brian Tissot, Eric Bjorkstedt and Jeffrey Abell from Humboldt State will be combining their expertise to examine how climate change can affect the behavior, physiology and gene expression of rocky reef fishes.

“Having a team of scientists who are located all across California and specialize in everything from ecology to molecular physiology to oceanography will allow us to more efficiently address challenging and complex scientific questions,” said Dr. Scott Hamilton.

The three-year study, which kicks off in September, will utilize CSU research facilities in both central and northern California. Scientists will be able to study the same species of fish in two different locations and determine how fishes adapt to different environmental threats. They will study how the sensory systems, brain function and swimming physiology of the fishes changes as a result of climate change, as well as examine the molecular basis of those changes at the cellular level. Understanding the effects of ocean acidification and hypoxia (i.e., low oxygen levels) is critical for predicting future climate change responses of global fish populations and determining their ability to tolerate or adapt to changes in ocean chemistry.

Faculty researchers will integrate their research into the classroom curriculum to give students real-life examples of textbook principles. Additionally, the researchers will give students who are aspiring scientists the opportunity to work on the project and gain hands-on experience.

“This collaboration will create numerous training opportunities for both undergraduates and graduate students,” said Hamilton. “They will be able to work with other students across the system, as well as learn from faculty from different disciplines.”

The five CSU faculty researchers will also be tapping the expertise of Susan Sogard from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service, who played a fundamental role in the initial research. With the funding support from the CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology, this interdisciplinary team was able to collect the preliminary data that went into the proposal that helped them win the grant.

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