Fort Johnson Seminar Series

The Fort Johnson Marine Science Seminar Series is held Mondays at 11 a.m. in the MRRI auditorium, unless otherwise noted.

Seminar Schedule 2024

The schedule will be updated as additional speakers are announced.
  • January 22

    Celine Godard-Codding, Texas Tech University

    Investigating the impact of pollution on marine mammals and sea turtles: Advances and challenges

    In this seminar, Dr Godard-Codding will provide an overview of her toxicology research on marine mammal and sea turtles, including how her laboratory establishes and validates cell and tissue cultures from biopsies and other tissues and how these cultures are used in toxicity testing and biomarker analyses. The optimization of hormone analyses for stress and reproductive fitness assessment in small samples compatible with minimally invasive sampling in protected species will also be presented. The relevance of in vitro toxicology as well as hormone and biomarker studies will be discussed in the context of protected species and their conservation. 

    Dr. Godard-Codding continued her research in marine mammal toxicology with a post-doc at WHOI followed by a second post-doc at the University of Southern Maine where she studied the in vitro toxicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the endangered North Atlantic Right whale. Dr. Godard-Codding joined the faculty at Texas Tech University in 2006 and is now Full Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Environmental Toxicology. Her research on the impact of chemical and other stressors in marine endangered species focuses on investigating the cellular and biochemical toxicity of organic contaminants and advancing our understanding of stress, reproductive fitness, and overall health via hormones and biomarker analyses.

  • January 29
    Edward D'Antonio, USC Beaufort

    Electrochemical evaluation of Amphitrite ornata dehaloperoxidase for the development of biosensor and bioelectrocatalytic applications

    Amphitrite ornata is a unique sediment-dwelling marine terebellid polychaete that naturally oxidizes/degrades a wide range of biogenic persistent organic pollutants found in its environment. Such compounds include halogenated phenols, biphenols, pyrroles, indoles, hydroquinones, and benzylalcohols. Bisphenols, which are part of another important compound scaffold, are well-known because of bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is an environmental toxin originating from the plastics industry and has recently been demonstrated to be degraded by AoDHP. Amphitrite ornata dehaloperoxidase (AoDHP) is a hemoglobin that acts as a multifunctional enzyme exhibiting peroxidase, peroxygenase, oxidase, and oxygenase activities. We are interested in the electrochemical detection and/or degradation of BPA via AoDHP as a surface-immobilized protein monolayer on a working electrode. Our previous research has shown that AoDHP isoenzyme A (DHP A) was electrostatically adsorbed onto a carboxy-terminated self-assembled monolayer surface bound to a gold working electrode that exhibited direct electron-transfer and yielded formal reduction potentials of the Fe3+/Fe2+ (anaerobic) and Fe3+/Fe2+-O2 (aerobic) redox couples. Those cyclic voltammetric signals, however, gave rise to quickly fleeting cathodic and anodic currents that were presumably due to the DHP A monolayer desorbing into bulk solution over time. The objective of this project was to revisit the fleeting signal response and make improvements towards that end so that a biosensor device could be envisaged. The design employed surface lysine mutations of DHP A bearing increased positive charge patches in the proximity to the protein’s heme edge to establish a better anchoring effect on the electrode surface.

  • February 5
    Bill Strosnider, USC Baruch Marine Field Lab

    Facilitating the transition to non-plastic natural material use within the coastal zone

    Materials employed by coastal economic sectors such as aquaculture, habitat restoration, and water quality protection are dominated by plastics, contributing to an ever-increasing marine debris problem. Natural materials (e.g., coir, jute, wattle, wood, hemp) have a long history of traditional use in these sectors, but have been largely displaced by non-biodegradable proprietary alternatives (e.g., plastics and associated composites) that accumulate and persist in marine and estuarine environments as both debris and microplastics.  

    The need for new approaches blending traditional ecological knowledge with modern engineering has led to innovative applications of natural materials, which show promise for reducing plastic pollution within coastal environments. These alternative materials, however, cannot gain traction with stakeholders until proven effective and logistically viable in their specific climate, tidal regime, photooxidative, and economic setting. The study presented here explicitly tests the efficacy, performance, and economic viability of natural alternatives to plastics in coastal South Carolina economic sectors via quantitative testing from lab to mesocosm to field pilot scales. This work is just beginning in close collaboration with industry partners, state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and historically disenfranchised communities with hopes to facilitate a sustainable future that combines the cultural knowledge of coastal SC stakeholders with the tools afforded by contemporary advancements in biodegradable materials.

  • February 26
    Dr. Tammi L. Richardson, School of the Earth, Ocean & Environment​, USC

    Introducing the Institute for Clean Water and Healthy Ecosystems at the University of South Carolina (USC)

    Clean water is vital to the health and well-being of all South Carolinians. Population growth and changes in land-use, especially near lakes, rivers, and the coastal ocean, have resulted in increased inputs of contaminants, resulting in negative impacts on our aquatic ecosystems. Deforestation, construction of new communities, and industrialization contribute to inflows of contaminants from sewage outputs or non-point source run-off from land. In a state where tourism alone adds ~$29 billion annually to the economy, protection of our aquatic resources is vital. 

    In this seminar, Dr. Richardson will introduce the current participants and planned activities of the Institute for Clean Water and Healthy Ecosystems at USC. Its mission is to catalyze and coordinate USC research efforts in scientific and socioeconomic aspects of water quality with a view towards solving current and emerging challenges to sustained sources of clean water. Participants are targeting water for consumption and for recreational use with aims 1) to identify the major water quality issues facing South Carolinians and how they vary regionally, seasonally, and interannually; 2) to develop biological and chemical sensors for improved and more efficient water quality monitoring; 3) to identify and quantify new and emerging threats to water quality, and their potential biological impacts, with a view towards developing better mitigation and management strategies with stakeholders; and 4) to probe deeper into the social and economic dimensions of water quality with research to quantify the importance of clean water to SC residents and visitors.​

  • March 11
    Lindsey Transue, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service

    Whale acoustics

  • March 18
    Brita Jessen, SC Sea Grant

    Blue carbon

  • March 25
    Yong Zhu, North Carolina State University

    Molecular mechanisms of ovulation and sex differentiation in a teleost fish

  • April 1
    Amber Von Harten, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership

    Topic TBA

  • April 15
    Mercer Brugler, USC Beaufort

    Topic TBA

  • April 22
    Jack DiTullio, College of Charleston

    Topic TBA