SEANET Researchers Make Connections in Cobscook 

Marcella Silver, ME EPSCoR Staff Writer

Cobscoook Learning Center
Cobscoook Learning Center hosted the SEANET Project Retreat

The Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET) currently supports the research of more than 30 graduate students and post-doctoral researchers spanning fourteen disciplines. This summer, these research fellows traveled to the Cobscook Community Learning Center (CCLC) in Lubec, Maine for a two-day professional development workshop. 

The workshop, which was sponsored by the Maine EPSCoR office, focused on establishing and strengthening interdisciplinary relationships, developing effective communication strategies, and practicing grant writing skills. 

On the first day of the event, the students boarded a boat in Lubec and visited some of Cooke Aquaculture’s salmon pens. Cooke Aquaculture employees, David Morang and Frank Lank, fielded a variety of questions related to the students’ research. This was a great chance for the research fellows to engage with individuals working in the commercial aquaculture industry and envision the impacts of their research. 

“Being able to visit the Cooke Aquaculture farm was very helpful for my SEANET project. I appreciated the opportunity to ask the farm managers questions and better understand their challenges to guide my own research,” said SEANET student, Leon Cortes Garcia.

While out on the water, the students also had the opportunity to visit a SEANET Land Ocean Biogeochemical Observing (or LOBO) buoy located in Cobscook Bay. LOBO buoys provide hourly observations to continuously monitor water properties such as salinity, temperature, current, and turbidity, as well as chemical and biological properties. Carrying Capacity Theme Co-Lead, Dr. Damian Brady, was available to answer questions regarding SEANET’s buoy network and the relevant data that have resulted from his theme’s research. 

That afternoon, the students enjoyed a tour of the campus, hosted by CCLC’s co-founder, Alan Furth. After dinner, students gathered around the CCLC’s fire ring to discuss their research and draw connections between their disciplines while getting to know one another. 

Three Graduate students taking a boat ride out to see Cook Aquaculture's Salmon Pens
Students taking a boat ride out to see Cook Aquaculture’s Salmon Pens

“We are very spread out across departments and locations, and this was a special opportunity for us to get to know each other more personally,” said SEANET student, Emma Taccardi.  These personal relationships help to facilitate more engagement in interdisciplinary research.

On the second day, the students participated in two professional development training sessions. The first was led by Beth Staples, a news writer and editor for the University of Maine’s Division of Marketing and Communications. Through a variety of engaging activities, Staples helped the students learn the difference between communicating their research for a scientific journal and making their research more accessible for public news media. 

The second session, led by Dr. Brady, focused on strengthening the students’ grant-writing abilities and gave them opportunities to see relevant examples of successful submissions. Students learned the important do’s and don’ts of grant writing, while taking a closer look at some of the more technical aspects of creating an effective proposal. 

The workshop brought the SEANET graduate students together as a group and strengthened the skills they need to enter the next phase of their research. It also encouraged them to start thinking about how to communicate the impacts of their research to the media, scientific journals, and industry leaders. Following the workshop, students returned to their labs throughout the State of Maine, ready to take on the fifth year of SEANET-funded research.