Surveying the seafloor and more with NOAA event, Jan. 15

Rita Bowker, hydrographic survey technician on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) ship Thomas Jefferson, and Laura Guertin, associate professor of earth science at Penn State Brandywine and participant in the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program, will present on Jan. 15 at 11:30 a.m. in Tomezsko 103 about hydrographic surveying.

Bowker and Guertin will explain why NOAA conducts hydrographic surveying and the science behind it. Bowker will also provide a general overview of NOAA's structure and the history of the Thomas Jefferson vessel. 

Hydrographic surveying uses side scan and multibeam echo sonar technologies to measure water depth and search the seafloor for wrecks, rocks, debris and other obstructions that could be potential navigational hazards to surface ships. The information gathered is used to create nautical charts.

"Basically, we find the rocks so you don't," Bowker said.

Bowker and Guertin met aboard the NOAA ship Thomas Jefferson when Guertin participated in the Teacher at Sea Program, which provides kindergarten through college-level teachers with research experience working at sea with NOAA scientists to improve their approaches when teaching students and local communities.

Bowker, a native of Aston, became interested in working at NOAA as a marine science major at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. She began working for NOAA in May 2011 on the west coast aboard the NOAA ship Rainier. Currently, she is stationed on the NOAA ship Thomas Jefferson, which is based in Norfolk, Va. and operates along the U.S. shorelines from Maine to Texas.  

Guertin has been a faculty member at Penn State Brandywine since 2001 and was aboard the Thomas Jefferson during the fall 2014 semester. Guertin is just the 21st educator from Pennsylvania accepted into the competitive Teacher at Sea Program- only 10 percent of the teachers who applied from the U.S. were accepted. She was the only teacher from Pennsylvania selected for the mission.

NOAA is a federal agency that conducts research focusing on the global oceans, atmosphere, sun and space and has been offering the Teacher at Sea Program since 1990.