Female USP student selected for oceanographic cruise - Solomon Star News

Female USP student selected for oceanographic cruise

16 February 2016

A Masters student of The University of the South Pacific (USP) has been selected by the Institute of Research Development (IRD) in Noumea, New Caledonia to participate in an oceanographic cruise from 8-22 March 2016.

The purpose of the cruise is to collect oceanographic data to better understand the water properties on the East Coast of New Caledonia.

Shilpa Lal will be assisting in data collection and analysis during the cruise and at the same time, acquire necessary skills from the training provided to conduct her own research.

Ms Lal is looking forward to the cruise on board the vessel CALIOPE 3.

Ms Lal said she was incredibly honoured because she would be representing USP and Fiji, and privileged as she would learn from scientists who are experts in their field.

“It will be an honour working alongside other researchers, using state-of-the-art facilities in the laboratories on board a research vessel and on land at IRD in Noumea,” Ms Lal said.

“I am very excited about this opportunity and I would like to thank the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PACE-SD) for the ongoing collaboration with IRD, and providing opportunities like this for students and researchers to be able to exchange and share ideas, resources and training,” she added.

Ms Lal became interested in oceanography, hydrology and ocean-atmosphere and climate studies during her undergraduate studies in Marine Science at USP and during her post graduate studies in Climate Change.

“Fiji as many other Pacific island countries are surrounded by the ocean and yet there are only a few specialising in oceanography,” she said.

Her first oceanographic cruise was in July 2015 on board the French Research Vessel, L'Atalante, where they studied surface to depth ocean currents and properties, ocean turbulence, biology and geochemistry in the Western Pacific equatorial waters and the Solomon and Bismarck seas.

“It was a very exciting moment because it was the first time for me to be at sea on a research vessel for 5 weeks. It was a great learning journey. I was able to learn a lot about oceanography from the scientists and by participating in sample collection and performing the very tricky task of oxygen sampling,” Ms Lal added.

She is looking forward to collecting more water samples and chemistry data and assisting other researchers in water sampling and filtration, learning new laboratory experiments and getting trained in optical data collection.

“After the cruise, I will be helping the scientists to pre-process the various bio-optical and bio-geochemical data sets at IRD in Noumea, using their state-of-the-art instrumentation at the laboratory and I am very excited about this learning opportunity,” she quipped.

Her supervisor and senior lecturer at PACE-SD, Dr Awnesh Singh said the region is desperately lacking trained oceanographers and this is an opportune time for Shilpa to fill in this gap.

“With training provided by leading scientists, I believe that it would not be long when the Pacific region has a large pool of oceanographers to serve the region,” Dr Singh said.