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Removing biofouling from underwater structures

NSF Award:

Infrastructure to Advance Life Sciences in the Ocean State  (University of Rhode Island)

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Through her work as a biologist at the University of Rhode Island (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography, Lucie Maranda demonstrates the key aspects of NSF's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)--collaboration, economic development and student training.

Maranda studies biofouling on special surfaces like periscopes and sonar domes. Biofouling occurs when microorganisms, plants, algae or animals accumulate on wet surfaces. Her work with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center enabled her to make connections with others in academia, government and industry, and ultimately led to a Rhode Island Science Technology and Advisory Council (STAC) collaborative research award and a pending patent.

The patent describes a device that can help researchers simulate the rate at which a boat must travel to remove biofouling. This is important work for the Ocean State where Narragansett Bay is a staple of the economy, recreation, government and education.

Maranda shared her STAC award with URI mechanical engineering faculty and Ametek SCP Inc., a local company specializing in underwater connectors. For this work, the researchers applied a genomic technique to determine which organisms settled first on Amtek's connectors. The scientists analyzed the biofouling using the EPSCoR Marine Life Science Facility and the Genomics Center. This research will help predict which surfaces lead to biofouling and will help determine an approach to mediate the issue. The researchers hope to extend their market to the U.S. Navy.

In addition to leveraging collaborations and EPSCoR research facilities, Maranda is also training the next generation of marine scientists in her lab. Undergraduate Michael Canton took third place in the URI Coastal Fellows Poster Competition for his work on the project and was awarded the prestigious NOAA Hollings Fellowship.

Image

  • a researcher retrieves samples after immersion in a flowing seawater tank
A researcher retrieves samples immersed in a seawater tank.
Lucie Maranda, Univeristy of Rhode Island

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