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Naval Academy Midshipmen Work With U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Italy

Posted on: May 05, 2014 08:00 EDT by Oceanography Department

Midshipman 2/C Michael Fuller (8th Company) and Midshipman 2/C Kevin Lois (22nd Company) of the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Oceanography Department participated in the Estuarine Cohesive Sediments (EsCoSed) project winter field sampling event in Senigallia, Italy, January 24 – February 1, 2014.  Midshipman Fuller and Lois joined CDR Joseph P. Smith of Naval Reserve Office of Naval Research Science & Technology Unit 103 (NR ONR S&T 103) in supporting the EsCoSed project.  In his civilian job, CDR Smith is an Assistant Professor in the USNA Oceanography Department.  The EsCoSed project is a joint research effort involving the Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy (Dr. Maurizio Brocchini), the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Seafloor Sciences Branch, Stennis Space Center, MS (NRL-SSC 7430; Dr. Joe Calantoni and Dr. Allen Reed), and the University of Florida (Dr. Alex Sheremet).  The project is supported by the Office of Naval Research – Global (ONR-G) under a joint Naval International Cooperative Opportunities in Science and Technology Program (NICOP) Grant.  

The study area for EsCoSed project focuses on the Misa River (located in the Marche region, Ancona Province of Italy) where it discharges into the Western Adriatic.)  Goals for the EsCoSed project are to understand the coupling between estuarine cohesive sediments and hydrodynamics in riverine and nearshore littoral depositional environments.  This involves quantifying formation kinetics, size, strength, and settling velocities of cohesive particulate aggregates (flocs and suspended sediments) as they respond to hydrodynamic shear in physiochemically variable water column.  Results will advance understanding of cohesive sediment dynamics, morphodynamics and hydrodynamics at estuarine/river mouths which will serve to enhance the ability of the Navy and Marine Corps to conduct operations in riverine, estuarine, and coastal environments within the littoral zone.

Midshipman 2/C Fuller and MIDN 2/C Lois participated in research planning and execution and conducted 4 days of field riverine, estuarine and coastal sampling and data collection (water column parameters, optics, sediment particulate matter) from a small boat on the Misa River plume in and around Senigallia, Italy on the Adriatic Sea under challenging conditions between two winter storms. They also assisted in data interpretation and the planning of future project research activities and goals.

When not conducting field research, MIDN 2/C Fuller and MIDN 2/C Lois were able to enjoy wonderful Italian food, explore the local area and enjoy the vibrant culture of the historic coastal town of Senigallia. They were also able to visit the Università Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona to meet with researchers and students and attended a private meeting with the mayor of Senigallia.

Midshipman 2/C Fuller and MIDN 2/C Lois gained valuable field research experience and international exposure that will enhance their academic development and development as future officers in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps.  They did an excellent job representing USNA during the 2014 EsCoSed project winter field sampling event, exercising their knowledge as Oceanography Majors and demonstrating the work ethic and leadership skills expected of a USNA Midshipman.  MIDN 2/C Fuller had this to say of his 2014 EsCoSed experience, “Our research trip to Italy was one of the high points of my time at the Naval Academy thus far. It was the best opportunity I have had so far to utilize the knowledge I've gained as an Oceanography major. This, coupled with the chance to interact with individuals from a foreign country and gain some cultural awareness, made it an invaluable experience”.   MIDN 2/C Lois added, “It was truly a privilege to be able to experience the culture and beautiful scenery of Senigallia.  Not only did we get hands-on research experience out in the field but we also made new friendships along the way.”

Research physicist, Dr. Joe Calantoni of NRL-SSC 7434, expressed his appreciation for the USNA contribution to the EsCoSed project saying, “The water and sediment samples taken before and immediately after the storm by the USNA team provide a significant enhancement to our hydrodynamic and morphodynamic data set. Now we can combine analyses of geochemical processes to improve our ability to operationally forecast environmental conditions at these critical choke points for navigation and trafficability near river mouths and estuaries.” Dr. Allen Reed of NRL-SSC 7432 added, “Midshipmen Fuller and Lois were instrumental in collecting data that is essential to properly constraining system hydrodynamics.  They were a pleasure to work with.”  Dr. Maurizio Brocchini of the Università Politecnica delle Marche summarized the EsCoSed project by saying, “The EsCoSed field experiments have proved to be both a very interesting scientific avenue and a great occasion for the meeting of people and cultures.  Everyone, especially the youngest researchers, has contributed their best to the success of the experiments.  I am sure that important results in the dynamics of cohesive sediment will be obtained and that the collaboration with our colleagues and friends will grow stronger in time”.

The participation of USNA Midshipman in the EsCoSed project was a continuation of an ongoing research partnership between NRL-SSC 7430 and the USNA Oceanography Department started through the USNA Summer Internship Program.  Midshipman participation was made possible through funding from the USNA Research Office, support from Dr. Ellen Livingston of ONR-G, London, and the extraordinary effort and hospitality shown by Dr. Maurizio Brocchini and his colleagues at the Università Politecnica delle Marche.  Midshipman 2/C Fuller and MIDN 2/C Lois will both build upon the experience gained during EsCoSed project during the conduct of their Oceanography Department Independent Research Projects with Dr. Smith in USNA Academic Year 2015.  The USNA will continue to provide support for future EsCoSed project research efforts.  

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