Fast Track - Research Equipment for Students at Friday Harbor Laboratories
We are requesting three GPS units, three binoculars, two range finders, two GoPro cameras with accessories and protective cases, two video converter units, an Infinity 3 microscope camera, eight microscope illuminators, and a Cressington sputter coater for use by students in their research projects at Friday Harbor Laboratories.
Most of the classes taught at FHL require students to plan, execute, and present the results of a research project related to the course topic. The proposed equipment will improve several aspects of these student projects.
When conducting field work, students need GPS units for precise and accurate location of their sampling site. Students engaged in seabird and mammal research also require binoculars and range finders to document their sightings. Digital photography and video recording is commonly used by students in both field work and lab observations. This demands high quality still and movies camera like the GoPro cameras and Infinity-3 microscope camera. Microscopic observation of organisms also requires dependable microscope illuminators. When preparing specimens for observation with our Scanning Electron Microscope students must use a "sputter coater" to increase the quality of their images.
STF Category - Machinery and Research
This proposal requests the purchase of "equipment specific to scientific inquiry" needed by students at FHL when conducting their research projects.
The University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL) (http://depts.washington.edu/fhl) is a world-renowned field station for education and research in marine sciences. Each year, over 1100 students spend time here—taking courses, attending workshops, participating in field trips, and performing research. Our facilities, located on a forested campus on San Juan Island, include accommodations and a dining hall that can support over 100 students at any one time. Students live, eat, and work on the lab grounds, in an immersive learning experience that’s often unparalleled during their college careers.
FHL offers over 20 classes per year, not only in foundation subjects like Marine Botany and Fish Biology, but also in more advanced, cutting-edge topics like Marine Infectious Diseases and Marine Genomics. Committed to providing students with a truly interdisciplinary education, we even offer marine-themed Creative Writing and Literature classes. Each year, FHL selects leaders in their fields to teach this broad range of subjects, with more than 3/4 of instructors coming from other campuses. For our 2015 courses, we’ve recruited our faculty from eight UW schools and departments as well as institutions in nine other states and five other countries.
FHL classes are taught in spring, summer, and autumn quarters. During spring and autumn, undergraduates attend quarter-long classes for a total of 15-16 credits per quarter. In the summer (two terms), undergraduates and graduates take 5-week-long, 9-credit classes. Most classes include lectures, extensive hands-on experience in the field and lab, and student research projects related to course content. Several courses each year are devoted exclusively to research: providing undergraduates the opportunity to work on self-guided projects under the guidance of world-class scientists.
In addition to offering its own classes, FHL hosts courses, workshops, and field trips from other campuses. During the winter, spring, and fall quarters of 2014, more than 20 such groups (over 500 students) visited the labs—not only from UW Seattle, UW Tacoma, and other campuses in Washington state, but also from universities in Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, and Colorado. Also in 2014, over 400 students came to the labs to participate in conferences, and tens of others stayed here to work on independent research projects (often for PhD dissertations).
The impact of an FHL experience is best expressed with students’ own words, as written on 2014 course evaluations: “The overarching theme of getting your hands dirty in the field and through doing and observing was a way better way to learn than reading about it.” “I learned so much about where I want my career to go, while learning valuable tools for becoming a professional in science.” “This experience is so immersive. I felt like I really got to know my professors this quarter.” “The instructors were the best I’ve ever had at UW.” “It was awesome to live and work closely with passionate experts in the field that they are teaching about.” “It made me learn.” “Best college quarter yet.”
Much of the success of our classes stems from the hands-on experience that our students gain while working on research projects associated with their course work. For undergraduates in particular, this experience is rare and very gratifying. Students usually design a project, collect data in the lab or in the field, and then analyze and present the results of their study.
When conducting field work, students often must precisely document each sampling location especially when making geographic comparisons among sites, or when needing to return to the same location for repeated sampling over time. When conducting surveys of seabirds and marine mammals, students also require binoculars and range finders to document their sightings. Digital photography and video recording is commonly used by students in both field work and lab observations. Microscopic observation of organisms requires good quality microscope illuminators. When preparing specimens for observation with our Scanning Electron Microscope students must use a "sputter coater."
Benefits to Students and the University
The requested equipment will enhance the quality of our student research projects by allowing greater precision in the field and enhanced photo-documation in the lab. It's expected that over 100 students will benefit from these particular items each year, and this equipment should remain functional for at least 10 years.
It is not uncommon for the results of a student research project conducted at Friday Harbor Labs to be re-worked into a scientific publication after the student's departure. In other cases an FHL student project becomes the seed of their future research. Thus, the student research experience stimulates further investigation and may open entirely new avenues of interest. The results benefit the academic record of our students as well as the reputation of the University of Washington.
*** Dr. Billie J. Swalla, Director, Friday Harbor Laboratories
The University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories continue to contribute to the major teaching and research initiatives of marine sciences in the College of the Environment and we appreciate that STF is a critically important partner. We have a world-class FHL research apprenticeship program for undergraduates to conduct research for a quarter, with a new endowment for student support. This intense training program includes major reliance upon state-of-the-art research tools to permit undergraduate students to learn how to plan, conduct and present (in public and publication modes) modern research.
FHL's undergraduate educational effort has also been supported generously by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Microsoft, Mary Gates Endowment, Washington Research Foundation, and others. In addition, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded FHL $303,000 for three years of undergraduate REU Program support, which has been combined with our existing Blinks endowment and money from BEACON to support 15-18 undergraduates conducting research at FHL each summer. Many of our other undergraduate classes, in fall spring and summer, also include research projects by the students.
FHL is continuously working to provide increased financial support to all its programs, including explicitly instructional and research training efforts, from non-State of Washington sources (private foundations, individuals, and federal sources). This initiative has resulted in development of support up to about 75% of the apprenticeship program from non-UW sources. However, this also requires, as a crucial prerequisite, stable support for our physical plant and supplemental support for student technology tools. Thus STF support continues to be fundamentally important leverage to keep our research equipment up to date.
Our proposal this year is for critical research equipment suggested by our faculty and staff: cameras, binoculars and GPS systems to improve data collection and resolution both in the field and laboratory.
I strongly support this initiative by Alan Cairns, and urge its support by the STF.
*** Dr. Adam Summers, Professor UW College of the Environment, FHL instructor of fish biology:
The FHL visualization facility includes a user friendly table top scanning electron microscope (JEOL JCM-5000). This SEM has been available for every student to use in pursuit of class projects, research and also to satisfy their curiosity about the shape of very small organisms. The beauty of this particular SEM is that it is designed to be very user-friendly. There are just two pages of instructions and typically students master the system with 30 minutes of training. There is no cost associated with the machine and facility is available 24 hours a day seven days a week. Scanning electron microscopy allows for high contrast imaging of the surface of samples. University of Washington undergraduates have visualized decorator crabs in their early larval stages as they just learn to stick debris to their carapace. Other projects have investigated shell structure, the effects of ocean acidification on sea star larvae and the scalation patterns in fishes. The most challenging aspect of this type of microscopy is sample preparation. Several dehydration steps that involve fixatives and ethanol are followed by a sputter coating process that makes the entire sample conductive. Electron microscopy uses a beam of electrons to image a specimen, and if the sample is not conductive the electrons stick to the surface and eventually repel the incoming electrons. This leads to a white out effect called charging. By depositing a 5 nanometer thick layer of gold-palladuim with a vacuum deposition system called a sputter coater, the electrons that are used for imaging wii be conducted off the sample and away from the imaging area. The FHL sputter coater was purchased in the 1970s and though the technique has not progressed substantially since then the actual machinery has become temperamental. The most recent repair to the variac that controls the deposition current was the last that can be done. We need a new system, such as the Cressington 108 manual sputter coater, to continue to provide this resource for student researchers. The use of the machine is considerable. The logs from the last calendar year show 171 hours of use by UW undergraduates. Were this done on the Seattle campus the costs would have been more than $20,000 for the SEM time alone. As a tool for investigating surface anatomy the SEM is unmatched, and it is a skill that carries well into the post-graduate world in either graduate school or biotech.
*** W. Breck Tyler, Lecturer Institute of Marine Sciences, UC Santa Cruz; FHL Instructor of bird and mammal biology:
This is my request for 2-4 new pairs of Eagle Optics Ranger binoculars. These are remarkable value. I confirm that good quality 10x power binoculars are really important for the students in my summer Birds course and fall apprenticeship. The summer course accepts up to 20 students and not all can afford to buy binoculars, required for group and personal research projects. We want our students to collect data that can used for long term analyses, so the quality of the optics matters. We know from experience that other classes will make use of these binoculars, too. I would also love my students to try the Nikon ACULON rangefinder. The boat surveys that we conduct are based on a transect of specific width (200m). We have always estimated this, but it would be greatly preferable if we could determine this with more confidence. A range finder would greatly enhance the quality of our student's ship-based surveys for seabirds and marine mammals.
*** Jeannie Meredith, Friday Harbor Labs Stockroom Attendant:
As the stockroom attendant, I see a number of items that students want to use during their time at the Labs for classes and for their independent research projects. Some of the most popular items are GPS units that they can use to locate sampling areas, both on land and out on the water. I had a request for a go pro camera by one of the students this summer. In the past I purchased several such cameras for one of our graduate students that included underwater housings and magenta filters for a project involving time lapse photos of an underwater marine research site. I don't know if this underwater capability would be desirable for most students but it seems very likely in a marine lab environment. Other forms of cameras are also sought after. Video cameras, particularly low light and fast motion are used in projects and our one low light camera is incredibly ancient. Microscopy cameras also are in short supply at the busiest times of the year. I also understand that the students studying marine birds and mammals would find range finders and binoculars very useful. We have a small number of binoculars but more would be very useful for our growing student population. We don't have any range finders. Lastly, more microscope illuminators are needed when the student population is at it's highest. We are accommodating more students especially during the summer than we have in past years so our need continues to grow.
*** Craig Staude, FHL Senior Computer Specialist (retired, 12/31/2014):
I strongly recommend the purchase of a Lumenera Infinity 3 microscope camera for student use at Friday Harbor Labs. Our students have been happy with two earlier-model Infinity 2 cameras (having lower resolution and lower speed) that are now available from our Stockroom, but the demand is great. Some of our decade-old firewire microscope cameras have developed problems (e.g., dim pixel spots) and are no longer supported by their manufacturer. Having this additional microscope camera will help insure that students can document their research projects with high-quality images. Similarly we need more analog-to-digital converters (like the Canopus media converter) for students that use CCD cameras in their research. These converters make it possible for students to input video or still images from our analog cameras directly into a computer for analysis and subsequent use in their research papers. Three of our loaner Canopus units have failed in the last year after many years of reliable use.
We hope that our proposal can be fast-tracked so that this equipment can be available before Summer Quarter 2015. Unlike the Seattle campus, summer is our busiest season with the largest student population.
Resources Provided by Department
Note that our Laboratories are located on San Juan Island, isolated from the main Seattle campus of the University. Thus, there are no "nearby" resources from other universities or departments.
The FHL Stockroom contains a large collection of research equipment and supplies available to students and researchers. Reusable equipment is available at no charge, and is checked out via computer database. The equipment in the stockroom is maintained, repaired, or replaced by our Stockroom staff.
In addition to these resources, the instructors of our various classes often bring some equipment from their UW home departments (e.g., Applied Physics Lab) or from outside institutions for the use by their students. For example, our European instructors for the Fish Swimming class bring a limited amount of high speed video equipment, but the logistics are often prohibitive.
Students will receive training in the use of the proposed equipment by their instructors, TA, or other FHL Staff. Our IT staff also gives a computer orientation to all arriving students, explaining the use of storage space on our file server.
Students have access to our Student Computer Lab 24/7, using a keycode for after-hours. This lab provides 16 iMac computers (half booted in Windows) 2 printers, and 2 scanners. Smaller computing areas (with 4 or 5 common-use computers) are available in the Fernald Bldg and the Lecture Hall.
Our department provides students with a wireless network in all lab buildings and student housing. We contract with NoaNet and K20 for our connection to the Internet.
Please see the statement (Departmental Endorsements) from Director Billie Swalla regarding other student support provided by our department.
Access Restrictions (if any)
These tools will be added to the equipment pool in the FHL Stockroom. Students may access the Stockroom 24/7, using a keycode after hours. The availability of these items will be advertised by course instructors or TAs, or the students may discover it by querying the equipment database. Student use of this equipment will be logged in the database.
*** Jessamyn Johnson, Undergraduate, Pelagic Ecosystems Apprentice (Fall 2014):
Using a scanning electron microscope as an undergraduate student has been an invaluable experience. My current study on examining the effect of climate changes on gastropod shells could not be done without the use of this instrument. The SEM captures high-resolution photographs allowing me to conduct quality, fine scale research. Without sputter coating, I would not have been able to see the fine surface details of the shell, that was crucial for my study.
*** Katie Dobkowski, Doctoral Candidate in Biology, Friday Harbor Labs Teaching Assistant:
GoPro cameras (and accompanying accessories) would be useful to students at FHL in a variety of ways. They are durable, user-friendly, and can be used to monitor experiments in the lab, record real time video during scuba dives, and even provide underwater time-lapse photographs. Additionally, we need more free-standing microscope illuminators. They ensure proper light for dissecting microscopes that are used for a variety of organisms, including invertebrates and algae.
*** Kevin Turner, Doctoral Candidate in Biology, previous RA and TA at Friday Harbor Labs:
GoPros would be an enormous asset at FHL. They can take high quality photos and videos in the most demanding habitats we encounter - underwater for days at a time, pounded by waves in the intertidal. They'd also be useful in the lab, where they can be set to monitor experiments and behaviors 24hrs a day, rather than requiring constant observation by researchers. I also recommend battery backpacks, magenta filters, and large-capacity SD cards for these cameras. I think these cameras would be particularly useful for the undergraduate researchers in MERE, ZooBots, and the summer apprenticeships, where GoPros could help support and document field-based research.
Garmin eTrex 10 - GPS receiver
This is a fairly inexpensive basic GPS, that can be used by students on shore or in a boat to determine geographic location of sampling sites when conducting research projects. This will bolster our present supply of loaner GPS units, which are sometimes all checked out during peak times. Although only providing a black & white display without nautical charts, it can store up to 1000 waypoints.
Garmin GPSMAP 78sc - GPS receiver
A mid-range GPS designed for marine use, with color display and marine charts. This GPS has all the features of the Garmin eTrez 10, but with added chart features to assist students in navigating to a specific sampling site
Eagle Optics Ranger 10x42 Binoculars
Eagle Optics binoculars are unusual in that they have exceptionally good optics (comparable to top brands like Zeiss) at relatively low price. 10x power is much preferred for work at sea. This model offers great performance, durability, and warranty.
These three new units will increase our present supply of loaner binoculars in our Stockroom, which have been all checked out at peak times when our students in the Pelagic Ecosystems class are collecting data.
Nikon Aculon 6x20 Laser Rangefinder
The Nikon ACULON rangefinders will greatly enhance the quality of our ship-based surveys for seabirds and marine mammals. When students conduct these routine surveys, they must estimate the distance to each target. Use of these range finders will allow them to determine distance with much greater accuracy.
GoPro HERO4 - Black Edition - action camera
A rugged field camera, capable of delivering ultra high definition (12 megapixel) video or time-lapse images to flash card storage. This camera can operate under low light conditions and is rated for underwater use to 131 ft. It has wifi and bluetooth connectivity. GoPro cameras have been proven to function in the most demanding habitats we encounter - underwater for days at a time, pounded by waves in the marine intertidal zone. They are also useful for students working in the lab, where they can be set to monitor experiments and behaviors 24hrs a day in wet aquarium conditions.
SanDisk Ultra - flash memory card - 64 GB - microSDXC UHS-I with SD adapter
Storage for GoPro HERO4 cameras, which do not include a memory card.
Polar Pro - Magenta Glass Dive Filter for GoPro Standard Housing
When GoPro cameras are used at depth, a magenta color-correcting filter is necessary to correct for the green tint of local sea water.
GoPro Battery BacPac
Extends the life of the GoPro HERO4 cameras. Attaches to the back of the camera for applications that require more battery life than the internal battery alone can provide; ideal for activities where charging or swapping in a fresh battery is difficult, like scuba diving and long-term experiments. Charges it with any standard USB charger or with a computer. A USB cable for charging, BacPac Backdoors, and a protective case are included.
Pelican Protector Case 1520 with Pick 'N Pluck Foam
Unbreakable, watertight, dustproof case to protect the GoPro HERO cameras and their accessories. This case offers total protection for this equipment, and will even float if accidentally dropped overboard. Interior dimensions of 17-7/8" x 12-3/4" x 6-3/4" are sufficient to hold camera and accessories.
Grass Valley ADVC 110 - video capture adapter
This adapter converts an NTSC analog video source (composite or S-Video) to a digital IEEE 1394 (FireWire) signal for capture on a computer. This is commonly needed by students recording video with one of our older CCD microscope cameras or our underwater Spash Cam.
The need is especially high because three of our older Canopus ADVC-55 converters have failed in the past year.
INFINITY3-3UR, Low Noise, High Sensitivity Research-grade 2.8 MP USB 3.0 Camera
The INFINITY3-3UR scientific digital camera features a Sony ICX674 CCD sensor, and can provide video at 53 frames per second at full 2.8 megapixel resolution via high-speed USB 3.0 interface. This camera is designed for scientific applications requiring optimal color reproduction, extreme sensitivity, increased resolution and high speed. Microscope cameras are widely used in student projects at FHL for photo documentation or for digital measurement of length or area at the organism, tissue, or cellular level. In many cases tissue is stained with fluorescent dyes and examined under low light conditions. Video recording or time-lapse imaging is needed in some projects. This particular camera provides the resolution, low-light sensitivity, and speed required for these varied tasks. The USB interface works well with either Mac OSX or Windows.
Our students have been happy with two earlier-model Infinity 2 cameras (having lower resolution and lower speed) now available from our Stockroom, but the demand is great. Furthermore, our decade-old firewire microscope cameras have developed problems (e.g., dim pixel spots) and are no longer supported by their manufacturer. Newer microscope cameras are needed.
Cressington 108 Sputter Coater & Vacuum System ($5834.11 + shipping $150 + 9.5% tax $568) = $6553
This sputter coater system is needed to prepare student research specimens for examination with the FHL scanning electron microscope. Students take their specimens through several dehydration steps with fixatives and ethanol, then treat the sample with a sputter coating process that makes the entire sample conductive. Electron microscopy uses a beam of electrons to image a specimen, and if the sample is not conductive the electrons stick to the surface and eventually repel the incoming electrons. This leads to a white out effect called charging. By depositing a 5 nanometer thick layer of gold-palladuim with a vacuum deposition system called a sputter coater, the electrons that are used for imaging wii be conducted off the sample and away from the imaging area. The sputter coater presently in use at FHL purchased in the 1970s and has become temperamental. Attempts to repair the unit are inadequate. We need a new system, such as this Cressington 108 manual sputter coater, to continue to provide this resource for student researchers. The use of the machine by students will be considerable.
Dolan Jenner MI-150 - Fiber-Lite 150 Watt Quartz Halogen Fiber Optic Illuminator with Dual Gooseneck Light Guide
These high quality gooseneck lamps are used to illuminate specimens observed with dissecting microscopes or in special photographic applications. They are routinely used by nearly all of our students. However, our Stockroom inventory of functioning lamps has been declining due to wear and tear in proximity to corrosive salt water. This has made it difficult for students to find one during times of peak demand.
Total requested: $22,567.34
Total funded: $22,567.34
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