Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science's logo
|UM Marine Lab|
Virginia Key, Miami, Florida, USA|
The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS //) is a academic and research institution for the study of oceanography and the atmospheric sciences within the University of Miami (UM). It is located on a 16 acre (65,000 m²) campus on Virginia Key in Miami, Florida, USA. It is the only subtropical applied and basic marine and atmospheric research institute in the continental United States.
Up until 2008, RSMAS was solely a graduate school within the University of Miami, while it jointly administrated an undergraduate program with UM's College of Arts and Sciences. In 2008, the Rosenstiel School has taken over administrative responsibilities for the undergraduate program, granting Bachelor of Science in Marine and Atmospheric Science (BSMAS) and Bachelor of Arts in Marine Affairs (BAMA) baccalaureate degree. Master's, including a Master of Professional Science degree, and doctorates are also awarded to RSMAS students by the UM Graduate School.
The Rosenstiel School's research includes the study of marine life, particularly Aplysia and coral; climate change; air-sea interactions; coastal ecology; and admiralty law. The school operates a marine research laboratory ship, and has a research site at an inland sinkhole. Research also includes the use of data from weather satellites and the school operates its own satellite downlink facility.
In 1940, University of Miami President Bowman Ashe recruited F.G. Walton Smith, a young British marine biologist who was working in the Bahamas. Smith joined the Department of Zoology, and began organizing the development of a marine laboratory. In 1943, the Board of Trustees of the University of Miami established the Marine Laboratory for the University. They invited researchers and oceanographers to associate themselves with this laboratory. Its three original objectives were teaching, basic research, and applied marine research. The laboratory focused on subjects specific to the tropical environment. Initially, the Marine Lab was located in a private boathouse on an estate on Belle Isle in Miami Beach, Florida. In 1945, when the boathouse became structurally unsafe, the lab moved to a converted apartment building in Coral Gables, Florida near the main campus.
In 1947, a delegation from Dade County prompted the Florida State Legislature to support the development of a state Marine Laboratory in conjunction with the UM lab. It reported to the State Board of Conservation, which had no marine research facility and little budget of its own at the time. The relationship lasted for 12 years until the state of Florida built the board a lab in St. Petersburg. In 1953, the School's classrooms and laboratories were built at the current Virginia Key location. It was renamed the Institute of Marine Science in 1961, it became part of the University of Miami's School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences.
In 1969, the institution was made into an independent school and named to honor Lewis and Dorothy Rosenstiel after a major contribution from the Rosenstiel's foundation to support progress in atmospheric and marine sciences. In 1977, the school began a joint undergraduate program with Miami's College of Arts & Sciences. The school bought Research vessels and built more facilities to further research projects. From 2003 to 2008, the school operated the Pew Institute for Ocean Science as a joint venture with the Pew Charitable Trusts, and in 2008, the program relocated to SUNY at Stony Brook.
In 2008, RSMAS took over administrative functions of the University of Miami's undergraduate Marine Science, Marine Affairs, and Meteorology programs. Also in 2008, RSMAS's library merged with the central University of Miami Library. Recently, RSMAS started unique a one-year Master of Professional Science degree program aimed at students planning non-research careers in business, government, or non-profit organizations.
While the graduate programs are conducted by the RSMAS faculty who in turn report to the Dean of RSMAS, the University of Miami's Graduate School awards the graduate degrees. RSMAS offers a joint program with the UM Law School which awards its students both a Juris Doctor degree and a Master of Arts in Marine Affairs and Policy. RSMAS also administrates the University of Miami's undergraduate Marine Science, Marine Affairs, and Meteorology programs on the main campus in Coral Gables, Florida.
The Rosenstiel School is divided into six academic divisions, each focusing on a different aspect of oceanography:
- Ocean Sciences (fluid dynamics, remote sensing, waves)
- Marine Ecosystem and Society (admiralty law, aquaculture, marine conservation, maritime archaeology, natural resource economics, political ecology)
- Marine Biology & Ecology
- Marine Geosciences
- Atmospheric Sciences
In addition to the academic divisions, RSMAS also has several research units: the Oceans and Human Health Center, the National Resource for Aplysia, the National Center for Coral Reef Research, the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS), and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. As of 2011[update], 358 professors and scientists conduct research programs and teach at RSMAS and the Coral Gables campus. Of these, 81 are regular full-time faculty members.
The school operates the F.G. Walton Smith research vessel. Designed to met the school's specifications, the catamaran was put on water in 2000. It is equipped with a special sea water flow system that can take samples. The on-board lab can perform chemical analysis of those water samples. It also has transducers for measuring ocean currents, sub-bottom profiling, and deep water bathymetry. In response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the vessel was reassigned to environmental monitoring of affected areas and to track underwater plumes of oil.
The Rosenstiel School's research invertebrate museum houses one of the world's most extensive collections of invertebrate tropical marine life with 400,000 specimens. It includes Atlantic tropical marine invertebrates. The collection consists of 60,000 specimen lots, out of which 38,900 are cataloged and identified species.
Since 2005, RSMAS has conducted an underwater photography contest that draws international submissions. RSMAS also makes underwater photographs available through its Digital Atlas of Marine Species and Locations, which is a database that includes photos of specific marine species.
Since 1951, RSMAS has published the Bulletin of Marine Science a scientific journal which publishes research papers in the marine subject areas covered by the school. It is published four times a year.
The United States National Research Council ranked graduate research programs based on 2008 data, and RSMAS ranked 11th to 40th among Oceanography, Atmospheric Sciences, and Meteorology Rankings. The RSMAS entering graduate students' Average Quantitative Graduate Record Examination score was 681.
The Virginia Key 18-acre (73,000 m2) campus includes classroom facilities, laboratories, a dock, and a student center. The center, called the F. G. Walton Smith Commons, holds a cafeteria and a bar (aka "the wet lab") that was rated as one of Miami's best secrets by the Miami New Times in 2008. The RSMAS campus features mangroves, sea grape trees, and other dune plants to protect its sand dunes and the campus from storm damage. In 2009, UM received a $15 million federal grant to help construct a new $43.8 million, 56,500 square feet (5,250 m2) Marine Technology and Life Sciences Seawater Research Building. The Virginia Key campus is located at a 65-acre (260,000 m2) marine research and education park that is also home to two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research laboratories and the Maritime and Science Technology Academy magnet school.
RSMAS also operates a 76-acre (310,000 m2) site on mainland Miami-Dade County that was formerly the United States Naval Observatory Secondary National Time Standard Facility, which already had buildings and a 20M antenna used for Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). The Rosenstiel School's Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS) and Richmond Satellite Operations Center (RSOC) have research facilities located on what is now named the Richmond Campus.
As of 2008, RSMAS receives $50 million in annual external research funding. Laboratories at Virginia Key are equipped with specialized instruments including a salt-water wave tank, the five-tank Conditioning and Spawning Systems, multi-tank Aplysia Culture Laboratory, Controlled Corals Climate Tanks, and DNA analysis equipment. The Richmond Campus' CSTARS provides RSMAS with a near-real-time weather satellite downlink. The Rosenstiel School also operates the Bimini Biological Field Station, an array of oceanographic high-frequency radar along the US east coast, and the Bermuda aerosol observatory. Since 1977, the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS), a scientific partnership between UM and the NOAA, has been studying climate change, air-sea interactions and coastal ecology.
Research projects at RSMAS are in the domain of atmospheric and marine sciences and include:
- Coral reef research, focusing on corals survival in a new climate conditions; coral reef protection
- Field programs evaluating trace gas chemistry and transport
- The aquaculture program
- Climate change modeling
- Tropical weather, climate, and atmospheric/oceanic circulations
- Air-sea interactions research through buoys, remote sensing, analysis in situ, a wave tank laboratory, numerical modeling;
- Volcanoes in the Pacific, Everglades water level measurements and subsidence through satellite images
- Studies of the coastal quality and the impact on human health.
RSMAS's Marine Affairs & Policy Division also conducts archaeological and paleontological research at Little Salt Spring in Sarasota County. The site was donated to the University of Miami in 1982. RSMAS also hosts the National Center for Coral Reef Research (NCORE), which works to understand, conserve and manage coral reefs worldwide.
RSMAS has focused significant resources to studying the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its long term environmental effect. The school is an active member of the State of Florida's Oil Spill Academic Task Force that works with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on spill issues. In the summer of 2010, a CIMAS team working with the research vessel Walton Smith was able to document a 23-mile (37 km) long oil plume extending toward the Dry Tortugas.
The quality of the school is evaluated through peer-reviewed competition for faculty research grants. In addition, each year, the National Science Foundation conduct a nationwide student competition for Graduate Research Award Fellowship, and in 2010, five RSMAS students received such awards with two additional honorable mentions.
- Frederick Bayer (Marine Biology)
- Cesare Emiliani (Geology and Geophysics) - "founder of paleoceanography"
- Samuel H. Gruber (Marine Biology and Fisheries)
- José Carlos Millás (Meteorology)
- Fred Tappert (Applied Marine Physics)
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