Our highest priority goal is to create distinctive, targeted education programs at the K-12, undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels in order to train and foster the next generation of deep subseafloor biosphere researchers. This is first and foremost to ensure the robust continued development of this new field, and to arm the field with the brightest and most creative young minds that can take what has been built over the past decade and greatly expand it in this decade via C-DEBI.
We are creating broad based educational opportunities that allow the Center’s newly generated knowledge to thrive, and we are designing special programs to provide opportunities for all segments of our society. We are committed to making sure that future scientists are representative of the full diversity of our society. These students will become the next generation of deep subseafloor biosphere researchers who fully integrate the Center’s tools and technology into their science.
Additionally, we must translate knowledge in and of our field to the broader public, in part through our core education program (which will flow to public policy, administration, and other education fields in addition to academic fields) — but also via programs that promote broader dissemination of information and increased awareness to the public about the tremendous fraction of life on Earth that appears to be buried below the seafloor in sediment and rocks.
Education & Diversity Resources
The ship-to-shore Adopt-A-Microbe Project was created by Dr. Beth Orcutt (scientist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine) to raise awareness of microscopic life – “microbes” – living in the deep marine subsurface to middle school audiences while engaging them in the science of the ocean-drilling program. In collaboration with the Consortium for Ocean Leadership’s Deep Earth Academy, the AAM project has been made into a stand-alone curriculum package to be used in the classroom, independent of whether an expedition is in progress at sea.
In partnership with the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI), Delaware Sea Grant is expanding its collection of 15 Second Science videos and other multimedia to include resources about the deep biosphere and sub-seafloor life. Below the ocean floor lives a tremendous amount of life, none of which is visible to naked eye or even the run-of-the-mill microscope. Here in the subsurface, we find bacteria, archaea, and fungi by the trillions! Tune in for 15 Second Science segments, longer Dive Deeper videos, and even some virtual reality videos, discussing microbes, dark energy, and the tools and techniques used to explore this extreme environment.
Join the community mailing list of nearly 1000 scientists, educators, students and more to stay informed of all things deep biosphere! Find out what’s going on with C-DEBI and numerous deep biosphere opportunities and resources every other week.
To address the educational objectives of C-DEBI, the College of Exploration was funded to convene a collaborative team to guide the production of online toolkits of educational materials and resources that community college instructors could use to teach about C-DEBI research and the deep biosphere. The project team consisted of 8 to 10 collaborators, including community college instructors, C-DEBI scientists, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, technology experts, and science education specialists. The online toolkits kits were designed to be aligned with specific community college course subjects and include materials and information that instructors can use to make connections between the topics in their curriculum and C-DEBI research, practices, or technology.
The Community College Research Internship for Scientific Engagement (CC-RISE) is an eight-week, paid, summer research internship program for community college students run by the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations. Students will gain firsthand exposure to the scientific process by working in a faculty-led research lab at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, MA. In addition to research, students will participate in activities focusing on how to transition from a two-year college to a university and information on graduate school. At the end of the program, students will present their results to an audience of peers and mentors.
Los Angeles area community college instructors were invited to attend a day-long C-DEBI sponsored workshop at USC to learn about deep biosphere research being conducted by C-DEBI scientists and to collaborate with fellow instructors to integrate the information into their current curriculum. One workshop was held in each of the Fall and Spring semesters.
The West Coast Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE-West) and The College of Exploration teamed up with C-DEBI to develop connections and interactions between cutting edge university research and teacher-training workshops and training programs through lecture series and in-person and on-line workshops that enhance the teachers’ instruction. View the archived materials from the March 2011 Workshop, November/December 2011 Workshop, February/March 2012 Workshop, and November 2013 Workshop.
Watch the videos from our deep biosphere expeditions to learn what C-DEBI is doing and find out what’s so interesting, and why is it important!
Our education and outreach goals include creating distinctive, targeted education programs and promoting increased public awareness about life below the seafloor. C-DEBI funded Education and Outreach Grants (up to $50,000) for education/outreach projects on marine deep biosphere topics. The program legacy includes educational opportunities and materials that are pertinent to deep biosphere research in the subseafloor environment.
EARTH (co-sponsored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, MBARI) is a week-long summer workshop for K-16 educators to incorporate real time data from ocean observatories to design and test outreach with the Internet as an interface to scientists, teachers, students, and the public.
The GGURE program offers students the opportunity to participate actively in a research group, with either an experimental or computational focus, and perform original research under the direct supervision of a faculty mentor.
The GEM Course is a four-week program integrating classroom learning with field sampling and laboratory protocols in microbial ecology to engage students in scientific analysis and learning. Learn what bacteria are, how they work, and what they do at the University of Southern California, the Eastern Sierra Mountains and the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island. Our ideal candidate is early in their college career, scientifically curious, and a hard-working learner.
Our mailing list was a forum for C-DEBI and non-C-DEBI graduate students and postdocs to discuss topics pertaining to their research, professional development, and employment/fellowship opportunities. The list was managed by C-DEBI Education, Outreach & Diversity Director Stephanie Schroeder.
C-DEBI provides support for graduate student and postdoctoral fellowships awarded on the basis of scientific excellence and the appropriateness of the subject matter to Center objectives. The goal of the fellowship program is to stimulate the advancement of deep biosphere research through the training of a new generation of innovative scientists. Potential fellows should contact and discuss research topics for fellowships with potential advisors, as successful candidates will be expected to have well-conceived research plans as well as willing advisors.
The “GeoBio” Course is an intense, multidisciplinary summer course exploring the coevolution of the Earth and its biosphere, with an emphasis on how microbial processes affect the environment and leave imprints on the rock record. Participants get hands-on experience in cutting-edge geobiological techniques including molecular biology, bioinformatics, geochemistry, petrology and sedimentology, and work in research groups to solve relevant questions. The GeoBiology Course is open to students and researchers at any level, although we give preference to graduate students in their early to mid years of study.
Be an Education Officer/Teacher at Sea on a JOIDES Resolution Research Vessel expedition to learn shipboard science alongside the expedition’s science party and translate your experience with live video broadcasting, blogs and more from the ship to classrooms and the general public.
The JOIDES Resolution is a seagoing research vessel that drills core samples and collects measurements from under the ocean floor, giving scientists a glimpse into Earth’s development. In Search of Earth’s Secrets is a traveling “pop-up” science exhibit sharing earth and ocean science content discovered using the “JR” with communities across the country.
The School of Rock is for earth and ocean science educators interested in experiencing scientific ocean drilling research with the experts. During this multi-day workshop onboard the JOIDES Resolution or in the IODP Gulf Coast Core Repository, educators from across the country and the world work with real core material and lab technology to learn how the science reveals clues about Earth’s history.
The K-16 Educator Small Grants program supports K-16 teachers who have attended a C-DEBI educator training program and have incorporated C-DEBI content into their classrooms. These awards up to $2500 support items including but not limited to the following: funds for student field trips, classroom supplies, travel for presenting C-DEBI curriculum at educator meetings, or additional professional development directly related to C-DEBI research. Proposals for funding should indicate how C-DEBI research content is being translated into the classroom and how the proposed activities connect to that content.
Life Underground, a game developed by the Game Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California, takes players on a journey into the depths and extremes of the Earth, and it’s available to download! The game is an interactive outreach experience for 7th and 8th grade classrooms. The goal is for students to visualize microscopic life at a range of terrestrial and extraterrestrial subsurface conditions. Students take the role of a young scientist investigating extreme subsurface environments for microbial life. They will navigate through extreme conditions, including those of temperature, pressure, acidity, and energy limitations, and they will begin to recognize what characterizes life in this context.
C-DEBI is a “networked” Science and Technology Center, gathering expertise, ideas, and participation from institutions across the U.S. and around the world. C-DEBI ran the Networked Speaker Series as one means to enhance communication and the exchange of ideas via short (30 minute) presentations with time for questions and discussion. The series was presented live online for remote participants, and is recorded and available on the website for those unable to “attend” the live events.
As part of our undergraduate education program, we focus heavily on hands-on research activities for community college students. In the summers of 2016-2018, we held the Community College Cultivation Cohort (C4) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at USC. Each summer, cohorts of 8 highly motivated community college students interested in environmental microbiology were selected from across the US for the residential C4 program with a paid stipend.
Ocean Literacy means understanding the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean. There are 7 principles of Ocean Literacy — ideas scientists and educators agree everyone should understand about the ocean. Join the Network to build a more ocean literate society!
- NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)
- Woods Hole Partnership Education Program (PEP)
- Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Summer Student Fellowship
- Semester at WHOI (SAW): Environmental Microbiology Course
- California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) Ocean Science Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) Summer Internship Program
- University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) Lamat Summer Research Program on High Performance Computing in Astrophysics
- UCSC and MBL Community College Research Internship for Scientific Engagement (CC-RISE)
- University of Hawaii Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) Scholars Program
- University of Rhode Island (URI) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships in Oceanography (SURFO)
- University of Southern California (USC) Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU): Coastal Ocean Processes
- University of Southern California (USC) Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF)
In addition to providing training in state-of-the-art technologies and instrumentation for graduate students and beyond, we emphasized professional development training targeting skills needed both in and out of academia. These live interactive webinars provided transferable skills for all early career scientists and are archived on the website for those unable to “attend” the live events.
The Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting has developed a series of Research Backgrounders and a C-DEBI Experts List to communicate exciting developments in our research of the marine deep biosphere to the journalism and science-writing communities as well as the general public. Supported through a C-DEBI Education and Outreach Grant, these scientifically-vetted resources including a dedicated insight into each of the C-DEBI research themes are intended to assist journalists in their efforts to understand and report on these complex but broadly significant findings.
C-DEBI facilitates scientific coordination and collaborations by supporting student, postdoctoral, and faculty exchanges to build, educate and train the deep subseafloor biosphere community. We award small research exchange grants for Center participants. These grants may be used to support research, travel for presenting C-DEBI research at meetings, or travel exchanges to other partner institutions or institutions that have new tools and techniques that can be applied to C-DEBI research.
For postdoctorals able to act as principal investigators at their institutions, submit proposals for our Research Grants. C-DEBI invites research proposals in support of marine deep biosphere research concerning life in marine sediments and volcanic ocean crust.
Design and construction of educational Remotely Operated underwater Vehicles (ROVs) from the simple PVC ROV to the Camera ROV to the very user friendly Catalina ROV.
SACNAS is an inclusive, interdisciplinary and grass-roots driven professional organization for anyone seeking a career in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) field. Through mentorship and scholarship, SACNAS networks students and established professionals to diversify STEM fields, medical fields and the social sciences. C-DEBI fosters the mission of the University of Southern California SACNAS Chapter through support of activities and participation in the SACNAS National Conference.
Learn about our deep biosphere research directly from seagoing expeditions on the JOIDES Resolution and other expeditions associated with C-DEBI research.
Explore the hidden wonders of the deep continental slope of the northern Gulf of Mexico from offshore Mississippi to Texas: its bubbling mud volcanoes, quiet brine lakes, seafloor gas hydrates, oil seep sites, and also the seafloor near the Macondo wellhead at over 1500 meters depth, will be visited by deepsea submersible Alvin, its pilots and science observers. Follow the cruise blog March 29 – April 23, 2014 to explore and document the deep Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, its lasting damage and beginning recovery almost four years after the Deepwater Horizon blowout.
We returned to North Pond in 2011, a site located in the very middle of the Atlantic Ocean, to investigate the microbiology of this location which has been studied nearly continuously for its geological, geophysical, and hydrological characteristics since first drilled in 1975/1976. See the blog from the first expedition in 2009 and Return to North Pond Expedition 336 blog linked to Scientific American. Link to the Adopt-A-Microbe Project and the Classroom Connection initiative from the Expedition 336 Hub.
Scientists and educators on the Hydrogeology at Juan de Fuca Expedition (Summer 2011) explored how water flows in the earth’s crust beneath the seafloor, and examined geochemistry, rock alteration and microbes living in the seafloor – all off the west coast of the United States. This expedition is a direct follow-on from IODP Expedition 327 (2010), when subseafloor observatories (CORKs) were placed in the seafloor on the Juan de Fuca ridge. The returning expedition to these installations used the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) JASON to download data, retrieve samples, and make any necessary repairs to on-going experiments. See the Expedition Hubs (2011 and 2010) and the Adopt-A-Microbe activities (2011 and 2010).
The South Pacific Gyre Microbiology Expedition (2010) penetrated a total of 630 m at seven different drill sites to define the physical and chemical limits of subseafloor microbial life in tectonic and oceanographic settings not yet explored! See the Expedition Hub and Adopt-A-Microbe version 2.0.
The Southern California Geobiology Symposium is an annual student-run event designed to bring geobiologists together to discuss current research and build local collaborations. It is an opportunity for undergraduate students, graduate students and postdocs to present geobiological research in the form of oral and poster presentations. The topics presented span various disciplines including geology, geochemistry, astrobiology, microbiology, oceanography, paleobiology/-ecology and environmental sciences. With sponsorship by C-DEBI, the symposium is hosted in rotation by USC, Caltech and UC Riverside.
A special issue of Current was sponsored by three National Science Foundation Science and Technology Centers (STCs) that focus on oceanography: C-DEBI, CMOP, and C-MORE. This issue published in 2013 introduces these STCs that focus on ocean and coastal environments and provides examples of their educational outreach. The C-DEBI articles include:
- STCs Deliver New Oceanographic Concepts to Educators [PDF]
- Microbes: Out of the Classroom and into the Field [PDF]
- The “Adopt-A-Microbe” Project: A Multi-Disciplinary Science Curriculum for Middle School Students [PDF]
- RETINA: Illuminating Elementary Scientists with STEM Modules [PDF]
- Capitalizing on Expertise in Marine Education and Outreach to Broaden Impacts [PDF]
In partnership with USC Sea Grant, C-DEBI offers a weeklong Summer Science Camp providing high school students from underrepresented backgrounds the opportunity to visit the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island, and other coastal sites and explore marine science with hands-on learning. Students get amazing opportunities to work with local researchers, conduct their own research projects, learn about careers in marine science, and explore the marine protected areas around the island. A highlight of this camp is exploration through technology as students build a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and learn about deep-sea research done by the Center’s researchers.
Building on the enthusiasm of our first virtual annual meeting in 2020, we continue to bring the C-DEBI community together through a virtual meeting series. These virtual events are held monthly during the first week of each month, with a regular rotation of science workshops and professional development workshops. Each workshop contains about 90 minutes of programming, including plenary presentations by invited speakers, a community building breakout session, and a plenary Q&A session.
Where Wild Microbes Grow is a children’s picture eBook about the search for life under the seafloor. Kids explore how scientists are discovering amazing creatures that may help us find life on other planets. Written in rhyming verse by Kevin Kurtz and illustrated by Alice Feagan, this iBook also includes interactive videos, photos and other media about the astonishing world of seafloor microbes. Also available as a PDF that can be viewed on any computer device or printed.
The USC Young Researchers Program is a six-week program co-sponsored by C-DEBI that matches talented and motivated Los Angeles-area high school rising seniors with USC research groups for a summer of research under the supervision of faculty and graduate students. Students get to experience first-hand the excitement of research in real university labs. The research work is supplemented with weekly workshops to give students some basic tools to help them get into college and pursue degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.