Oceanographer, Eight Months Pregnant, Commands Ship Expedition From Shore

omandMore than a year ago, Melissa Omand, an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Oceanography of the University of Rhode Island, began planning for a five-day research expedition aboard the Endeavor, a research ship owned by the University of Rhode Island. The goal of the expedition to the continental shelf was to collect data on vertical and lateral fluxes of carbon and nutrients between the surface and the deep ocean. The voyage would include faculty, staff, and students from the University of Rhode Island, the University of Maryland, and Skidmore College.

But after the initial planning had begun, Dr. Omand became pregnant. When the mission was scheduled for early November, she would be in her eighth month of pregnancy and unable to travel. However, using a new “telepresence” technology, Dr. Omand was able to continue to lead the scientific expedition without ever leaving shore.

isc-logo-cornerDr. Omand remained in real-time contact with the ship through the Inner Space Center at the Narragansett Bay campus of the University of Rhode Island. Several cameras were on board the ship offering a live video feed and communications with the center on shore. “Much of the role of a chief scientist is decision making and being a liaison between the science party and the crew,” Dr. Omand said. “And all of the organizational stuff and making sure communication is good are things I tried to take care of beforehand.”

Dr. Omand joined the faculty at the University of Rhode Island earlier this year. She is a graduate of the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and holds a Ph.D. in physical oceanography from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego

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