Diary of a Co-Chief Scientist: Pre -Cruise Prep

Research Vessel Walton Smith. Photo credit: University of Miami
Research Vessel Walton Smith. Photo credit: University of Miami

Have I forgotten anything?” is a common question that runs through any traveller’s mind, and as a first time co-chief scientist it has been running through my head about every 10 minutes for the last three weeks. Not only do I need to remember to pack a toothbrush, but I’m in charge of all aspects for our deep-sea research cruise: pre-cruise setup, science underway, and post-cruise wrap up responsibilities.

Is there a manual for this type of job? Not really! Instead I’m relying on observations from past research cruises, and a reassuring nod from the other (far more experienced) co-chief scientist. I’m excited for this adventure and ready to earn the title of chief scientist!

So, what does a chief scientist do, anyway? Here’s some of the key tasks for pre-cruise setup (Note: this starts long before the cruise):

  • Determine cruise objectives
  • Complete the configuration and pre-cruise form for the ship
  • Identify the science party participants
  • Prepare the science party for the cruise: medical profiles, insurance forms, and confirmation of travel itineraries [we don’t want to leave anyone behind!]
  • Identify the station location to achieve our cruise objectives
  • Confirm with the ship the list of science objectives, such as MOCNESS* plankton tows, CTD* casts, and mooring retrieval
  • Send all of our equipment and supplies to the ship and confirm that all equipment is on board

I’ll update the diary of a chief scientist while at sea, so stay tuned for more adventures of a first time co-chief sci!


*MOCNESS = Multiple Opening/Closing Net Environmental Sensing System

* CTD = Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth instrument

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