The ocean is a vast and seemingly unknowable place that most people will only ever dip their toes into — even skilled divers barely scratch the surface of its depths. Marine scientist Dr. Anthony Rathburn, however, knows some of the secrets of the deep, dark sea, and he’s happy to share them.
Dr. Rathburn, a geology professor at California State University, Bakersfield, will speak at the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science’s ongoing "Meet the Expert" virtual lecture series on Thursday.
"I plan to give folks an idea of what it is like to conduct research in the deep sea, including traveling to the bottom of the ocean in a three-person submersible," Dr. Rathburn said. "People can expect to come away with a better sense of what deep sea creatures and their habitats are like. Hopefully, the audience will also have a better appreciation for the importance of marine communities and the relevance of marine research."
The lecture will cover Dr. Rathburn’s work exploring previously unmapped parts of the sea and the otherworldly creatures who thrive there. The event is free and meant to be accessible regardless of one’s understanding of marine science. In fact, Dr. Rathburn hopes it will inspire younger attendees to follow their interest in the ocean to an education in science.
"Students and youngsters can expect to find out what it is like to be a marine scientist/oceanographer and get an inkling of some of the exciting, hands-on opportunities in marine science at CSUB," he said. "People should check out the lecture to learn about the largest habitat on Earth (the deep sea) and find out what we can glean from the creatures that live in those dark, deep environments."
Dr. Rathburn’s students at CSUB regularly get the opportunity to work with him and other marine scientists on research cruises along the California coast. On these trips, they take samples from the seafloor to study foraminifera, a microscopic, single-celled organism that lives at the bottom of the ocean. They use their findings to see how the ocean has changed over time, from seasons during a single year to tens of thousands of years.
This month’s lecture is the third in a row this fall led by faculty from CSUB’s School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering. Dr. Rathburn said the museum engages the public with science and this series is a great opportunity for the community to connect scientific topics that you hear about in the news with the experts who study them and teach them locally.
"I think it is important for CSUB folks, and scientists in particular, to convey to the community the relevance and importance of what we do, the exciting applications of our research, and the rewarding career paths that an education at CSUB can lead to," Dr. Rathburn said.
The lecture begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Those interested in attending can register for the event at buenavistamuseum.org/events. The lecture will be recorded and made available for those who can’t attend live.
Kelly Ardis is communications specialist for CSUB's School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering.