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Undergraduate Summer Research Awards

The following list contains the USRA projects taking place this coming summer. The 2018 USRA opportunities will be shared in the 2017/18 fall semester.

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David Barclay, dbarclay@dal.ca

Navigation and control algorithm optimization for an autonomous hovercraft

Unlike airborne or underwater drones, a hovercraft's control systems require particular tuning due to its near-frictionless contact with water or land, and single throttle that controls airbag inflation as well as forward movement.  The objective of this project is to design, implement, evaluate, and iteratively improve an algorithm that links the GPS based navigation of an autonomous hovercraft with the control surface and throttle of the vehicle.  The student will gain skills in autonomous vehicle control, programming on an arduino platform, hardware integration, analyzing GPS and inertial navigation data, and planning sea trials.

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Paul Hill, paul.hill@dal.ca

Measuring cliff retreat in the Minas Basin using Structure from Motion

Coastal erosion associated with rising sea levels, increasing temperatures, and altered precipitation and wave climate threatens infrastructure in Canada and around the globe. Models of risk are evolving to incorporate the episodic nature of coastal erosion, but these efforts to establish firmer, evidence-based definitions of risk require frequent, high-resolution surveys of coastal geomorphology, which until recently have been costly and logistically difficult. The emergence of Structure-from-Motion (SfM) enables rapid, low-cost, yet accurate, surveys in coastal environments, which is opening new avenues for investigation of episodic erosion. The USRA holder will work with a group to use SfM to conduct repeated surveys of cliffed coasts in the Minas Basin of the Bay of Fundy.  The survey will be used to develop understanding of the causes of observed acceleration of coastal retreat in the Minas Basin of the Bay of Fundy.

Skills Acquired:  SfM, surveying

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Markus Kienast, markus.kienast@dal.ca

Oceans and global change

The ocean initiates, amplifies and mediates global climate change on time-scales ranging from less than a year to thousands of years. Understanding the ocean’s past variability - recorded in the sedimentary archive - is thus of paramount importance for climate science. Students in my lab get to use different analytical techniques to extract from the sedimentary record detailed information on the ocean of the past. See www.oceanbiogeochem-atdal.org for more.

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Anna Metaxas, metaxas@dal.ca

Ecology and conservation of benthic marine invertebrates

Coastal surveys along Nova Scotia will assess the abundance of an invasive species and its main host laminarian kelps using drop cameras and SCUBA (certification not required but an asset). The biological communities associated with marine plant communities will be described and the results used to evaluate the design of coastal Marine Protected Areas.

Expected skills that will be acquired by the student: Field sampling from small boats, image analysis, data analysis, literature review.

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Douglas Wallace, douglas.wallace@dal.ca

Scientific Data Analyst / Software Developer

Dorado (International Submarine Engineering Ltd., Port Coquitlam, B.C.) is an 8.2m long, semi-submersible autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) which facilitates rapid surveying of the surface ocean. Formerly tasked to military applications, Dorado has been equipped with a Science Payload; an actively pumped, remote-controlled bank of oceanographic sensors, designed by our team at the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Ocean Science & Technology Laboratory.

We seek a creative and hard-working individual with experience in scientific computing and geospatial data analysis. The successful applicant will work with oceanographic data acquired by Dorado’s Science Payload. The student will work closely with a technical/design team to shape the structure of the data produced by this unique observing system and to test the system’s performance leading up to further sea trials. The student will gain a holistic view of the many aspects of making ocean observations.

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Douglas Wallace, douglas.wallace@dal.ca

Software Developer

Dorado (International Submarine Engineering Ltd., Port Coquitlam, B.C.) is an 8.2m long, semi-submersible autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) which facilitates rapid surveying of the surface ocean. Formerly tasked to military applications, Dorado has been equipped with a Science Payload; an actively pumped, remote-controlled bank of oceanographic sensors, designed by our team at the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Ocean Science & Technology Laboratory.

We seek a creative and knowledgeable individual with experience in embedded programming, specifically in Python. The successful applicant will assist in the development of an embedded application for a Linux platform which powers Dorado’s Science Payload. The student will have an opportunity to learn about a variety of oceanographic sensors. This position also presents an opportunity to work collaboratively with technicians at a prominent Canadian company operating in the Ocean Technology sector.