Summer school in Cape Verde

- May 21, 2015

The TOSST team, ready to depart. (Provided photo)
The TOSST team, ready to depart. (Provided photo)

Graduate students from Dal’s Transatlantic Ocean System Science and Technology (TOSST) research school are headed to Cape Verde, West Africa for summer school.

TOSST, funded through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program, links two major centres of ocean research on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, in Nova Scotia and northern Germany. TOSST fosters a transatlantic training environment to convey technical and research skills in ocean science and advanced technologies, and promote the ability to manage deep sea and open ocean environments.

The school works closely with the Helmholtz Research School for Ocean Science and Technology (HOSST) in Germany, allowing students to collaborate and learn from experts in both Halifax and Kiel, Germany.

“Students from TOSST and HOSST will be joining students from Cape Verde and other countries of West Africa,” explains Brendal Townsend, Scientific Coordinator of TOSST. “The summer school focuses on how ocean system science and technology can contribute to ecosystem-based management of marine biodiversity in a developing nation.”

The importance of location

The summer school is taking place in Cape Verde as it is an excellent place to study globally important atmospheric and oceanic processes. It is also an area that is still being discovered by researchers.

The region has not had the capability to support logistically intensive, long-term research due to a number of reasons. However, it will soon be improving on this with the construction of a new Ocean Sciences Centre in Mindelo. Dal’s research partners in Kiel also have a long history of cooperative research in the region.

The Summer School offers a unique opportunity for students of TOSST and HOSST and invited students of West Africa to look at problems of the ocean within a less developed country. The students will also look at the scientific issues and capacity required to understand and protect the marine environment in “southern” countries, and learn about some unique oceanographic, atmospheric and geological processes.

Class is in

The students will take part in typical school activities such as lectures by TOSST, HOSST and Cape Verdian scientists, but they’ll also be getting out of the classroom. In addition to visiting local scientific facilities, they get to know the environment they are studying by snorkelling and give back to the community by taking part in an island-wide beach clean-up.

“We will be teaching the students about the local culture as much as possible by having them visit fishing villages and interact with local students,” says Brendal. “The students know that the Cape Verdean Government want to invest in marine studies, but that they face challenges in doing so.”

Through their visits and interactions with locals, the students will develop a solid understanding of some of these challenges. At the end of the Summer School they will be applying what they learn to a final presentation.

Working in groups, the students will develop a strategic plan for Cape Verdean marine science that will form priorities for the new Ocean Science Centre in Mindelo. Their plans will be presented to their fellow students and scientists.

“The Summer School in Cape Verde exemplifies a key component of TOSST,” explains Brendal. “Students are gaining knowledge and skills that will help them apply what they learn to the increasingly internationalized research and business environment, through hands on experience they are broadening career opportunities and entering the work force with an advantage.”

Stay tuned for a follow-up article to the Summer School in a few weeks. We will speak with some of the TOSST participants on their experiences.


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