Diary of a Drew University Student at Sea

Junior Hannah Primiano covers her oceanographic research

February 2021 – Drew University chemistry major Hannah Primiano C’22 is taking her research on the proverbial road. Or, rather, to the high seas.

A Baldwin Honors and Civic Scholar, Primiano spent her summer participating in a virtual undergraduate research program with the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, analyzing data and microscope images from home. She was later invited to join a research expedition to see where the data she analyzed actually came from.

She worked with Drew’s chemistry department to fit the opportunity into her academic schedule, and has since hopped aboard the research vessel. She’ll be providing updates about her time at sea so we can follow her journey.

February 4 – Introduction

The R/V Roger Revelle left port on December 26 from Honolulu, HI, to go on a 60-day journey to the Southern Ocean. Scientists from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, Florida State University, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography came aboard to collect oceanographic data from multiple areas throughout the Pacific Ocean.


The Honolulu skyline as the ship departs the day after Christmas.

We began by collecting various types of data on a straight line from 30°S to 60°S. We will now sample eddies, swirling masses of water, and other features in the Southern Ocean before the ship begins making its way toward our final destination of Tahiti.

While each lab is looking at something different, from trace metals to nutrients to plankton distribution, all of the data will combine to help us understand how phytoplankton are affecting the chemistry of the ocean.

Phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean can condition or change the water by taking up nutrients and carbon dioxide, making them critical for nutrient availability and the global carbon cycle. Because of their impact, we are collecting various types of data to deepen our understanding of these phytoplankton and the role they play in the ecosystem. If you have any questions, feel free to send them to hprimiano@drew.edu!


By sdezenhall