Episode 25: How Do You Study Tiny Organisms in an Ecosystem as Vast as the Ocean?

Meet the Expert:  Diana Fontaine

Diana Fontaine is a Ph.D. student using genetic techniques to study phytoplankton diversity. She is interested in understanding how environmental stressors associated with climate change affect phytoplankton community dynamics and thus, overall ecosystem function. Prior to working in the Rynearson Lab at URI-GSO, she spent two years as a plankton analyst in the Marine Invasions Lab at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center studying phytoplankton in ballast water of cargo ships and gaining experience with phytoplankton taxonomy and culturing techniques. During her free time, she enjoys spending time outside either at the beach or in the mountains of NH.


Diana with a colleague watching as the CTD is deployed into the ocean. The CTD is what we use to collect our water samples

Diana acting as a “glorified Brita Filter”, filtering the many many liters of water we need for our samples.










Diana on a cruise this past summer (hence the mask) putting a tarp over our incubated phytoplankton to “tuck them in at night” and protect them from the ship’s lights












Want to know about  Phytoplankton? Watch this cool video  from Sci Show!! 

Copyright the Sci Schow! (also a fabulous STEM Resource:  https://www.scishow.com/)



Extract DNA from a strawberry following these directions HERE

 Draw a picture of what you recover.

With your parents permission, send us your picture via email at podcast@solveitforkids.com OR

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If you send in your challenge OR just leave a comment below about the episode, you will be entered into a giveaway to win a FREE copy of the book listed below.


Highlighted book for this episode!

Absolute Expert Dolphins by Jennifer Swanson (NGKids Books)

Hey, dolphin fin-atics! Get ready to dive into the world of your favorite fabulous marine mammals in this action-packed book chock-full of awesome facts, photos, and fun! Join National Geographic explorer and dolphin expert Justine Jackson-Ricketts to get the latest, most up-to-date dolphin intel straight from the field, plus fun facts, in-depth info, and awesome trivia about every kind of dolphin under the sun (and beneath the waves). It’s the ultimate book to help YOU become an absolute expert on one of your favorite topics.



Book List:

Whales (Smithsonian-science) by Seymour Simon (Collins)

Dolphins (Smithsonian-science) by Seymour Simon  (Collins)

Animal Journal: Marine Animals of the World: Notes, drawings, and observations about animals that live in the ocean by Juan Carlos Alonso  (Walter Foster, Jr.)

The Big Book of the Blue (The Big Book Series) by Yuval Zommer  (Thames and Hudson)


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