A Brief Explanation of Light Microscopy

First invented in the 1500s, light microscopes have not changed dramatically in the intervening years. Today, while some light microscopes incorporate digital technology to capture and record what they make visible, most still rely on the same principles that early light microscopes used.

Essentially, light microscopes allow researchers to see objects that are not otherwise visible to the naked eye. They achieve this by illuminating a subject (usually kept on a slide) and focusing the light through two lenses. The first lens, called the objective lens, concentrates light from a bulb onto the object being observed, thus focusing it within the microscope’s tube. The second, called the ocular lens, works like a tiny magnifying glass, enlarging the focused image so that the human eye can see it.

Researchers can view smaller objects by using different lenses, which offer sharper focus (for smaller objects) as they grow rounder and looser focus (for larger objects) as they grow flatter.

About Renate Bernstein

During her various expeditions as a marine science research assistant, Renate Bernstein has analyzed data with light microscopes as well as computer imaging software. After serving as a cardiac nurse for two years in the 1970s, Bernstein enrolled in the University of South Florida to pursue degrees in Marine Science. Today, she holds a Ph.D. in the discipline.

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The Importance of Plankton in Aquatic Ecosystems By Renate Bernstein

While much popular discussion of changes to aquatic ecosystems has focused on the fate of large animals (including whales, dolphins, and polar bears), the oceans’ smallest inhabitants are perhaps more important to the overall viability of their watery ecosystems.

These organisms, called plankton, form the bottom layers of aquatic food chains, providing nourishment to the larger and larger animals that feed the animals whose loss is visible and easily recognizable to those outside the scientific community.

In my work as a Research Assistant in the field of Marine Science, I have had the opportunity to analyze the roles played by both phytoplankton (which are part of the plant kingdom) and zooplankton (part of the animal family).

To promote general knowledge about the importance of plankton for overall oceanic health, I contributed to the development and production of an educational booklet about radiolarians, a type of microscopic phytoplankton.

About Renate Bernstein

After a brief career as a Registered Nurse, Renate Bernstein returned to school to prepare for her career in Marine Science. She attended the University of South Florida, earning a B.A. in Mathematics in 1980, an M.S. in Marine Science in 1985, and a Ph.D. in Marine Science in 2000. Renate Bernstein has participated in several research expeditions around the world.

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An Overview of the College of Marine Science, by Dr. Renate Bernstein

Located on the ocean in St. Petersburg, Florida, the College of Marine Science affords students the chance to study marine life up-close through two research vessels and dockside facilities. The school features 13 laboratories focused on various aspects of chemical oceanography, biological oceanography, geological oceanography, and physical oceanography. The college also provides a home to the Center of Ocean Technology, the Center for the Prediction of Red Tide, the Institute for Marine Remote Sensing, and the Global Change Research Center. All of this is funded by nearly $21 million a year for research.

Currently, the school has 111 graduate students who are pursuing advanced degrees in marine resource assessment or oceanography. Learn more about the school at http://www.marine.usf.edu.

About the author: Dr. Renate Bernstein achieved her Master of Science and her Doctorate in Marine Science from the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida. She also possesses a B.A. in Mathematics and a nursing degree from Boston City Hospital School of Nursing.

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What is Marine Science? by Dr. Renate Bernstein

In simplest terms, marine science is the branch of Earth science that specializes in the oceans. Marine scientists explore many aspects of the ocean, including organisms, ecosystems, and plate tectonics. Many combine several sciences in their studies, including biology, geology, physics, and chemistry.

Some marine scientists like to focus on marine biology; that is, the study of organisms, their behaviors, and their interactions with their environment. In order to be successful in this field, scientists must have a good understanding of chemical oceanography, geological oceanography, and physical oceanography. Since the ocean is so vast, many marine biologists tend to pick one particular interest and specialize in it.

Other marine scientists may choose to specialize in ocean engineering, the creation of instruments and devices used to further marine science studies. Ocean engineers are responsible for the development of many important and innovative tools, including underwater video equipment, sediment traps, and ocean seismometers.

There are many aspects of marine science to specialize in. If you are interested in becoming a marine scientist, conduct additional research to find which area suits your interests.

About the author: Dr. Renate Bernstein holds a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of South Florida. She has logged hundreds of hours on research expeditions, many of which lasted a month at sea.

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Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society by Renate Bernstein

Being selected for Phi Kappa Phi has proven to be a great benefit to my career in oceanography. The membership has allowed me to meet many colleagues through one of the nation’s most prestigious honor societies and has added to the strength of my curriculum vitae.

Ten senior students at the University of Maine, along with two faculty members and the school president, formed Phi Kappa Phi in 1897. It honored success in any field and invited only upperclassmen and graduate students, a factor which set Phi Kappa Phi apart from similar societies. Today, the top 7.5% of second-semester juniors and the top 10% of seniors and graduate students are eligible to join.

Phi Kappa Phi makes several awards and scholarships available to members from funds exceeding $700,000 annually. Amounts range from $15,000 for graduate students to $500 for alumni professionals.

Additionally, Phi Kappa Phi supports a Mentor Match program that links existing members with new ones. The Career Center informs members of thousands of jobs, while online seminars provide useful information on employment and economic issues.

-Renate E. Bernstein is a research scientist investigating the cycle of carbon dioxide in both the atmosphere and the oceans.

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