Tag Archive for IDEAS

Scientific Images of Nanoparticles, Colliding Stars, Learned Words Win Annual Contest

We had 13 submissions this year.

Thirteen students, majoring in chemistry, physics, astronomy, molecular biology and biochemistry, biology, neuroscience and behavior, psychology, and quantitative analysis submitted images for the 2021 Scientific Imaging Contest.

At first glance, a viewer sees a single image of pink-tinted cubes, resembling a bacteria culture from high school biology.

But upon closer examination, the viewer begins to see a series of other shapes—triangles to hexahedrons to tetahexahedraons (cubes with four-sided pyramids on each face).

“If you stare at this image for a while, you can see that it’s actually a series of five images in the top row, and five images on the bottom row, and each of these images show us nanoparticles that are made of gold and copper,” said Brian Northrop, professor of chemistry. “It’s intriguing, captivating, and visually very interesting.”

The image, which depicts bimetallic gold-copper (Au-Cu) nanoparticles synthesized with varying concentrations and amounts of sodium iodide, was created by Jessica Luu ’24 using a scanning electron microscope. It also was the first place winner in Wesleyan’s 2021 Scientific Imaging Contest.

Jessica Luu

Jessica Luu ’24 took first place with a series of 10 images of bimetallic gold-copper (Au-Cu) nanoparticles synthesized with varying concentrations and amounts of sodium iodide. They were imaged using a scanning electron microscope (SEM).

The annual contest, spearheaded by Wesleyan’s College of Integrative Sciences, encourages students to submit images and descriptions of the research that they’ve been conducting over the summer.

Students Study Exoplanets, Bird Viruses, Chinese Immigration, Bacteria during the Summer

Scientists have already discovered more than 3,500 exoplanetary systems (planets orbiting around stars) in the universe, with the number continually expanding.

By using Wesleyan’s new 24-inch telescope, Kyle McGregor ’24 is on the hunt for more, specifically systems involving two planets. To find them, he measures the light from stars over time, noting that the light will decrease when an exoplanet passes in front of a star, blocking the radiated light to Earth.

“The measuring of this change in light, known as the ‘transit method,’ allows us to detect the presence of these distant worlds and to study their properties,” McGregor says. “It’s really cool, and I love using the new telescope to do it!”

Kyle McGregor '24

Kyle McGregor ’24 of Canton, N.Y. shared his research project titled “Building a Predictive Model for the Detection of Possible Outer Planets in Known 2-body Resonant Systems.”

On July 29, astronomy, physics, and Italian studies major McGregor shared his exoplanet studies during the 2021 Summer Research Poster Session, where students showcase their projects with peers, faculty, and the public. The annual event brought together more than 180 student researchers— half of whom worked remotely this summer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re still very interested in celebrating our students’ work and emulating the excitement and activity of the in-person poster session,” said poster session coordinator Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and director, College of Integrative Sciences.

McGregor, who has worked with his advisor Seth Redfield, professor of astronomy, since spring 2021, spent the past year conducting research meetings over Zoom. During this time, he developed a predictive model that can be applied to all known two-planet systems. “That [remote research] process went well and helped me prepare for a proper summer doing research in person. Now that I’m [back on campus] I’m most excited about continuing my use of the new telescope and developing this model further to make it more robust and more accurate.” (View McGregor’s research poster online here.)

The Poster Session included studies conducted under the auspices of the College of Integrative Sciences (astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, earth and environmental sciences, mathematics, molecular biology and biochemistry, neuroscience and behavior, psychology, physics), Research in the Sciences Program, the Quantitative Analysis Center, College of the Environment, the McNair Program, the WesMaSS Program, and students who are funded by their individual mentors or departments.

Schuyler Sloman '22 and biology and psychology double major Rachel Hsu '23

Schuyler Sloman ’22 of Brooklyn, N.Y. and Rachel Hsu ’23 of Shanghai, China shared their summer-long research project titled “Delving Below the Species Level to Characterize the Ecological Diversity in the Global Virome: An Exploration of Avian Influenza.”

Computer science major Schuyler Sloman ’22 and biology and psychology double major Rachel Hsu ’23 shared their collaborative research on diversity within the H3N8 serotype of avian influenza. Their results suggested that there are at least seven lineages of H3N8 that appear specialized to different waterfowl species. They note that these ecological differences among H3N8 virus lineages could impact the likelihood of spillover to humans.

After using the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database to locate roughly 1,500 full-genome sequences of the H3N8 subtype of avian influenza from multiple host species of ducks, Sloman wrote programs in Python and Biopython to “clean” the content and pinpoint 103 complete strains of H3N8 within a 60-mile radius of each other in Minto Flats, Alaska. From there, the students continued to align these sequences with a software called MEGAX, and used the EcoSim2 algorithm (developed by their faculty advisors Fred Cohan and Danny Krizanc), which rapidly analyzes large sequence datasets to demarcate individual viruses into lineages that are ecologically distinct.

Sloman and Hsu will contribute their findings to the Global Virome Project, a strategic response to better predict, prevent, and respond to future viral pandemic threats. GVP estimates that more than 500,000 undiscovered animal viruses are capable of transmission to people.

“A year ago I may not have appreciated the importance of The Global Virome Project, but after experiencing the reality of a pandemic I feel truly connected to this work,” Sloman said. “While working remotely with our lab during COVID-19 was difficult for all of us, we’re grateful to contribute to the prevention of future disasters. The significance of a project like this is enormous. It’s been a really rewarding experience to work on a research project which is so relevant.” (View Sloman’s and Hsu’s research poster online here.)

In addition to the ongoing research throughout the summer, students could attend more than 25 in-person and virtual workshops and minicourses focusing on lab safety, science writing, programming languages, data analysis, resume writing, molecule imaging, and more. They also could attend the Summer Seminar Series, with worldwide experts discussing topics on ancient Chinese artifacts, space radiation on cognitive performance, molecular probes for SARS-CoV-2, and even dung beetles. In addition, Saray Shai, assistant professor of computer science, led the Summer Research keynote lecture titled “Topology and Geometry of Urban Road Networks” prior to the poster session.

“Even under our somewhat constrained COVID-19 circumstances, we’re thrilled that we were able to continue our rich summer research projects and programs, which are so vital to our students,” Mukerji said.

Students shared their posters in virtual “Zoom rooms” and breakout sessions. All of the student ‘poster sites’ will live on and serve as an institutional repository of student accomplishments this summer.

Samples of other student research projects are below and on this website.

Anissa Findley '22

Anissa Findley ’22 of Kingston, Jamaica, shared her summer research project titled “Optimising Sample Preparation for the Investigation of Bottom Current Strengths of the Scotia Sea during the Pliocene.”

This summer, chemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry double major Anissa Findley ’22 of Kingston, Jamaica, explored the best ways to prepare 5.3 million-year-old Scotia Sea silt samples for analysis, which can help determine what the weather and ice cover of Antarctica looked like during that time. By testing three different methods of sample preparation, which involve sample crushing, wetting, drying, and particle analyzing, Findley determined that a specific “dry and re-wet method” showed the most consistent way to sort the silt samples by size.

“The more accurate the silt [sizes] are, the better the conclusions can be made about ice cover and the glacial and interglacial periods, during the Pliocene [period],” she said. (View Findley’s research poster online here.)

Findley’s advisor is Suzanne OConnell, Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science.

Ken Wu '23

Ken Wu ’23 of Shenzhen, China shared his summer research titled “GIS Visualization of Chinese Demographic Shifts between the 1970s and 1990s.”

By using U.S. census data and visualizations, film studies and environmental studies double major Ken Wu ’23 built an interactive ArcGIS map to show the correlation between the decline of Chinese Language Theaters in New York City and the outward shifts of Chinese immigrant enclaves. His project also includes more granular census tract data as well as including more diverse demographic indicators, such as average income, racial composition, and household information.

“My project is not just about films or cinemas but really, more broadly, about the story of Chinese immigrants in general,” Wu explained. “This summer, [it was] very exciting that I was able to use a more non-traditional method of studying this topic, namely using statistics and census data to map out how Chinese immigrants lived and moved in New York City. I hope this research can fill some of the gaps left vacant in the narrative of Asian American identities.” (View Wu’s research poster online here.)

Wu’s advisor is Lisa Dombrowski, professor of East Asian studies.

Savanna Goldstein '22 of Philadelphia, Pa.shred her study titled "Parent-Child Conversation Facilitates Number Talk During Shared Storybook Reading"

Savanna Goldstein ’22 of Philadelphia, Pa. shared her study titled “Parent-Child Conversation Facilitates Number Talk During Shared Storybook Reading.”

Savanna Goldstein ’22, who’s majoring in education and psychology with a concentration in cognitive science, is a member of Wesleyan’s Cognitive Development Lab. Her summer research project focused on how shared storybook reading can help children understand numbers in a deeper way. “Storytime can be a great opportunity for parents to weave math talk into their daily routine, but most picture books focus solely on literacy development and social skills. That’s why we chose to investigate how parents supplement stories with their own math talk,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein asked parents to read two stories to their children, one explicitly related to numbers, and one implicitly providing an opportunity to discuss quantity. By recording these reading sessions and encoding the transcripts for different types of number talk—such as parent counting, encouraging labeling, tandem counting, and corrected feedback—she was able to determine which conditions inspired the most effective number talk.

“If parents begin story time with the intent of helping their child learn about math, they will likely produce more number talk and the interaction will be more meaningful,” she said. (View Goldstein’s research poster online here.)

Goldstein’s advisors are Anna Shusterman, associate professor of psychology, and Sierra Eisen, postdoctoral fellow in psychology.

Elizabeth Ouanemalay '23

Elizabeth Ouanemalay ’23 from Long Beach, Calif. shared her study titled “Evolvability of Sporulation and Germination in Bacillus Subtilis Batch Culture.”

Biology and Science in Society double major Elizabeth Ouanemalay ’23 and Biology PhD student Kathleen Sagarin studied Bacillus subtilis to determine whether two traits essential to the bacterium’s survival could easily evolve. B. subtilis is able to tolerate extreme environmental conditions by virtue of its ability to form desiccation- and heat-resistant spores and its ability to germinate from these spores. Elizabeth and Katie challenged B. subtilis to evolve changes in both its sporulation and germination abilities.

They challenged a B. subtilis lab strain in “serial batch culture,” where they cultured the bacteria past the point that they exhausted their resources, and then they transferred the bacteria to fresh medium, either with or without heating the culture to kill non-spores, over 11 growth cycles. Under these conditions, they found that when the cultures were not heated at transfer, the bacteria quickly declined in their ability to sporulate. This was probably because spores undergo the slow process of germination before they can resume growth in fresh medium; on the other hand, bacteria that fail to produce a spore can start growing more quickly in the fresh medium. It was surprising that after just two weeks, the cost of germination would cause the bacteria to become much less efficient at producing spores.

A complementary result was found in the cultures which were forced to go through a spore stage by the end of each growth cycle. Ouanemalay and Sagarin are now isolating individual bacteria strains from each of these evolved found that when every individual had to germinate to begin growth in fresh medium, the bacteria evolved to germinate more quickly. It was again surprising to them that germination ability could evolve so quickly.

(View their research poster online here.)

Her advisor is Fred Cohan, Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment, professor of biology.

Thomas Co-Authors 5 Studies on Oceanic Environmental Stress

Ellen Thomas, Harold T. Stearns Professor of Integrative Sciences, is the co-author of five scientific papers.

All are part of the output of international collaborations of which her Wesleyan-based research was a part, funded by the National Science Foundation over the last three years.

“All the studies look at different aspects of the behavior of microscopic organisms in the oceans under past environmental stress, whether caused by the impact of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, or past episodes of global warming or cooling, and at the effect of different rates of environmental change on these life forms,” she said. “We then use these past effects to look into potential effects of future global warming on these oceanic organisms and oceanic ecosystems in general.”

The papers are:

Photosymbiosis in planktonic foraminifera across the Palaeocene Eocene Thermal Maximum,” published in the March 2021 issue of Paleobiology.

Bentho-pelagic Decoupling: The Marine Biological Carbon Pump During Eocene Hyperthermals,” published in the March 2021 issue of Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology.

Updating a Paleogene magnetobiochronogical timescale through graphical interpretation,” published in the January 2021 issue of MethodsX.

Turnover and stability in the deep sea: benthic foraminifera as tracers of Paleogene global change,” published in the November 2020 issue of Global and Planetary Change.

In addition, her paper “Benthic foraminiferal turnover across the Dan-C2 event in the eastern South Atlantic Ocean (ODP Site 1262),” is forthcoming in the June 2021 issue of Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

Thomas Honored for Excellence in Foraminiferal Research

ellen thomas

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas, Harold T. Stearns Professor of Integrative Sciences, Smith Curator of Paleontology of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History, and University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences, is the recipient of the 2020 Joseph A. Cushman Award for Excellence in Foraminiferal Research.

At Wesleyan, Thomas investigates oceanic benthic foraminifera (eukaryotic unicellular organisms) as proxies for the impact of changes in environment and climate on living organisms on various time scales. This fall, she’s teaching the courses Research Frontiers in the Sciences and Mass Extinctions in the Oceans.

Brian Huber, president of the Cushman Foundation for Foraminiferal Research noted that the Cushman Foundation Board of Directors agreed that Thomas “richly deserve[s] being honored for [her] voluminous and highly impactful contributions to foraminiferal research and the broader disciplines of paleoceanography, paleoclimatology and environmental science. [Her] influence as a mentor and educator and [her] leadership and selfless public service contributions to the international research community are also considered outstanding.”

Thomas received the award during the virtual Geological Society of American Meeting last fall.

Faculty, Alumni, Students Publish Books, Journal Articles

Several faculty have recently authored or co-authored books, book chapters, and articles that appear in prestigious academic journals.

BOOKS AND BOOK CHAPTERS

books

Eric Charry, professor of music, is the author of A New and Concise History of Rock and R&B through the Early 1990s (Wesleyan University Press, 2020).

Robert “Bo” Conn, professor of Spanish, is the author of Bolívar’s Afterlife in the Americas: Biography, Ideology, and the Public Sphere (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).

Anthony Ryan Hatch, associate professor of science in society, is the author of three book chapters:
“The Artificial Pancreas in Cyborg Bodies,” published in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of the Body and Embodiment (Oxford University Press, 2020.) Sonya Sternlieb ’18 and Julia Gordon ’18 are co-authors.

“Against Diabetic Numerology in a Black Body, or Why I Cannot Live by the Numbers,” published in Body Battlegrounds: Transgressions, Tensions, and Transformations (Vanderbilt University Press, 2019).

“Food Sovereignty and Wellness in Urban African American Communities,” published in Well-Being as a Multi-Dimensional Concept: Understanding Connections between Culture, Community, and Health (Lexington Books, 2019). Deja Knight ’18 is a co-author.

James McGuire, professor of government, is the author of Democracy and Population Health (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

JOURNAL ARTICLES 
Three Wesleyan faculty, three recent alumni, and one undergraduate collaborated on an interdisciplinary study titled “A Ribosome Interaction Surface Sensitive to mRNA GCN Periodicity,” published in the journal Biomolecules, June 2020.

The co-authors include Michael Weir, professor of biology; Danny Krizanc, Edward Burr Van Vleck Professor of Computer Science; and Kelly Thayer, assistant professor of the practice in integrative sciences; William Barr ’18 MA ’19; Kristen Scopino ’19; Elliot Williams ’18, MA ’19; and Abdelrahman Elsayed ’21.

Barr and Williams worked on the project as a part of their BA/MA program.

Anthony Ryan Hatch is the author of three journal articles:
Du Boisian Propaganda, Foucauldian Genealogy, and Antiracism in STS Research,” published in Engaging Science, Technology, and Society, 2020.

Sugar Ecologies: Their Metabolic and Racial Effects,” published in 22 Food, Culture, and Society, 2019. Sonya Sternlieb ’18 and Julia Gordon ’18 are co-authors.

Two Meditations in Coronatime,” published by the Section on Science, Knowledge, and Technology of the American Sociological Association, May 2020.

Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history, is featured in the article “Guns, Germs, and Public History: A Conversation with Jennifer Tucker,” published by the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, July 2020.

Margot Weiss, associate professor of anthropology, associate professor of American studies, is the author of “Intimate Encounters: Queer Entanglements in Ethnographic Fieldwork,” published in Anthropological Quarterly, Volume 93, June 2020, and “Hope and Despair in the Queer Nonprofit Industrial Complex,” published in the GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Volume 26, April 2020.

Wickham ’21 Speaks on the Black Student Experience in STEM

posterAs the Black Lives Matter movement continues to shine a light on the Black experience in America, one Wesleyan student is doing his part to foster better understanding for students of color in STEM fields.

On July 2, Fitzroy “Pablo” Wickham ’21 participated in a panel discussion on “Black Lives Matter and Neuroscience: Why This Moment Matters.” The event, hosted by the Society for Neuroscience and moderated by Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney, provided a forum to discuss hurdles faced by Black students and faculty in STEM and ways to enhance recruitment, mentoring, and retention in STEM fields.

Wickham, a neuroscience and theater double major, is the Class of 2021 president and a College of Integrative Sciences summer research student. A native of Jamaica, Wickham prefaced his comments by acknowledging that as a West Indian Black his experience does not necessarily reflect the full breadth of experiences had by African American students in science. But for his part, Wickham hopes that in sharing his perspective as a neuroscience undergraduate, he can help move the conversation forward in terms of “how we can make the field more inclusive and equitable” and in particular to voice some of the challenges Black students encounter when navigating STEM.

Prehistoric Marine Lizard Exhibited Permanently in Olin Library

Mosasaur

On June 22, crews installed a Mosasaur exhibit in Olin Library. Pictured, from left, are Joel LaBella, facility manager for the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department; Jim Zareski, research assistant/lab manager for the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department; Yu Kai Tan ’20; Ellen Thomas, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Integrative Sciences and Smith Curator of Paleontology of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History; Annie Burke, chair and professor of biology; Andrew White, Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian; and Jessie Steele, library assistant. Pictured in front kneeling is Andy Tan ’21.

As part of the University’s efforts to “activate campus,” a third prehistoric creature has taken up residence at Wesleyan.

The new Mosasaur exhibit is on permanent display inside Olin Library and is a collaboration of faculty, student, and staff efforts.

Mosasaurus hoffmannii Mantell (Mosasaur), a marine lizard, lived in the oceans during the Late Cretaceous period (66 to 68 million years ago) when the last dinosaurs walked the Earth. Mosasaurs had long, snake-like bodies with paddle-like limbs and flattened tails. Some specimens grew to be more than 50 feet long.

In 1871, chemist Orange Judd of the Wesleyan Class of 1847 donated the Mosasaur cast to the University, where it was prominently displayed for years at the University’s Orange Judd Museum of Natural Sciences. In 1957, the museum closed and thousands of artifacts, including the Mosasaur, were haphazardly stuffed into crates and boxes and stored in random locations throughout campus. For 60 years, the cast remained in its crate, first in the tunnels below Foss Hill, then tucked in the Exley Science Center penthouse, from where it was exhumed by Wesleyan staff and students in 2017.

Wesleyan Labs Create, Donate Face Shields to Local Hospital

visor

Shawn Lopez, Wesleyan’s IDEAS Lab coordinator, models a face shield he created using the lab’s 3D printer. Lopez spearheaded the mask production at Wesleyan two weeks ago and has already donated 100 to Middlesex Hospital.

To help medical personnel safeguard themselves during the coronavirus outbreak, two makerspace labs on campus are manufacturing much-needed protective masks using 3D printers.

On April 1, Wesleyan donated its first set of 100 face shields to medical personnel at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, and others to Wesleyan staff who must work on campus to support the remaining students. The mask, which offers a barrier from the spray of liquids, can be used with or without additional medical masks that cover the nose and mouth.

visors

The face visor frames are printed on 3D printers, and the plastic shield locks onto the small nubs. The completed product protects the entire face.

“Our 3D printers have been running at full speed,” said Francis Starr, professor of physics and IDEAS (Integrated Design, Engineering, and Applied Sciences) program coordinator.

Shawn Lopez, the IDEAS Lab coordinator, initiated the project at Wesleyan after “weighing the potential benefits (vast) against the potential harm (nonexistent).”

“Designs for hand-sewn masks and 3D-printed visors were making the rounds on makerspace blogs and websites. It was clear that we could jump in and make a difference here at Wesleyan,” Lopez said. “As the coordinator of the lab, I understood that it was within my purview to undertake a project of this nature.”

Taylor Named a “Top 35 Woman in Higher Education” by Diverse

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry, is honored for being among the “Top 35 Women in Higher Education” in the March 20 issue of Diverse.

Taylor joined the Wesleyan faculty in 2007 and teaches courses in the areas of organic chemistry, biochemistry, environmental chemistry, and bio-medicinal chemistry, among others.

She’s also associate professor, environmental studies, and associate professor, integrative sciences, and takes a multidisciplinary approach to investigating problems at the biological chemistry interface.

Diverse acknowledged Taylor for “striv(ing) to find ways to exploit enzymes found in nature to perform reactions that can help advance the fields of chemistry and medicine.” Her research group has included over 75 students to date, spanning high schoolers to PhD students, with women and other underrepresented students comprising more than three-quarters of her lab members.

Thomas Co-Authors 5 New Publications

Thomas

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas, Harold T. Stearns Professor of Integrative Sciences, Smith Curator of Paleontology of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History and University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences, is the co-author of five new publications. They include:

McNair Fellows Present Research at Diversity in STEM Conference

SACNAS

Elizaveta “Liz” Atalig ’21 and Ekram Towsif ’21 won 2019 SACNAS conference presentation awards for their respective fields of research.

Two Wesleyan McNair Fellows recently participated in the largest multidisciplinary and multicultural STEM diversity event in the country.

From Oct. 31–Nov. 2, Elizaveta “Liz” Atalig ’21 and Ekram Towsif ’21 joined more than 4,000 peers at the 2019 SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) conference in Hawaii. For more than 45 years, SACNAS has served as an inclusive organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanics & Native Americans, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership within STEM.

Attendees of the three-day conference are immersed in cutting-edge scientific research and professional development sessions, motivational keynote speakers, a career expo, multicultural celebrations, and an inclusive and welcoming community of peers, mentors, and role models.

In addition, both Atalig and Towsif received Outstanding Research Presentation awards in their respective disciplines.

“This is the first time McNair fully funded Fellows to participate in the SACNAS conference, so we’re very proud of Ekram and Liz for maximizing their conference experience and conducting their award-winning poster presentations,” said Ronnie Hendrix, associate director of the Wesleyan McNair Program.

Thomas: Carbon Impact—Not Volcanism—Key in Driving the Cretaceous Mass Extinction

Thomas

Ellen Thomas

(By Kayleigh Schweiker ’22)

As scientific study regarding the mass extinction of marine life during the Cretaceous era has progressed, theories including extraterrestrial impact and intense volcanism have surfaced. However, a recent study co-authored by Ellen Thomas, Harold T. Stearns Professor of Integrative Sciences, suggests that carbon impact—not volcanism—was key in driving the Cretaceous mass extinction.

In a paper titled “Rapid ocean acidification and protracted Earth system recovery followed the end-Cretaceous Chicxulub impact,” which was published in the Oct. 21 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Thomas and her colleagues discuss how increases in ocean acidity played a driving force in the mass extinction of marine organisms. This mass extinction, labeled the “Crustaceous-Palogene die-off,” or the K-Pg event, led approximately 75% of plant and animal life on Earth to extinction. Though scientists have suggested that the presence of sulphuric acid proceeding the crash may have caused ocean pH levels to drop, Thomas and her team’s research on this topic reveals a different possibility.