An animation of all the ocean drifter units during the passage of Hurricane Isaac around 8/28/12. Vectors show a given unit's direction of travel and the vector length at given unit's speed. The dots represent a given unit's position and are colored for speed of travel.


Nate Murry, a senior majoring in physical oceanography at Millersville University, has landed an internship with two Consortium for Advanced Research on the Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE) investigators at the University of Delaware.

“Our research is multi-faceted, but ultimately centers on the long-term effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill resulting from the destruction of the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform,” said Murry.

The Deepwater Horizon incident, more commonly known as the BP Oil Spill, leaked an estimated 4.9 billion barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in April of 2010. The spill claimed the lives of 11 oil rig workers and had an immeasurable impact on the environment and diverse aquatic life inhabiting the gulf.

“The primary question we are asking is, ‘where did the oil go?’” said Murry. “My specific research seeks to understand how the ocean works: current flow behavior, physical characteristics and interactions with the atmosphere.”

Murry landed the position as a student researcher after presenting a research project he had conducted to a team of researchers at the University of Delaware. After the presentation, Murry kept in contact with the team, displaying an interest in the projects they were working on. During their sustained dialogue, Murry was offered the position.

Though he has had over 13 years of experience in technical and engineering disciplines, Murry wanted the opportunity to apply his abilities with fellow researchers in the hands-on, scientific environment of field study. Despite his extensive research preformed with advisor Dr. Ajoy Kumar of the ocean sciences department, Murry says, “there is no substitute for real-world experience in the field.”

Murry has taken what he has learned and applied them to his real world studies, using statistical techniques to analyze data transmitted via satellite GPS by a group of ocean drifters.

“My team and I then attempt to interpret what the plots are telling us and pass that information on to our colleagues around the country who are doing similar analyses in an effort to understand these processes,” said Murry.

Once Murry graduates, he plans to return to Millersville in pursuit of his Master of Science in Integrated Science Applications degree, with an ultimate goal of making an impact on the quality of ocean life and those who it affects.

“The MSISA program is very flexible and custom-tailored to the candidate, and I’m trying to keep all options open,” said Murry of leaving his post-graduation plans open at this point in time.

“My work with CARTHE has allowed me to collaborate with experienced scientists and learn how to successfully apply myself to my work, whatever that may be.”

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