Sea-Going Research & Discovery

In addition to playing active roles in the 36-member science party, students on board are enrolled in the University of Washington's Sea-going Research and Discovery Course (OCEAN 411). 

Course Description

The dynamic behavior of the Juan de Fuca Plate and the processes that operate in the overlying ocean and atmosphere provide a natural laboratory to study the ocean and the complex geological, biological, chemical and physical systems within it. This unique interdisciplinary, hands-on course will provide you with the experience of conducting research related to many of these processes on a major oceanographic research cruise. During the field component of this course, a two-week cruise, you will work alongside experienced scientists, engineers and the ship’s crew to gain at-sea research and sea-going experience using advanced oceanographic research instruments and vehicles, and you will conduct your own research using data collected with some of these tools. Additionally, as a member of this oceanographic expedition and class, you will be taking part in the preparation for installation of America’s first high-power and high-bandwidth cabled observatory. This ocean observatory is called the Regional Scale Nodes (RSN), which the University of Washington is leading the design, installation and operation of ( The RSN is part of the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatory Initiative, which will construct a network of instruments, undersea-cabled observatories and instrumented moorings that span the Western Hemisphere. The RSN component will connect state-of-the-art instruments and full water column moorings to high-power and high-bandwidth networks permanently installed across the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate off the coasts of Washington and Oregon. As a member of this course, you will be participating in a truly groundbreaking effort to transform the kind of science and exploration that we can do in the world’s oceans.


Dr. Deborah Kelley
Dr. John Delaney

Course Goals

By the end of this course, we hope that you will have achieved the following:

  • A greater interest in the ocean and the systems within it.
  • A familiarity with basic oceanographic research methods and tools.
  • An understanding of the interaction between geological, biological, chemical and physical processes that occur within the oceans.
  • An ability to work collaboratively to think of and address research questions.
  • An ability to actively participate in scientific discussions and to critically think about scientific papers.