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Free lecture to show how 3D visualization reveals the sea floor

The Lamar University chapter of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, will host Rikk Kvitek, professor in the Division of Science and Environmental Policy, California State University Monterey Bay, in a free public lecture on Wednesday, March 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the Richard Price Auditorium, John Gray Center, Building A.

Although the global ocean is the driver of weather, a highway for marine commerce, a reservoir of vast marine resources, and our playground, we know more about distant planets than we do about the seafloor. Through novel applications of cutting edge technology, scientists can now visualize submarine canyons, underwater seamounts and ridges, and even a kelp forest teeming with marine life.

Beginning with SCUBA, Kvitek quickly realized that detailed bird’s-eye views of the seafloor could do for marine research what aerial photography had done for terrestrial studies, and now specializes in bringing seafloor habitats to life with high resolution remote sensing and 3D visualization. The State of California has undertaken a cutting-edge project to make this possible by mapping the seafloor of all the state's waters.

Kvitek directs the university’s Seafloor Mapping Lab. Kvitek also teaches and directs the program’s geospatial technology curriculum, including classes in GIS, GPS, and acoustic remote sensing.  His research involves numerous undergraduate students in high-resolution mapping of west coast benthic habitats and communities critical to resource management issues.

In his lecture, Kvitek will show the first images created from this effort and share how this new information is being used.

Kvitek obtained his Bachelor of Science in zoology from the University of Michigan, a Master’s at Moss Landing Marine Labs, and Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Washington. He joined the faculty at CSUMB in 1996. The CSU system acknowledged his contributions in 2004, making him the first CSUMB faculty member to receive the Wang Family Excellence Award in Natural Sciences.

His research with whales, sea otters, walrus, sea birds, fish, icebergs, submarine canyons and numerous invertebrates from the Arctic to the Antarctic has brought novel insights to the fields of benthic ecology, seafloor disturbance, habitat mapping and species relations, and the effects of harmful algal bloom toxins in marine food chains.

For more information on the lectures, contact Jim Westgate, University Professor of Earth and Space Sciences, at (409) 880-7970.