Meet the 2024 recipients of the Roy Hyndman Award
Award supports grad students in advancing research using ONC data
June 13, 2024

Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) is pleased to announce Brendan Smith, Hannah Robutka and Brittnie Spiel as the 2024 recipients of the $20,000 Roy Hyndman Ocean Observing Award.

The award supports graduate students in advancing research using ONC ocean observing data and/or technology, as they collaborate with leading ocean technology experts.

The award is named in honour of the late Dr. Roy Hyndman, a leading proponent of the NEPTUNE Observatory who served as the Chair of the Ocean Observatory Council for more than six years. Hyndman was a strong advocate for supporting students and faculty who use ONC infrastructure in their research programs.

All three successful applicants are furthering research that aligns with ONC's Strategic Plan.

Brendan Smith prepares to carry out a test deployment of the Deep Acoustic Lander hydrophone array off the coast of Costa Rica, on board Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor. Credit: Monika Naranjo courtesy Schmidt Ocean Institute.

Brendan Smith - Hydrothermal vent soundscapes at the Main Endeavour Vent Field

The research project in support of Smith’s PhD thesis will use hydrophones and other instruments operated by ONC to characterize and understand the soundscape at hydrothermal vent fields.

The Dalhousie University Acoustical Oceanography student will analyze both passive acoustic data from ONC’s single bottom-mounted hydrophone at the Main Endeavour Vent Field as well as two of our other hydrophone arrays deployed at the site. There have been few acoustic measurements near hydrothermal vents to date.

The monitoring is important given the on-going seismic event at Endeavour, which will likely lead to significant changes to the vent field.

Additionally, previous research suggests that vent fauna may use the acoustic cues from vents for habitat settlement, making the soundscape a critical component of ecological conservation.

Hannah Robutka explores the Ptarmigan Cirque in Kananaskis Country, Alberta.

Hannah Robutka - Examining the evolution of hydrothermal iron particles with implications for ocean biogeochemical cycles

Robutka is furthering the completion of her PhD thesis by investigating the physical aspects of the Main Endeavour Vent Field hydrothermal plume, including the influences of flow direction, velocity, and fluid fluxes.

The University of Victoria Earth and Ocean Sciences student intends to analyze the size, shape, and texture of particles within the plume from immediately above the vents to the near-field region.

Robutka’s PhD research to-date has focused on the chemicals and minerals contained within the plume.

By integrating the oceanography data generated by ONC seafloor instruments, she anticipates developing a model of the global impacts of hydrothermal iron on ocean biochemistry and biological processes.

Brittnie Spriel deploys a hydrophone in a kelp forest site in Barkley Sound, near Bamfield, British Columbia.

Brittnie Spriel - Barkley Sound to the Classroom: Marine Sounds Indicate Ecosystem Condition

Spriel’s research will utilize acoustic monitoring to demonstrate the value of soundscape data for ecological monitoring, specifically in coastal regions.

The University of Victoria MSc candidate will leverage ONC data from the China Creek Node and Folger Deep Station as well as deploy anchored hydrophones at kelp forest sites in Barkley Sound.

Spriel will also explore how the results can be developed into educational material and collaborate with the ONC outreach team on presenting the information as an entry point for students and lifelong learners of marine science.

The result of the research work will be used to develop a thesis chapter for her MSc degree as well as a peer-reviewed manuscript.

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