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Archimedes' Dialogue Project

Resources for Speakers

Speaker Guidelines

How will the Project unfold?

  • Potential speakers should submit their names and proposed topics to the Chancellor’s Office (see contact information on the following page) for consideration by The Archimedes Dialogue Advisory Committee and approval by the Chancellor’s Office
  • Identified speakers will be asked to meet with Mr. Keith Pierce in the USCA Instructional Services’ Office to determine the presentation format and to rehearse the presentation before final taping
  • Two formats are available: an interview format or a presentation format lasting 10-12 minutes
  • Whenever possible, the presentations will be given to a live audience
  • All presentations and interviews will be captured digitally to be archived on The Archimedes Dialogue Project website
  • Speakers may use PowerPoints or background images
  • The website and presentations/interviews will be advertised to encourage broad dissemination

Sample Interview Format

Excerpt from “Climate Change and Coral Reefs”

Q. How did you get interested in this type of work?

A. I grew up in Charleston and played in the salt marshes, so I wondered why the marine environment was so different, in so many respects, than other environments. By the time I got to graduate school, I was able to study why this was so. Looking at microbial interactions with various larger organisms, I was able to understand some aspects of why things were the way they were.

Q. When did you get interested in coral reefs?

A. While at USCA, I taught a class in the Bahamas which was linked to a grant I obtained from Earthwatch (Microbial interactions with seagrasses). In this course, we studied all the environments in this Bahamian Island (San Salvador) including the coral reefs. A USCA student(Kim Ritchie, now Senior Scientist at the Motte Marine Lab) became interested in the reefs and wanted to study them in more detail. We began looking at microbes associated with different coral species. During this study, we noticed that the corals had lost their color (produced by a symbiotic microbe) when the waters became warm. These corals later regained their color but then died off. This was the first disease we studied, called white-band disease

Q. Did you determine what caused this die-off?

A. Yes,one of my graduate students determined the pathogenic agent to be Vibrio charariae.

Q. Have you found the cause of any other coral diseases?

A. Yes, for example, sea fans began dying throughout the Caribbean in the 1990’s. We found the cause to be the fungus Aspergillus syndowii. Shortly thereafter, large boulder corals began dying throughout the Florida Keys(a disease called white plague). We found that this was caused by a bacterium that was previously not known to exist.Some of our USCA students were instrumental in identifying this newly discovered bacterium. Similarly, a disease affecting elkhorn corals was found to be caused by the bacterium Seratia marcesens.

Q. Do you mainly study these diseases in the Caribbean?

A. We have identified coral disease causing microbes, in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Pacific as well as the Atlantic. In a study funded by the World Bank, we set up centers of excellence where we ran surveys and conducted workshops to teach local scientist what to look for.

Q. This seems to be a global problem, is there any common occurrence that might account for this?

A. There is, and it is global warming.Increased atmospheric and oceanic temperatures trigger a number of things that affect coral reefs.For example, increased atmospheric temperatures result in drought. This has increased the size of the Saharan Desert (the Sahel), which has increased the dust loads coming off North Africa which are deposited in the Caribbean. The sea fan pathogen has been identified within the African Dust. In addition, increased water temperatures can change the protective covering of microbes on the corals (normal microbiota). This can leave the corals susceptible to disease microorganisms.

Q. Can anything be done to protect corals from disease?

A. We are experimenting with different protocols. One is phage therapy. Here we harvest viruses that kill the pathogenic organisms. When a disease first appears, we apply these viruses to surrounding waters to, hopefully, prevent infection. The bottom line is that we need to reduce carbon emissions so that the basic process of global warming is reduced.


Have you been selected as a speaker?

Please see our collection of resources to facilitate your dialogue. Resources include guidelines and powerpoint templates.