KINGSTON, JAMAICA, 16 June 2011 – – The Interridge/ISA Endowment Fund Fellowship Programme recently awarded fellowships to three students from developing countries.

The three successful applicants are Mr. Girish Beedessee (Mauritius), Mr. Srinivas Rao (India) and Mr. Sabyasachi Sautya of India.

Mr. Girish Beedessee is currently working at the Mauritius Oceanography Institute (MOI) under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Marie. The title of his project is “Biological activities and properties of extracts derived from invertebrates and microbial communities of hydrothermal vent faunas at the Central Indian Ridge”. He will work with Dr. Ken Takai of JAMSTEC, Japan.

Fascinated by the abundance and diversity of organisms found at hydrothermal vents, and with the possibility of finding novel genes, proteins and molecules which can contribute to interesting biological properties, Mr. Beedessee says the fellowship would provide him with an opportunity to look at the biological properties of invertebrates and microbial symbionts sampled at vent systems of the Central Indian Ridge (CIR).

Mr. Srinivas Rao completed his M.Sc. in Physical Oceanography from Andhra University in 2007 and joined as a research scholar under the RIDGE project at the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa, India to pursue a Ph.D. in Oceanography, under the guidance of Dr. P. Vethamony and Dr. K.A. Kamesh Raju of NIO.  As a part of his work in NIO he has been working on physical properties of the water column over the Indian Ocean Ridge systems. He has also participated in cruises exploring the Carlsberg Ridge and Central Indian Ridge systems to acquire physical oceanography data using CTD, MAPR’s and AUV.

Mr. Srinivas Rao’s proposal is entitled “Distribution of hydrothermal sources over the slow spreading Indian mid oceanic ridges”, and he will be collaborating with Dr. Edward T. Baker  of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA, USA.  Mr.  Rao said the InterRidge/ISA fellowship would give him an opportunity to learn about the processing and interpretation of deep-sea physical oceanography data in relation to hydrothermal plumes/vents and analysing the water column data (with CTD and MAPR) collected during several cruises under the Indian Ridge programme.

Mr. Sabyasachi Sautya also studies in the Biological Oceanography Division at NIO, under the supervision of Dr. Baban Ingole. His proposal title is “Exploration of the megabenthic assemblages of the Carlsberg Ridge, Indian Ocean”. The Carlsberg Ridge is a large seabed mountain range in the Indian Ocean, generally rocky with some sediment cover. Recent research has identified possible evidence of vent-derived plumes.

Although little information is available on hard-substratum communities in the deep ocean, particularly in the Indian Ocean, extensive underwater video has been collected from the ridge, which will allow assessment, for the first time, of the variation in the rocky habitats and their biological communities, as well as potential evidence for hydrothermal processes allowing the linking of biological and geological patterns and assessing ecosystem function on the Carlsberg Ridge.

The InterRidge Student and Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme continues to develop and reach out to the global community of young ocean scientists. In the past three years a successful partnership has been established between InterRidge and the ISA Endowment Fund, designed to support early career scientists from developing countries in collaborative marine scientific research.