Luke is a shore-based scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) exploration of the deepest place on the planet, the Marianas Trench, from the research vessel Okeanos Explorer.
Luke is part of a team of scientists contributing live commentary on the expedition while viewing footage from NOAA’s remotely operated vehicle known as the Deep Discoverer daily for 8-10 hours from Friday, June 17 to Sunday, July 10, beginning at 5 p.m. ET.
An online livestream will be available worldwide at http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov for anyone to explore the deep sea along with the scientists.
June 17 marks the start of the expedition’s third phase.
Chemosynthetic organisms that use chemicals instead of sunlight to create their food inhabit regions with hydrothermal vents.
Previously, Luke participated as a shore-based scientist for a NOAA expedition off the Atlantic Ocean in 2014 that looked at submarine canyons along the New England seamount chain.
As a post-doctoral researcher, she dove 2,512 meters below the ocean in Alvin, the U.S. Navy’s manned deep-ocean research submersible that has been operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for more than half a century.
“I loved being able to go out to sea to see these places,” she said, and with NOAA’s marine technology she is able to continue exploring these places from Stockton University.
Locally, Luke studies artificial reefs that attract colonies of coral, mussels and fish such as tautog and sea bass. She looks at the genetic diversity of corals and microorganisms to predict their ability to withstand change.
“Knowing what’s out there and being able to identify species helps us document biodiversity,” she explained.