Diatoms are microscopic unicellular algae. Recently, Dr. Mario de Stefano, a marine diatom expert from University of Naples II (Naples, Italy) visited UBD to work with Dr. David Marshall and his team to investigate diatom diversity and biological community variation along the Brunei Darussalam estuarine system. Because the Brunei Darussalam estuary is characterized by a steep gradient in acidification, it presents a potentially useful surrogate to understanding ‘ocean acidification’, which is considered to be the greatest threat to marine life in the future; humanelevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are causing acidification of the surface ocean waters at an unprecedented rate. We hope that out collaborative study will not only lead to a greater understanding of the diatom diversity in Brunei Darussalam, but that it can also be used to help predict future climate change in the oceans.
Dr. de Stefano’s approach to studying diatoms involves sophisticated Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) techniques, and while at UBD he held a short SEM course. He is greatly interested in helping develop the SEM facilities at UBD, so these can be used as a tool to enhance research at the university and regionally, and is currently preparing a proposal in this regard. An initial research paper using SEM techniques to describe planktonic diatoms in the Brunei Darussalam estuary is being prepared in collaboration with UBD (Biology) PhD student, Aimimuliani Adam. Furthermore, Dr. de Stefano’s research takes him to all parts of the world and this year, in addition to undertaking fieldwork in tropical Brunei Darussalam, he also travelled to the Arctic and Antarctic. He hopes to facilitate through collaborations with UBD and the Italian National Antarctic Program, opportunities for UBD students to visit and undertake research in Antarctic. We look forward to working together with Dr. de Stefano on all these initiatives in the future.
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