Microcosm Film Project: Fall Update

by Michele Hoffman Trotter, SUST adjunct professor at Roosevelt University and director/co-producer of the Microcosm film project

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, the Microcosm team pauses to reflect on how much has happened and how far we have come over the past year in creating our ninety-minute high-definition documentary on the microscopic universe in the ocean.

Friday Harbor Labs, San Juan Island, WA

Friday Harbor Labs, San Juan Island, WA

The script is nearing completion thanks to our time over the summer at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Lab.  The amazing scientists we met there gave us so many rich story lines that revolve around the incredibly important research work they are doing. In addition, Dr. Jonathan Trent spoke with us about some amazing ways we might use the microcosm to improve the future, and agreed to help out as a science advisor on our script.

We are also fortunate to have some incredibly talented interns with us this year.  Nicholas Garcia (School of the Art Institute in Chicago) and Kiera Ryon (Columbia College) have become masters in the lab and are diligently filming new batches of microorganisms weekly to incorporate into the film.  Rebecca Kennedy (SAIC) and Alex Eldridge (CC Alum) are creating epic animation shorts that will be incorporated to demystify some of the more complex scientific principles we want to relate in the film.  Once the film is complete, it is our hope to make these film shorts available to teachers free of charge for use in their classrooms.

RU student and SUST major Emily Rhea works in the chemistry lab at Columbia College on a Microcosm ocean acidification experiment, Nov. 2014 (photo: M. Hoffman)

RU student and SUST major Emily Rhea works in the chemistry lab at Columbia College on a Microcosm ocean acidification experiment, Nov. 2014 (photo: M. Hoffman)

As more and more carbon enters our ocean, the very chemistry of sea water is changing.  Last week we began trials on an experiment that will simulate the impacts of ocean acidification and its impact on various forms of marine life for the film under the direction of award winning chemistry professor Dr. Beatrix Budy of Columbia College. A new Microcosm intern, Emily Rhea (SUST major at Roosevelt University), joined the team on this exciting project.

Meanwhile, another SUST major and longtime Microcosm intern, Jordan Ewbank (who is studying abroad in Spain this fall semester), is working across continents and oceans remotely with Hawai’i Association for Marine Education and Research (HAMER) as an advancement officer.  In this role he has constructed and helped spearhead an Indiegogo campaign that will go live this December.  The campaign (which seeks to raise $75,000) will support a manta ray research initiative lead by Dr. Mark Deakos with a view to diagnosing and preventing the entanglement of imperiled mantas in fishing line.  One in ten Maui mantas suffers sever injury and even amputation due to such entanglements.

As you can see, things are coming together and the journey has been truly spectacular!  Because we are an independent film, the support we have received along the way is the only reason we have been able to keep production going.  To that end, we encourage you to shop Microcosm this holiday season with t-shirts (also available in kid sizes) and hoodies available for a short time through Booster, and through our art store on Etsy featuring photographic art prints on metal, jewelry and more.

BOOSTER (shirts and hoodies)the manta t-shirt design was hand drawn by Microcosm Director Michele Hoffman Trotter


ETSY STORE (VibrantSea)


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