TREET (Transforming Remotely Conducted Research through Ethnography, Education & Rapidly Evolving Technologies) is exploring how remote human-robotic interactions can transform the future of ocean research and advance research experiences for early career scientists and undergraduate students.

This project combines expertise in ethnography, education and technology at the Concord Consortium, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Ocean Exploration Trust, and the Harvard Kennedy School. We are investigating how telepresence can transform STEM research and education by bringing meaningful research experiences to scientists and students otherwise unable to participate. Early career scientists pioneering the use of remote robotic vehicles (ROVs) and sensors will work with undergraduate students to explore important greenhouse gases released to the deep ocean from beneath the seafloor.

Engineers aboard Exploration Vessel Nautilus in the Caribbean Sea will support the ROVs while scientific observations, data analysis and research decisions will be conducted on shore by scientists and students via telepresence  at the Inner Space Center (ISC) at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography.

Twelve undergraduate students from the University of Rhode Island, University of Idaho, Michigan State University and Harvard University will participate in all phases of the project: developing the research program, joining the virtual cruise” at the ISC and completing their own research projects using data from the cruise.

We will evaluate how the data-to-knowledge conversion is transformed through computational methods and how those methods can be used better to train young researchers. Working within our interdisciplinary team will allow us to articulate an approach to transformative education that empowers students throughout the scientific process.

Principal Investigators

Amy Pallant
Katy Croff Bell
Chris German
Zara Mirmalek

Project Inquiries

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. OCE-1344250. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

How to cite this material.


The Concord Consortium (n.d.) Transforming remotely conducted research. Retrieved 2016, August 26 from

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An important goal for including undergraduate students in the project is to advance student understanding of the way frontier science is evolving and to provide opportunities for students to participate in scientific research using remote data.

The educational research component of this project seeks to learn about the unique educational aspects of this experience for undergraduate students and early career scientists.

  • To what extent do students gain in understanding research methodology?
  • When student involvement in scientific research is made possible by remote access, what are key factors that appear to support the educational objectives of the students and their professors?

We will be particularly interested in whether this was an authentic research experience for the students.

  • Did student participation help advance the research goals of the cruise?
  • Were students able to make important observations or significant findings?

We will also inquire into the reasons students chose to become involved in the project and ask about the effects of this experience on their attitudes toward science. Finally, we will investigate whether this kind of remote participation for students appears to be a good design for engaging undergraduates in research.

The education researchers on the team will observe student online interactions with each other and with the scientists. We will review student work completed during the project, including postings to online logs, discussions in the seminar, participation during the cruise and presentation of research goals and results. We will be on shore during the cruise at the Inner Space Center and observe the interactions of students and researchers. We will also conduct interviews with the students and researchers at various points during the project and administer surveys about the experience of engaging in undergraduate research.

Dr. Katy Croff Bell
Dr. Katy Croff Bell

Steve Carey
Steve Carey

Dr. Chris German
Dr. Chris German

Peter Girguis
Peter Girguis

Cynthia McIntyre
Cynthia McIntyre

Anna Michel
Anna Michel

Zara Mirmalek
Zara Mirmalek

Eric Mittelstaedt
Eric Mittelstaedt

Amy Pallant
Amy Pallant

Kanna Rajan
Kanna Rajan

Chris Roman
Chris Roman

Lynn Stephens
Lynn Stephens

Masako Tominaga
Masako Tominaga

Dr. Cindy Lee Van Dover
Dr. Cindy Lee Van Dover

Scott Wankel
Scott Wankel

Seminar in Remote Deep Sea Research & Exploration

The spring 2014 semester long seminar is designed to introduce the project and provide undergraduate students with background they will need to undertake research during the second year of the project.

The seminar will provide:

  • an overview of the program
  • background on science and research pertinent to the sites to be studied
  • an introduction to the technology and the robotic vehicles
  • planning time for the research

The seminar will be held on Monday  nights at 6:00 p.m. EST.  

Week 1: Jan 26-31
Chris German (Co-PI), Amy Pallant (Co-PI) and Zara Mirmalek (Co-PI): introduce the program as a whole, overview of ethnography, education and evolving technologies

Week 2: Feb 3-7
Katy Croff Bell (Co-PI), Steve Carey and Cindy Lee Van Dover: provide overview of technology and scientific research opportunities

Week 3: Feb 10-14 
Michigan State University (Masako Tominaga)

Week 4: Feb 17-21 
Harvard University (Peter Girguis)

Week 5: Feb 24-28 
University of Idaho (Eric Mittelstaedt)

Week 6: Mar 3-7 
University of Rhode Island (Chris Roman)

Week 7: Mar 10-14 
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute early career scientists (Anna Michel and Scott Wankel)

Week 8: Mar 17-21 Spring Break (No Zoom session)

Week 9: Mar 24-28
Feasibility discussion: Discuss your research ideas with scientists and other students. Get ideas about tools and techniques. 

Weeks 10-11: Mar 31 - Apr 11 (Presentations March 31 and April 7)
Student presentations of research goals

Week 12: Apr 14-18 
Moving toward a plan for the cruise
Chris German and Katy Croff Bell to present plan for the cruise that is feasible, equitable; get feedback from group

Week 13 (TBD) 
Finalizing the plan (timing to be determined)
Chris German will explain final plan for the cruise.


Log in to the seminar website for resources
and discussion.

Go to Seminar Website

Pallant, A., McIntyre, C., & Stephens, L. A. (2016). Transforming undergraduate research opportunities using telepresence. Journal of Geoscience Education, 64(2), 138-146.

McIntyre, C., & Pallant, A. (2015). Telepresence to support research experiences for undergraduates. The Concord Consortium.

Pallant, A. (2015). From ship to shore: Telepresence research. @Concord 19(1) 12-13.

Pallant, A., & McIntyre, C. (2014). Ocean research using telepresence. @Concord 18(2), 8-9.


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