Early Career Leadership Master Class and Fellowship

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See the Master Class Course Materials Here!

Overview of the COBRA Early Career Master Class and Fellowship

The Crustal Ocean Biosphere Research Accelerator (COBRA) is an international research coordination network funded by the US National Science Foundation. COBRA’s mission is to accelerate research on the structure, function, resilience, and ecosystem services of the crustal ocean biosphere to inform decision making, particularly related to deep-sea mining and subseafloor carbon sequestration. COBRA has four primary activities to achieve this mission, as outlined in the COBRA Logic Model:

  • Coordinate: Bring together diverse stakeholders to prioritize and plan research
  • Accelerate: Leverage opportunities, support research exchanges, and harness data
  • Translate: Bring findings to policy-makers, industry, and the public
  • Educate: Train early career researchers in ocean exploration, science and policy

COBRA is an endorsed action of the United Nations’ Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

The centerpiece of the Education activity of COBRA is a “Master Class” that trains early career researchers (ECRs) in deep-sea expedition planning from start to finish. The Master Class – delivered virtually over the course of 13 weeks – is designed to equip participants with the skills and tools to successfully design, propose, execute, and report on deep-sea oceanographic field research with a collaborative, just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive approach. Topics covered include reviewing the types of assets for conducting deep-sea research and exploration, funding and proposal writing tips, developing concepts through respectful and reciprocal engagement with others, cruise preparation how-to, at-sea operations planning, using telepresence for research and outreach, permitting and reporting, data management, and ocean law. See the COBRA Master Class website for examples of training materials. A variety of international subject matters experts provide instruction, broadening the participants’ networks. Participants apply their learning through the design of an independent project. Participants also synthesize learning by contributing to the development of an open-access “how to” manual, for which they receive co-authorship.

For the 2023 Master Class, participants will also have the opportunity to remotely participate in a leveraged “shakedown” expedition of the RV Falkor (too) in June 2023. This expedition is sponsored by the Schmidt Ocean Institute – a COBRA partner – and is intended to explore seamount ecosystems in the Pacific Ocean within Costa Rica’s Exclusive Economic Zone to inform conservation of biodiversity. All Master Class participants are eligible to participate remotely via telepresence in the expedition, and to design a small research project during the virtual Master Class that can be implemented during the expedition.

As an international network, COBRA seeks participation from US-based and international ECRs, with an intention to create a larger, more diverse pool of talent engaged in leading deep-sea research that addresses societal needs. In this context, an ECR is defined as a senior graduate student, postdoctoral scientist, junior faculty less than 10 years from their terminal degree, and/or other junior professionals such as an early career employee of a government, non-governmental organization/non-profit, or company. Given the leveraged expedition opportunity, the 2023 Master Class will seek to advance research related to seamount ecosystems, translating science to inform conservation management policy, and capacity development in the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries United National regional group.

Participants selected for the virtual Master Class training opportunity are eligible to receive a US$2,000 stipend to support their participation. Participants are also eligible to receive an additional US$1,000 stipend to support their remote participation in the June 2023 cruise telepresence learning opportunity. Previous hands-on experience with deep-sea research, outreach, or policy is not required. Participants are considered COBRA Fellows for the 2023 calendar year and are eligible for additional COBRA leadership training opportunities.

Applications are currently closed

Future Master Classes

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2023 Master Class and Fellowship

The 2023 Master Class will be held virtually February to May 2023 with the opportunity for remote participation in a leveraged “shakedown” expedition of the RV Falkor (too) in June 2023. This Schmidt Ocean Institute sponsored expedition intends to explore seamount ecosystems in the Pacific Ocean within Costa Rica’s Exclusive Economic Zone to inform conservation of biodiversity.

2022 Master Class and Fellowship

Master Class 2022The inaugural Master Class was held virtually from March to May 2022 and partnered with a telepresence-enabled deep-sea expedition of the Ocean Exploration Trust’s (OET) E/V Nautilus. This expedition was part of a series exploring seamounts within and around the Papahānuamokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM).

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