Hi, I’m Laura

and I am an oceanographer

Centered on Arctic Ocean dynamics, I study several trace elements to assess their utility as indicators of circulation and sources. Working with Dr. Alan Shiller at the University of Southern Mississippi, we use GEOTRACES data and campaigns to discuss the global context and applications of various trace elements. A large component of my work has involved time at-sea.

Contact Information
Laura Whitmore
1020 Balch Blvd
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529

Ph.D. Marine ChemistryUniversity of Southern Mississippiongoing
M.S. Marine ScienceUniversity of Southern Mississippi2019
B.S. Environmental ScienceMontana State University2013

Current Research

Arctic Ocean tracer studies. Utilizing data from the 2015 GEOTRACES Arctic campaigns, my dissertation work assesses the utility of Ga, V, Ba, and methane as tracers for sources to and processes within the Arctic Ocean

Northern Gulf of Mexico methane. By combining methane measurements with other tracers, we are assessing the role of submarine groundwater discharge in the region and are investigating regional fluxes of methane to the atmosphere.

Pacific Ocean methane. To further our understanding of methane dynamics, our Pacific Ocean work involves both full water column profiles and continuous underway methane measurements.

Sea-going Experience

160 Sea Days10 Cruises3 Seas

U.S. GEOTRACES – North Pacific Ocean

  • Water column dissolved methane sampling
  • Continuous underway surface methane measurement
  • Shipboard analysis: headspace equilibrium, Picarro CRDS

The North Pacific Ocean is of particular interest because it is host to the oldest waters in the world’s oceans. The transect included shelf waters in the Gulf of Alaska, transited through the North Pacific Current and into the North Pacific Gyre. The transect continues across the equator and into the South Pacific, although I was only aboard the ship for the first leg which retired in Hawaii.

U.S. GO-SHIP – Equatorial Pacific Ocean

  • Water column CFC & SF6 sampling
  • Shipboard analysis: purge-and-trap, Electron Capture-GC

The GO-SHIP program is an international effort to conduct regular hydrographic surveys around the global ocean. Data from GO-SHIP cruises contributes substantially to global ocean databases and, importantly, is enabling decadal scale studies to investigate longer term variations in the oceans.

CONCORDE – Mississippi Bight

  • Water column dissolved methane sampling
  • Shipboard analysis: headspace equilibrium, Picarro CRDS

CONCORDE scientists investigated the role of river influence on the chemistry and biology of the Northern Gulf of Mexico ecosystems. Utilizing a highly multidisciplinary platform, daily strategizing was conducted with on-shore scientists. The Shiller Lab collected samples for trace elements, radium, and methane in an effort to assess the regional influence of SGD (see publication/presentation).

U.S. GEOTRACES – Arctic Ocean

  • Water column dissolved methane sampling
  • Water column gaseous dissolved nitrogen species sampling
  • Water column dissolved inorganic carbon sampling
  • Shipboard analysis: headspace equilibrium, Picarro CRDS

The Arctic Ocean is particularly responsive to variations in climate. A small change in seawater temperatures can destabilize sea ice, or even the sea-floor (methane hydrates!). The 2015 GEOTRACES Arctic campaigns were a multi-national effort to characterize trace metals in the Arctic and to set an important “baseline” by which future studies can be referenced to. Prior to this campaign, few studies had assessed trace elements in the Arctic and those that did focused largely on bioactive trace metals, or trace metals that could be easily sampled (i.e., don’t require trace metal clean equipment). The effort set out in 2015 engaged 3 ships to gather a pan-Arctic coverage at roughly the same time (all cruises occurred between July and October).

Educational Cruises

I have participated as both a student and an educator on multiple cruises aboard the R/V Point Sur in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi Bight.

YearRoleCruise Purpose
2017EducatorGraduate Student Teaching Cruise
2016EducatorGraduate Student Teaching Cruise
2016Student/TechnicianMooring Recovery
2016 Student Marine Instrumentation

Local Field Experience

A benefit to being near the coast is the bounty of research opportunity in our backyard. The Shiller Lab, under the leadership of Amy Moody, conducts monthly beach surveys to assess the role of submarine groundwater discharge in the coastal environment and ecosystem. We collect both surface water samples and ground water samples for a variety of parameters including nutrients, radium, trace metals, and methane. We utilize the local pier system to sample surface waters, as well as a raft as needed. To collect ground water we use a push-point sampler coupled with a peristaltic pump.

Technical Skills

Analytical Chemistry
Picarro CRDS
SeaFast Preconcentration
Data Analysis
Ocean Data View


Marine Technology Society Gulf Coast Student Section
Chair, 2016 2017
Student Oceanographic Society
Vice-President, 2016-2017

Publications and Presentations

Recent Conferences

  • Ocean Carbon Biogeochemistry. Summer 2019. Lightning Talk & Poster. Woods Hole, MA
  • Regional Class Research Vessel Planning Workshop. 2019. Gulfport, MS
  • Goldschmidt. 2018. Presentation. Boston, MA.
  • Ocean Sciences Meeting. 2018. Presentation/Invited Poster. Portland, OR.


  • L.M. Whitmore, P.L. Morton, B.S. Twining, A.M. Shiller. (accepted) Vanadium cycling in the Western Arctic Ocean and shelf-basin connectivity. Marine Chemistry.
  • D. Kadko, A. Aguilar-Islas, C. Bolt, C.S. Buck., J.N. Fitzsimmons, L.T. Jensen, W.M. Landing, C.M. Marsay, R. Rember, A.M. Shiller, L.M. Whitmore, R.F. Anderson. 2019. The residence times of trace elements determined in the surface Arctic Ocean during the 2015 US Arctic GEOTRACES expedition. Marine Chemistry.  DOI: 10.1016/j.marchem.2018.10.011
  • C.M. Marsay, A. Aguilar-Islas, J.N. Fitzsimmons, M. Hatta, L.T. Jensen, S.G. John, D. Kadko, W.M. Landing, N.T. Lanning, P.L. Morton, A. Pasqualini, S. Rauschenberg, R.M. Sherrell, A.M. Shiller, B.S. Twining, L.M. Whitmore, Ruifeng Zhan, C.S. Buck. 2018. Dissolved and particulate trace elements in late summer Arctic melt ponds. Marine Chemistry, DOI: 10.1016/j.marchem.2018.06.002
  • J.J. Moran, L.M. Whitmore, Z.J. Jay, R.deM. Jennings, J.P. Beam, H.W. Kreuzer, W.P. Inskeep. 2017. Dual stable isotopes of CH4 from Yellowstone hot-springs suggest hydrothermal processes involving magmatic CO2.  J. of Volcan. & Geophys. Res., DOI: 10.1016/j.volgeores.2017.05.011
  • R. deM. Jennings, J.J. Moran, Z.J. Jay, J.P. Beam, L.M. Whitmore, M.A. Kozubal, H.W. Kreuzer, W.P. Inskeep. 2017. Integration of metagenomic and stable carbon isotope evidence reveals the extent and mechanisms of carbon dioxide fixation in high-temperature microbial communities. Front. Microbiol. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.00088
  • J.J. Moran, L.M. Whitmore, N.G. Isern, M.F. Romine, K.M. Riha, W.P. Inskeep, H.W. Kreuzer. 2016. Formaldehyde as a carbon and electron shuttle between autotroph and heterotroph populations in acidic hydrothermal vents of the Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park. Extremophiles. DOI: 10.1007/s00792-016-0821-2
  • R. deM. Jennings, L.M. Whitmore, J.J. Moran, H.W. Kreuzer, W.P. Inskeep. 2014. Carbon dioxide fixation by Metallosphaera yellowstonensis and acidothermophilic iron-oxidizing microbial communities from Yellowstone National Park. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, DOI: 10.1128/AEM.03416-13