SEA Currents: News
January 13, 2020
Emily Burke is Winner of Armin E. Elsaesser III Fellowship Award
SEA Semester scientist Emily Burke has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Armin E. Elsaesser III Fellowship Award. Emily will use her award to explore the rugged coastline of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, described by the National Park Service as a place “where the ice age lingers.” Her proposal is titled “Canvas and Ice: A Sailing Study of Alaska’s Changing Fjords.”
For her two-month summer voyage, Emily plans to “live lightly on the water,” aboard a 30-foot sailboat, Katabatic. She will travel west from Seward, AK, to visit as many fjords, coves, and islands as weather permits. Emily plans to keep a detailed, illustrated journal documenting her observations about the biology and geology of the area. She will also make natural history prints with linoleum, assemble cyanotype prints from natural material, document the changing landscape by repeating historical photos of glaciers, and make audio recordings both above and below the sea. Her art will be incorporated into an educational pamphlet on the region. Emily also hopes to promote sailing as a low-impact way of exploring the region’s fjords.
A graduate of Harvard University with a degree in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Emily is an assistant scientist and medical officer at Sea Education Association, and has sailed on both the SSV Corwith Cramer and the SSV Robert C. Seamans. For the past five summers she has worked as a sea kayak guide and deckhand based in Seward.
Writes Emily: “Wherever I explore coastlines and currents, people say I bring an infectious enthusiasm for adventure and the natural world that engages everyone around me. I’m always looking for ways to connect people with their environment and each other. I hope this voyage on Katabatic can support my goals and aspirations to cultivate a deep sense of place, create science-infused art inspired by this dynamic coastline and life sailing along it, and connect others with this wild place where the mountains meet the sea.”
The Elsaesser Fellowship was established in 1987 in memory of Armin E. Elsaesser III, who taught Maritime Studies at SEA Semester and sailed aboard the SSV Westward. It’s intended to help one person each year investigate a marine or maritime subject of personal interest, and follow a dream that has been elusive because of the demands of work or study. Projects must be unrelated to their current professional activities and reflect a creative and independent approach to the pursuit of knowledge. SEA alumni, faculty, staff, and former employees are eligible. Awards range from $5,000 to $10,000.
Check back on the SEA website for updates on Emily's project.