SEA Currents: News
November 03, 2015
SEA Announces 2015-16 Armin E. Elsaesser Fellowship Winner
SEA Semester W-160 Alumnus
2015-16 Armin E. Elsaesser Fellowship winner
If you could follow one dream that has been elusive because of the demands of work or study, what would it be?
That’s the question that SEA posed this spring when we invited applications from alumni, faculty, staff, and past employees for the Armin E. Elsaesser Fellowship. The Fellowship program, established in 1987, is in memory of Armin E. Elsaesser III, a sailor, educator, and adventurer who sailed on several cruises aboard our now-retired ship, the Westward, and taught Maritime Studies on shore. Armin’s strong curiosity and sense of adventure inspired SEA students and staff alike.
Now we’re excited to announce that Timothy Dwyer, a SEA Semester W-160 alumnus, is our 2015-2016 winner.
Retracing A Historic Expedition
With support from this award, Tim will retrace the path taken in Pacific Northwest waters by geologist James D. Dana and other scientists aboard the U.S. Exploring Expedition (or “Ex. Ex.”), the nation’s first global oceanic voyage of exploration, in 1841. Tim plans to sail his own 35-foot sloop over a six-week period next summer through the Salish Sea, which includes Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Along the way, his primary goal is to fill in gaps from Dana and team’s historic biodiversity survey of the area.
Rather than painstakingly illustrating collected biological samples, as Dana did, Tim plans to use specialized photography techniques both underwater and on the surface to create descriptive portraits of marine invertebrate organisms found throughout the region. To complete his project, he will draw on his more than a decade of scientific, temperate-water SCUBA diving experience.
A Teacher First and Foremost
Tim currently lives in Friday Harbor, Washington on San Juan Island, about two hours north of Seattle, and considers himself first and foremost a teacher.
“I am a teacher who is concerned that no one under the age of twenty knows who Jacques Cousteau was,” he wrote in his proposal. “In the three years that I transitioned out of a career in research science and into high school teaching, this has been one of my more brutal realizations.”
Since 2012 he has taught high school life sciences and math at Spring Street International School, a small, rural independent school. He also served as science director of the school's Inland Ocean Studies summer program for high schoolers. He previously worked as a research technologist at University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories, a marine science instructor at the Catalina Island Marine Institute in California, an educator for the Ocean Classroom Foundation in Maine (where he sailed the Westward again after its sale to that organization), and an educator/crew member for the Living Classrooms Foundation in Baltimore, among other positions. He holds a Master of Science degree in Biology from Northeastern University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College.
Quest for Adventure
After two rounds of deliberation by the Selection Committee over the summer and early fall, Tim’s proposal was selected from a pool of more than a dozen applications. The committee found that his project exhibits all of the requirements of the fellowship, including a strong sense of curiosity, quest for adventure, pursuit of knowledge, creativity, independence, and a maritime focus not directly related to his current professional activities.
Tim intends to share his findings with students at his own school and throughout the region, as will as with the SEA community and beyond. We look forward to seeing the products of his adventure!
Interested in Applying?
The Selection Committee thanks everyone who took the time to submit proposals for this fellowship. If you're an SEA alum, faculty or staff member, or former employee, learn more about how you can apply during a future cycle.