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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: featured

November 28, 2016

SEA alumni present Sargassum findings at Gulf & Caribbean Fisheries Institute conference

Doug Karlson,

SEA Semester

Recent SEA graduates Maddie Taylor (C-264) and Corey Wrinn (C-257), and former SEA Associate Professor (and SEA alumna, C-142) Dr. Amy Siuda (now at Eckerd College) attended a meeting of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) in Grand Cayman earlier this month to present the results of their research related to drifting Sargassum.

The GCFI is a forum that brings together scientific, government, and commercial stakeholders to share scientific findings to better understand and manage the marine ecosystem of the Caribbean and Gulf region.

Categories: News,Marine Biodiversity & Conservation, • Topic: featured • (0) CommentsPermalink

November 21, 2016

Ocean education pioneers Exy and Irving Johnson inducted in National Sailing Hall of Fame

SEA Semester

The late Electa “Exy” and Irving Johnson, former SEA trustees and pioneers in experiential ocean-based education, were inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. Irving and Exy were married in 1932 after meeting on a transatlantic sailboat passage. As husband and wife, they continued an amazing journey, sailing around the world seven times (!) while teaching crews of young people.

They wrote books and articles and made films about their voyages - Irving’s 1929 adventure as a mate aboard the Peking is captured in a well-known film, “Around Cape Horn”- and inspired generations of ocean explorers. The design of SEA’s first vessel, Westward, was inspired by the Johnsons’ brigantine, Yankee.

Irving served as a founding SEA trustee until his death in 1991,whereupon Exy took his place until her death in 2004. Since 1999, the endowed Exy Johnson Scholarship has supported SEA Semester students from all walks of life. One of Exy and Irving’s sons, Robert, has followed in their wake and served as an SEA Overseer since 2005. For more about this remarkable couple, we refer you to this 2015 article in SEA HISTORY.

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November 17, 2016

“The young man and the SEA Semester” - Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) student profiled

SEA Semester

SEA Semester in the News
The young man and the SEA Semester
By Drew Sterwald

Sailing through largely unexplored reaches of the Pacific Ocean aboard a 134-foot ship for six weeks might not float everyone’s boat. But for FGCU senior Alex Miranda it was the adventure of a lifetime, an opportunity that provided hands-on experience few peers will be able to match.

The environmental studies major from Jupiter was one of 23 undergraduates from colleges and universities around the country including Ivy Leagues chosen to participate in a rare summer research voyage. The Sea Education Association/SEA Semester, a Boston University-accredited program based at Woods Hole, Mass., selected the sea-worthy students to gather data on the health of the Phoenix Islands’ coral reef ecosystem and to recommend policy implementations to protect and preserve them. The little-studied Phoenix Island Protected Area, about the size of California, is one of the last remaining coral wildernesses on Earth and is the largest UNESCO World Heritage site.

“How many people get to do research while sailing across the Pacific?” Miranda says. “To be doing this with students from schools like Wellesley and Brown – it was pretty cool to be part of it. We weren’t just passengers. We took classes. We did deep-water sampling. We were crew. We kept watch and steered the boat.”

The marine biologists and students documented enough evidence to show that the islands’ coral reefs — which previous research dives between 2009 and 2012 had found devastated by overly warm water — are not just healthy but thriving and growing. The phoenix-like recovery was so stunning that it was reported in the New York Times.

Read the entire story.

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November 08, 2016

Rich Wilson’s round the world race is global teaching platform

Doug Karlson,

SEA Semester

Longtime SEA trustee and overseer Rich Wilson’s 60-foot sailboat, Great American IV, is more than a single-handed racing machine, it’s a global classroom.

Competing in the Vendée Globe, a round-the-world race that departed from les Sables d’Olonne, France on Sunday, Wilson, 66, is the oldest competitor, and the only American. In the 2008 Vendee Globe, he finished 9th out of a field of 30 (of which only 11 completed the race). 

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November 07, 2016

Sailors for the Sea promotes ocean conservation with “Onboard Reporter” program

SEA Semester

Thanks to a special partnership between our two organizations that began last spring, Sailors for the Sea, a leading ocean conservation program, is getting its message out with the help of SEA Semester students. Each term, one SEA Semester student is designated as Sailors for Sea’s “Onboard Reporter,” and receives a $1,500 award. This fall, the Onboard Reporter is William Harnisch, a University of Rhode Island student and member of class S-270, Ocean Exploration.  William will soon report aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans in New Zealand, where, in addition to his SEA Semester studies and duties, his job will be to raise awareness about the ocean through blogging, storytelling, social media posts, photography and video.  Here’s William’s first report.  We encourage you to follow the stories filed by Sailors for the Sea’s Onboard Reporter!

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November 04, 2016

Hamilton College sends four to SEA Semester as it spreads word on Study Abroad for STEM students

SEA Semester

SEA Semester in the News
By Land and Sea, STEM Students Study Abroad
Hamilton College News

There’s a great big world of off-campus studies, and it’s not just for art history or French majors. To help prove the point, biology major Angel Pichardo ’17 gave a talk at a recent Hamilton College colloquium about his semester in DIS Copenhagen. His program focused on biomedicine and drug development. The experience, says Pichardo, was the best four months of his life.

Hamilton’s Off-Campus Study office held the colloquium in part to spread the word about the abundance of worldwide study opportunities in “STEM” or science, technology, engineering and math. Students in STEM disciplines are underrepresented in study abroad, despite their need to learn to function in a global milieu and to handle complex global problems, says Carolyn North, assistant dean of off-campus study.



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September 27, 2016

Brown University student pursues marine biology and medicine

SEA Semester

SEA Semester in the News

Sailing for Science
By David Orenstein
Brown Alumni Magazine

Peter Baek ’19 is a premed student, a scientist, and an explorer—thanks to a Disney movie.

“Ever since watching Finding Nemo with my grandpa and dad,” he says, “our love for fish and the ocean blossomed as every shelf around the house became occupied with aquariums.” Looking after all those fish inevitably led to an interest in science, Baek explains, and then to oncology: “The passing of my grandpa from laryngeal cancer transformed my interest in science to something deeper—the desire to pursue a career in oncology in dedication to my grandpa.”

In the years since high school, marine biology and cancer medicine have become inseparable to Baek. He’s learned, for example, that the tentacled aquatic animal bugula produces a chemical that has shown promise in fighting cancer. Before arriving at Brown last year, he spent summers learning about cancer biology in labs at the University of Pittsburgh and the National Institutes of Health.

Read the full story.


Categories: News,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topic: featured • (0) CommentsPermalink

September 22, 2016

SEA Semester alumna’s marine biological research continues at Amherst

SEA Semester

SEA Semester in the News

We’re always interested to hear about the continuing research conducted by recent SEA Semester alumni, so we thought we’d share this report about Taylor Hallowell from The Amherst Student.  Taylor sailed with C-266, Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, last spring.

Thoughts on Theses: Taylor Hallowell ‘17
By Jacob Gendelman ‘20; Staff Writer, The Amherst Student

Taylor Hallowell ’17 majors in biology. Her thesis examines the sensory drive hypothesis in cichlid fish that express different retinal genes while living under different colors of light. Professor of Biology Ethan Clotfelter is her advisor.

Q: Can you describe your thesis?

A: The sensory drive hypothesis is essentially that there’s a difference in the environment, [which] leads to sensory divergences, like divergences in animals’ sensory systems. That leads to reproductive isolation, and that leads to speciation. There isn’t a ton of evidence for it right now, but there’s an increasing amount. People are starting to take more of an interest in it. I’m trying to get more data for it. I’m working with cichlid fish, which are really common fish to work with because they’re so easy to breed. I have hundreds of little babies already. I’m making them grow up in extreme light environments. A third of them are only getting red light, a third are only getting blue light, and a third are getting just white light. I’m trying to show that differences in light environment cause differences in the expression of the genes in the retina. That would contribute to the sensory drive hypothesis.

Read the full story.

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September 21, 2016

Stony Brook University students recount Phoenix Islands adventure

SEA Semester

SEA Semester in the News
SoMAS Students Participate in SEA Semester Journey
Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences News

Alexandra Bonecutter, a student in the Environmental Studies program with a Marine Science minor, and Ruthann Monsees, a student in the Coastal Environmental Studies program Sustainability Studies program, were part of a SEA Semester voyage that was recently featured in The New York Times.  According to an email distributed by SEA Semester, the voyage “discovered good news regarding coral health in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) in July, 2016”

The message continues:

PIPA is one of the last remaining coral wildernesses on Earth, about which little is known. An expanse of ocean about the size of California, it is the largest – and deepest – UNESCO World Heritage site.

Accompanied by 21 other undergraduates, SEA Semester faculty, and researchers from the New England Aquarium and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Alexandra and Ruthann gathered data on the health of the islands’ coral reef ecosystem in order to recommend policy implementations to the PIPA management office in Kiribati – all while sailing as active crewmembers aboard our tall ship research vessel!

Ruthann and Alexandra were on voyage class S-268 Protecting the Phoenix Islands.  According to Ruthann, “We sailed for six weeks from Honolulu to the American Samoa, focusing on the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA); a Marine Protected Area belonging to Kiribati.”  This area, she says, “is recognized as an area with the most “pristine” coral reef system” that “has shown remarkable resilience in the face of climate change, El Nino bleaching events, and anthropogenic effects.”

Categories: News,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topic: featured • (0) CommentsPermalink

September 19, 2016

Lectureship honors Ambrose Jearld, Jr. for promoting diversity

SEA Semester

The Woods Hole scientific community on Saturday honored Ambrose Jearld, Jr., influential NOAA researcher and SEA overseer, with an annual lectureship in recognition of his efforts to make oceanography and marine biology more accessible to a diverse body of students and research faculty.

The surprise presentation was made at Jearld’s retirement party at Fisher House, Church of the Messiah, in Woods Hole. Jearld retired from NOAA Fisheries Service on Sept. 2 after 38 years of service.

The Ambrose Jearld, Jr. Lecture, established and administered by the Diversity Initiative and Diversity Advisory Committee, will be given every summer in Woods Hole by invited scholars, scientists, and authors. The lectures will begin next summer, coinciding with the biennial John K. Bullard Diversity Award.

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