Chickens peck in the dirt at the end of the rutted drive. Out back of the house, a rooster crows. And in a building that looks like a fine place to park a combine, a crew works on a submarine that can go 8,000 feet deep in the ocean.
Only a half-dozen or so subs in the world can do that. The others are owned by governments and research groups in Russia, France, Japan and the U.S. Then there’s Scott Waters, 29, the head of his family’s chain of hardware stores. He found his submarine in storage in Wisconsin, loaded it on a flatbed truck and hauled it home to Salina.
Its name is Pisces VI and it can go where light can’t, down to an undersea world of legend and fantasy, the part of the planet we know least about. .. Grace C. Young is the project’s science ambassador. She will be the link to research groups and networks... Young [left] high school early, earned an engineering degree at MIT and now is doing thesis work on oceanic imagery at the University of Oxford in England.
Question: What made her come to be part of this?
“People asked me that when I left Oxford — ‘Kansas? Really?’ It’s because we all believe in what Scott’s doing. I’m very interested in climate change, and the oceans are a big part of that." ...
Grace Young climbed out of a crate with an electrical connector in decent shape. She smiled.
'This is like finding gold,' she said....
After Kansas, I headed to St. Petersburg, Florida, for the BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit and to reunite with the SailFuture crew. SailFuture, you might remember I sailed across the Atlantic for them last winter, is at the moment setting up a new home in St. Pete for the young adults they work with. At BLUE, I was fortunate to reconnect with familiar faces like Billy Snook from Mission 31, Dr. Sylvia Earle from Mission Blue, and Zach Ponder from Utila; I also met plenty of new people, like the founder of Nekton, Erika Bergman, researchers at University South Florida and University of Miami, and an handful of submarine pilots. I was surprised to see my main thesis supervisor, Professor Alex Rogers, featured in one of the films!
Until Christmas (when my family visits the UK!), I'm focused on thesis work and four more papers in the pipeline (see my thoughts on peer review publishing). I'll also be at the Reef Conservation UK Conference at The Zoological Society of London on November 26th and speaking at the Royal Russell School on December 7th.
Grace Young is an MIT ocean engineer, aquanaut, and scientist/engineer with Cousteau's Mission 31. She's currently a PhD student at University of Oxford, chief scientist for the Pisces VI deepsea submarine, and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.