Ocean engineer Grace Young’s love for the sea drives her innovative work.
For American ocean engineer Grace Young, one of the 14 world-changers named 2017 National Geographic Emerging Explorers, ocean conservation is a cause that needs to be pursued with fierce immediacy.
The Marshall Scholar from MIT is right. The ocean accounts for $1.5 trillion of the global economy every year, with the livelihood of around 10 percent of citizens worldwide dependent on it. Factors such as overfishing, acidification, pollution, and climate change are rearing their unpretty heads, making the marine ecosystem vulnerable. The world is waking up to this hard fact – the UN held its first ocean conference last year. In 2018, the Commonwealth Blue Charter on Ocean Action has been put in place to focus on actions including protecting coral reefs, handling ocean plastics, and restoring the mangrove.
“Quite simply if we don’t know or understand the problems, we can’t fix them,” says Young. “As an ocean engineer my passion is developing technologies to be able to understand, explore and find solutions for the challenges the ocean’s ecosystem is facing.”
I'm happy to share this video collaboration with BBC News and Hyundai! View the full 90 second piece at http://www.bbc.com/storyworks/future/innovators-of-tomorrow/tidal-change (only visible in USA at the moment).
In the video, I explain some of my PhD research. Plus you'll see footage we captured on a set of dives in Monterey Bay, California. Huge thanks to my dive buddy Billy Snook, who filmed underwater, the BBC team, who filmed above water, and The Hydrous for letting me share some of their stunning 3D models!
... read the full article at http://www.bbc.com/storyworks/future/innovators-of-tomorrow/tidal-change
Last spring I returned to CERN for its first-ever alumni event, cleverly titled First Collisions. I led a discussion with fellow alumni about how the CERN community can solve problems facing our planet and answer big questions about our ocean. I proposed a “CERN for the planet”, which extended the “CERN for the ocean” idea from my 2015 TIME op-ed. The notion is that we’ve big environmental problems that require highly focused collaborative science to solve, and the ocean’s biggest problems are planet-wide. Not only is CERN a useful model, but its infrastructure and community of scientists can address the urgent mega-problems facing our planet.
More than the opportunity to speak, I valued the chance to springboard ideas with fellow alumni and connect with old and new friends. I also spent a morning with the women in technology group, where I shared about how CERN shaped my career (that talk online here).
“For physics enthusiasts like me, CERN more than rivals Disney World,” I wrote before my first trip to the multi-billion dollar facility as a high schooler (that blog at cern2010.wordpress.com).
What is CERN and Why Care?
Based in Geneva, CERN is a unique, multinational research organization that studies the fundamental physics of our universe, pushes technological boundaries, trains countless scientists and engineers, and facilitates dialogue among nations through science. While it employs ~2,500 full-time scientist, engineers, and staff, its treasure trove of equipment and laboratory space is available to more than 11,000 scientists from 100 countries [source].
The Power of MultiNational Science
... To be continued!
Copied from Deep Sea Submarine Pisces VI Facebook Page.
... click here for full story.
It’s not everyday I get to use the words “quick” and “eternal” in the same phrase.
Earlier this month I flew part-way around the world from San Francisco to Rome to give a keynote address at the second-ever National Geographic Science Festival (or rather Festival Scienze). My talk, titled “Unseen Oceans,” focused on some of the underwater imaging systems I’ve developed that help us see the ocean in ways we haven’t before: e.g., the ultra-high speed camera we used on Mission 31 and the fish-tracking camera system I helped develop for NOAA. I also talked about how my ballet training and appreciation of the arts give me a unique perspective on science and engineering. My goal when speaking to the student audience was to show how all sorts of people can get into this career (ballerinas! midwesterners!) and help solve problems facing our ocean and planet.
The week prior I gave a similar talk at National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, DC, though it wasn't the same. My instinct is to mix it up every time because I learn more that way, plus it’s more fun to tell new stories. I hadn’t quite expected how different it would feel giving the talk to an Italian audience. For one, when I test drove the talk with two Italians (thanks fellow explorers Federico Fanti and Marcello Calisti), we realized that I should modify a few cultural references unlikely translate. To name a few: “RVs” are not a thing in Italy. “Camper van,” okay. I describe Aquarius, the undersea science habitat, as "a mix between an RV and a space station." In addition, many Italians aren't likely to instantly know Ohio/Michigan aren't near the ocean. For the student talk, the meaning of "snow day" doesn't translate well, but "school canceled because of weather" makes sense. Movie star Adrian Grenier, in one of my stories, translates. Doc Edgerton's iconic milk drop photo, which I use to describe high speed photography, is also not so recognizable to a young audience.
With those modified, I thought it’d be fairly smooth sailing. But then there was an aspect with consequences I didn’t anticipate. It was my first time giving a talk where the majority of the audience was listening via live translation in headphones. I’ve been fortunate to listen to talks presented like like this at CERN, the United Nations, and the International Maritime Organization, and I always think it’s cool. As a speaker though, I like to feed off the audience’s energy (yeah like a vampire), and ideally look at faces so I can adapt to confusion, boredom, or whatnot. I enjoy it when the talk feels like a dialogue with the audience. With a mostly foreign audience listening via translation, this aspect was very different. A NatGeo freelancer reminded me that jokes and many phrases simply don’t translate. At every pause I heard loudly the audio translations. For the last 2/3 of the talk I spoke at the same pace but with more dedicated pause between sentences so translation could match. My friend Katya, who has translated between Russian and English, is familiar with this and wisely recommended meeting with the translators beforehand, so we could run through the talk and they’d know what words might be awkward. Pro tip! Now I know!
These elements made the talk somewhat of a challenge as my first experience being translated real-time, but I learned so much. Students had excellent follow-up questions, both afterwards and then through the contact page on my blog.
My favorite time was chatting with students afterwards. Three 4th grade students told me about their ocean plastic project. The one boy introduced themselves confidently “We are explorers, and we are doing this project on plastic pollution.” They had already successfully campaigned for their school to replace one-use plastics in the cafeteria with reusable material, and the school made the change! I was impressed and inspired!
The CEO of Sky, Jeremy Darroch, said “One question I’m sure every business is asking with now is: How do I stay relevant to young people?” Sky is sponsoring Ocean Rescue, a multifaceted initiative that includes a marketing campaign geared towards reducing single use plastics. As a company, it has pledged to eliminate single-use plastics from their business and supply chain by 2020. You can follow along with their pledge using #PassOnPlastic.
Tour of Aquarius now with Italian subtitles!
*Courtesy of Dr. Federico Fanti in the wee hours of the morning before my talk.
Thanks On Tap magazine for the spread (online here and print below):
Also, Washingtonian magazine also listed the event in it's column "things to do in DC this week (April 9-11)" (here): TUESDAY, APRIL 10 National Geographic Museum
Thanks to all who came out!! It was a packed house!
Huge thanks to Dr Katy Croft Bell for leading the Open Ocean Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, and to her and her team for organizing this fantastic event. Thanks also to Professor Dava Newman for the wonderful introduction to my talk! Newman was a role model for me while I was at MIT. She is former Deputy Administrator of NASA.
Also special thanks to Victoria and Stephen White who let me crash their Sustainable Sea Products International booth at the Boston Seafood Expo the following week. The Whites have several amazing innovative businesses geared toward sustainable and scalable aquaculture with the potential to take massive pressure off the oceans now (learn more here). They're also well on their way to achieving sustainable US-based chitin production from shrimp shells.
NatIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Interview About conducting Research, Living Underwater, and STAYING CONNECTED DURING Fieldwork
Drug overdoses now kill more Americans than guns.
Last year I took on a side project to support fellow MIT alumni and learn some things from a different field. Five of us, with one alumni mentor, created an app to help rapidly deliver the antidote to an opioid overdose (Naloxone) to those who need it. You could call it the Uber for Naloxone. It was a different experience for me, in part because I hadn't worked on applications before and also because the five of us never once met in the same room (a few of us had known each other before though). We coordinated over Google Hangouts and email across four time zones, spanning California to England! There were some late nights working on this project from Kansas and at the SailFuture house, but it was worth it.
Our submission to the government-sponsored hackathon was recognized in this article from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Additionally, team leader Ben Taylor is continuing this work with his company LedgerDomain.
LedgerDomain announcement October 2017:
For more information about the opioid epidemic I recommend the documentary "Prescription for Change" featuring Macklemore and President Obama. It's free on Youtube (here). The more I learned, the more I realized how many people I know whom have been affected by this epidemic. It put me in awe and respect of how fragile our chemical balances are as humans.
Last week I hopped across the pond for the opening of National Geographic’s first immersive entertainment experience. “Ocean Odyssey” in Times Square draws visitors under the sea to experience ocean life thanks to clever videography, staging, virtual and artificial reality. Virtual explorers witness a battle between Humbolt squid, get lost in a kelp forest, and see a whale leap from the depths to feed on a school of fish. They can also play quiz games that show how they can improve the ocean.
Pictures tell the story best. More information about how you can visit the exhibit is in the Act Now page of this blog. Your ticket purchase supports the National Geographic Society’s great work!
Other Update from Yellow Rectangle
"It was CERN's high-powered global community of scientists congregated in one beautiful place to solve big problems that was a magnet for me." -- Grace C. Young
CERN's Symmetry publication recently published an interview I did with them a few weeks ago. Excerpts are below, and you can read the full interview at ww.symmetrymagazine.org/article/cern-alumna-turned-deep-sea-explorer
My interview from time at CERN just published in Symmetry magazine. Excerpt below.
What unique experience did you take away from CERN? CERN had a huge impact on my development as a scientist and engineer. My experience was truly transformative. My first experience was when I was age 17. A classmate and I won a week-long trip to CERN from the Intel Science Fair for a physics project. It was a dream come true; I'd read so much about CERN. I'm still incredibly thankful to Wolfgang Von Rueden for organizing that trip and becoming a mentor. A year later, CERN’s openlab took a chance on a first-year MIT student and let me into its summer internship program. I got to work with phenomenal people and write software to help physicists (perform Dalitz analysis within the ROOT data analysis framework).
Although I veered away from physics into ocean engineering (I like to sail and I love the water), CERN taught me many things that I often think back to. One is the genuine power in community. It's not just about putting capable people in the same place -- it's about having those people, from diverse disciplines work together to solve discrete problems, and work towards a common purpose. Another thing it taught me is that fundamental science pursued for the sake of science (or art) spawns innovation.
Even my visitor's badge to CERN reinforced its core purpose. I thought the text on the badge aptly described CERN's mission and motivation. It read:
What value do you see in the CERN alumni network? I see the alumni network as a potentially powerful tool. Of course it's a great way to stay in touch with friends, make new ones, and enhance career connections. Its greatest value, however, may be in harnessing the power of our great community to solve big problems like CERN proper does. Alumni know the value of cooperation and the power of working across disciplines, across cultures, public-private sectors, and that's a powerful thing.
What’s next for you? I'd like to create a CERN-for-the-ocean. Right now we don't understand how the ocean works -- how it holds so much biodiversity, how it maintains weather, sequesters so much carbon. At the same time it faces big problems including overfishing, pollution, acidification and warming. These require technical and policy solutions. I'd like to copy CERN's model for research and innovation and apply it to the equivalent for the ocean of confirming the Higgs boson.
ANOTHER NOTE ON POSITIVE MESSAGES
So far so good! My previous blog post explains why I'm at NASA this summer. In short, I'm still 'Team Ocean' (of course!), but the 3D shape modelling techniques developed for my PhD on coral reefs have direct application for NASA's research on near-Earth asteroids (and vise versa). It's been a fantastic collaboration. Here are more details about what we're doing and why.
What We'RE Doing and Why
NASA's Frontier Development Lab (FDL) is an experimental tool in NASA’s innovation portfolio that emphasizes artificial intelligence, inter-disciplinary approaches, rapid iteration, and teamwork to produce significant breakthroughs useful to the space program.
This summer, four of us at NASA FDL are creating 3D models of asteroids. Our core team comprises two planetary scientists (Agata Rozek and Sean Marshall), two machine learning engineers (Adam Cobb and me), plus mentors from both disciplines (Chedy Raissi, Michael Busch, and Yarin Gal). We’re creating the 3D models from radar data. It's a difficult computational problem, but knowing an asteroid’s 3D shape helps us predict its future trajectory (/whether it will collide with Earth!).
The formal introduction to our problem reads as follows:
It took me a bit to understand exactly what our goals and motivations were. The most common questions my friends ask are, “What are you doing?” and “Why?” My short answer: We're generating 3D models of asteroids from radar data so that we can better determine asteroids' physical properties and orbital trajectories. There are over 16,000 known near-Earth objects, and on average 35 new ones each week. It's too much data to keep up with without sophisticated data analysis techniques, so we're using machine learning to speed up and automate the process of generating 3D models from radar data of asteroids.
I'm also interested in the task of 3D modelling asteroids because the techniques can be applied to 3D modelling coral reefs, the topic of my thesis, as further discussed in my first post about NASA.
More details will be in our final presentation and report at the end of the summer. Register here if you'd like to attend our final presentation in Santa Clara, California.
This post is modified from the original published on the NASA FDL page (here). All work was developed while at NASA Frontier Development Lab, working with Agata Rozek, Sean Marshall, Adam Cobb, Justin Havlovitz, Chedy Raissi, Michael Busch, and Yarin Gal.
UPDATE - 12 Sept 17
My colleague Adam just posted his perspective on the project. Read his blog post here.
Update - 20 Nov 17
The video of our final presentation at Intel Headquarters is live! It's on YouTube at this link.
Update - Jan 2018
The results from our team of four engineers and scientists were well-received by NASA's Planetary Defense Community. The tool we developed will be implemented this year at the Arecibo Observatory to help track near-earth asteroids.
Last week I had the honor of attending National Geographic’s first-ever Explorers Festival. It was many things: It was a gathering of explorers from all disciplines and corners of the globe; it was my introduction to the NatGeo “family;” it was an excuse for NatGeo to roll out the 'yellow carpet' for James Cameron, Sylvia Earle, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bob Ballard, and other explorer-celebrities.
As a 2017 Emerging Explorer, I gave a 10-minute talk about my work and dreams and then contributed to a panel discussion on “Transformative Technology;” both are online here.
The week was a gear-shifting process for me. For the past several months I’ve been up to my ears in my PhD thesis. This week forced me to take a few steps back and think big-picture, about major goals and priorities in terms of ocean technology development. It also forced me to reflect on my personal story --- the twists of fate that pushed me to where I am now.
NatGeo focuses on human elements of any story; I believe this is one reason why it effectively engages across disciplines. Explorers are encouraged not just to talk about their work, as they might at an academic or technical conference, but also to speak of their motivations – how and why they got to their unique position. Usually these stories take us back to childhood, but not all the time – sometimes the story starts later in life. Distilling one’s life into a story is a difficult task if you overthink it. How can one figure out which moments of the past millions and millions of moments to cut and which to mention? How do our brains remove the signal from the noise? Only in hindsight have I identified some of the more transformative moments. The storytellers at NatGeo helped me bring out the bits of my story that linked my path in ways I hadn’t considered before. For that I’m very thankful to the NatGeo community.
Excited to announce that I’ve been offered a research position this summer at NASA’s Frontier Development Lab in Mountain View, CA. I’ll be working alongside other scientists and engineers for eight weeks in an intensive research accelerator focused on artificial intelligence.
They've asked me to develop a project with cohorts on near-earth object 3D shape modelling and lunar water detection, topics that directly relate to my thesis (minus the "lunar" part and replace "near-earth" with "underwater" of course!). It's a fantastic opportunity to develop skills and learn from NASA in ways that will not only further develop our underwater 3D modelling techniques, but also vise versa; they'll learn from our research techniques.
Still Team Ocean
Ocean and space are commonly pitted against each other – upward vs downward – astronaut vs aquanaut, etc.
It’s not an either-or debate, however. We can explore both.
I’m looking forward to this summer opportunity at NASA for a number of reasons. I’m eager to learn from NASA methods that will enhance our underwater 3D modeling techniques while sharing what we’ve learned underwater. The experience will also provide another perspective on how public-private partnerships can work effectively to achieve defined research objectives. I believe public-private partnerships like NASA FDL and what I observed at CERN OpenLab, are the key to tackling our most urgent ocean research objectives---a vision I outlined in my 2015 TIME op-ed. Finally, I’m excited to spend weekends diving, surfing, and reuniting with West Coast friends.
Many astronauts are also aquanauts, but most people don’t realize more people have been to space than have lived underwater! Several acquaintances work in both arenas: Pisces VI submarine owner Scott Waters is also on a space advisory board. FDL founding member, Jordan McRae, invented OctoTalk, a system for divers to transmit voice communications underwater. Jonathan Knowles, who is involved with FDL through Autodesk, also advises The Hydrous, an organization that 3D models corals around the world.
That said, I’m committed to Team Ocean. I’m personally drawn to water, a connection many humans have (see Wallace Nichols' book Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.).
Moreover, engineering-wise, while space may seem more exotic, I’d argue the ocean, particularly the deep ocean, is a more challenging work environment considering that E&M waves, upon which wifi, GPS, and many modern innovations are based, do not work, and salt water kills electronics. We’re forced to innovate.
(Thanks Somerville (Oxford) for the article with video!)
Next week we are hosting what we think is the FIRST LIVE UNDERWATER SEMINAR at Oxford! Come along if you're in the area! It'll also be video-recorded/posted online at a later date.
Aside: A piece titled "We Need a New Approach for Saving the Oceans!" for the International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources by David Wills mentioned
my 2015 TIME op-ed article about a new vision for ocean research, including creating a CERN-like organization for the ocean. David supports the vision, and explains why fisheries management based on “maximum sustained yield” must be revised (snippet below).
Read David's full article here.
Yesterday on a podcast I heard the host say "everything in engineering seems to be collaborative," as if that was surprising. It reminded me of a misconception, that great engineers are geniuses working alone in basements, that I speak of often with students. That couldn't be farther from the truth; but it's a misconception that keeps many students from pursuing engineering as a profession - they think engineering isn't a career for "people persons."
I spoke about what I call the "Iron Man" myth exactly three years ago as a 20min "TIMTalk" at MIT, titled "No Engineer is an Island." The video is no longer available online (at least for now), but a transcript is below.
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.
Here are some photos from our fun trip on a submarine off Tenerife, Spain! This was through Submarine Safaris with two other crew of the Pisces VI deep-sea submarine (follow us on Facebook here!). We reached just 100m (which I'd done a few weeks earlier on a rebreather, Hollis Prism 2 in the Red Sea), but it was awesome. Highly recommend for anyone who wants to safely see the sea while staying dry! They even have people propose to their partners in here.
1. New (SAD) Scientific Discovery by LABMATE
2. SPEAKING IN LONDON, OPEN TO ALL
3. Speaking at Oxford Animal Ethics Society
I'll also be speaking alongside two other scholars again at the Oxford Animal Ethics Society, where we're sharing our presentation on how SeaWorld could replace their captive animal shows with virtual and artificial reality entertainment. It's the same presentation we won for at the 2016 International Business Ethics Competition (that story here).
"Because we share nothing so completely as our ocean, each of us also shares the responsibility to protect it.” ~ US Secretary of State John F. Kerry
In Washington D.C. last week I attended the Our Ocean conference hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry at The State Department and the affiliated Ocean Leadership Summit hosted by Georgetown University. Following the main events, I spoke on a panel at the French Embassy for an event on climate, ocean preservation and scientific cooperation with Fabien Cousteau (Ocean Conservationist, Mission 31), Dr. Sylvia Earle (Oceanographer, National Geographic Explorer-in-residence, former NOAA Chief Scientist), Dr. Margaret Leinen (Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, and UCSD’s Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences), Dr. Françoise Gaill (Research Director at CNRS, Scientific Committee Coordinator of the Ocean & Climate Platform), and Bertrand Delorme (PhD candidate, Stanford).
The concurrent two-day events, Our Ocean and the One Future Leadership summit, were jam-packed with activities from early morning breakfast meetings to late night working dinners all focused on solving our oceans most urgent problems with leading scientists and policy makers from around the world.
The first day ended with a concert at the Kennedy Center for visiting dignitaries (and student attendees!) featuring singers Grace Potter and Norm Lewis. The last time I was in the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower theatre I was performing in Washington Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet. After the concert, I waited around the corner from the stage door, under the Center’s iconic huge golden pillars, for my mom, who picked me up just like she did countless times during that performance nine years ago.
The second day ended with dinner at the French Ambassador’s residence with the other panelists and Segolene Royal, France’s Minister of Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs, and President of COP21.
I arrived at the conference with little expectations; if anything I was feeling discouraged about the state of our ocean. I left, however, feeling more educated, inspired and optimistic than ever about our ocean’s future. Secretary Kerry reported that during the conference $5.24 billion was committed towards sustainable oceans from a combination of governments and foundations. He emphasized his deep personal connection the ocean (he grew up sailing) and alarming facts about the ocean. For example, it will contain more plastic than fish by weight in 2050 if we do not change our ways (on a bus I sat next to the State Department that proudly wrote that fact into his speech; everyone can help in this fight!). I asked Secretary Kerry about the US’s commitment to the ocean, especially regarding the Law of the Sea Convention, last spring when he gathered Rhodes and Marshall scholars at a pub in Oxford (that story here). I knew he was dedicated to ocean issues, but I hadn’t realized the full extent of his work, nor did he necessarily allude to all of it in that first response. Now I am really impressed. President Obama expressed the same sentiment:
Also at the conference, nations committed to designating 1.5 million square miles of ocean as a marine protected area (MPA). Yet MPA designation doesn’t necessarily mean protection in practice. It must be monitored and enforced; otherwise it is a “paper park.” Plenty of attendees, including Secretary Kerry, acknowledged this, and solutions were discussed, combining new technology with policing. These are works-in-progress; but are an excellent start.
Secretary Kerry announced key features of his Safe Ocean Network, which aims to build a global community to better combat illegal fishing. “Various nations are working hard to track and address illegal fishing, but the fact is no nation is currently capable of policing the entire range of the oceans,” he said. Enforcement is where technology can play a huge role in how we manage and protect the oceans, so this gets into my particular area of interest. Various uniformed members of the military explained aspects of the Safe Ocean Network, as well as representatives from partners including Google, SkyTruth, and Oceana. It was a beautiful example of public and private sectors working together for a common goal. This diagram (that I can't find online; pardon bad quality scan) explains the facets of their operations well:
True to their mission of getting other nations involved, the State Department flew out nearly 50 student leaders from select countries, particularly those reliant on fishing, for a two-week tour of NOAA operations in California and New Hampshire, culminating at this Our Ocean conference. I met the student representatives from Fiji, Philippines, Indonesia, Italy, and many more, each of whom is leading or involved with an ocean project, ranging from simple but effective initiatives such as installing mooring buoys around dive sites, to more nuanced like initiating culinary ventures that educate consumers about the ecosystem.
I was incredibly impressed by the Georgetown University student group Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA), which co-hosted the Leadership Summit alongside the State Department. It was founded by Daniela V. Fernandez (who, fun fact, is a fellow recipient of Glamour magazine’s “Top 10 College Woman of the Year” scholarship).
During the Summit, I was put into a group of about 30 engineering-minded young people to roundtable with David Lang and Monica Medina. Lang spoke of the low-cost underwater robotics company he co-founded, openROV. I assembled one of their products last year to use in Honduras and have collaborated with some of their employees, so we had a good deal to talk about. Medina, Deputy Director of the Walton Family Foundation’s Environment Program, spoke about what it took to get whales protected in Boston shipping channels. She didn’t gloss over anything. She impressed on us the need for perseverance and patience in order to achieve practical results. If I were based in DC again, I’d love to sit in on the ocean governance class she’s teaching at Georgetown University as an adjunct professor.
I look forward to watching several new films introduced at the event, including Sonic Seas, A Plastic Ocean, A Fragile Legacy, Nuclear Sharks, Second Century Stewardship, Vey nou Lagon, and Wild Galapagos, Pristine Seas.
Now it’s time to bottle up all the inspiration and hunker down in Oxford to finish reporting the results from coral reef fieldwork (and finishing my thesis!).
I’m heading across the pond (flying! not sailing this time, although that story <here>) later this month for a number of exciting ocean-related events.
“Wouldst thou”—so the helmsman answered--
“Learn the secret of the sea?
Only those who brave its dangers
Comprehend its mystery.”
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
My first stop is Washington, D.C., where I’ll catch up with family and attend the 3rd Our Ocean Conference, hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry, whom I met in Oxford earlier this year (that story <here>). Discussions will focus on marine protected areas, climate and oceans, sustainable fisheries, and marine pollution. Richard Branson’s organization, <Ocean Unite>, suggests following the conference via the hashtag #OurOcean or on Twitter through @StateDept @StateDeptLive @JohnKerry @StateDeptOES @CathyNovelli. I’ll of course be writing/tweeting as well, but not as regularly as those accounts. I'm at @grace_h2o.
I’ll participate in the Our Ocean Leadership Summit hosted by Georgetown University. Each participant, as well as members of the public, have submitted pledges for the <1000 Our Ocean Actions Campaign> that we’ll share with Secretary Kerry and other global leaders. Pledges include big commitments from NGOs, governments, and the private sector; but the organizing committee also will highlight “the equally important commitments to action that individuals and community groups can make to protect our ocean.” I've three:
After the conference, I’ll be speaking at the French Embassy on a panel with Dr. Sylvia Earle, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Dr. Françoise Gaill, and Bertrand Delorme. It’s open to the public so if you’re in the area this Friday evening and are interested, you can register for the event <here>.
I’m most looking forward to seeing my family in D.C. and to meet the other participants of the Leadership Summit.
The event piggybacks off a few other important ocean meetings, including the 2nd of four preparatory meetings to negotiate a new High Seas Treaty at the United Nations in New York. From the Ocean Unite’s newsletter:
OCEANS'16, organized by the Marine Technology Society, which I’ve been a member of for almost eight years now, including a council member for two years, is held Monterey Bay this year. I’m looking forward to meeting other ocean engineers and reconnecting with many friends and colleagues there.
Finally, in November Fabien Cousteau is opening his Ocean Learning Center in Bonaire. If any readers want an invitation, please message me. I won’t be there, but it’s sure to be a blast!
Last spring three friends made a bet that they could live in a château in Burgundy more cheaply than they could in a two bedroom London flat. They decided on a summer trial run.
* * *
I'm once again on the island of Utila conducting research with Operation Wallacea. I'm leading a team of four students 3D mapping the coral reefs here and retrieving 3D printed artificial reefs we placed last year. Our studies will help reveal how how reef structure, or architectural complexity, affects marine communities. My upcoming papers and thesis will be on the topic! Stay tuned!
Grace Young is an MIT ocean engineer, aquanaut and ocean explorer. She was a 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.