This month I attended the United Nations Ocean Conference. It was the first-ever Ocean Conference at the UN. Headquartered in New York City, it focused on Sustainable Development Goal 14: "to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development." I'd never been to a UN general assembly meeting before, so it was a new experience for me (plus an excellent excuse to catch up with NYC friends).
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!
Today for World Oceans Day I did a Google Hangout with school kids in Canada and the US. It was hosted by non-profit Exploring By the Seat of Your Pants, which aims to connect students with guest speakers to give them "virtual field trips" around the world. The founder, Joe Grabowski, calls it "knocking down classroom walls." This World Oceans Day they broadcasted 12 hours (6am - 6pm EST) of ocean-themed talks. You can watch my full talk here, or see the snippets from Q/A below.
This Memorial Day I'm thinking of those who lost their lives in military service both on land and at sea. There are a few good books on the subject of military underwater exploration. My favourites are Sealab: America's Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor, Blind Mans Bluff: The Untold Story of Cold War Submarine Espionage, and The Silent War: The Cold War Battle Beneath the Sea, although much of the research work is still classified.
I'm also thinking about my Grandma Bonnie, who passed away earlier this year. She served in the Air Force as a captain and nurse who ministered to many servicemen and women.
This autumn I was in Malta for a hot second filming for U-Boat Worx submarines with my friend and Mission 31 fellow crewmate Billy Snook. They make some beautiful submarines, mostly for yachts and yacht-owners (and their explorer friends). Check them out on their website. This was my first time in a submarine. It was thrilling!
Part I: In Malta on a Submarine
I created this "book" in a cool app called Steller (https://steller.co/).
Part II: Above and Below the Waves in Malta
Photos from the books laid out below...
Last week I had the opportunity to join a handful of Marshall and Rhodes Scholars for an informal discussion with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the King's Arms pub. He'd just finished a speech at the Oxford Union and was kind enough to chat with us for a hour or so before dashing off to dinner with the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street.
I asked Secretary Kerry: If the US won't ratify the Law of the Sea, how can we stay a leader in global ocean policy? The conversation was off-the-record, but it's fair to say he basically reiterated his stance from his 2012 Huffington Post op-ed "Law of the Sea: A National Security Issue that Unites," yet was more pessimistic (or perhaps realistic in light of the political gridlock of the last four years) about getting Congress to pass anything. You can read more about his position and the issues in Chapter 5: Possibility of US Accession to the LOS Convention and its Potential Impact on State Practices and Maritime Claims in the South China Sea by Yann-huei Song in the book:
In early 2009 when President Obama entered office and Senator Kerry took over chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, ratifying the Law of the Sea Treaty was one of his priorities:
In his 2012 op-ed, he reiterated then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's support:
Again in 2014, Kerry stressed law, not coercion, is the key to resolving sea disputes.
Yet the the Law of the Sea is still not US law 34 years after we negotiated the treaty. We are the only major country that hasn't ratified this treaty while 166 countries and the EU have done so. If we are to remain leaders in global ocean policy we must keep this issue at the forefront of discussion until the Senate takes appropriate action.
Other than the above, there isn't much photographic evidence of our encounter. On the US Department of State's Flickr, however, my shoulder makes an appearance, which is pretty exciting.
Yes, that is my shoulder. (Credit US Department of State Flickr: "U.S Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with U.S. Rhodes and Marshall Scholars attending Oxford University who assembled at the historic King Arms pub in Oxford, U.K., on May 11, 2016, after the Secretary delivered an address to the Oxford Union membership.")
From the inside...
I'll also be talking at Somerville College in Oxford as part of their "Will Power Lunch" on May 21st.
... and again at Somerville College, on May 23, as part of a series on emotional well-being in research and fieldwork. Please message if you'd like more details.
SUMMARY OF OUR VISION
Here are some facts that struck me emotionally from former trainer John Hargrove's article "I trained killer whales at SeaWorld for 12 years. Here's why I quit."
SeaWorld's predicament and the ethical issues it faces are highlighted in the documentary Blackfish and subsequent media focus. The film isn't perfect, however; it has been criticized in this Medium article by Isaac Wadd and SeaWorld refutes the film's claims. That said, SeaWorld must make changes in order for it to not only remain a viable business, but also stay true to its mission of providing inspiring, exciting, and educational experiences to its visitors.
Thanks especially to the University of Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, especially its deputy director, Clair Linzey, for helping us prepare. Also thanks to Professor Tom White, author of In Defence of Dolphins, for his inspirational talk last November at the Centre for Animal Ethics.
Press release from the Centre for Animal Ethics: "Oxford University Animal Ethics Society Wins at IBECC 2016."
Last fall (or "autumn" as they say here in England) I attended the Global Ocean Commission's symposium on the future of the High Seas hosted by my Oxford college, Somerville. A summary of the symposium and its recommendations is in the Commission's most recent (and last) report, The Future Of Our Ocean: Next Steps and Priorities. This report, as well as the Commission's initial report, From Decline to Recovery: A Rescue Package for the Global Ocean, are now available to download online here. I highly recommend both, especially the first for its straight-forward, engaging, and well-researched perspective on the political actions needed for a healthy ocean.
The MIT campus paper I wrote for as an undergrad, The Tech, is re-doing its website, so I thought it was a good time to revisit and compile my articles from back in the day. I wrote quite a bit as a staff writer and Arts Editor (and now I miss having a press pass to cultural events!). Next academic year I'm hoping to do some freelance arts writing for other publications; if anyone has ideas, please let me know. Meanwhile, feel free to browse the archive below.
Thanks Council for the Arts at MIT for making the experience so great. Most are surprised to see MIT ranked as the world's second-best school for art and design (QS Rankings).
I’m sitting in the St. Thomas airport waiting for my flight to Heathrow. Toting a hiking bag stuffed with salt-encrusted clothes, I search for an outlet to charge my laptop; it’s been dead nearly three weeks. My hair is still wet from this morning’s dip in the ocean.
“You get off a boat?” asked the man ahead of me at check-in. I wondered what gave it away. Was it my freckled skin and I-don’t-care ponytail? My callouses? My travel partner joking about peeing in a bucket?
As I sit down to write this blog entry, I find reflecting upon the last 22 days somewhat overwhelming. In that time we, eight friends, sailed a 65’ boat across the Atlantic. Every aspect of my daily routine changed dramatically and abruptly during those days at sea. I was pleasantly surprised that, apart from friends and family, I didn’t miss land much. It feels as if a year, or several, passed in those days. It was an adventure of a lifetime.
For me the journey started about three weeks before we left port. While out in London at a celebration, I received the following text from a friend:
The friend is the founder of a non-profit called <SailFuture>. The reason behind the last minute request is a somewhat of long-story, see <previous blog post>. We chatted details, but all I could say initially was “still trying to work out logistics; haven’t forgotten.” Finally it worked out, in large part to the encouragement of my friend Elizabeth (“Bizzy”) Walton, and the support of other friends and family.
Before I explain the sail further, let’s get some “FAQs” that usually come up in conversation out of the way.
I really trusted our Captain, Mike. One of the first things you see below deck is a handwritten sign reading “No Bullshit” taped in the galley. When I agreed to join the crossing, I trusted him not only to lead us safely across the Atlantic, but also to pull together a competent crew with good group dynamic. Here’s a story from our fourth day at sea that confirmed our faith in the Captain; it’s taken from an excerpt of my journal entry three days before Christmas.
People make the boat.
We had no Internet or contact with the “outside” world during our crossing, apart from a satellite connection reserved for emergencies. This meant that all of us onboard couldn’t hide behind our phones or laptops; we had to hang out old-school style. It took perhaps two or three days to shake the habit of wanting to check my phone for updates. It took us no time to get to know each other. I guess hours and hours of uninterrupted conversation does that to people. If there was ever a lull during a night shift we’d play “would you rather” or go around telling stories. When our phones were all dead and unchangeable, we sang songs totally out of key.
We got on like a house on fire. Thank goodness, because this would be a very different crossing if not. Maybe the circumstances forced us to get along, but I don’t think so. We actually did all get along. Mike, the one who brought us all together, must’ve had a feeling we all would.
People dynamics have the potential to make all things sour when you’re living confined in close quarters 24/7, everyone out of their comfort zone in some way or another. If one person is in a funk it quickly infects the group.
There was only one day that I felt we got anywhere close to the “Mutiny” scene in Life Aquatic. I won’t go into the details, as they are mundane and have lost context; but we got over it by listening to each other and saying nice things before the evening meal.
There’s an unspoken rule for me when living in any form of inescapable tight quarters: If a person has headphones on or has retreated to a spot on the boat away from others, leave them alone. On land if you saw your friend sitting at an edge of a café you’d of course approach them even if only for a quick hello. On the boat there is zero private space. There are times when you feel superfluous, question your usefulness, and become insecure. Other times when you, rather vainly, think what would this boat do without me?
We’ve plenty of sea stories. I kept a detailed daily journal. Nearly all of it I wouldn’t publish. It’s personal, but also needs a good deal of context. Maybe I’m just a bad storyteller, but chatting with friends I quickly realize only a few of the stories really click, even if they weren’t the most telling for me. Here’s one of them: On Boxing Day, I woke up in the middle of the night from what I thought was me falling asleep at the helm. I tried adjusting the wheel to the heel of the boat that I felt, but it was pitch black. We’re use to sailing in just moonlight, a small light illuminating our heading on the compass. I woke up the crewmember sleeping next to me. “Turn on the compass and windex lights! I can’t see anything! The boat isn’t responding!” They were confused. I was dreaming, of course, a very vivid dream. I laughed, relieved, once I realised I was in my bunk. Two days later another helmsman had the same dream. It became a recurring phenomenon.
Family and friends were the only things I genuinely missed about land. I especially missed my sister on her 18th birthday. She was playing squash for Team USA at the British Junior Open for squash (yes, she’s impressive) in England and I was supposed to be there. I wondered if she was going out for a drink since she’d be legal in the UK. I wondered how she was feeling about her game. I wondered if she was mad at me for missing her. Thinking more about it made me sad.
I also reflected on the high seas from a geopolitics perspective, something related to my PhD work. Appropriately, the week before departing I attended a workshop on the high seas sponsored by the <Global Ocean Commission> at my college in Oxford. All the proposed suggestions had a very tangible meaning now that we were out here on the high seas.
Many have likened the high seas to the Wild West. It’s true that you can get away with anything out here. There’s no one around. It is lawless. Check out the <New York Times’ fantastic expose on “Lawlessness on the High Seas">. On one side of the debate, there is the beautiful dream that the high seas could be a place, indeed an opportunity, for international peace and cooperation. But humans largely need a sense of ownership to act responsibility. I’m no exception. I remember sharing a bedroom with my sister when we were younger. She’s messy and I’m neat. There was a line in the room, dividing messy from neat. I never cleaned her side although she wouldn’t mind it. I’m also thinking of the high seas in terms of the game we often played on nightshifts. Would you rather have to respond to a radio call from a government every time you entered a country’s territorial waters, and perhaps even pay a toll for sailing across their waters? Or, would you rather have total freedom, but allow the ocean decline from overexploitation? What’s the balance? This issue begs for a longer discussion in a separate piece.
The thing I most wondered about before the trip was, how would it feel to be completely surrounded by nothing but ocean? For 22 days we saw nothing but ocean to all edges of the horizon. There was no reference for size or location. You could easily go crazy. If you didn’t trust the compass or maps you’d wonder, have we moved at all? Never have I seen so many consecutive sunsets and sunrises. Every day the sky put on a different show, between sunset, moonrise, and sunrise. Bizzy, a keen eye, saw nearly three-dozen shooting stars during the voyage.
My six-hour flight back to England over the same ocean was surreal. I’ll never look out the window during one of those crossings and view that ocean the same way.
Here’s a “FAQ” to end with:
Q: Would you do it again?
Jan 24, 2015 Many thanks to Stuart Young (@STUARTLIVEART), founder of Illustration Station, for creating this illustration during my TEDx Talk last weekend.
Feb 16, 2015 Teen Vogue ran a profile after the talk; full piece here.
Dec 15, 2015 The talk is finally live! Check it out at out on the TEDx YouTube channel:
With the popular hastag #ILookLikeAnEngineer, it was a sweet surprise to see my sister Isabel's article (below). When I began in robotics, there were no girls involved at my school. Studies now show having role models in science and engineering that shatter stereotypes can be powerful for young girls who may be thinking about math, science, and engineering.
For three weeks over Christmas I'll help sail SailFuture's vessel Defy the Odds across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to the US Virgin Islands. See previous posts about SailFuture's #SailforJustice program (why the boat is currently in the Canary Islands) and about my time onboard last July.
After landing in the US Virgin Islands, Defy the Odds will take guests on week-long trips between January and April before the next iteration of its central mission -- providing high-risk juvenile offenders a transformative alternative to incarceration through training and teamwork at sea. Learn more about their "Vacations with a Purpose," and maybe you'll wind up on the boat as well!
I likely won't have Internet again until about January 6th. More updates to come after that! I'll be taking plenty of photos and keeping a journal, so until then, bon voyage!
Grace Young (B.S., MIT, Ph.D, Oxford) is an ocean engineer, aquanaut, and explorer currently working at X. She was a scientist and engineer on Fabian Cousteau’s Mission 31 and is currently chief scientist of the Pisces VI deepsea research submarine and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.