CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Referred to as “Her Deepness” by fellow scientists and fans alike, Dr. Sylvia Earle is no stranger to what lies within the depths of the ocean. Boasting an extensive list of accolades, Earle has logged an impressive 7,000 hours underwater, led more than 100 expeditions, and authored more than 225 scientific, technical and popular publications. She headlined the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi spring 2017 Distinguished Speaker Series with her talk titled, “Exploring and Caring for Earth’s Magnificent Ocean” on March 2 at the Performance Arts Center.
“The Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and the ocean is home to most of the life on earth, and that’s something that has eluded people up until right now,” said Earle. “Even now most people are blissfully unaware of the great diversity and abundance of life in the ocean.”
Earle found her love of the ocean as a child when her family moved to the coastal community of Clearwater, Florida. She then earned a Bachelor of Science from Florida State University, a Master of Science and Ph.D. from Duke University and received 29 honorary doctorates. She led the first all-female team of “aquanauts” in 1970, she is recognized as Time Magazine’s first Hero of the Planet, she is the former Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and was named the 2014 Glamour Woman of the Year. She is currently a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, and throughout her many years of experience, she has dedicated her life to becoming an innovator in the field of oceanography and exploration.
She shared her love of the ocean during the Distinguished Speaker Series free student forum, which was attended by more than 500 Island University, high school, middle school and primary school students. Attendees had the option to submit their questions and have them answered by Earle during the forum. Many students made a special trip to attend the forum, but one “superfan” drove two hours with her family from Jourdanton, Texas to attend the evening lecture. Jessie Puckett, who is a freshman at Jourdanton high school, plans on attending the Island University once she graduates to study marine biology and follow in Earle’s footsteps.
“It’s truly an honor to be able to be here and hear Dr. Earle speak,” said Puckett. “Her work has taught me that if I study hard enough, I can one day become a marine biologist like her, it’s inspiring.”
An inspiration to the next generation of scientists, Earle has earned many titles including the founder of Mission Blue Sylvia Earle Alliance, founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research and Library of Congress living legend. She is also a Founding Advisory Board Chair for the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
“The Harte Research Institute has become a model for what we need to do for the planet as a whole,” said Earle. “By providing a model of collaboration and engaging people, not just in this country, but from all over the world.”
As Earle concluded her talk, she was presented with a plaque by Dr. Larry McKinney, Executive Director of HRI, that honored Earle by naming a shark after her as a representation of the many ocean creatures she works to protect.
At the end of the night, James McLurkin, Senior Hardware Engineer at Google, was announced as the next speaker in the Distinguished Speaker Series. McLurkin’s talk is titled, “The Future of Robotics Is Swarms: Why a Thousand Robots Are Better than One” and will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. McLurkin is a New York native and has been recognized as one of five leading robotics engineers by Time Magazine. From Lego bricks to programming self-designed video games, he quickly became consumed by his passion for engineering and now uses his “nerd pride” to excite the next generation of scientists.
The spring 2017 Distinguished Speaker Series sponsors included Convergent Broadcasting, the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at A&M-Corpus Christi, KRIS Communications, La Palmera, Cooper Outdoor, AEP Texas, The David B. Terk Wildlife Conservation Foundation, Flint Hills Resources, V Boutique Hotel, Whataburger Restaurants and Pizza State.
To learn more about the Distinguished Speaker Series or to join the Patron Society, visit http://dss.tamucc.edu/.