Category Archives: News

Learning a New Craft and Experiencing the Keys: Week Two in Biscayne National Park 

The national parks have always captivated me. How could they not? The inspirational views, the wildness, the vastness they never fail to mesmerize. Beyond their charismatic looks, the parks represent something special to the American people and the rest of the world. Their establishment and continued protection stem from the embodiment of an idea the idea that our country, especially its natural, historical, and cultural resources, belongs to each and every one of us. The national parks and monuments exist because American citizens before us believed in the unlimited value of natural places and were committed to preserving them “for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations” (National Park Service, 2021). 

To fulfill the mission of the National Park Service (NPS) requires an incomprehensible amount of organization, communication, collaboration, and plain ol’ get-your-hands-dirty work. As necessary as it is for me to shed light on the underwater research being conducted throughout the parks, I believe it’s equally important to acknowledge the countless individuals who serve as stewards for the NPS, working day in and day out to care for the resources on NPS lands and educate others about their significance. For every day of my internship, I’ve been lucky to work with NPS employees and collaborators who carry this responsibility with grace, assiduity, and enthusiasm. They are driven beyond belief and true motivators. As I start another week of my internship, my motivation and enthusiasm for serving the greater mission of the NPS only grow. 

— 

Now that the women’s Wounded Veterans In Parks (WVIP) project has ended, I’m heading back to Homestead, FL with Annie and Susanna. We’re continuing work in Biscayne National Park, but this week Annie and Susanna will shift back to SRC archeological projects, and I’ll jump in with the park’s natural resources team. After a fairly easy drive, free from too much Florida Keys traffic, we arrive at our Airbnb. The rest of the SRC team is here, and two archeologists from the NPS’s Southeast Archeological Center (SEAC). I’m eager to spend a week with this crew, as I’ve only talked to most of the SRC folks in passing at the Denver office. 

To everyone’s delight, the next day is a day off for the entire team. I’m certainly looking forward to buckling down with my laptop and getting caught up on a long list of logistical and administrative to-do’s. Before I get too sucked into my list, Brett offers to talk through his preferred workflow for importing, organizing, and editing photos in Adobe Lightroom (Adobe’s complex photo editing program). I’ve been hoping for this! I quickly accept. Lightroom overwhelms me, and the idea of weeding through 400 photos from last week’s WVIP project seems especially daunting (turns out, 400 photos are nothing for a weeklong project). 

Brett and I sit at the computer desk with my SD card from last week’s project and jump into the nitty-gritty. Susanna sneaks in as well and joins the conversation. In the span of three hours, the SRC photography power duo gives me a comprehensive lesson on how to organize photo libraries, edit images, and most importantly, how to tell stories in an underwater environment. Brett points out certain things about the composition, framing, and lighting of my photos that could turn an okay shot into an eye-catching, compelling image. I try to play it cool as he and Susanna compliment some of my photos in the mix. Knowing what they’re capable of as photographers, it means a lot to hear their words of encouragement. In the end, Susanna suggests that they ship out a complete rig from the Denver office for me to use a Nikon D800 with Aquatica housing and Ikelite strobes. I’m elated! They’re trusting me with a very expensive setup, and I’ll be able to take it to all of my upcoming destinations. 

Underwater housing for camera on desk

The Nikon D800 underwater setup. It’s a beast!

It’s an overwhelming experience, one I can’t really believe I’m living even as it’s happening. At the beginning of this internship, I expected writing to be my primary form of communicating underwater science to blog readers, friends, and family. Now, I’m learning an entirely new way to communicate science and ongoing research efforts. Little by little, Adobe Lightroom starts to seem more like a playground than a corn maze (albeit still confusing), and I find myself imagining shots that I hope to capture one day. 

After the day off, it’s back to early morning starts and busy dive days. The entire crew empties out of the house and carpools to Biscayne NP. Verdant palm fields and stagnant canals stretch alongside the flat, stick-straight road as we drive into the park. The land-based section of Biscayne is fairly small, so I quickly run into the natural resources team. For the next two days, I’ll be assisting Morgan Wagner and Jade Reinhart with Reef Visual Census (RVC) surveys (the same type of surveys I did in St. Croix). Morgan is a biological science technician and Jade is a University of Miami student working as a park research assistant. We get to know each other as we load up the boat, a 27-ft. Boston Whaler, with an assortment of gear: a lionfish canister and spears (just in case we encounter the invasive species on our dives), marine debris bags, clipboards and datasheets, and a camera to take photos at each survey site. 

Woman in boat writing

Morgan preps datasheets on the way to a survey site

A brief refresher on the RVC surveys: these surveys provide information on fish biodiversity, coral coverage, and reef distribution. We’ll be focusing solely on fish assessments this week, which includes recording all of the fish species we observe at a given site, along with their sizes and total abundance. After we load the boat, Morgan, Jade, and I don our personal flotation devices (PFDs) and headphones and jet to our first site. It’s a humid, sunny day, and I nearly give myself whiplash looking around at all of the different keys and mangroves scattered throughout the water. Morgan points out Adams Key, which used to be home to the old Cocolobo Club, a destination for a handful of presidents and many of the rich and politically connected. She continues the history lesson along the way. “That rock over there? Pirates used to tie their sails down behind it, which tilted the boat so others couldn’t see it. Then they’d jump out and ambush other boaters.” Thankfully, we make it to our sites pirate-free. 

Selfie of woman in sunglasses and hat

Necessary gear for being out on the water all day: Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a PFD. The headphones are a nice way to muffle the wind and engine noise while we’re in transit.

Not every site is exciting. Sometimes they’re dominated by seagrass, or they’re mostly sandbeds with a few lonely corals and rocks. But, occasionally there’s a surprise. We drop down on the third site for the day and I kneel in the sand, recording a few small gobies and damselfish I see in front of me. Then, there’s a sudden movement in the corner of my eye. I glance up, only to be nearly smacked in the face by the caudal fin of a lemon shark! The shark swiftly disappears into the distance, and I’m left wide-eyed and laughing at the scare. It’s a fun element of being underwater. You never know what might emerge from the blue!

Women on bow of boat lifting rope

Jade fixes the boat’s anchor line with a new knot.

Storms move in during the afternoon, so we find ourselves dodging lightning and storm clouds as we make our way back to the park. Once we return, another surprise! While we were out doing RVC surveys, the SRC and SEAC crews were on their own boats, one of which is for anomaly jumping. High-resolution magnetic surveys are conducted throughout the park’s waters to identify anomalies areas with the presence of iron on the seafloor. The magnetometers used to conduct the surveys are incapable of discerning derelict traps or other garbage from potentially historical submerged shipwrecks, though. Therefore, the SRC archeologists dive at each anomaly site to determine whether it’s an area of historical significance or not. Most of the time it’s just a piece of garbage, but we find out once we dock our boat that the crew came across an airplane wreck today! Everyone is in great spirits as we unload the boats, rinse gear, and call it a day. 

Morgan, Jade, and I have another successful day of RVC surveys, and the following day I am placed with another crew of park biotechs and interns. Gabrielle Cabral, Zoe Dallaert, Cate Gelston, and John Ricisak, a collaborator from the Miami Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources, are heading out to collect illegal lobster, spider crab, and stone crab traps in Biscayne Bay. There are seasons for trapping each of these crustaceans, but at this time of year, the remaining traps in the water are illegal. To find them, we scout from the boat and search the water’s surface for floating buoys. Once we spot one, we drive over and use a long hook to grab the buoy line and pull the trap out of the water. These traps are heavy around 50 pounds so it’s easier when two of us grab the slimy, algae-covered rope and hoist each trap up together. After pulling up the trap, we open it up and free any creatures who have been stuck, careful not to grab them in order to keep our fingers intact. John tells us that stone crabs can easily cut off a finger with their large claw.

Boat with two people on it and ocean

Gabby and Zoe prepare to hook the buoy line of a derelict lobster/crab trap.

Pulling up a trap. We’ve already collected quite a few by mid-morning!

“What’s in this one?”

Lobsters and crabs wait to be freed back into Biscayne Bay

It’s a messy business, and we’re all quickly coated in green algae and murky brown slime from handling the traps. Regardless, it’s fulfilling work, and by the mid-afternoon there are towering piles of traps on the boat, making it nearly impossible to get to the bow. Offloading the boat takes a while with so many traps, and we then have to load them up into an NPS truck so they can be taken to the dump. The park just got a beautiful new truck, and the bed is literally spotless. Not for long, though! We manage to barely fit all of the traps from the day into the bed of the truck, and then spend quite a while rinsing down the truck to return it to its new, shiny condition. Park service equipment is put through a lot, but everyone tries their best to take good care of what they use.

All in all, this week is an exciting way to experience more of the Florida Keys, continue to explore Biscayne NP, and get to know the SRC crew. Although my fieldwork is separate from theirs, living together offers a unique opportunity to talk to everyone and to learn more about their jobs as underwater archeologists. Not only that, but I get to observe how their field crew operates together, something that I find particularly interesting as I jump into multiple crews throughout the park system. With field crews, everything suddenly becomes very close-knit, from conversations to physical spaces. In our case, the Airbnb is simultaneously operating as a gear locker, office space, and living space. The coffee table is covered in books about disappeared wrecks and reports of underwater historical and cultural resources. Gear bags and pelican cases take up an entire corner of the living room, and there are dive booties and miscellaneous gear drying on the patio furniture in the backyard. “Work” is always around, but people find ways to sit back at the end of the day and relax. AJ strums his guitar in the evenings on the back patio. David and I get wrapped up in conversations over coffee about travel, life, and his boisterous kids. In the evenings, Matt and Dave watch TV, switching between The Office and various movies. We go out for dinner a few nights, too, grabbing barbecue from a local joint in town and going out on another evening to celebrate Matt’s birthday. As eager as I am to head to my next destination, Dry Tortugas National Park, I’m going to miss hanging out with the SRC crew. 

To everyone who made my week a success, thank you. Morgan, Jade, Gabrielle, Zoe, and Cate thanks for letting me come along and showing me the Biscayne experience. You are all rockstars! A massive thank you to the entire SRC crew for truly making me feel like part of the team and for supporting my ambitions and hopes for this internship. Brett and Susanna, I cannot thank you enough for teaching me, encouraging me, and most of all, entrusting me with an SRC camera rig. I’m determined to break into the world of underwater photography now, and I couldn’t do it without the support from OWUSS and the SRC. I hope that I can hone my skills in the coming weeks and use them to share the beauty of the national parks and the scientific research and work being done within them. 

 

References:

  1. National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior. (June 2021). What We Do (U.S. National Park Service).  https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/index.htm#:~:text=Follow%20Us-,Our%20Mission,of%20this%20and%20future%20generations.
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Diving into the DAN Internship

The second half of my internship here at DAN has been packed to the brim with events. I have been able to complete my pilot study on the hydration status of scuba divers. In this observational study, I collected urine samples from divers pre- and post-dive and compared them to control samples with no dive in between. I then analyzed these samples for urine-specific gravity and osmolality in order to see how hydrated divers are entering and exiting a dive. I compared these changes to any changes that would normally occur during the day. I obtained great data from divers here at DAN, but the majority of the data came from our trip to West Palm Beach, Florida, for Lobster Mini Season. Here, we joined charters to take measurements on divers including urine samples, neurocognitive performance, subjective fatigue, skin conductivity, electrocardiograms, and more.

Here is a picture of me on the Pura Vida charter analyzing pre-dive urine samples while the divers are in the water.

We not only took measurements during this trip, but we also got to dive! Our first day on the road consisted of stopping in Charleston, South Carolina, to dive the Cooper River, where we hunted for prehistoric shark teeth and fossils. Our next stop we didn’t dive at, but we got to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. We then stopped in Blue Grotto in North Florida to dive the crystal-clear cavern on our way down. Finally, we also dove on the beautiful reefs in West Palm, which are some of the best that the Atlantic side of Florida has to offer.

Shark teeth I found in the Cooper River.

Above the Voyager pool at the Georgia Aquarium that houses whale sharks, manta rays, and many more species of fish and aquatic life.

At the bottom of the 100-foot cavern of Blue Grotto.

Myself and two other interns descending on the reefs of West Palm Beach.

Another project that I have been involved with recently is serving as a research subject at the Duke Hyperbaric Medical Center. I am involved in a study that is looking to see if a ketogenic diet is protective against oxygen toxicity in divers. For this study, I will enter their hyperbaric chamber two times; one time on a ketogenic diet and one time on a normal diet. For each round, I will be breathing 100% oxygen at a depth of 35 feet of sea water while hooked up to an electroencephalogram, electrocardiogram, IV line, electrodermal activity sensors, and expired gas monitors while peddling on an underwater ergometer and playing a flight simulation game. I will do this task for two hours each round, or until I show symptoms of oxygen toxicity. Another study that I have already completed is looking to see how we can automate the detection of venous gas emboli in divers. For this study, a Doppler device was used to listen to my heart sounds and the information is being used to train a device to listen for bubbles in the vasculature.

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Divers Alert Network Research Internship Kick-Off

My time here at Divers Alert Network started with meeting and learning about the different departments including research, medical, marketing, and operations. We spent a few days taking a research field operator workshop, learning how to operate the various devices we use in data collection. The other interns and I then got briefed on the projects we would be working on over the summer and began doing literature review on them.

One project we started for the summer includes a neurocognitive battery test designed to measure mental fatigue in divers. This test involves a series of 10 “brain” games designed to test working memory, reaction time, dexterity, etc. Another project involves assessing the hydration status of divers by collecting urine samples pre- and post-dive and measuring markers such as specific gravity and osmolality.

Some of DAN’s ongoing projects that we jumped in on include an ultrasound comparison study where we take ultrasounds of divers with three devices to see if they all give comparable results. One is a larger ultrasound device with a computer, one a smaller ultrasound device that can hook up to an iPad or iPhone, and one a small doppler device that records sounds. Another project we jumped in on is the cardiac study where ECG leads are hooked up to divers to measure the electrical activity of their heart before, during, and after a dive.

We decided to clean out the DAN library as we try to make all of the diving-related literature virtually accessible.

This is a picture from our field operator workshop when David Le from UNC came to talk to us about the physics of ultrasound and how we can use it to manipulate microbubbles.

Here is a picture of my heart under the Vivid q ultrasound computer after a dive. We were able to see small venous gas emboli flowing through the right side of my heart. These bubbles are produced when inert gas comes out of solution during a high to low pressure change and can get lodged in the body and produce symptoms of decompression sickness. Most of the time they are benign. These gas bubbles are the reason divers do safety stops at shallow depths so they can decompress.

This picture is from our first ultrasound comparison weekend at Mystery Lake in NC (credit Dr. David Charash).

We have also done some fun dives at quarries around the area including Fantasy Lake and Blue Stone Quarry.

Over Memorial Day Weekend, we found an old American flag during a dive under a bunch of silt and thought it was only right to haul it back to the surface.

We have gotten to tour two hyperbaric chambers so far where divers become patients when they are struck with decompression illnesses. These chambers are used to treat a variety of other diseases and conditions, too. During the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society annual conference, we learned about how these chambers operate and recompress divers to various depths and on various gas mixes.

Duke University’s hyperbaric chambers. There are 7 chambers here that house patients, hyperbaric technicians, and research participants.

Smaller chamber at Bluestone Quarry.

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OWUSS is Back! Virtual Event Series coming soon.

OWUSS Virtual Event Series June 3-5, 2021

The Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society has some good news to share! We are emerging from our year-long COVID hiatus and will celebrate our Scholars and Interns with a virtual event series June 3-5, 2021. It is more important than ever that we celebrate success while we recognize the challenging times we are all facing.

Scholar and Intern Symposiums – June 3 & 4

Similar to the morning symposiums we traditionally held at The Explorers Club, the first two days of the event will feature the final presentations of our returning 2019 Rolex Scholars and Society Interns. This is a chance to hear a bit more in-depth about what they did during their scholarship and internship experiences.
 

Awards Ceremony – June 5

The awards ceremony will celebrate the returning class of Scholars and Interns as well as announce the new 2021 Rolex Scholars and Society Interns. This year the ceremony will feature the world premieres of the year-end films for the 2019 Rolex Scholars, the announcement of the DAN Rolex Diver of the Year, the introduction of the 2021 Society Interns, and the awards presentation of the new 2021 Rolex Scholars.
 

Plan Ahead

To maximize the number of viewers from around the world, the initial viewing for each event will air at the following days and times:

Scholar Symposium – Thursday, June 3
Intern Symposium – Friday, June 4
Awards Ceremony – Saturday, June 5

 

  • 4pm EDT – New York
  • 3pm CDT – Chicago
  • 1pm PDT – Los Angeles
  • 9pm BST – London
  • 10pm CEST – Berlin
  • 6am AEST – Sydney (June 4, 5, and 6)

Visit the Event Page for More Details

Visit owuscholarship.org/2021Event for links to the events plus more details.

Also, keep watching your email as well as the Society website (www.owuscholarship.org), and social media sites — Facebook and Instagram.

Return to the Field

With a new cadre of Scholars and Interns, the Society is working with hosts and sponsors to safely introduce our new Scholars and Interns to the field. The decision to reinstate scholarship and internship activities for this year was not taken lightly. The Society recognizes the ongoing seriousness and continually changing nature of the pandemic. With input from all three scholarship regions and the internship program, the Board has agreed to move forward cautiously with, as always, the safety, health and well-being of the Scholars and Interns of utmost concern. 
Given the differing travel and stay-at-home restrictions, vaccination schedules, and COVID protocols for North America, Europe, and Australasia, there is expected to be considerable variability and flexibility to the schedules and experiences for the Scholars and Interns. Our coordination teams will do everything they can to ensure the recipients maximize the available opportunities.

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OWUSS and DAN Announce New Internships for 2021

The Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society® (OWUSS) and Divers Alert Network® (DAN®) are pleased to announce two new internships for 2021. Applications are now being accepted for the Dr. Glen H. Egstrom DAN Diver’s Health and Safety Internship and the DAN Diver’s Safety Internship.

The Dr. Glen H. Egstrom DAN Diver’s Health and Safety Internship is named in honor of one of the Society’s founding directors. Dr. Egstrom was an avid diver and brilliant scientist who dedicated a significant portion of his career to diving safety by improving diver and instructor training, diving equipment, fitness to dive, diver conditioning, and underwater performance. This internship, with a special focus on the health and safety of divers, will be flexibly tailored to the recipient’s interests based upon the available experiences and research being conducted at DAN. The selected intern will have the opportunity to participate in continuing education courses, gain a deeper understanding of diving physiology and current diving research worldwide, learn to prepare, plan, and conduct scientific experiments, and learn techniques of physiological data acquisition and analysis. The intern will be interacting with divers during field research events, collecting physiological data, and communicating DAN Research endeavors to the diving community at large.

The DAN Diver’s Safety Internship will expose the recipient to DAN’s risk mitigation and dive safety resources and initiatives. The selected intern will have the opportunity to participate in continuing education courses, learn about pressure vessels such as hyperbaric chambers and scuba cylinders through training materials, seminars, and field trips, and participate in DAN’s safety and training programs by assisting in field assessments of hyperbaric chambers and other related facilities. This internship will be personalized to meet the specific interests and personal goals of the individual selected for the internship within the scope of DAN’s projects as noted above.

The deadline for applications is January 15, 2021.

For more information, visit OWUScholarship.org/Internships.

About the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society: The Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society® is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization founded in 1974 and dedicated to the promotion of educational activities associated with the underwater world with the intention of fostering and developing the future stewards of our planet. Its educational outreach has historically been directed at college-aged individuals planning careers in such fields as oceanography, marine biology, maritime archaeology, film making, or medicine. 

About Divers Alert Network: The world’s most recognized and respected dive safety organization, Divers Alert Network (DAN) has remained committed to the health and well-being of divers for 40 years. The organization’s research, medical services and global-response programs create an extensive network that supports divers with vital services such as injury prevention, educational programs and lifesaving evacuations. Every year, hundreds of thousands of divers around the world look to DAN as their dive safety organization.

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Virtual Online Memorial Event for Dr. Glen Egstrom

You’re Invited to Dr. Glen H. Egstrom’s Virtual Online Memorial Event*

Access Link: https://youtu.be/NKUyZBOhY0o

Sunday, July 12, 2020
1:00pm PDT/4:00pm EDT – 2:00pm PDT/5:00pm EDT

Premiering the Tribute Movie – “A Life Well Lived”

The family of Dr. Glen H. Egstrom humbly invites you to a virtual, online
memorial to celebrate his life and contributions. “A Life Well Lived” movie
tribute by Emmy award winning filmmaker Adam Ravetch will be premiered.

Scheduled Remarks

• Opening Remarks    James A. Corry
Director Emeritus, Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society®

 • Adam B. Ravetch    “A Life Well Lived”

 • Mark V. Bensen
Nonprofit and Philanthropy Consultant
1974 Rolex Scholar, Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society®

 • The Egstrom Children 
Gail Egstrom Clarke
Eric “Buck” Egstrom
Karen J. Egstrom

 • Elvin W. D. Leech, MBE
Chairman, Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society®

• Donna W. Egstrom

• Closing Remarks    James A. Corry

View Glen Egstrom’s Written Tribute: Dr. Glen H. Egstrom

Memorial gifts towards the Dr. Glen H. Egstrom Diving Safety Internship can be made here.
You can designate the Egstrom Internship as you are completing your donation.
Please use “Add special instructions to the seller” to do this.

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Glen H. Egstrom, Ph.D., Biography

Glen H. Egstrom, Ph.D.

Founding Director, Past Chairman of the Board, and Director Emeritus

October 16, 1928 – October 7, 2019

“A Life Well Lived”

October 16, 1928 dawned as just another day in America.  Just a week earlier, the New York Yankees had swept the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0 to win the World Series.  American troops had been home from the trenches and battlefields of World War I for about ten years. Calvin Coolidge was the President of the United States, and though Americans had no clue what was about to befall them, the start of the Great Depression was just one year away.

However, this date was going to be very memorable for any number of folks who lived in Jamestown, North Dakota, a little town perched at the confluence of the James and Pipestem Rivers–population 8,000.  Jamestown was founded in 1872 to support a major Northern Pacific Railway repair yard near its James River rail crossing.  Known as the “Pride of the Prairie,” Jamestown is home to the National Buffalo Museum.

This date started unremarkably for electrician Milford Egstrom and his wife, Emily, who managed the Jamestown Bus Terminal and provided 24/7 taxi dispatching for the town; but by the end of the day, their lives would be changed forever with the arrival of their first child, Glen Howard Ole Axel Egstrom.  The extra middle names, Ole and Axel, were airplane pilots and best friends of Milford but were quickly jettisoned by Glen in young adulthood!  The entire family was delighted with Glen’s arrival, and his eight-year-old aunt, Norma Deloris Egstrom, was especially pleased.  Within 15 years, Glen and his family would have cause to be very proud of his “Aunt Norma” who grew up to become the famous singer and actress, the inimitable Miss Peggy Lee!

Glen grew up hunting and fishing the lands and waterways surrounding Jamestown, especially the James River and its associated James Reservoir, a 12 mile stretch of three interlocking lakes that had been formed by the Jamestown Dam.  Glen became a standout high school athlete in football, basketball, and baseball, garnering all-state honors.  Glen, an accomplished swimmer, also became a very popular local lifeguard.    

After high school, Glen headed for the University of North Dakota (UND) intending to play collegiate football.  During his freshman year, he severely damaged a knee.  The university brought a renowned orthopedic surgeon from the Minneapolis Lakers into North Dakota to repair Glen’s knee, but he never played football again and turned his attention to becoming a serious basketball athlete.  In the Spring of his sophomore year, Glen was taking a physical education class and was paired in a game of badminton with Donna Wehmhoefer. They soon started dating and were married shortly after their college graduation in 1950.

The newly married Egstroms headed to Tracy, California, where they both had obtained teaching positions in the local middle school.  They started their new jobs at the end of the Summer in 1950 just a couple of months after the start of the Korean Conflict. It took only until the Spring of 1951 for the Jamestown draft board to catch up with Glen and draft him into the U. S. Army.

Glen graduated as a Private from boot camp, during which he received Trainee of the Week honors from Major General Robert B. McClure.  He was sent immediately to the first Antiaircraft Artillery Officer Candidate School (OCS) and graduated with an officer’s commission and orders to Korea to serve as a platoon leader with the 3rd Infantry Division supervising field artillery. A few months after arriving in Korea, Glen was detailed to the U. S. Air Force 6147th Tactical Air Control Squadron and flew 28 combat missions as a Forward Air Controller in a T-6 aircraft providing close air support, aerial observation, and artillery spotting.  

While Glen was in Korea, Donna moved to Los Angeles and took a position as a Los Angeles County social worker.  1LT Glen Egstrom was released from Korea, placed on inactive duty and joined Donna on October 16, 1953 in Los Angeles.  Ultimately, he was honorably discharged from the Army Reserve with the rank of Major on July 26, 1965.   Glen decompressed from the stresses of war by heading to the Los Angeles beaches every day to surf and play beach volleyball.  In January, 1954, he enrolled in a Master’s program at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) and was quickly hired as a teaching assistant (TA).  Within a short period of time, Glen became a player/coach on the UCLA Men’s Volleyball Team eligible, because he had not played volleyball at UND.  In 1956, armed with $25 of university funding and uniforms he borrowed from the UCLA Bruins Men’s Basketball team, Glen lead his team to Seattle where they won the national collegiate volleyball championship. 

Glen completed his Master’s degree at UCLA in 1957 and while he continued to be employed as a TA at UCLA, completed his Ph.D. at the University of Southern California (USC) in 1961 and was subsequently hired as an assistant professor of kinesiology at UCLA.    

During this time, Glen continued to love any activity related to the water and kept up the ocean swimming and surfing in Southern California while teaching at UCLA.   His foray into scuba diving was particularly interesting.  Aunt Peggy Lee was married for a brief period to actor Dewey Martin, who obtained some of the first regulators and scuba equipment that Jacques-Yves Cousteau sent into America via René Bussoz of Rene’s Sporting Goods in Westwood, California. These self-contained underwater breathing units he called “Aqua-Lungs.”  Dewey’s contract with the movie studio prohibited him from any dangerous activities, including scuba diving, and “Uncle Dewey” gave his double-hose regulator and twin cylinders to Glen in 1957.  While all this was happening, Glen and Donna were busy growing their family with the addition of daughter Gail (1954), son Eric known as “Buck” (1957), and daughter Karen (1961).  All three were quickly introduced to their parents’ love of the water and two became certified divers.  Gail qualified as a scuba instructor, Karen shared Glen’s love of sailing, and Buck became incredibly skilled at surfing and foil surfing.

Glen had become the faculty sponsor for the UCLA Skin and Scuba Club and asked the Los Angeles County Scuba program, considered to be the first scuba training program in the United States, to conduct a basic certification course at UCLA.  Once certified as a diver, Glen undertook the arduous Los Angeles County Underwater Instructor Certification Course in 1964 to become a certified instructor and graduated with the Outstanding Candidate Award.  He served as its President 1967-1970.  In 1964, Glen was appointed the UCLA Diving Officer, a position he held until 1992.   Glen was notorious throughout the diving community for his nine-month scuba instructor training course (ITC) at UCLA.  One observer of his ITC was quoted as saying, “Egstrom ain’t training scuba instructors; he’s training university diving officers!”  His scientific and recreational diver training program at UCLA was highly acclaimed, graduating hundreds of divers and instructors who themselves continue to make considerable contributions as part of Glen’s legacy.

In 1966, Glen became a member, instructor and instructor trainer with the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) and maintained his membership for life.  Glen served as NAUI’s president from 1970-1975 and held a variety of leadership/advisory positions from 1970-1995.

During this period, Glen served as a reserve deputy sheriff with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, their Diving Safety Officer, and an active member of the Sheriff’s Reserve Marine Company 218. Glen retired in 2004 with the rank of Captain.

Over the years, Glen provided exemplary leadership to many other organizations, especially during their formative years.  Organizations such as the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS), American College of Sports Medicine, Council for National Cooperation in Aquatics, Divers Alert Network (DAN) , Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs, Marine Technology Society,  National Spa and Pool Institute (NSPI) and the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) all benefitted from Glen’s leadership and counsel.  The organization to which he was most committed was the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society® which he helped found.  To this special group, he provided enduring leadership and instilled within it his lifelong commitment to “investing in people.”  His natural leadership gifts allowed Glen to create, build, and serve communities that continue to help people safely experience the underwater world.  

Glen was the ultimate “people collector,” and anyone invited to his Mar Vista dining table was thrilled to be part of so many loving, thoughtful, and provocative discussions that often lasted late into the evening.  Many were additionally thrilled to have been invited to dive with Glen earlier in the day–only to discover that dinner was dependent upon what they harvested from the sea!

The reader is encouraged to read the reference material below to appreciate Glen’s voluminous awards and publications, but he was especially proud of his collaboration with his good friend, Arthur J. Bachrach, PhD, in their publication of the definitive work, Stress and Performance in Diving.  One of his greatest joys was conducting humorous and famously creative seafood cooking workshops with Dr. Bachrach.

Glen retired from UCLA in 1994 and was awarded the status of Professor Emeritus – Kinesiology in the Department of Physiological Sciences.

It is difficult to fully explain anyone’s life and contributions, especially a life so wonderfully complex and multidimensional as Glen’s.  Though deeply committed to family and friends, Glen had a singular mission in life– to introduce, share, and teach people to safely explore the underwater world he so loved and to train others how to instruct and safely conduct those same in-water activities. This personal mission helped focus his considerable talents with a clarity and passion few others ever achieve.

At Glen’s core was a huge and generous heart called to service; first in Korea as an Army officer and later, to serve so many important communities including his family, friends, academic colleagues, fellow diving instructors, his students, and indeed all those he believed had potential to make a real difference in the world. He had a primal instinct to keep those around him safe, especially those he identified as needing special help to become confident in the water.  He spent a lifetime working to understand and solve problems associated with diving fitness, performance, and safety.  He tested, analyzed, developed, innovated, and reported on nearly every aspect of how diving/aquatic equipment and aquatic facilities and locations could be made safer.  He worked tirelessly to make aquatic instruction of all varieties and the creation and review of safety standards a more scientific, professional, disciplined, and rigorous undertaking. 

Throughout his life, Glen loved being a member of a team and simply being underwater.  As he traveled the world teaching, learning, and exploring, he retained his fascination with nature and the wonders of our place in that world which he had nurtured in those boyhood explorations of the James River. To his students and colleagues, he often voiced his awe of the human capacity to create and to evolve.  He lived his life with courage and passion, and all of humankind’s explorations of the aquatic world are forever safer because of Glen’s contributions and body of work. 

Those who experienced Glen’s exemplary leadership, many of whom built their careers under his tutelage and mentorship, share a powerful image of this man in his element.  He is standing in the breaking surf, in full scuba gear, a speargun in one hand, and a “diver down” float in the other—looking over his shoulder with that familiar, compelling expression that said, “You comin’?  Follow me!” 

In honor of Dr. Egstrom, the board of directors of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society® voted unanimously on June 5, 2020 to establish the “Dr. Glen H. Egstrom Diving Safety Internship.”

The Egstrom family is grateful for the outpouring of tributes to Glen and expressions of sympathy to the family.  They also appreciate memorial gifts to the Dr. Glen H. Egstrom Diving Safety Internship administered by the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society®.

REFERENCES

International Legends of Diving – Glen Egstrom Bio

Journal of Diving History – Glen Egstrom Tribute by Dan Orr

Xray Magazine – Glen Egstrom Tribute

Los Angeles Times – Glen Egstrom Obituary

 

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Since we are unable to get together in New York City this year, we hope you will join us for our virtual event.

Saturday, June 6th,
4pm EDT – New York
3pm CDT – Chicago
1pm PDT – Los Angeles
9pm BST – London
10pm CEST – Berlin
6am AEST (Sunday, June 7th) – Sydney

We’ll have video messages from our returning 2019 Scholars and Interns.
We will also check in with some of our alumni to see what they have been working on, and we’ll hear from Dr. Joe MacInnis who will provide us with some inspirational words.

We will wrap up the presentation with an announcement of the new Society Interns and Rolex Scholars who will start their experiences in 2021.

If you are unable to join us at the scheduled time, the event video will be available following the event.

https://youtu.be/01PNRBkw3s8 

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COVID-19 Effects on the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society®

Due to the unprecedented circumstances of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society will defer the 2020 Rolex Scholarships and the 2020 Internships until Summer 2021. Additionally, the Society’s annual Symposium and Rolex Awards Ceremony, scheduled for June 6, 2020, in New York City, will be moving to an online, virtual event.

The decision to postpone was not easy, especially having just recently selected three new Rolex Scholars and five new Interns. However, the Board of Directors of the Society recognizes the seriousness and continually evolving nature of the pandemic; therefore, the Board decided it would be irresponsible and potentially unsafe to send Scholars and Interns out into the world at this time. All have agreed to defer appointment until 2021, and a formal announcement of the 2020 Scholars and Interns will be released soon.

Each year, the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society hosts an annual weekend to honor and celebrate the Society’s returning Scholars and Interns, as well as to appoint new Scholars and Interns for the upcoming year. This year, the annual weekend was moved to June to coincide with World Oceans Week.

Given the current travel and stay-at-home restrictions, as well as social distancing guidelines, the Society must cancel this year’s in-person events. In its place, we will hold an online, virtual event, or possibly multiple events. Exact details are still in development, but we still hope to have presentations from the returning Scholars and Interns as well as the world premieres of the films from the 2019 Rolex Scholars.

It is always a great pleasure to bring the Society ‘family’ together each year in New York to renew friendships, celebrate our Interns and Rolex Scholars, and acknowledge the efforts of our volunteers. We, as a Board, are disappointed that we cannot meet in-person this year. However, though we may not be able to gather together, we can assemble apart and present an opportunity to allow people to join in from around the world.

It is more important than ever that we celebrate success while we recognize the challenging times we are all facing.

I look forward to celebrating with you all soon.

Steve Barnett
President
1990 Rolex Scholar

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Franziska Elmer: Influential Scientific Diver and Mentor to OWUSS Interns

At the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society’s 45th annual meeting, held in New York City in May, four of the five incoming OWUSS interns for Summer 2019 discovered a common connection: a tie to diving and passion for science that could be traced back to work with Dr. Franziska Elmer.

2019 OWUSS Interns (Left to right) Ben Farmer, Abbey Dias, Kyra Jean Cipolla, and Liza Hasan at the 2019 OWUSS annual event.

“Fran” is a professor and research mentor who is known by students for her work at CIEE Bonaire and School for Field Studies Turks and Caicos (SFS TCI). Fran is from Switzerland and has her Ph.D. in Marine Biology from Victoria University of New Wellington (New Zealand). Her focus is on coral recruitment and calcium carbonate budgets, as well as on the macroalgae Sargassum sp. She is currently a professor of Marine Ecology at SFS TCI and uses 3D modeling to study coral reefs and hurricane damage. She is also working with other SFS TCI faculty in collaboration with the world-renowned biochemical algae lab at Greenwich University in London to find possible products that can be made from sargassum such as fertilizer and biofuel. The floating sargassum rafts accumulate near the TCI and wash up on the beaches, which can cause harm to existing seagrass ecosystems. The ultimate goal is to use the sargassum for biofuel in the TCI and reduce the importation of fossil fuels to the islands.

Fran also has an interest in the infection of reef fish by the dermal parasite Scaphalocephanus expansus and is monitoring the parasites present in the TCI.

Franziska “Fran” Elmer, Ph.D.

Abbey Dias (DAN/OWUSS Dive Safety Education Intern) and Kyra Jean Cipolla (Dr. Lee H. Sommers AAUS Scientific Diving Intern) met during their semester abroad studying marine science in the Turks and Caicos at the School for Field Studies. There, they took Fran’s Marine Ecology class and were both part of her research team studying topographic complexity of corals and biodiversity using 3D photogrammetry.

“Fran is one of the most fun people to work with on land and underwater. She is innovative and pays close attention to detail. She taught me how to write my first full-length scientific paper, how to make ‘nice cream’ out of frozen bananas, and multiple different ways to make a meal out of sargassum! Her ingenuity and commitment to conservation are inspiring. She supported me when I wanted to design my own research project and provided me with the guidance and encouragement I needed for it to succeed.” – Abbey Dias

“Not only does she teach science well, she is a model at marine conservation and an advocate for sustainability. During the semester that I spent with Fran, I could tell she really wanted her students to do well, and she always communicated with us about opportunities, new research technologies and techniques, and gave us great advice on how to be effective scientists. She definitely helped me grow as a marine scientist, and I wouldn’t have succeeded as the AAUS Scientific Diving Intern without knowing and learning from Fran.”—Kyra Jean Cipolla

Fran (bottom right in pink) diving with students Abbey (in blue) and Kyra (blue fins) in South Caicos, Turks and Caicos, to conduct coral reef research during Fall 2019 at the School for Field Studies.

Liza Hasan (AAUS Mitchell Scientific Diving Research Intern) and Ben Farmer (Dr. Jamie L. King REEF Marine Conservation Intern) also knew each other previously through their study abroad program at CIEE Bonaire.

“[Fran’s] mentorship on my coral disease research project is what truly sparked my passion for marine research and fieldwork… She showed me how to be an intense researcher that gets a lot of things done, while also staying passionate about what you believe in, and having fun doing it. I could not have asked for a better mentor to direct me into the world of tropical marine science, and I am overjoyed to be rejoining her again in Turks & Caicos in the fall, this time as a Waterfront Assistant. She was one of the people that inspired me to stay involved with the education abroad world, and I am very excited to work alongside her soon!”—Ben Farmer

“Dr. Elmer inspired us all with her personal testament of what the pristine marine world looks like through her experiences on the Palmyra Atoll. I was inspired by Dr. Elmer to seek out interesting field positions and educational experiences far and wide after learning about the previous positions she has held. It was Dr. Elmer who suggested that my fellow CIEE students and I apply for internships through Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society. It is no coincidence that four of Dr. Elmer’s students across two different study abroad programs have received Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society internships. Not only is Dr. Elmer dedicated to research and conservation, but she is dedicated to her students.”—Liza Hasan

Fran (peeking out from the middle of the back) preparing to dive with students Liza (far left) and Ben (far right) in Bonaire.

Aside from scuba diving and marine science, Fran is passionate about art and environmental conservation. She is currently working to fund the purchase of a device that will turn plastic waste into useful items such as flower pots for the small island of South Caicos, where the SFS center is located.

This upcoming year, Fran will take a climate change sabbatical which will allow her to develop a number of projects. The first is to begin project management of offshore sargassum harvesting research for carbon sequestration and biofuel sources. Then, she will then bike 1,800 miles across seven countries while documenting environmental projects taking place along the Danube river, starting in Germany. Finally, Fran will organize the Caribbean section of the Global Coral Reef Week symposium, and increase accessibility to students and the general public.

Abbey, Kyra, Liza, and Ben would like to thank Fran for her hard work teaching students like us about the importance of marine ecosystems and ocean conservation. Fran’s influence on these interns has been incredibly important to their interest in pursuing careers in marine science and advocating for the protection of our ocean.

Kyra Jean and Fran on the last day in TCI.

Abbey and Fran on the last day in TCI.

Ben and Fran working together in TCI.

 

 

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