You just never know what’s out there. That’s what Leslie Sautter, associate professor of geology, loves about the ocean: It’s uncharted territory. It’s what she loves about teaching: It inspires exploration. And it’s what she loves about working with alumni: It leads to one discovery after another.
Through Project Oceanica, which she founded in 2001, Sautter integrates education with oceanographic research and at-sea exploration, developing educational resources and programs available to undergraduate students, high school students and K-12 educators – many of whom are College alumni themselves. Among the many initiatives under Project Oceanica, the BEAMS Program involves geophysical seafloor mapping aboard a research ship. The goal is to lead students to a place that’s still unexplored: the ocean floor – of which less than 1 percent has been mapped in high detail.
“There is much to be gained from continued mapping of the seabed: These studies not only generate important information, they also contribute toward training a new generation of scientists and marine surveyors,” says Sautter, adding, “I don’t ‘teach’ research to my students; they discover it. To me, it’s about exploration, discovery and the directions in which our students can go.”
And there’s no telling what they’ll find when they do.