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ESF Student Participates in SEA Semester

Emily Landers, a recent ESF graduate, is participating in SEA Semester's Protecting the Phoenix Islands program.

Landers, a conservation biology major, from Medford, New Jersey, joins undergraduate students from top colleges and universities nationwide who are participating in the program that is conducting some of the first comprehensive oceanographic surveys of the Phoenix Island Protected Area (PIPA). PIPA, an expanse of the Pacific Ocean about the size of California, is one of the world's largest Marine Protected Areas and was recently named a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site.

The program, offered in partnership with the New England Aquarium, began in mid-June at SEA Semester's campus in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where the students completed preparatory coursework and developed their own research projects in ocean science or conservation policy.

The students have now embarked on the hands-on centerpiece of the program: a six-week sailing voyage as active crewmembers and scientists aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans. Starting in Honolulu, Hawaii, they will first cross the equator as part of their two-week, 1,600-mile open ocean voyage to the Phoenix Islands. During three weeks in PIPA, the researchers will document the oceanic ecosystem around seven small coral atolls. A final leg to American Samoa will round out the voyage Aug. 14.