20 Apr 2015

Underwater Thesis

On April 20, 2015, University of Victoria graduate student Mike Irvine made history by defending his Masters thesis in real-time from 20 feet under the surface of the Pacific Ocean. The underwater presentation is believed to be the first of its kind. Wearing a mask that included a microphone and earbuds, Mike presented his thesis defence in front of an underwater web camera at James Island Wharf in Saanich, BC near Victoria. For a classy touch, he wore a rather formal pinstripe suit over his diving gear!

His supervisory committee watched and conversed with him via videoconference from a classroom at the University of Victoria, and one of the committee hovered on the wharf above Mike. Another of the committee attended from her office at the University of Alberta.

Photo from the Fisheye Project website
You might think that a presentation like this was by a marine biologist, but Mike Irvine is actually studying in the faculty of Education. His thesis is entitled: "Underwater web cameras as a tool to engage students in the exploration and discovery of ocean literacy." His presentation is 15min followed by questions from the committee, and it can be watched at this link.
During his presentation, Mike was floating in front of a group of plumose anemones -- a sea creature that looks something like a big white head of broccoli or cauliflower. He had a surprise visit from a red rock crab, which waved its claws when Mike held it up.
Though the audio of his presentation was not consistently loud and clear, his website is beautifully clear for those who want to learn more about the ocean and about teaching students ocean literacy. His Live Dives project puts the sciences to practical use, and gives viewers much of the feeling of being on a dive with him.
For more information on future Live Dives, visit http://fisheyeproject.org/.

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