Each year, the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society (OWUSS) awards three Rolex Scholarships to young people who are considering a career in an underwater-related discipline. Each scholar recipient spends a year working alongside current leaders in underwater fields. As a sponsor of the Scholarship Society, the PADI organization congratulates the 2012 recipients:
Australasian Scholar – Yoland Bosiger
“The underwater world means everything to me. I have been immersed in it all my life and frankly I don’t know how I would survive without it.”
Growing up on a sailing boat and circumnavigating the world until she was eight years old, Yoland Bosiger got an early taste for the wonders of the ocean, travel and adventure. In her last year of high school she did my first ever scuba dive and was hooked immediately. The following year Bosiger began working on a local dive boat, during which time she received the PADI Divemaster rating and was responsible for supervising the daily running of the vessel, conducting marine talks, snorkel tours and guiding divers. Bosiger also became heavily interested in photography and was given responsibility for all underwater photography on the boat.
Her strong connection with the marine environment lead her to peruse a combined Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology) and Bachelor of Laws degree at James Cook University (JCU). Bosiger threw herself into learning as much as she possibly could about marine conservation and ecology, whilst maintaining her passion for diving and adventure. While at the University, Bosiger was Dive Officer of the JCU Dive Club and organized dive trips, social events and guided divers. She also volunteered for the Minke Whale project and Eye to Eye Minke Whale Encounters where she taught marine ecology to American university students.
Throughout her degree, she gained practical field experience by helping PhD students with their research, including recently travelling to Fiji to help monitor the effect of Marine Protected Areas on herbivorous fishes. Additionally, volunteering has taken her to South Africa, where she assisted students at the South African Marine Predator Lab, and to Manaus, Brazil where she conducted research at the National Institute for Research in the Amazon.
Since beginning her Bachelor of Laws degree, Bosiger regularly volunteered at the Environmental Defenders Office, a community legal center dedicated to protecting the environment. As a volunteer and legal placement student, she was involved in writing submissions for the reform of shipping regulations to protect the Great Barrier Reef, drafting development appeals and educating community members about environmental law. In 2010, Bosiger was also employed by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies to examine treaties that apply to marine resources in the Coral Triangle region.
After finishing her undergraduate degree Bosiger began an Honors project in marine fish behavior, during which time she learned to quantify fish behavior, catch fish, and run laboratory experiments. She recently received a first-class honors and is recipient of the Queensland Environmental Law Association Prize for the highest results in the subject Environmental Law.
North American Scholar – Megan Cook
“I’m a scientific extrovert and eager to explore, learn, and communicate about the underwater world.”
Megan Cook, 25, was raised in Boise, Idaho, USA more than 805 kilometres/500 miles from the nearest ocean. Growing up in an athletic, water-loving family, she developed a zest for adventure and respect and curiosity about the natural world long before the ocean came into her life. An inspired first-grade teacher first fostered Cook’s ocean interest with crayon-scribbled current patterns, marine life stories and shell math. As other kids made “grown up plans” to become firefighters, business leaders, or sports stars, Cook knew she and the sea were meant to be together. At age 16, Cook was selected as the top international ambassador of a young women’s leadership organization. Traveling nearly 160,934 kilometres/100,000 miles worldwide, Cook gained confidence as a spokeswoman and presenter and broadened her goals for the scale of impacts she hopes to make in the world. This experience will also prove invaluable to her scholarship year as she is already an old pro at napping during layovers on awkward airport benches.
Cook graduated Magna cum Laude in 2009 from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, a minor in Chemistry, and an option in Marine Biology. During college she edited The Catalyst, a journal promoting undergraduate research, and walked onto two Division-I sports teams: rowing and equestrian polo. Initially scuba certified in an Idaho freshwater reservoir, Cook bubbled her way to further confidence with a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, PADI Rescue Diver, Drysuit Diver and AAUS Scientific Diver certifications. Then Cook eventually became a PADI Divemaster. Eager to explore more of the ocean, Cook became an international scholar on exchange to James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland, Australia. Upon her return, she enrolled with Sea Education Association, studying in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA and later sailing a tall-ship research vessel from Tahiti to Hawaii. She worked in the reef fish ecology lab of Dr. Mark Hixon and spent a research season diving in the Bahamas to quantify the impacts of the Indo-Pacific lionfish invasion on native predators and communities. After earning her degree, Cook relocated to Hawaii to work as a freediver on NOAA’s Marine Debris Team throughout the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Her desire to make a positive contribution to the underwater world led her to work on the state’s aquatic invasive species team and as a trainer for the University of Hawaii Scientific Diving program and a community reporting network for coral disease and bleaching outbreaks.
The science and exploration of the ocean fascinate Cook, as does the communication of this knowledge. A scientific extrovert, Cook seeks opportunities to foster bridges between research, media, conservation, industry and exploration. She is especially interested in large-scale ocean issues such as marine debris and invasive species management because of the variety of stakeholders who can be involved in seeking solutions. Cook has received recognition in university-wide and regional symposia, for most outstanding presentation and best seminar for ecology and marine biology. She seeks to explore photography and video documentaries as communication tools during her scholarship year. She believes the ocean is anxious to tell her story, and public awareness is the first step to creating change. Cook hopes to work with diverse groups to further understand and better communicate the wonder, vitality, and drastic changes alive in today’s underwater world in accessible, innovative ways.
Cook is humbled and enlivened to be spending this year among this prestigious network of underwater leaders and looking forward to learning absolutely everything she can absorb.
European Scholar – Oscar Svensson
“I am honored to be selected as the 2012 European Rolex Scholar and look forward to experiencing the variety of the underwater world, knowing that I will learn much from the people I meet along the way.”
Oscar Svensson, 24, was born on the west coast of Sweden but was raised in the middle of the country far from the sea for the first years of his life. Fortunately his family spent every summer at the coast and when he was ten years old they finally moved there and had the sea within walking distance. From the very start Svensson loved water, and spent as much time as possible during the short Swedish summers snorkeling. This led to his interest in marine life from a very early age. At the age of thirteen he took his first dive course at the local club and loved every minute of it. For high school he moved to the small town of Lysekil which is a center for marine biology in Sweden and started his education in the marine sciences.
Svensson has continued on the marine path with courses in Marine Biology at the University of Gothenburg, but currently he is a final year undergraduate student in Biotechnology with the aim of combining these two paths. One of the things that led him to the field of biotechnology is his interest in the use of algae for production of bio fuels, an environmentally friendly energy source with great potential. He has been involved in a nationwide students’ organization between all the universities offering education in biotechnology in Sweden with the aim to further collaboration between all schools to promote this science to society.
In diving he has continued his education and is currently a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and has worked as an instructor both in Sweden and on live-aboards in Thailand. During his courses he tries to introduce people to the underwater world and the life to be found there to further their awareness of the marine environment. A 2°C/ 35.6°F dive at home is just as much fun as a tropical dive abroad; both have great beauty and things to discover. With 650 dives under his belt he knows there is still a lot to learn and just recently completed a Technical Diving Basic Skills course as a first step into technical diving. Apart from diving he has a background in swimming and various martial arts. He also enjoys nature above the surface in the form of hiking and snowboarding with friends.
Through the scholarship Svensson hopes to learn more about the exploration of the sea and how can we move forward in a responsible way. He also wants to know more about how to convey the knowledge gained to a wider public so that they see the value of the marine environment, because what we value we want to protect.
To read more about the 2012 recipients or to find out more about the OWUSS, visit www.owuscholarship.org.
Images/Graphics courtesy of the Our-World Underwater Scholarship Society