SOI believes engaging with the world-wide community and sharing new knowledge is crucial to advancing ocean science.

Wendy Schmidt gives the opening address to OceanObs'19: Breaking Waves, Breaking Barriers - A panel event celebrating women’s instrumental role in Ocean Science, Leadership, and Mentorship.

In 2019, SOI worked to expand the community with several programs promoting accessible engagement with the research conducted on Falkor. These included 54 ship-to-shore video connections that fostered discussions between scientists, classrooms, and institutions around the globe – overall reaching more than 3,700 people.

We also welcomed ocean managers and the public to tour Falkor in Costa Rica, Mexico, Hawaii, and Fiji through specialized and public ship tour days, as well as remotely through community events like the International MATE ROV competition, high school career days, and the University of Hawaii School of Oceanography, Earth Science, and Technology Open House.

Schmidt Ocean Institute was invited to testify before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s Environment Subcommittee to discuss Ocean Exploration. Dr. Carlie Wiener was selected to be one of four witnesses to discuss the current state of the U.S. ocean exploration enterprise.This hearing allowed the congressional members of the subcommittee to learn how ocean exploration can benefit society, make observations of changes in ocean conditions, and to serve as a starting point for potential legislation.

In May, SOI was invited to testify before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Environment Subcommittee to discuss the current state of ocean exploration. This hearing allowed congressional members of the subcommittee to learn how ocean exploration can benefit society, and to serve as a starting point for potential cooperation and future legislation.

Internationally, SOI is participating in the preparatory phase for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development, and attended its first planning session in Copenhagen, presenting about SOI’s outreach on a communications panel.

A Ship-to-Shore call during the #HuntingBubbles expedition between Falkor and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.
ROV SuBastian crew talks with participants of the 2019 MATE ROV Competition. The team was able to go live to the Falkor and give the audience a live tour of the ROV and Control Room, while conducting Q & A session discussing the technical side of SuBastian from build to current operations.

Other community events included SOI’s participation in the decadal ocean observation conference held in September, including co-organizing the Breaking Waves Breaking Barriers Women’s Panel that was attended by 400 participants. Additionally, SOI hosted a celebration on Falkor with the University of Hawaii, highlighting 16 successful expeditions completed while working together.

SOI was also engaged in an ocean data think tank at the Ditchley Estate in London and organized the inaugural Philanthropic Ocean Research Vessel Working Group meeting in November. The working group was a two-day gathering of senior managers from the world’s leading philanthropically supported research vessels to share ideas and common challenges while exploring opportunities to leverage resources for greater impact.

Breaking Waves, Breaking Barriers: Celebrating Women’s Instrumental Role in Ocean Science, Leadership, and Mentorship. This event sponsored by SOI brought together ocean scientists from across the globe to discuss the important role women have served in shaping oceanography. As part of the OceanObs’19 conference week, the event opened with an introduction by Wendy Schmidt, then had a discussion and reception paying tribute to great women scientists while inspiring future generations for a more inclusive, robust, and forward-leaning discipline.

Through numerous publications and press, SOI brought awareness to critical ocean issues and discoveries from Falkor expeditions. Notable discoveries were shared in popular publications such as WIRED Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, FOX News, IFL Science, and Yahoo News. Several staff wrote articles that were highlighted in Marine Technology Reporter and ECO Magazine, and SOI’s Leonard Pace served as the editor for a special issue of Frontiers Research focused on Emerging Technologies with High Impact for Ocean Sciences, Ecosystem Management, and Environmental Conservation, which now has nearly 30,000 views.

Scientific findings as a result of Falkor expeditions are now being showcased in several museum exhibits. SOI was proud to be a part of an exhibition by London’s world-famous Barbican Centre entitled “AI: More than Human”, featuring pioneering research that took place during the New Approaches To Autonomous Exploration At The Costa Rican Shelf Break 2018 expedition.

The exhibition “Stoffwechsel” in the Experimental Science Center in Heilbronn, Germany features an Innovations Box with the “Top 10” newly discovered species.The exhibit features SOI footage of Pseudoliparis swirei - the “Ghostfish” Mariana snailfish discovered in 2014 during an expedition aboard R/V Falkor.

Other new exhibits featuring SOI research included the Top 10 New Species at the Heilbronn Experimental Science Centre in Germany, a deep sea and cold seeps exhibit at the Cite de la Mer, European Center of Marine Education and a deep ocean adventure exhibit at the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium in Taiwan.

SOI was honored by the Marine Technology Society with the 2019 Public Awareness award for our dedicated outreach with ROV SuBastian, and later listed, along with co founder Wendy Schmidt, on Marine Technology Reporter’s annual 100 list for leading innovators in ocean technology.

Through SOI’s online platforms, we were able to reach more than three million people through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Weekly posts such as #SciArtFriday and #TechTuesday highlighted the unique work of researchers and artists participating aboard Falkor. Over 27 days’ worth of footage from ROV dives were live-streamed on YouTube.

The Opening Day Event of the exhibit DEPTH in Detroit was a multimedia performance led by a 40-minute video of highlights from ROV SuBastian’s dives, including vibrant life of the deep sea, massive coral pagodas, thermal vents and unexpected signs of human life.With a live audio-visual performance from Detroit Bureau of Sound, the one-night-only experience closed to rave reviews.
Errol Campbell (ROV Manager) accepts the MTS ROV Committee’s Public Awareness Award at the awards dinner at the Underwater Intervention on Tuesday, February 5 2019, in New Orleans. Schmidt Ocean Institute was recognized for doing great work on furthering deep ROV technology and ROV public outreach.
SOI’s Co-Founder Wendy Schmidt was given the #1 spot in the 14th Annual “MTR100,” which recognizes subsea leaders, innovators, and technologies. She was also featured on the cover of the Marine Technology Reporter Magazine issue announcing the list of 100 honorees.
The first Philanthropic Ship Operators Working Group meeting hosted by SOI took place in November of 2019 at the new Alma Station building.

SOI supports ocean science today while simultaneously creating a foundation for the future by providing opportunities that inspire and elevate the next generation. In 2019, eight Student Opportunities participants experienced research first-hand aboard Falkor while learning and being part of teams led by international scientists using premier oceanographic tools and methods. For the majority of students, this was their first exposure to both living and working at sea. Students practiced science writing through their contribution to blogs published on the SOI website and shared their knowledge by leading ship-to-shore programs.

In 2019, SOI welcomed its fourth science communications intern, University of Hawaii graduate student Shannon McClish. Through training and mentoring, Shannon has been actively involved in crafting SOI publications including an article in ECO magazine, community outreach, and analyzing social media metrics. “Working with the SOI communications team has not only provided me with invaluable skills but ignited a passion for science communication and oceanographic research,” said Shannon. “Interacting with the team at SOI has instilled in me the power of creativity and collaboration in conducting and sharing scientific knowledge.”

Communications intern Shannon McClish explains ROV SuBastian livestreams during a School of Ocean & Earth Science &Technology open house to grade school students at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.