Dive in! Ann Berry Somers’ scuba adventure

“Fresh out of the swimming pool, into the ocean we go,” says Ann Berry Somers in describing her 2019 summer study abroad course – the first at UNCG that has involved scuba diving.

A passionate conservationist and promoter of citizen-science, the senior lecturer in the Departments of Biology and Geography, Environment, and Sustainability and Lloyd International Honors College faculty fellow accompanied students to Little Cayman Island for a course on coral reef conservation.

Somers herself only took up scuba diving two years ago, but her experience in deep waters showed her the urgency of familiarizing students with underwater research and coral reefs, including how they are threatened by warming waters and more acidic conditions.

“It was being underwater myself and seeing the wonder-world that is coral reefs, and having the knowledge that coral reefs are in decline, that made me want to lead this course,” said Somers.

At UNCG Somers has also created courses such as “Wildness as a Teacher” and “Biology and the Conservation of Sea Turtles,” for which students travel to Costa Rica to study and collect data on sea turtles.

Recently, Somers was honored with three state-level awards: the Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award, the North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research (NCABR) Distinguished Teaching Award in STEM Education, and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service.

By Susan Kirby-Smith


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