Nichols to share message of healthy relationships with sea

Nationally renowned marine biologist and activist Wallace J. Nichols will speak on environmental issues tied to the ocean on Monday, April 23, at 8 p.m. in the Ted Wilson Gymnasium at Linfield College.

Nichols, a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences, will present “Get Your BLUEMiND On: Exploring the Neuroscience of Our Emotional Connection to Water, the Sea and Our Natural World.”

Nichols’ projects and philosophy incorporate participatory science, social networking/community organizing and creative communication to inspire a healthier relationship with the sea. He delivers a positive and inclusive conservation message to build a network of like-minded people, from diverse regions, backgrounds and careers who share a commitment to maintaining abundant life in the oceans and on the coasts.

In 1999, Nichols co-founded the Grupo Tortuguero, an international grassroots movement dedicated to restoring Pacific sea turtles and to sustainable management of ocean fisheries. Also in 1999, he co-founded and for five years co-directed WiLDCOAST, an international conservation team dedicated to the protection of coastal wilderness where he and a diverse group of partners organized fishermen to protect endangered sea turtles and helped coastal ranchers protect their shores for future generations. In 2003, Nichols and eight others trekked 1,900 km along the coast from Oregon to Mexico to bring attention to coastal and ocean issues. He also spearheads the Ocean Revolution, a program that inspires, involves and mentors the next generation of ocean conservation leaders.

Most recently, Nichols has focused on connecting ocean science and cognitive science through BLUEMiND: The Mind and Ocean Initiative and the emerging field he calls ‘neuro-conservation.’ Mapping how brains work in response to certain events, for example looking at the sea, will help people understand how and why we love the experience. He also founded the Blue Marbles Project, a non-profit effort that is committed to using the blue marble as a metaphor for our planet. The project aims to pass a blue marble through every person’s hand on earth, with a simple message of gratitude along with it.

Currently, Nichols works with several universities and organizations to advance ocean protection, including California Academy of Sciences as a Research Associate, and serves as conservation science advisor for ProPeninsula. He is active on a global bycatch study with Duke University and Blue Ocean Institute, and has served as an advisor or board member of Turtle Island Restoration Network, Biosphere Foundation, Animal Alliance, Coastwalk, Drylands Institute, Oceana and Reef Protection International. For two years he served as senior research scientist at the Ocean Conservancy.

Nichols earned an MEM in environmental policy and economics from Duke University’s Nicholas School and a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology and evolutionary biology from University of Arizona. He has authored over 50 scientific papers, and is a featured blogger for The Huffington Post. Recently, GQ Magazine profiled him as a leading “Keeper of the Sea.” His efforts have also been featured in National Geographic, Scientific American, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and other international media.

He is co-author of the children’s book Chelonia: Return of the Sea Turtle, which has been translated to Spanish and distributed throughout Mexico to young people often without access to books. His life’s work has inspired the feature film Beautiful Wave and he is also co-author of the screenplay Adelita’s Journey based on the true story of one loggerhead sea turtle’s epic 24,000 km migration from Japan to Mexico and back home again. Nichols continues to share his research with millions of school children around the world through school and aquarium visits, field trips, the Internet and various publications and writing projects.

The event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the T.J. Day Interdisciplinary Initiative Fund. Collaborating Linfield departments include philosophy, English, psychology, history, biology and environmental studies. For more information, call 503-883-2362.


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