December 4, 2023

Mesa College Professor selected as one of the first faculty to participate in STEMSEAS Community College oceanic expedition

By Jennifer N. Kearns and Emma Rodriguez

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San Diego Mesa College professor, Dr. Waverly Ray, has recently returned from a nine-day voyage from Seattle to Honolulu on the R/V Thomas G. Thompson, an oceanographic research vessel, with STEMSEAS. Dr. Ray joined community college faculty from 13 schools and the Office of Naval Research’s Research Facilities Program Manager Robert Sparrock. Dr. Ray was chosen to participate out of hundreds of applicants.

STEMSEAS provides ship-based, 6-10-day exploratory experiences for undergraduates from diverse backgrounds aboard National Science Foundation-funded research vessels. The goals of this special expedition were to help community college faculty feel prepared to serve as future STEMSEAS expedition mentors; expose faculty to the STEMSEAS experience so they can authentically encourage their students to take advantage of these opportunities, and provide an exciting, unique and potentially transformative professional development opportunity for community college faculty. This first-of-its-kind expedition aimed to partner with “one of higher education’s most undervalued resources, community college faculty.”

“Sailing across the Pacific Ocean from Seattle to Honolulu for nine days on an oceanographic research vessel was an invigorating experience…I got to be a student again on a wide array of ocean science topics from currents to salinity and plankton to microplastics.” stated Dr. Ray.


Dr. Ray also witnessed the deployment of two Argo robots that will collect temperature and salinity data from the middle depths of the ocean, providing vital data for scientists working to develop climate models on ocean warming.


“Walking aboard, I didn’t know my muster station from my mess deck or the many intricacies of deploying instruments that measure the ocean’s salinity, temperature, oxygen isotopes, or seafloor seismic activity,” she shared. 


“I am in awe of the knowledge and skills of the marine technicians and crew of the R/V Thompson, which is operated by the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography. They welcomed questions and shared their insights on the many different career paths available at sea.”


STEAMSEAS hopes to include more community college students in their voyages.


“Being a part of a STEMSEAS cruise is a phenomenal opportunity, and I want to encourage any student interested in our water planet to apply,” says Dr. Ray.


San Diego Mesa College provides multiple Academic and Career Pathways for students to dive into STEM subjects from Geology to Marine Science. To learn more, explore Mesa’s Academic-Career Pathways in Earth and Environment or Engineering, Math, and Sciences


About San Diego Mesa College

San Diego Mesa College is a fully accredited, comprehensive community college committed to access, success, and equity. We honor those commitments as a diverse community of students, faculty, professional staff, and administrators who collaborate to foster scholarship, leadership, innovation, and excellence in an inclusive learning environment. By promoting student learning and achievement that leads to degrees and certificates, transfer, workforce training, and lifelong learning, we empower our students to reach their educational goals and shape their future.  Among the largest community colleges in California, Mesa College serves 30,000 students per year, 25% of whom are full-time. Mesa offers nearly 200 associate degree and certificate programs and is one of 15 California community colleges offering a four-year baccalaureate degree. Mesa ranks as San Diego’s top transfer institution, is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution and a Military Friendly School, serving more than 3,500 veterans and their families.


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Tags: Faculty, Press Release, Geology, Marine Biology