From the Alumni Pool to the Reefs of Belize, MIT Students Learn How to Illuminate the Deep

Hannah Hailan Pang '16, Edgerton Center

Edgerton Center co-sponsors unique IAP class on underwater conservation photography.

I first interviewed professional underwater photographer Keith Ellenbogen, Center for Art, Science and Technology (CAST) Visiting Artist at MIT, and Allan Adams, Associate Professor in the Physics Department, three days before they were due to depart for Patagonia for a conservation photography project. In October, it was just the two of them.

In January, it was Ellenbogen, Adams, and 16 MIT students. After months of intense planning and preparation, Ellenbogen and Adams’s co-taught 8.S10 (Underwater Conservation Photography), an IAP class sponsored by the Edgerton Center and the Department of Physics.Duncan Wheeler photographs his team's constructed underwater world. The students spent three weeks learning on campus and then traveled to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Glover’s Reef Research Station to carry out their own conservation photography projects.

The IAP course was an intensive crash-course in underwater conservation photography covering everything from underwater optics to hacking simple ROVs to building custom imaging devices to explore the ecology of coral reef ecosystems and the behavior of their inhabitants. The topics were covered in lectures, in lab work, on local field trips, and in team design and construction projects. The final week was spent putting these skills and devices to use at the WCS's Glover's Reef Research Station (GRRS) off the coast of Belize. Students from the University of Belize were invited to join by Skype in Cambridge and in person on Glover's Reef...

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