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Dawn Wright

Professor and oceanographer Dawn Jeannine Wright was born on April 15, 1961 to Jeanne and Robert Wright. Wright grew up on the island of Maui, Hawaii, fascinated by stories of adventure and discovery of the open seas. She graduated cum laude with her B.S. degree in geology from Wheaton College in 1983. She then earned her M.S. degree from Texas A&M University in oceanography in 1986. During her graduate studies, Wright served as a graduate research assistant and a marine laboratory specialist with the Ocean Drilling Program at Texas A&M University. Following her work as a marine laboratory specialist, Wright received her Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1994 with her dissertation entitled “From Pattern to Process on the Deep Ocean Floor: a Geographic Information System Approach.”

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hired Wright as a postdoctoral research associate following graduation. She began her teaching career in 1995 as an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at Oregon State University. By 2002, she was promoted to full professor. Wright is an expert on geographic information systems, and her work has focused on mapping the ocean floor in locations around the globe including: Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary, in American Samoa, the East Pacific Rise in the Pacific Ocean, the Tonga Trench in the South Pacific Ocean, and the Juan de Fuca Ridge in the North Pacific Ocean. Along with her work in mapping the sea floor, Wright has assisted with a number of outreach programs, hoping to encourage more minority and female students to consider a career in the sciences.

Wright has published a large number of papers detailing her investigations. She has received several awards in recognition of her work, both as a teacher and as a leading scientist in her field. She won the United States Professor of the Year for the State of Oregon in 2007, and has been listed as one of fifteen scientists featured in Portraits of Great American Scientists. She was also named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Wright has co-authored the reference book, Arc Marine: GIS for a Blue Planet.

Accession Number

A2012.204

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/27/2012

Last Name

Wright

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Jeannine

Occupation
Schools

Texas A&M University

Wheaton College

Wide Lake High School

Henry Perrine Baldwin High School

Aptos Middle School

Lao School

Wailuku Elementary School

University of California-Santa Barbara

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Evenings, Some Days

First Name

Dawn

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

WRI06

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Youth, Adults, Seniors, people interested in science and maps of oceans

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches, National Parks

Favorite Quote

Just do it.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/15/1961

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Ice Cream (Vanilla), Ice Cream (Coffee), Apricots (Dried), Cherries

Short Description

Oceanographer Dawn Wright (1961 - ) is an expert on the Geographic Information System and has traveled the world mapping the ocean floor.

Employment

Oregon State University

NOAA

University of California, Santa Barbara

Texas A&M University

Favorite Color

Orange

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23772">Tape: 1 Slating of Dawn Wright's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23773">Tape: 1 Dawn Wright lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23774">Tape: 1 Dawn Wright describes her mother's family background - part one</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23775">Tape: 1 Dawn Wright describes her mother's family background - part two</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23776">Tape: 1 Dawn Wright describes her mother's education and her career as a college professor</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23777">Tape: 1 Dawn Wright describes her father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23778">Tape: 1 Dawn Wright talks about the medical complications surrounding her birth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23779">Tape: 1 Dawn Wright describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23780">Tape: 1 Dawn Wright describes her earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23781">Tape: 1 Dawn Wright talks about her mother's decision to move from Baltimore to Canada and then Hawaii</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23782">Tape: 2 Dawn Wright describes her mother's decision to move to Canada and then Hawaii, and her family's early lives there</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23783">Tape: 2 Dawn Wright describes her family's early life on the island of Maui, Hawaii</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23784">Tape: 2 Dawn Wright describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Hawaii</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23785">Tape: 2 Dawn Wright talks about the people of Hawaii and her experience while growing up there</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23786">Tape: 2 Dawn Wright talks about adjusting to her new life in Hawaii as well as her experience at school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23787">Tape: 2 Dawn Wright describes her childhood attraction to the ocean and its influence on her career aspirations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23788">Tape: 3 Dawn Wright talks about her interest in space exploration and science fiction</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23789">Tape: 3 Dawn Wright talks about her interest in Christianity at the age of eight</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23790">Tape: 3 Dawn Wright describes the influence of her fourth grade teacher, Sue Okata</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23791">Tape: 3 Dawn Wright talks about growing up in Hawaii and the weather and sports</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23792">Tape: 3 Dawn Wright talks about attending middle school in Hawaii and California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23793">Tape: 3 Dawn Wright talks about her high school coach and her interest in track and field at Baldwin High School on Maui, Hawaii</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23794">Tape: 3 Dawn Wright describes her mother's decision to return to the Baltimore, Maryland in the 1970s to take care of her ill grandmother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23795">Tape: 3 Dawn Wright describes her experience at Wild Lake High School in Columbia, Maryland and how it differed from Hawaii</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23796">Tape: 3 Dawn Wright talks about the teachers who mentored her at Wild Lake High School, and the community of Columbia, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23797">Tape: 4 Dawn Wright talks about her athletics and academic performance at Wild Lake High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23798">Tape: 4 Dawn Wright describes her decision to attend Wheaton College and major in geology</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23799">Tape: 4 Dawn Wright describes her experience at Wheaton College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23800">Tape: 4 Dawn Wright talks about majoring in geology at Wheaton College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23801">Tape: 4 Dawn Wright describes the non-conflicting emphasis on religion and science at Wheaton College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23802">Tape: 4 Dawn Wright talks about her social life at Wheaton College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23803">Tape: 5 Dawn Wright describes her involvement with sports and the BRIDGE program at Wheaton College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23804">Tape: 5 Dawn Wright describes her geology field training experiences at Wheaton College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23805">Tape: 5 Dawn Wright describes her decision to pursue graduate studies in oceanography at Texas A&M University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23806">Tape: 5 Dawn Wright describes her first research experience aboard a research ship</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23807">Tape: 5 Dawn Wright describes her master's degree dissertation research</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23808">Tape: 5 Dawn Wright describes the principles that underlie bathymetric measurements</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23809">Tape: 5 Dawn Wright talks about her master's thesis advisor, William Sager</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23810">Tape: 5 Dawn Wright describes her experience as a marine technician for the oceanic drilling program at Texas A&M University - part one</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23811">Tape: 5 Dawn Wright describes her experience as a marine technician for the ocean drilling program at Texas A&M University - part two</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23812">Tape: 6 Dawn Wright describes her decision to pursue her doctoral studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23813">Tape: 6 Dawn Wright talks about her Ph.D. dissertation research committee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23814">Tape: 6 Dawn Wright talks about her first encounter with oceanographer Sylvia Earle</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23815">Tape: 6 Dawn Wright describes her historic dive aboard the Deep-Submergence Vehicle, Alvin</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23816">Tape: 6 Dawn Wright describes her bicycle team's third place win in the 1992 NCAA Collegiate Road Nationals</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23817">Tape: 6 Dawn Wright describes her doctoral dissertation research on mapping the ocean floor using the geographic information systems (GIS) technique</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23818">Tape: 6 Dawn Wright describes her decision to work at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and at Oregon State University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23819">Tape: 6 Dawn Wright describes her experience at Oregon State University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/156824">Tape: 7 Dawn Wright talks about the importance of mapping the oceans</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/156825">Tape: 7 Dawn Wright talks about her book, 'Marine and Coastal Geographical Information Systems'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/156826">Tape: 7 Dawn Wright talks about her research activities in Samoa</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/156827">Tape: 7 Dawn Wright talks about the ArcGIS model and its applications</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/156828">Tape: 7 Dawn Wright talks about her professional activities - part one</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/156829">Tape: 7 Dawn Wright talks about her professional honors and awards</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/156830">Tape: 7 Dawn Wright talks about her professional activities - part two</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/156831">Tape: 7 Dawn Wright reflects upon her life and career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/156832">Tape: 7 Dawn Wright describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23829">Tape: 8 Dawn Wright reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23830">Tape: 8 Dawn Wright talks about African American oceanographers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23831">Tape: 8 Dawn Wright talks about her family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23832">Tape: 8 Dawn Wright talks about how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/23833">Tape: 8 Dawn Wright describes her photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$7

DAStory

3$3

DATitle
Dawn Wright describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Hawaii
Dawn Wright talks about her research activities in Samoa
Transcript
Now tell me, we always ask this question in terms of growing up, what were some of the sights and sounds and smells of growing up?$$Ooh, well in Hawaii, growing up for me the ocean, the sights and the smell of the salt water. I spent a lot of time in the water swimming, a lot of time on the beach playing and I loved growing up in Hawaii because it was, it is such a cross roads of the Pacific. So I actually grew up with children, Japanese American children, Chinese American, Filipino, Hawaiian, Portuguese, and everybody was mixed race. So all of these foods from these different cultures were a big part of our lives, even in our school lunches we would have Japanese food or poi, the Hawaiian poi and so all of those smells and tastes, I just loved it. Absorbed all of that and loved it. I loved all of the local foods so that was another big thing and all of the different kinds of plants, the trees and flowers. I loved to climb trees and there was a big banyan tree that was down the street from our house in a little park and I loved that tree. Banyan trees have these huge root systems and huge trunks and they've got long vines so for children it's just fantastic. You can swing on the vines and climb up them and you can sleep on the branches because they're such big voluptuous trees so that was a big memory. So there are so many things, just the landscape and the culture of Hawaii and then the ocean as well so all of those things made a big impact on me right away.$Okay. All right, now in 2001, you spend your sabbatical year in Samoa, right?$$Yes. Now I wasn't living in Samoa the whole year. I was actually living in Santa Barbara so I was able to return to Santa Barbara and that was a--Samoa was important at the time because, so this is where Sylvia Earle comes back into the picture because Sylvia Earle at that time had launched this initiative called the Sustainable Seas Expeditions. And she had gotten some major funding to map all of the or most of the national marine sanctuaries and she was educating the world, but certainly educating the United States about the importance of our National Marine Sanctuary System and how these are really our national parks that are off shore and I think most people at the time just didn't realize that. Similar to Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon National Park we have these sanctuaries such as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Most of the sanctuary is underwater and these are essentially part of the United States, very important parts of the United States that have been--that are being protected and preserved and parts that you could, you can actually visit. Well the smallest and most remote of the National Marine Sanctuaries is the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary in American Samoa. So I wrote a proposal, a research proposal to do mapping in that sanctuary along the spirit, same lines as Sylvia Earle's sustainable seas expeditions initiative to map that sanctuary. And so that's where the Samoa connection came in. Fagatele Bay is actually, it's going to be--happily this sanctuary has just recently been expanded so they're changing the name of it and it's going to cover larger areas. American Samoa a lot of people don't realize is also a part of the United States because it's one of our territories.