Melissa Baffa selected as Lead Science Communication Fellow for 2016

Melissa is a former science educator and research associate. As part of her fellowship, Baffa returned to the E/V Nautilus.

Melissa Baffa, Vice President of Program and Volunteer Services for Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast (GSCCC), has been selected as Lead Science Communication Fellow for 2016 for the second consecutive year. As part of her fellowship, Baffa returned to Dr. Robert Ballard’s E/V Nautilus August 1- 14, to help promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) based research to the public, including nearly 11,000 girls belonging to GSCCC. As a part of Baffa’s expedition, members of the Corps of Exploration searched the deep sea off the coast of Southern California, encountering rare sea creatures, investigating a series of seismic faults that pose a potential threat of earthquakes and tsunamis to Southern California, and possibly even discovering deep-sea volcanic vents.

“It is thrilling to have an opportunity to return to sea aboard the E/V Nautilus, and to continue to highlight the STEM careers that make ocean exploration possible,” says Baffa. “It was a tremendous honor to participate in last year’s expedition, which took me to the Galápagos Islands, where we explored the same hydrothermal vents discovered by Dr. Ballard in 1977. And now we will be exploring the ocean right in my own backyard, which is just as exciting!”

Seventeen educators and twenty-two students from around the world have been selected from a competitive pool of applicants by the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) founded by Dr. Robert Ballard, to participate at sea during the 2016 Nautilus expedition. Dr. Ballard is most known for the discovery of the wreck of the RMS Titanic in 1985.

“According to recent findings by Girl Scouts of the USA, growth in STEM jobs has outpaced others 3-to-1 over the past decade, and women are underrepresented in this sector,” says Gina Jaeger, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast.

These newly developed STEM activities will benefit thousands of current Girl Scout members, as well as potential new members, to learn about marine biology, the environment and nautical careers. Baffa will also collaborate with institutions and program partners up and down the California coast to develop programming that will introduce public audiences to Nautilus’s discoveries.


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