Women's Activism NYC

Edith Widder

1951 - Today

By: Abigail Wilson | Date Added:

Edith Anne “Edie” Widder Smith is an American oceanographer, marine biologist, and the Co-founder, CEO and Senior Scientist at the Ocean Research & Conservation Association. Widder was born in June 1951 in Arlington, Massachusetts. She graduated from Tufts University magna cum laude with a B.S. in Biology. She worked as a laboratory technician for Harvard Medical School before enrolling in graduate school. She graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara with an M.S. in Biochemistry. She also received her Ph.D. in Neurobiology from UC Santa Barbara in 1982. Widder was a senior scientist and director of the Bioluminescence Department at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution from 1989 to 2005. Certified as a Scientific Research Pilot for Atmospheric Diving Systems in 1984, she holds certifications that qualify her to dive the deep diving suit WASP as well as the single-person untethered submersibles DEEP ROVER and DEEP WORKER and she has made over 250 dives in the JOHNSON SEA LINK submersibles. Her research involving submersibles has been featured in BBC, PBS, Discovery Channel and National Geographic television productions. Widder is a specialist in bioluminescence, she is interested in how and why there are so many creatures in the ocean that make light. She has been a leader in helping to design and invent new instrumentation and techniques that enable scientists to see the ocean in new ways. These include HIDEX, a bathyphotometer, which is the U.S. Navy standard for measuring bioluminescence in the ocean, and a remotely operated camera system, known as Eye in the Sea an unobtrusive deep-sea observatory. In 2005, Widder co-founded the Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA) a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of aquatic ecosystems and the species they sustain through development of innovative technologies and science-based conservation action. While translating complex scientific issues into engineerable solutions, Widder is fostering greater understanding of ocean life as a means to better, more informed ocean stewardship. In September 2006 she was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In 2010 she participated in the TED Mission Blue Voyage in the Galapagos. In 2012, a team of scientists comprising Edith Widder, marine biologist Steve O’Shea, and zoologist Tsunemi Kubodera successfully filmed a live giant squid in its natural habitat aboard Oceanx's MV Alucia. In 2019, Widder and marine biology Nathan J. Robinson filmed the first-ever footage of a live giant squid recorded in US waters. This expedition was aboard the R/V Point Sur of the University of Southern Mississippi. Widder has received numerous awards and honors throughout her career, including the 2018 Explorers Club Citation of Merit and induction into the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame. She also has the honor of having her underwater images featured on seven of the ten recently released bioluminescence stamps from the U.S. Postal Service.

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