|Enlarge ImageClaudia S. Heyman left a gift that will allow the Institution to endow several new fellowships in coastal, deep ocean, life, and climate sciences.
A young woman who had been largely anonymous to the oceanography community has bequeathed a $14.5 million gift to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the second-largest gift in the Institution’s history.
Starting in 2006, four WHOI scientists will be chosen for annual fellowships to be named for Claudia S. Heyman, who listed the Institution in her trust before she died Nov. 13, 2004. She was 35.
The Institution’s largest donation—a $28 million anonymous gift given in 2002—was used in part to establish four Ocean Institutes at WHOI. With the new funding from the Heyman fellowships, the Ocean Life Institute, the Ocean and Climate Change Institute, the Coastal Ocean Institute, and the Deep Ocean Exploration Institute will each select additional scientific fellows based on their leadership, their interest and ability to participate in interdisciplinary research, and their public outreach and communication skills.
Why Heyman left the money to WHOI remains a mystery, said Dan Stuermer, the Institution’s director of development. “We know that at some point she either visited or read about WHOI and did some research about our scientists’ work,” Stuermer said. “We surmise that she was fascinated by the place.”
Heyman, a native of Tulsa, Okla., who was living in Boston when she died, served on the board of her family enterprises and retained interests in several privately held oil and gas corporations, said her friend and attorney, Paul F. Zerola.
Zerola described her as an art enthusiast, avid reader, and a benefactor of animals who owned seven cats and a black Labrador named Hummer. “She cared deeply for her community," Zerola said. "She devoted much of her time and energy to humanitarian and charitable causes, and she constantly urged others to do the same.”
The Write Stuff
For the sixth consecutive year, WHOI hosted a group of journalists for
a weeklong fellowship programmore like a 40-hour crash course in ocean
science. The September program included lectures, laboratory tours,
field trips, and meetings between journalists and scientists. WHOI
biologist Heidi Sosik (above left) showed off an instrument called the
Imaging Flow Cytobot to (from left) Paul Thacker of Environmental Science & Technology, Mary Hoff (freelance), Lisa Strong-Aufhauser of Strong Mountain Productions, Gerald Rising of The Buffalo News, Jeanna Bryner of Scholastic Science World, and Kathleen Schmitt of Earthwatch Radio.
In October, the Institution awarded its second Ocean Science Journalism
Awards, which recognize “journalistic excellence that advances public
understanding of the oceans.” Beth Daley and Gareth Cook of The Boston Globe
were honored for their four-part series “Sea Change: The New England
Fishing Crisis.” Paul Kennedy of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
won for his eight-part radio series “Learning from the Oceans.”
Donors Establish Fund to Train Graduate Students
Learning to use instruments to collect samples and to make measurements
at sea is an essential part of an oceanographer’s basic training. But
finding ships and tools for practice is neither easy nor cheap.
Graduate students often grab experience on the job, wherever and
whenever they can.
To remedy this, two WHOI Associates established the
Edward and Erla Schwarm Family Fund before they died earlier this year.
The fund provides ship time for students in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program
to get hands-on instrument training aboard WHOI’s research vessel Tioga.
“My father was an electrical engineer, a sailor, and a scientist,” said
Tom Schwarm, their son. Working at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory,
Ed Schwarm played a central role in developing the lunar module that
landed the first men on the moon. He later built a successful
electronics consulting business, Edward G. Schwarm Associates and
earned 11 patents along the way.
The Schwarms lived on Cape Cod and were longtime WHOI Associates,
regularly attending lectures at the Institution and participating in
several WHOI-sponsored educational travel expeditions.
When Erla died in March 2005, Ed wanted to create a scholarship in
memory of his wife of 62 years. “The idea of launching students on
ship-based expeditions was something that pleased him,” said Tom
Schwarm. Ed died two months later, in May 2005.
Distilling an Education
Byron Pedler (left) spent long hours this summer extracting and
purifying compounds from dolphin fat, like a laborer in an 18th-century
tryworks. Instead of boiling vats and flensing knives, his tools were
glassware, solvents, and mass spectrometers. His end product was tiny
amounts of hydrocarbons, rather than whale oil.
Pedler, a 2005 summer student fellow, worked with postdoctoral fellow
Emma Teuten and Associate Scientist Chris Reddy of the Marine Chemistry
and Geochemistry Department to determine concentrations of a brominated
hydrocarbon compound in dolphin blubber. Once thought to be a
contaminant, the hydrocarbon is now believed to be a natural component
of dolphin food.
Since the late 1950s, the WHOI Summer Student Fellowship Program has
provided a rich opportunity for research experiences to talented
undergraduates interested in the ocean. Fellows in the program pursue
an independent research project under the guidance of a member of the
scientific or senior technical staff. To date, 984 students have
participated in this program.
Posted: December 21, 2005