Making an Artistic Splash in Scientific Exploration, Education & Outreach
One of Cynthia Matzke’s passions is to explore remote ocean ecosystems and share her research findings in creative ways with colleagues, friends and students. Her unusual interests have taken her on expeditions diving throughout Micronesia to film sharks and coral reef ecosystems, to the Pacific Northwest to investigate orca dive behavior and ocean acidification, and to Hawaii to document scarring on humpback whales. In her work studying the impact and amounts of plastic trash in both of the open ocean Pacific gyres, she has sailed over 6500 nautical miles with scientists from 5 Gyres and Algalita Marine Research.
As a professor, she brings these experiences from the field directly into the classroom to her students, and creates innovative STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Science + Math) curricula. Using a multidisciplinary approach to teaching, Cynthia weaves together marine biology research, cultural studies, and the creative arts into all her classes. After graduating from Scripps Institution of Oceanography she now teaches for the private university NewSchool of Architecture + Design, and for Sally Ride Science, a learning experience aimed to promote science to middle school and high school girls in underserved areas.
This year Cynthia became a member of The Explorers Club, and was honored to be selected to join Sedna, a 10-women team of Arctic explorers who will embark this summer on an expedition from Resolute Bay in the Northwest Passage to Greenland. The team raises awareness about climate change and shifts to that fragile ecosystem while sharing in cultural exchanges with several communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. Cynthia is eager to plunge into frigid waters to film and document disappearing sea ice as well as participating in a program taking Inuit elders and young women of the villages drysuit snorkeling in their own backyard, to experience their ocean at eye level.
As an ocean science communicator, Cynthia is also working on a documentary film called “Spiral Pacific” that connects cultures and shares important ocean stories with audiences worldwide. The film will be one of the first to use Ultra-High Definition (4K) video imagery to examine the complex connectivity of Pacific Ocean environments, from the Mariana Trench to California’s coastal watersheds.
Collectively, Cynthia’s dedication to ocean stewardship and outreach is turning the tide toward conservation and increasing the number of youth interested in STEAM careers. Through the lens of her travels and insights, she inspires our next generation of scientific explorers.