Lecturers at the Jefferson Educational Society

Edith Widder
CEO, Ocean Research and Conservation Association

Edith Widder, born in 1951, is an American oceanographer, marine biologist, and the Co-founder, CEO and Senior Scientist at the Ocean Research & Conservation Association.

She graduated from Tufts University magna cum laude with a B.S. in Biology, from University of California, Santa Barbara with an M.S. in Biochemistry, and from University of California, Santa Barbara with a PhD in Neurobiology, in 1982. She 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.

A specialist in bioluminescence 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 (EITS), 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 and in 2010 she participated in the TED Mission Blue Voyage in the Galapagos.

In 2012, a team of scientists — Edith Widder, marine biologist Steve O'Shea and zoologist Tsunemi Kobodera — discovered a giant squid that corresponded to the physical description of the formerly mythical kraken, using deep sea exploration with special lighting displays designed to attract large predators. (click here for additional links)