Advancing ocean literacy: Dal's Boris Worm named Ocean Frontier Institute's first ambassador

- September 16, 2020

As an OFI ambassador, Dr. Worm will shape the institute’s future direction, promote ocean literacy, engage with other leaders, and mentor young researchers as junior ambassadors.(Danny Abriel photo)
As an OFI ambassador, Dr. Worm will shape the institute’s future direction, promote ocean literacy, engage with other leaders, and mentor young researchers as junior ambassadors.(Danny Abriel photo)

For a decade now, Boris Worm has been known to listeners of CBC Radio in Nova Scotia as the "Oceans Guy" thanks to his bi-weekly appearances on the Mainstreet program.

Now, the Dalhousie marine ecology researcher will be expanding on his mission to promote ocean literacy as the first person inducted into the Ocean Frontier Institute’s (OFI) Ambassador Program.

It's a natural extension of Dr. Worm's radio efforts and of his work as founder and host of Ocean School, a ground-breaking ocean-education platform developed in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada.

Dr. Worm's role as an OFI ambassador will be in the area of ocean literacy.

“We can’t help heal the ocean unless we know what is happening there and how it affects us,” says Dr. Worm. “Ocean literacy is all about that, combined with an awareness of and how our choices matter to ocean health."

Dr. Worm, a Killam Research Professor, is well-known globally for his research work in marine ecology, focusing on the relationship between people and the ocean, changes in marine biodiversity, and the effects of fisheries, climate change, and other human impacts on global ocean ecosystems. He also currently leads one of OFI’s 23 large research projects.

OFI is a powerful partnership that links ocean researchers at Dalhousie, Memorial University, and University of Prince Edward Island with leading national and international collaborators to deliver ocean research results and recommendations to inform government policy, community development, and industry needs. It was founded in 2016 thanks to a $94-million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund designed to position Canada to become a global leader in the search for safe and sustainable solutions for harnessing the world’s ocean resources.

Amplifying OFI research

Ambassadors will promote and shape OFI’s future direction, engage with other leaders, and mentor early career researchers as junior ambassadors. They will be chosen not only for their experience and reputation, but their ability to explain research in plain language.

“OFI is entering its delivery phase, which means our scientists are writing papers to explain what they’ve learned from the research we’ve funded. It is important that the public understands what we are learning, and each one of us can play a positive role in the ocean’s health,” says Anya Waite, OFI’s scientific director and CEO (shown on right). “Boris is the first natural choice for the role because of his long-standing engagement with both scientific exploration and public role in speaking about the incredible importance of the ocean to all of us.”

One of Dr. Worm’s first tasks as OFI ambassador is overseeing future episodes of Ocean School, which will be filmed on location as scientists involved in OFI’s six new research projects are at work in the field. Ocean School is a free and interactive, engaging students and teachers in advancing ocean knowledge, exploration and inquiry. It is now used in classrooms across Canada and the world  

An Ocean School simulation.

“The ocean is still largely unexplored and we really want to include everyone in both the excitement of discovery and the mission of building a safe and sustainable future,” says Dr. Worm. “Everyone can be part of this.”

OFI is expecting to announce the appointment of more ambassadors in other specialty areas including biodiversity, technology and social science to name a few. The Ambassador program provides a more formal mechanism to recognize distinguished ocean researchers for their scientific contributions to OFI.


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