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HomeScuba DivingOur World-Underwater Scholarship Society?? Announces 2003 Scholars

Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society?? Announces 2003 Scholars

Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society® (OW-USS) Announces 2003 Scholars

From the 1969 mid-coast dive show and film festival called Our World Underwater (OWU), the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society® has continued to evolve. In 1972, founders brainstormed as to how revenue money from OWU should be spent. Following a proposal from Dr. Joe MacInnis that the money be used to invest in an individual with an experience-based scholarship, the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society (OW-USS) was born. In 1974, the Society secured its status as a 501-C-3 non-profit corporation.

Each year, the Society awards funds to deserving scholars as part of a competitive process. Past recipients include Wesley "Rocky" Strong, Adam Ravetch, Karen Van Hoesen, M.D., and Norbert Wu. Sponsors include Rolex Watch U.S.A., Aqua Cat Cruises, Boston Whaler, Mercury Marine, Dacor/Mares, Divers Alert Network, Helix Camera and Video, E.P.I.C., Nikon, Light & Motion, USIA, Eaton Publications, the Explorers Club, Ford Motor Company Fund, Subsalve USA, and a myriad of generous individuals. OW-USS boasts support of bountiful contributors offering worldwide exposure to numbers of young underwater enthusiasts — future stewards of the waters of the world. Fifty-four scholars and the addition of internships to the Society’s educational outreach have created a significant legacy for the Society. In 2001, the Society created a European Rolex Scholarship and a Ford Fellowship to the National Geographic Society, in addition to the long running North American Rolex Scholarship.

This year’s recipients are:

KERRY J. NICKOLS — North American Rolex Scholar 2003
JADE BERMANN — European Rolex Scholar 2003

Kerry Nickols is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with a B.A. in Integrative Biology (12/02) and a B.A. in Earth & Planetary Science (12/02). Her primary underwater interest is in fish ecology and her objective is to explore the underwater environment.

Her internship was spent at the Caribbean Marine Research Center, Lee Stocking Island, Bahamas where the majority of her warm-water dive experience took place. (She logged 115 dives in just one year!) Kerry has experience ranging from the providing of research support in marine science field studies – two projects which included studies of Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) which were designed to examine fishing pressures and habitat, to operating Boston Whalers and Seahawks for research purposes, assisting SCUBA projects including artificial reef studies, maintenance of moorings and docks, and maintenance of a NOAA buoy, the RV Christina and collecting and raising lobster larvae in aquaria. She was an environmental toxicology lab assistant at the University of California, Berkeley where she dissected juvenile salmon and analyzed gut contents for toxicity studies and maintained aquaria of midge larvae. In the fall of 2001 Kerry was chosen from a competitive process to conduct a field study at the Richard B. Gump South Pacific Field Station. She completed studies in Cook’s Bay, Moorea, French Polynesia.

Enthusiastic and passionate, Kerry uses music and songwriting as a supplemental means of communication to express her abiding love and deep concern for the protection of oceans worldwide. She feels that by sharing her love of the underwater realm with others, educating them about the true beauty and importance of oceans, which cover 70% of our planet, that, "People will take care of the things that they are passionate about". She was greatly influenced by the late University of California, Berkeley, Professor Bernard Neitcschmann who advocated that studying the environment comes hand in hand with studying cultures, and that one can only learn about an ecosystem by learning about its people and understanding how they use that ecosystem.

Kerry sees the scholarship as a great opportunity to continue her underwater explorations and satiate her desire to learn and study ocean ecosystems in an effort to share with the public the vast amount of wonderful life found at depth and why it is so important to protect it.

Jade Bermann is a 23-year-old from Nottingham who is a PADI Assistant Instructor with over 260 dives logged and six specialties in nitrox, deep, wreck, night, search and recovery, and drift diving. She has earned these qualifications by diving and working in a variety of environmental conditions all over the world including the UK, Croatia, Cyprus, the Red Sea, and Hawaii. Her love of diving led to her decision to study marine biology. At Liverpool University she was awarded a 2:1 B.Sc. honors with a high 1st awarded for her dissertation. She was awarded a one year Erasmus scholarship to study Biology at Hamburg University where she was again awarded a 1st for her research project during the year. She speaks English, French, Spanish, and German fluently.

Recently Jade worked as a volunteer for WDCS, The Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society as the Education and Interpretation Officer in Scotland. During that time she organized and ran 18 school trips and acted as translator and guide to both English and German groups visiting the Moray Firth Wildlife Centre. She wrote a scientific report for WDCS on the dolphin sightings and helped evaluate the efficiency of the Dolphin Space Programme in the Moray Firth. Other work experiences includes time spent in Hawaii writing ten policies in relation to diving and its impact on the environment and campaigning successfully for better legislation for the Pupakea marine reserve on Oahu, and crewing a private yacht and acting as a guide in the Red Sea.

Clearly diligent, Jade is a highly motivated individual with a strong desire in building a career that revolves around the underwater realm. To this end, she is completing a Masters in Marine Resource Development and Protection at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland and has been awarded a prestigious NERC scholarship to fund her studies. Jade is determined to play an important role in the future understanding and managing of the underwater world and encouraging others to do the same. "I endeavor to inspire the youth of tomorrow to take an interest in their surrounding environment and therefore they too will make a contribution to the underwater world and everything within it." Jade will rise to the challenges and will be an excellent example as a scholar and a shining ambassador for the underwater world. "To be awarded the OWU-SSä scholarship is like a dream come true."

OW-USS continues to give new recipients their chance to make a mark in the world, bestowing them with world-class opportunities to explore and follow their dreams. The Society extends its gratitude to all the organizations, companies, individual contributors, and especially, the volunteers who have supported the organization. OW-USS hosts a booth at Our World Underwater Dive & Travel Exposition annually at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois. The expo is April 25 through April 27, 2003. If you are interested in supporting the Society through volunteer efforts or tax deductible financial contributions, please contact Executive Administrator, Roberta Flanders at US+(630) 986-6990 or via e-mail at at the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society office at 200 E. Chicago Avenue, Ste. 40, Westmont, IL 60559. Additional information about OW-USS can be found by visiting its website at

Branon Edwards
Branon Edwards
Branon Edwards is a PADI Certified Divemaster who has been scuba diving in South Florida for over three decades. He is a real estate broker and freelance writer who lives on a sailboat in Fort Lauderdale.