An 1850s-style tall ship is not your average classroom, but Associate Professor Jennifer Verduin is not your average teacher either.
Ten years ago, the respected oceanographer and head of Murdoch’s environmental and conservation sciences programs, saw an advertisement in the newspaper for the Leeuwin Ocean Adventure, a multi-day sailing experience on the STS Leeuwin II, Australia’s largest sail-training tall ship.
She set a goal then and there to one day take her oceanography students on the ship.
Fast forward a decade and Dr Verduin is preparing to take her second cohort of aspiring oceanographers onboard for the only field trip of-its-kind in the country.
What’s more, the trip is run as an intensive unit and is open to second and third year students from all universities, not just Murdoch
ENV344 Liveaboard Oceanography, Systems and Processes will begin with a week of workshops and labs with students embarking the STS Leeuwin II on November 28.
They will sail for seven days from Fremantle to Fremantle with a series of anchoring points where they will undertake a synoptic survey of oceanographic features and processes.
“This is very unique, I think field trips are, and on a ship like this they actually get taught how to sail,” Dr Verduin said after disembarking from the ship on the inaugural ENV344 voyage last year.
Marine biology student Arianna Ardit said she decided to study at Murdoch because of the amount of fieldwork included in the degree.
She jumped at the chance to go on the Leeuwin.
“It's very important for a student to study marine science to go out at sea and get to know all these challenges that you might have on board,” she said.
She added that there were many other benefits to doing the trip, including building friendships, teamwork, and conquering fears such as climbing the masts.
“I really felt that I was part of a family,” she said.
Dr Verduin said field trips like the Leeuwin were a great way of learning.
“The science, the team, the sailing, and then also the personal development,” she said.
“I love what I do, I get to teach students and I get to see them blossom.”
Places are still available for this year’s trip. A background in marine biology or marine science is an advantage.
For more information or to enrol, email Associate Professor Jennifer Verduin email@example.com, but get in quick before all the spots are taken.