Queen's University

Alumnus to present his 'adventures in oceanography'

Dale Stokes' photographs have appeared in National Geographic and Outside magazine, among others (photo: Dale Stokes)

Although he grew up in northern Ontario, miles away from the nearest ocean, Dale Stokes always knew his future was in oceanography. “Maybe it was a Jacques Cousteau special on TV,” he laughs, “but I always knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

Long before he had decided where to pursue his first degree, the young Dr. Stokes (ArtSci’90) met a professor who gave him sage advice about how to get into the field. “He said ‘it doesn’t matter what you get your undergrad degree in, just make sure it’s the best degree you can get,” recalls Dr. Stokes. “Get the best scientific training you can and then specialize in graduate school.”

That’s how Dr. Stokes ended up studying biology, geology and a little physics at Queen’s. After writing his honours thesis under the supervision of Noel James and winning the department’s gold medal in geology, Dr. Stokes (who is fondly remembered by his former professor for wandering around campus in bare feet) went on to pursue his doctorate at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, the same institution where he now holds a professorship.

Dr. Dale Stokes

But while Dr. Stokes is passionate about research, he does not confine himself to his lab: he’s also an accomplished photographer whose work has appeared in publications as notable as National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Outside Magazine and Natural History, among others. He has worked on several documentary film projects, including the BBC’s “Blue Planet” and PBS Nature’s “Under Antarctic Ice”,as both a scientific advisor and cameraman, and has most recently contributed to a number of 3D IMAX films.

“I started carrying a camera when I was a graduate student working at sea,” says Dr. Stokes. “Later, when I was getting to strange places and doing interesting things, I could get unusual subjects and access to things other people didn’t.” He says doing film and photography work allows him to flex his creative muscles and get him away from his computer.

Now working on a project proposal with his former supervisor, Dr. Stokes will give a public presentation called “Adventures in Oceanography”, where he will share stories and images of his work. “It’s a way to get students and the lay audience excited about marine science,” he says. He admits, however, that he’s only sharing the fun parts of his work. “After all, if I gave a presentation on writing grant proposals, nobody would come!”

Dr. Dale Stokes will give his presentation entitled “Adventures in Oceanography” on Thursday, March 28 at 11:30am in Miller Hall, Room 105. All welcome


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