Joshua Stewart was born and raised in New York City, far from the sandy shores of the tropical oceans he now loves. His initial interest in the marine world was probably fostered by elementary school teachers who insisted on having “whale time” once a week, but his passion for all-things-ocean certainly developed during summers spent in the Caribbean, sailing, scuba diving and enjoying everything the turquoise waters have to offer.
By the time he was ready for college, Josh had decided that a career in marine biology was the only option. Little did he know that he would get his start at Indiana University, more than 600 miles from the nearest coast. During his freshman year Josh became involved with the Underwater Sciences Program and took his first scientific diving course. Recognizing Josh’s passion for marine biology, his professor directed him to IU’s Individualized Major Program, which would allow him to design his own degree program. Josh completed an intensive marine biology curriculum at James Cook University in Australia and was a member of several international field research teams working on underwater archaeology and biology projects in the Caribbean. In May Josh will become Indiana University’s first student to graduate with a degree in marine biology. He also has minors in Biology and Anthropology and a Certificate in Underwater Resource Management.
During his studies at IU, Josh worked on projects ranging from Marine Protected Area management to biological and ecological studies to anthropological investigations. He made numerous trips to the Dominican Republic where he was part of a team that excavated and interpreted Captain Kidd’s shipwreck, recovered extinct mammal remains in culturally significant fresh-water caverns, and worked to protect Columbus’s first settlement in the Caribbean. Josh’s personal research for his degree focused on coral recruitment on artificial substrates and methodological approaches to the management and monitoring of submerged resources. Josh has logged almost 300 dives and is a PADI Assistant Instructor. This past year Josh was hired by IU’s Office of Underwater Science as an adjunct faculty lecturer teaching scientific diving to undergraduates.
Josh is very interested in utilizing public outreach and education as a conservation tool, specifically through film and television. He has developed a passion for underwater videography which he hopes to use for conservation and the protection of natural resources by educating the public on a large scale. As a first step, in December 2009 he travelled to a remote region of Indonesia to film a documentary sponsored by Indiana University and Australian Geographic about modernization and its effects on the marine environment. Josh believes that the most pressing issue for conservation is a lack of public knowledge about the current environmental problems we face. He hopes to use the scholarship as an opportunity to explore different careers relating to conservation and to bring some of the most critical environmental issues to the attention of the public.