As a child, Paul Orbe (MPA ’00) was fascinated by the documentaries of Jacques Cousteau, the French scientist who popularized underwater exploration. Decades later, the alumnus found himself participating in a Cousteau-like adventure of his own, as a Science Communication Fellow on board the Nautilus, a 64-meter research vessel operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust.
Mr. Orbe, who teaches high school and college-level biology and chemistry in New Jersey, was one of 17 educators from around the world chosen for this opportunity, which allowed him to conduct research alongside Dr. Robert Ballard, best known for his discovery of the shipwrecked Titanic in 1985.
Orbe spent almost two weeks in August 2016 on board the Nautilus, exploring regions of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary in California. “A highlight was taking visual surveys of the USS Independence wreckage off the coast of San Francisco,” he recalls. “Our team even discovered the wing of a jet fighter inside it.” Orbe also observed giant sponges and deep sea corals, livestreaming his experiences.
Orbe has enjoyed a varied career in science, education, and nonprofits. He majored in biochemistry as an undergraduate at Rutgers University and later earned a Master of Public Administration (MPA) at Baruch’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. After graduating from Baruch, the alumnus worked at two major hospitals in New York but eventually decided to transition to a career as an educator, which allows him to spend more time with his wife and children. He is currently pursuing an Education Specialist degree in curriculum and instruction in the hopes of becoming “an agent of change and a leader in science education.”
For Orbe, the Nautilus experience reaffirmed his belief in the critical importance of ocean exploration. “Oceans can potentially provide shelter and an unlimited food supply,” he explains. “Humanity now has a key opportunity to consider sustainable solutions for the betterment of our planet and society.”
— Gregory M. Leporati