Meet Elizabeth Ban, Ocean Science Education Specialist at Sant Ocean Hall
Elizabeth Ban
COSEE, the Smithsonian Institution-Sant Ocean Hall (SI-SOH), NOAA-Office of Exploration and Research, and NOAA-Sea Grant, represented by the Search Committee for the Senior Educator Position at SI-SOH, are pleased to announce that Elizabeth Ban has been selected as the Ocean Science Education Specialist. Elizabeth comes to this position with a strong commitment to ocean science education and building multi-program partnerships.

After working in advertising for 10 years, Elizabeth took an internship at the John G. Shedd Aquarium to start a new career in ocean science and conservation. There, after a year in the Public Interpretation Department, she was asked to lead the new public information program and manage A Resource for the Curious, the on-site question and answer venue for visitors to the Shedd. Seeking a greater understanding of how people and the ocean interact, Elizabeth returned to school to get her graduate degree at Yale University. Focusing on conservation biology of coral reef ecosystems and participatory management of coastal resources, Elizabeth spent summers in St. John, USVI interning with Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park, and the Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station.

After graduating with a Master's of Environmental Management, Elizabeth received a fellowship to work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Ocean Service. There she worked on Caribbean protected area issues through the International Programs Office and was also the Communication Specialist for the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.

After NOAA, she returned to the US Virgin Islands as a research analyst at the University of the Virgin Islands’ Center for Marine and Environmental Studies in 2003, and then as the Marine Advisor for the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service, a cooperative program between the University of the Virgin Islands' Center for Marine & Environmental Studies and the University of Puerto Rico's Sea Grant College Program.

As a research analyst, Elizabeth studied the impacts of sedimentation on coral reefs of the U.S. Virgin Islands through photo quadrats and video transects. As the Marine Advisor, she developed K-12 Ocean Science educational programs, helped organize and participated in community outreach events, created public awareness campaigns to promote ocean conservation and natural disaster preparedness, and worked with resource users to engage them in management activities. Elizabeth was the co-founder of the Virgin Islands Network of Environmental Educators as well as the Virgin Islands Coral Conservation Consortium; both partnerships built to leverage existing funding, human resources and conservation efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Elizabeth was very involved in the Virgin Islands community. She served on the Steering Committee for the Caribbean Regional Association for a Caribbean Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observing System, the Board of Directors of the St. Thomas Fishermen's Association, and has been a member of the Environmental Association of St. Thomas/St. John, the Virgin Islands Resource Conservation and Development Council, and the Virgin Islands Nonpoint Source Pollution Committee. She was also named the VI National Park Volunteer of the Year in 2001.

Elizabeth was also the author of Sea Scoop, an ocean science question and answer column in the Virgin Islands Source, developed a coloring book on mangroves for the youth of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and writes a marine biology column in Destinations magazine.

After four years with the University of the Virgin Islands, in 2007 Elizabeth returned to the States and took a consulting position to work with NOAA Fisheries Ecosystem Observations Program, part of NOAA's Ecosystem Goal Team.

Elizabeth started in her new role with the Smithsonian in early February and will be developing an educational program for the Ocean Hall. She will be working collaboratively with the COSEE Network and other marine education networks to leverage ocean literacy resources, both at the Museum as well as with online tools. She is already involved in the educational content development for the Ocean Portal website, which is scheduled to launch on the one-year anniversary of the Sant Ocean Hall in September of 2009.