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About Professor Sean


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Professor Sean Chamberlin teaches oceanography, meteorology, earth science, marine biology, and marine mammal biology in the Division of Natural Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, at Fullerton Community College in Fullerton, California, USA, where he has worked as a full-time instructor since August 1996.

A "Brief" Biography (for my students)

Professor Sean was born in February 1956 in West Palm Beach, Florida, where rockets from the Apollo space program frequently soared overhead, and where nearby reefs offered a bounty of ocean life for exploring the undersea world via snorkeling and scuba. These influences shaped his early life and established his boyhood heroes: John Glenn, an astronaut and the first man to orbit the Earth, and Jacques Cousteau, an explorer and underwater filmmaker, who inspired generations of people to learn more about the undersea world. Later, Pablo Casals, a cellist and humanitarian, would become another important hero.

As a senior at Forest Hill High School (1973-1974), Professor Sean attended Palm Beach Junior College where he took courses in oceanography and marine biology. Seeking a degree program in oceanography, he enrolled in the University of Washington (1974-1979), where he received a BA in Oceanography. Uncertain of his path, and having an interest in writing, he completed courses towards a BA in English at UW (1981-1983; awarded 1993). Still passionate about oceanography, he attended the University of Southern California (1983-1989) where he worked with Professor Dale Kiefer and earned a PhD in Biology for his thesis, Light Absorption, Natural Fluorescence and Photosynthesis in the Open Ocean. It was at USC that he traveled aboard Norwegian research vessels and ate fish balls (fish formed into balls, not...) in the Barents Sea, spent five weeks on an icebreaker (R/V Polar Duke), walked on sea ice in the Weddell Sea (Antarctica), and conducted research aboard his hero's ship, the Cousteau Society's Calypso, in the South Pacific Ocean. Captain Cousteau was the real thing, a genuine and remarkable man who led extraordinary efforts to protect ocean resources and promote peace in the world. Meeting Cousteau and working with his team was a boyhood dream come true. Professor Sean continued research in ocean optics and phytoplankton productivity at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (1989-1991, postdoctoral fellow), where he traveled to Iceland, the Azores, and Portugal, while completing research in the North Atlantic. While at FC, Professor Sean participated in cruises to the Bermuda Triangle (i.e., Sargasso Sea) and the Greenland Sea.

To earn money for all this college, Professor Sean began working at age 12 when he started his own lawn mowing business. In high school, he continued to mow lawns, worked holidays in Christmas tree lots, and worked part-time for a private laboratory, Bio-Viro-D, where he fed catfish, among other duties. During his college years, he worked as a work-study student in genetics, fisheries, and oceanography labs at the UW (where he cleaned glassware, identified seaweeds, and counted phytoplankton, respectively). He also directed traffic and sold tickets for the Washington State Ferry System, and did a brief stint as a busboy at a French restaurant in Pioneer square. As a post-doc, he taught marine biology and oceanography as an adjunct professor at University of Connecticut, Stamford. After completing his postoctoral work, Professor Sean worked as a marine biologist for a startup oil spill response company, Ecomarine, (housed in the offices of OMI Corp, a major shipping company located at 90 Park Avenue, NY, NY). Subsequently, he was employed as a Biotechnology Products Manager for an environmental products startup, Harvey Universal, in Torrance, CA. He also worked for a year as a technical editor for Groundwater Technology, an environmental remediation company, now a part of Fluor Daniels, in Irvine. In fall 1996, he was hired full-time by Fullerton College. While at Fullerton College, he has also worked as an educational researcher and consultant, wrote an episode for a telecourse ("Survivors", The Endless Voyage, Intelecom), and published a textbook (Exploring the World Ocean, McGraw-Hill).

Professor Sean loves sharing his passion for the world ocean in the hopes that one day humans will realize that as our life support system, the world ocean deserves our respect and attention. As Meryl Streep says in The Living Sea, "We can't protect what we don't understand."

In his spare time, Professor Sean writes non-fiction, screenplays, novels, and docufiction, produces YouTube documentaries, travels throughout California in pursuit of the perfect nature photo, tends a reef tank and native plant garden, practices the cello and plucks at a ukulele, cares for five cats, and spends time watching soaps and reality shows with his partner of 17+ years.


2017 Best Practice Award for U-ACRE Project (with CSUF and SAC) from California Higher Ed Sustainability Conference
2010 Teacher of the Year Top Four Finalist
2003 National Council of Instructional Administrator Exemplary Initiative Award for Project Nautilus
1998 Best Use of Multimedia in the Classroom, California Community Colleges Foundation

Current Grants

2016-2018 The Urban Agriculture Community-based Research Experience (U-ACRE) program at California State University Fullerton, $48,000 National Institute of Food and Agriculture

2016-2019 Earth Science Undergraduate Research Initiative, $109,612, Fullerton College.

Past Grants

2015-2017 Increasing the Degree and Certificate Completion Rates of Hispanic Science Students, $28,616, Fullerton College Student Equity Program

2016-2017 COWABUNGA-STEM (Coastal Observing and Whalewatching Activities Bringing Underrepresented Next Generation Academics into STEM), $24,361, Innovation Grant, North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD)

2015-2016 Science Nuts! An Innovative, Multicampus, Multidisciplinary, Science Literacy Initiative to Improve the Success of Diverse Science Learners and Reduce the Achievement Gap in Science Classes, $24,975, Innovation Grant, NOCCCD

2014-2015 Students for a Greener Planet, A High-Impact, Sustainability-Based, Innovative Teaching Strategy to Improve the Success of Diverse Learners and Reduce the Achievement Gap in General Education Science Classes, $24,054, Innovation Grant, NOCCCD

2012-2014 Wastefully or Sustainably: How Does Your Garden Grow?, $10,000, A World Water Forum Grant from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

2014-2015 Increasing Science Literacy in General Education Science Courses, $2000, Faculty Inquiry Group, Fullerton College Basic Skills Teaching Excellence Grant

2014-2015 The Algae-in-a-Bottle Project, a High Impact Educational Practice for Connecting Aquatic Science Concepts, $1500, ENGAGE-IN-STEM Mini Grant, Cal State Fullerton

2014 Students for a Greener Planet, $1000, Environmental Innovation Grant, Southern California Gas Company

Select Publications and Abstracts

Chamberlin, W.S., and Roman DeJesus, COWABUNGA-STEM (Coastal Ocean and Whalewatching Activities Bringing Underrepresented Next Generation Academics into STEM), Poster Presentation, NOCCCD Best Practices Round Table, Anaheim (2017)

Chamberlin, W.S., Jay Goldstein, Dave Echols, and Colleagues, Science Nuts! A Multi-Campus Science Literacy Initiative to Improve the Success of Diverse Science Learners, Poster Presentation, NOCCCD Best Practices Round Table, Anaheim (2017)

Chamberlin, W.S., The Ecosystem-in-a-Bottle Experiment, Poster Presentation, California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, Cal State University, Fullerton (2016).

Chamberlin, W.S., The Algae-in-a-Bottle Experiment, In the Trenches, Vol 6 (2): 8-9 (2016).

Chamberlin, W.S., and R. Dickert, Clouds in Your Coffee: Southern California's Wild Weather and Climate. In progress. (2011).

Lozinsky, R., S. Chamberlin, and M. Willis. Creating an Earth Science Course that is more relevant to today's Student. GSA Cordilleran Section Meeting. (2010).

Chamberlin, W.S. Activity Guide for Exploring the World Ocean. Self-published. (2010).

Chamberlin, W.S. Guide to Student-Generated Videos. Self-published. (2009).

Chamberlin, W. S. and T. Dickey. Exploring the World Ocean. McGraw-Hill Higher Education. (2008).

Chamberlin, W. S. and T. Dickey. Exploring the World Ocean: A New, Inquiry-Based "Tool" for Teaching 21st Century Oceanography. The Ocean Sciences Meeting (2006).

Chamberlin, W.S. and M. Lizotte. Comparing Student Performance in Hands-On and Virtual Laboratory Investigations: The Role of Learning Preferences. FIRST II Conference. (2005).

Chamberlin, W. S. The Remarkable Ocean World of Jules Verne: A Study Guide for Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Kendall-Hunt Publishing. (2002).

Chamberlin, W.S. The Teleweb: Meeting Diverse Learning Styles with Active Learning. Tel e-Learning Conference. (2004).

Chamberlin, W.S. Engage Warp Engines: We're Going Where No One Has Before! TECH-ED. (2001).

Chamberlin, W. S. Face-to-Face versus Cyberspace: Finding the Middle Ground. Syllabus Magazine (2001).

Chamberlin, W.S. The Realities of Teaching Online. Faculty Association of Community Colleges in California. (2000).

Chamberlin, W.S. and J. Marra. Estimation of photosynthetic rate from measurements of natural fluorescence: Analysis of the effects of light and temperature. Deep-Sea Research 39: 1695-1706. (1992)

Kiefer, D.A, Chamberlin, W.S, and R. Booth. Natural fluorescence of chlorophyll a:Relationship to photosynthesis and chlorophyll concentration in the western South Pacific gyre. Limnol. Oceanogr., 34(5), 868-881. (1989).