Dr. Karen (Thorburn, C’80) and Dr. Scott (C’79) Eckert

Marine conservation’s power couple

The globe-trotting research and conservation work of Dr. Karen Eckert and Dr. Scott Eckert has been so expansive, they give new meaning to the term, “doctors without borders.” The marine biology and animal conservation power couple have broken barriers and created new models for scientific inquiry and cooperative animal conservation.

“One of the things Principia taught us was how to be good scientists—to be thorough and work hard—and we’ve applied that through our careers,” summarizes Scott. For him, that has meant devising new research techniques and inventing game-changing equipment to study marine animals, tracking leatherback turtles on their epic transatlantic journeys, and summering in Antarctica to study emperor penguins.

While Scott’s work illuminates animal behaviors, Karen applies this knowledge to humans—shifting from endangering behaviors to protecting behaviors. Karen’s pioneering work as founder and Executive Director of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) has brought together scientists, community leaders, and policymakers from over 40 Caribbean nations to protect endangered species and their habitats.

Today, Karen is the winner of the prestigious Columbus Zoo Commitment to Conservation Award and a finalist for the Indianapolis Prize, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Conservation”; while Scott is a Guinness Book World Record holder and a world-renowned scientist. With all that in mind, a better moniker might be “doctors without limits.”

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