Bryant Jew is Winner of Armin E. Elsaesser III Fellowship Award

January 7, 2021
Bryant Jew

SEA Semester alumnus Bryant Jew, C-276, has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 Armin E. Elsaesser III Fellowship Award.  Chosen from ten applicants, Bryant will use his award to build a working Hawaiian style dugout canoe while creating videos to teach the public about such vessels and the culture that surrounds them.

Bryant plans to source a recently felled tree or, barring that, purchase one from a lumber yard. At his home Northern California, he will then apply traditional techniques to build a dugout canoe. During this process, he will produce a series of 5- to 10-minute videos to document the building process, and discuss topics such as Hawaiian culture and ocean navigation which will include interviews with experts at the Polynesian Voyaging Society.


Hawaiian canoe at Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park similar to the canoe Bryant plans to build.

Bryant is an alumnus of SEA Semester C-276, Caribbean Reef Expedition.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology with a Minor in Science Education from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2019, and received a Masters of Education from UC San Diego in 2020. Since graduating, he has worked as a field technician in the Watershed Stewards Program monitoring salmon and delta smelt populations in the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta System.

Writes Bryant: “Ever since reading about how pacific islands were settled by early humans and the incredible lengths they needed to cross, I have wanted to learn more about that journey. This project combines my love of woodworking with a desire to learn more about Hawaiian culture. At the end of this project, I will have created a working canoe and a series of videos designed to educate the general public about the canoes that carried people across oceans and their descendants who keep those traditions alive to this day.”

The Elsaesser Fellowship was established in 1987 in memory of Armin E. Elsaesser III, who taught Maritime Studies at SEA Semester and sailed aboard the SSV Westward. It’s intended to help one person each year investigate a marine or maritime subject of personal interest, and follow a dream that has been elusive because of the demands of work or study. Projects must be unrelated to their current professional activities and reflect a creative and independent approach to the pursuit of knowledge.  SEA alumni, faculty, staff, and former employees are eligible. Awards range from $5,000 to $10,000.

Check back on the SEA website for updates on Bryant's project.

Contact: Douglas Karlson, Director of Communications | 508-444-1918 | |

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