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The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

A Dive into Evan Forde

By: Isa Martinez

Staff Writer

As February rolls around, in an annual commemoration known as Black History Month, we come together to learn about the contributions to American society and the world of numerous African American citizens who have often not been given credit or recognition for their noteworthy achievements and inventions. During Black History Month, we take time to honor and acknowledge noteworthy African Americans and their positive impact on the world.

Evan B. Forde, a worldwide recognized oceanographer, is the first African American scientist to actually explore the seafloor using submersible research dives. A fellow Miami resident, Forde, was born in 1952 and was raised and educated in South Florida. He owned a microscope, telescope, and chemistry set as an elementary school student and enjoyed learning everything he could about the world around him. Growing up, Forde spent much of his time around the beach and watched every episode of the television series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau

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“I never missed an episode and was always around water. I started swimming in Virginia Key beach at around three years old! I was interested in what Jacques Cousteau used to call the Final Frontier,” Forde said 

He received his master’s degree in geophysics and marine geology as a student at Columbia University in New York and began his career with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Soon after graduation, Forde returned home to research in Miami on Virginia Key with NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.

Much of Forde’s early research with NOAA consisted of studies that mapped and analyzed the ocean floor’s sediments. His submersible expeditions allowed him to examine, first hand, the detailed formations and structures of underwater features that scientists had never seen before. Through this research, Forde became a worldwide expert on the formation and evolution of submarine canyons. In subsequent years, Forde’s research emphasis shifted to the field of ocean chemistry, which included studies of hydrothermal vents. Years later, as NOAA funded fewer marine geological studies, Forde took advantage of the opportunity to shift his research emphasis to satellite remote sensing as a tool to improve understanding of hurricane formation and intensity.

Evan Forde received recognition for his amazing work overtime and began to give back to his community. Forde wrote a number of publications on the field of marine geology during his service with NOAA, along with other subjects. He was able to develop and teach classes for students ranging from middle school students to college level. Forde also partners with local schools and organizations outside of his profession to show the importance of oceanography.

Forde at MAST Academy in 2019.
From left to right: Hillary Simmons, Fadhina Petit-Clair, Evan Forde, Alexis Alcime, Ms. Ashli Wright
(Photo provided by Evan Forde)

“I have reached over 80,000 kids in Dade-County and have even spoken to students on probation to help give them some motivation,” Forde said. 

In acknowledging this diverse range of research and teaching priorities, Forde was designated Research Employee of the Year. Furthermore, “Evan B. Forde” days were held in his appreciation by the cities of North Miami and Miami-Dade County. The valuable NOAA Administrator Award was awarded to Forde in 2011.

“When I tell my story, everyone thinks that people who are successful in the world were always that way. However, I want to tell kids that your past does not equal your future. Even if you start off wrong, you can always improve,” Forde said.

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A Dive into Evan Forde