Hilary Palevsky, former Wellesley College Lecturer in Geosciences and 2007 Watson Fellow

Hilary Palevsky

My Watson project explored the North Atlantic cod fishery, and brought me to fishing communities in rural Norway and Newfoundland, scientific research vessels conducting fish surveys in Iceland and Scotland, and meetings of policymakers, commercial fishermen, and fisheries scientists in Denmark and Finland. My Watson journey taught me so many things about the places I visited, the people I met, and the complex interactions between scientists, fishing communities, and policymakers, but the most important lessons were about myself. The highs and lows of my Watson experience taught me resilience, confidence, and how to pay attention to my own values, intuitions, and feelings.

Shortly after returning home at the end of my Watson, I wrote, "For me, the Watson was not about a year-long adventure but about learning to see the possibilities available in the world and realizing that I am capable of pursuing any of them I want." This has borne out over the 11 years since I wrote those words. My career in oceanography has been adjacent to — but also quite distinct — from the world of the North Atlantic cod fisheries that I explored in my Watson. Yet the lessons of how to head to an unknown place to do something I've never done before have been invaluable preparation for so much that I have done since.

It has been an incredible pleasure and privilege to work with Lucy Wanzer this past year, and to encourage and support her as she developed her Watson project and application. Lucy began her senior thesis research with me this past summer by spending three weeks on a scientific research cruise out of Reykjavik, Iceland, the same port where I embarked on a scientific research vessel for the first time during my Watson fellowship. There is a satisfying parallel for me to have gotten to share that piece of the memory of my own Watson journey with Lucy, and now in turn, to have the privilege of hearing about Lucy's experiences as she embarks on her own unique and transformative Watson journey.