Legendary oceanographer, explorer, and author Sylvia Earle will present the sixth Fred Keeley Lecture on Environmental Policy Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. at the UC Santa Cruz Music Recital Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Named the first "Hero for the Planet" by Time magazine, Earle will speak on "Oceans, Life, and Survival." She has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998. Earlier, she was chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 1990 to 1992 and has led more than 100 research expeditions involving more than 7,000 hours underwater. The New Yorker and New York Times have dubbed her "Her Deepness;" the Library of Congress calls her a "Living Legend."

"As a campus committed to the environment and at the forefront of marine conservation, we are delighted to welcome Sylvia Earle who has been on the frontier of deep ocean exploration for more than four decades," said Chancellor George Blumenthal.

Doors open at 7 p.m. Acclaimed nature photographer and UCSC Trustee Frans Lanting will give a special introduction. The lecture is made possible thanks to the generosity of donors. Parking is available for $3.

Earle's many scientific achievements include leading the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite Project in 1970 and setting a record for solo diving in a submersible to more than 1,000 meters. Her research focuses on marine ecosystems with special attention to exploration and the development and use of new technologies in deep ocean environments.

The Keeley Lecture series was established in 2003 and is named in honor of Fred Keeley, a Santa Cruz County civic leader and former member of the State Assembly, who for many years has helped shape environmental policy in California. It aims to foster discussion and awareness of major environmental challenges and the role of environmental policy in reaching solutions.

Previous Keeley lecturers have been Bruce Babbitt, former Arizona governor and U.S. Secretary of the Interior; Paul Ehrlich, president for the Center for Conservation Biology;  Benjamin Santer, atmospheric scientist and one of the world's leading scientists studying climate change; Jane Lubchenco, a marine ecologist and first woman administrator of NOAA;  and Amber Mace, marine scientist and executive director of the Ocean Protection Council. 

Earle graduated with a B.S. from Florida State University, an M.S. and Ph.D. from Duke University, and holds 15 honorary degrees. She has written more than 150 scientific, technical, and popular publications, lectured in more than 60 countries, and appeared in hundreds of television productions.

She is founder of the Mission Blue Foundation and chair of the Advisory Council for the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. She is also associated with many corporate and nonprofit organizations, including the Aspen Institute, the Conservation Fund, American Rivers, Mote Marine Laboratory, Duke University Marine Laboratory, Rutgers Institute for Marine Science, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and Ocean Conservancy.

Among her many books on the ocean are Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans and, most recently, Ocean: An Illustrated Atlas, with Linda K. Glover.