Sometimes all you need is a microphone and an internet connection to make an impact.
Sharing stories in the hopes of inspiring action around the world might sound like a longshot, but Allison Randolph, marine biology ’13, is doing that just with her podcast titled Ocean Allison. Over 5,000 listeners from around the world, including Kuwait, Brazil, Thailand and France are tuning in each week to learn about what people are doing to make a positive impact on the world’s oceans.
Randolph interviews a new person each week, covering topics from pollution to citizen science. She’s interviewed Autumn Blum, the inventor of Stream2Sea, one of the world’s first lines of 100% ocean-friendly sunscreens and body products and has also turned listeners on to Pam Longobardi’s art, made from plastic pollution.
“I love listening to their stories and perspectives in regards to the ocean. I see great benefit in sharing this kind of content,” said Randolph
So far, it appears that those sonic ripples are resonating with listeners across the ocean.
“A 13 year old girl in France sent me a long email about how the podcast inspired her and that she now wants to study marine biology in order to make a difference. That really touched me,” said Randolph.
Living in south Florida, Randolph grew up playing in the surf, snorkeling coral reefs, living the salt life. Her love of marine life and desire to make a difference brought her to Florida Tech, where she dove into a world of marine biology research.
“Working with Dr. Aronson as an undergrad and conducting research on coral reefs and connecting with graduate students and their research was my favorite part of going to Florida Tech.” said Randolph.
Her research took her to conferences where she was able to connect with like-minded people who inspired her to want to do more.
“Meeting all these people, I was amazed and inspired to share what they were doing,” said Randolph.
With all of the issues facing the world’s oceans and constant inundation of negative stories about oil spills, loss of habitats and declining fisheries, Randolph wanted to produce content that focused on what individual people are doing to make a positive impact in their communities.
“There’s a lot of negative out there, but also a lot of positive change being made,” said Randolph.
With 32 podcasts in the can, Randolph is constantly inspired, but even more so by a recent interview with one of her role models, Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and best-selling author.
“He is a pillar in conservation with his book Blue Mind which explains the science behind how being near, in, on or under water positively impacts us,” said Randolph.
Randolph has also produced podcasts featuring her fellow alumni, including Dr. Lauren Toth, Mugdha Flores and Kaikea Nakachi.
“Allison’s podcast does an excellent job of bridging the gap between scientists and the public. Because of the strong background in marine science that she gained at Florida Tech, she is able to synthesize scientific research in a way that is both educational and engaging,” said Dr. Lauren Toth, biological sciences ’13.
During Dr. Toth’s podcast, she talked about Youth Making Ripples, a non-profit she co-founded that empowers K-12 students to ignite their passion for the ocean through research, citizen science and conservation. Each year, Florida Tech hosts the Youth Making Ripples Film Festival, where the students share videos they co-created highlighting the issues that matter to them.
“We need more advocates like Allison to spread the word about what’s going on and what we can all do to help,” said Toth.
Currently, Toth is a research oceanographer at the U.S. Geological Society where she is studying the effects of climate change on coral reefs. “My experience as a graduate student in the Department of Biology at Florida Tech definitely shaped me into the scientist I am today. I always try to approach every new research from an interdisciplinary perspective, which is something that I learned from working with the diverse research faculty at Florida Tech,” said Toth.
Fellow alumna, Mugdha Flores, marine biology’13, brought listeners to the Pacific Ocean where she is working with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii to inspire communities to care for their beaches, oceans and planet by creating awareness and providing achievable solutions.
Another Florida Tech alumnus, Kaikea Nakachi, biological oceanography ’15, has documented more than 60 individual tiger sharks in the wild with his camera. During the podcast, Nakachi shared the work he is doing with The Nature Conservatory, Conservation International and Ka’upulehu Marine Life Advisory Committee.
With listener-ship constantly growing each week, Randolph continues to not only generate positive content, she has been able to generate positive action.
“Teachers are linking out to the podcast on their websites and I always get feedback from people telling me that they are inspired to rethink how their life is impacted by and impacts the ocean, as well as people trying to get more involved in ocean conservation initiatives,” said Randolph.
In addition to her podcast, Randolph is a consultant for the San Diego National History Museum helping grow a collection of fish skeletons for archeological research. But by night, Allison has her microphone at the ready and a little girl in France waiting to press play.
“Even if one person listens and it inspires them, I feel like I’ve made a difference,” said Randolph.