angel white presenting at TED
Angel White presenting at TED@NAS (Photo courtesy: TED).

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa oceanographer was invited to speak at TED’s first entirely science-focused institute event. Angelicque White, associate professor in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), was one of 19 speakers and performers at the event held at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington, DC. A video of her talk is publicly available.

The theme of the event, “Catalyze,” highlights the power of science to catalyze progress. “It allows us to explore our biggest questions, generate new ideas and seek out solutions,” as stated by the organizers. At TED@NAS, participants explored how science is igniting change and fueling our way forward—through radical collaboration, quantum leaps and bold thinking.

White investigates changes affecting microbes the ocean’s smallest residents that live in every drop of seawater and are vital to the healthy functioning of our planet.

In her talk, “What ocean microbes reveal about the changing climate,” White detailed her research on harmful algal blooms and rising carbon dioxide, as well as the ensuing ocean acidification, just two of the myriad problems facing our oceans.

“It seems like a lot to take in,” said White, “but again, the oceans are immensely resilient, we just need to avoid going too far down this path. For just that reason, I believe sustained observation of the ocean, and indeed the entire planet, is the moral imperative for my generation. We are bearing witness to the effects of humans on the natural world and by doing so it gives us a chance to adapt and change if we are willing to do so.”

To learn more about ocean microbes and the critical roles they serve for all life on Earth, visit White’s recommended reading list.

TED@NAS was a partnership between TED, The National Academy of Sciences, The Kavli Foundation and the Simons Foundation.

More about Angel White

White joined the UH Mānoa Department of Oceanography in 2018 and is the principal investigator of the
Hawaiʻi Ocean Time-series and an investigator in the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology. She was named an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow in 2012 and was a recipient of the American Geophysical Union Ocean Sciences Early Career Award in 2015 as well as the Association of the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography Yentsch-Schindler Early Career Award in 2016.

—By Marcie Grabowski